Archive for November, 2008

Mêlée

November 28, 2008

It is no accident that the word mêlée is French. It pretty accurately describes their understanding of the concept of queueing – a kind of cross between mingling and hand-to-hand combat, to be deployed when defending access to meat-based products at lunchtime.

However, all has not been lost from the Techlunch point of view. The French custom of serving wine at lunch in order to make the afternoon speakers more interesting has been maintained. And cakes have been served at every possible opportunity to absorb the heart-stopping levels of caffeine. The most interesting of these was a very thin, flat, rectangular shaped waffle thing coated in a lemon flavoured icing sugar. Not only were these very tasty but they were also a novel source of entertainment. I had great fun spotting those delegates who had just eaten one, given away by the shower of white dust on the front of their fancy shirts and expensive suits!

ICT 2008

November 26, 2008

Red Pizza Man Statue, Lyon

Red Pizza Man Statue, Lyon

You know you’ve arrived at ICT 2008, the EU’s biggest research technology conference, when you round a corner and narrowly miss being knocked off your feet by a suited and booted segway rider. There are further techie references as you cross the courtyard of the Centre de Congrès in Lyon. The thirty-foot high, plastic pizza delivery boy for example, complete with plastic scooter, proffers an appropriately scaled pizza box. This is either something to do with the contemporary arts building next door, or a municipal French tribute to that staple of the late-night, carbohydrate-fuelled code-fest.

I’m here as part of my work for JISC TechWatch. I’ll be blogging some of the more technical stuff at TechWatch’s newly launched blog – Notes from the Future – but for the foodie stuff, stay tuned. There’s more to come on cakes, caffeine, and the comedy of European manners.

Philips launches electronic pill

November 14, 2008
Philips iPill is 11 x 26 mm

Philips Research’s intelligent pill (iPill) for electronically controlled drug delivery

Nowadays it seems just about anything can have ‘i’ added as a prefix and now Philips have added their two penn’orth, this time in healthcare.

The company has announced that they will launch their ‘iPill’ next week at a science conference. This is an electronic pill that can pass through the digestive system, measuring its position by determining the acidity of its surroundings and releasing medicine in a programmable pattern as required. The company envisages its use both as a drug research tool and therapeutically.

This would also seem to have wide-ranging application in the software development industry, say for the intravenous delivery of pizza, but caused me a few problems in terms of this blog. I wasn’t quite sure whether to file this story under the ‘technology’ or ‘lunch’ category.

Open Source CRM

November 6, 2008

Many people equate Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software with the hard-nosed world of sales and marketing. However, setting up and maintaining an on-going relationship between people within an organisation and externally is something that we all need to do, whether we’re public or private sector.

I was recently commissioned by Oxford University’s open source advisory service (OSS Watch) to produce a piece about their experience of introducing a CRM package into their daily work. They are a non-profit service working in the education sector and the word ‘sales’ is pretty much anathema to them. So their experience of using CRM was not straightforward and they were not afraid to say so. The piece has lots of lessons learned for those considering a similar undertaking in the public sector.