21 Days to go before the charity run

We leave for the charity run in just 21 days .. and would really like to hit the £1,000 target for the guys at Feel the Force Day (www.feeltheforceday.com) also known as FTFD.

In between what is becoming a very busy August and September workwise (thanks to loads of very cool projects and more coming in) – I have been trying to find time for training and to promote the fact that 4 of us are running at the Disneyland Paris Magic Run weekend for the 4th year, to raise funds for this amazing cause.

If you aren’t comfortable using just giving, you can paypal me your donation, give me cash or bank transfer it and I will pay it on your behalf (message me if you would like to do that), Sam is collecting over at the Little Shop of This & That too – but EVERY PENNY helps keep this event going. FTFD is run completely on donations from people like us and sponsorship of local companies.

Founded in 2013 by Si Howard and JJ Lucia-Wright what started off as a small event in a backroom has grown into one of the biggest fan run Film, TV and Comic Cons in the country. So much so, they have outgrown the Kingsgate Conference Centre in Peterborough and they are moving to the East of England arena.

Si, JJ and their fantastic team put on an event that EVERYONE can feel comfortable at. FTFD events are accessible for wheelchairs and scooters of all shapes and sizes, aisles are wide to allow guests with walking aids to pass, tables are at a height that chairs and shorter guests can access. There are sensory rooms and touch tables for guests with visual or hearing problems, quiet rooms for guests who are anxious, autistic and have other issues with noise and crowds. Guests are encouraged to touch props and costumes – it is a festival of sound and vision, touch and taste – something for all the senses – even if that means very quiet and one on one experience.

In 2018 over 6,000 visitors came through the doors, moving to the bigger venue means there will be even more space, room for 8,000 visitors, more room for displays and vehicles – bigger space means more costs, which is why the 2019 run needs to raise more funds. If you can help in anyway please let us know

Feel the Force Day is by far the most inclusive best day out if you are a geek and it makes no difference who you are as Feel the Force Day is for everyone no matter what.

This cause is so close to my heart which is why I am slogging my way around 3 races in 3 days and getting up at 4am on a saturday and sunday 🙂

So please if you can #GiveUsAQuid to help FTFD – please visit our Just Giving Page to donate, contact me to donate another way, check out our website for more information or visit our facebook page.

I am eternally grateful to my awesome employeer BCC who allows me the time off to do this – I couldn’t ask for a more supportive bunch of people to work with … and THANK YOU to everyone who has supported us so far

PonyCam update

PonyCam update

It is installed and running off of a 12v leisure battery – there is a cigarette lighter adapter with 2 USB ports running power to the Nano Router and the Pi

The Pi is mounted on a shelf – in a little cradle made from EVA foam to stop it sliding about. The camera is mounted with some velcro under the shelf which can be angled as required.

We used it for the first time yesterday as I took Luna out to a horse show and it worked beautifully. Streaming the image to the iPad worked really well. The picture was good and the battery appears to be lasting forever which is also good.

So all in all I am over the moon with it – I will look to improve it, but so far so good. I will post an update with any improvements we make 🙂

 

Run 4 Feel the Force Day 2019

Hello lovely readers …

It is that time of year again when I am preparing to spend a few days at Disneyland Paris running to raise money for my favourite charity .. yes you heard that right RUNNING.  Every year since 2016 my best friend and fellow Disney fan and costumer Sam Edgar have headed to Disneyland Paris in September to take part in the Disneyland Paris Run Weekend.

Feel the Force Day is the world’s only Film, TV and Comic Con designed for visually impaired people, disabled people & people with learning difficulties.Founded in 2013 by Si Howard and JJ Lucia-Wright, what started off as a small event in a backroom has grown into one of the biggest fan run Film, TV and Comic Cons in the country. So much so, they have outgrown the Kingsgate Conference Centre in Peterborough and they are moving to the East of England arena which can hold a massive 8,000 people.

 
Si, JJ and their fantastic team put on an event that EVERYONE can feel comfortable at. FTFD events are accessible for wheelchairs and scooters of all shapes and sizes, aisles are wide to allow guests with walking aids to pass, tables are at a height that chairs and shorter guests can access. There are sensory rooms and touch tables for guests with visual or hearing problems, quiet rooms for guests who are anxious, autistic and have other issues with noise and crowds. Guests are encouraged to touch props and costumes – it is a festival of sound and vision, touch and taste – something for all the senses – even if that means very quiet and one on one experience.
 

Since 2016 Sam and I (and our amazing team) have ran 203km and raised almost £3,000 for Feel the Force Day.

This year a team of 4 are heading to DLP for run weekend between us we will be running 108km between us.

The adults in the group will be doing the challenges

I am running the 36k challenge which is 3 races : 5k, 10k and half marathon

Sam & Ben are running the 31k challenge which is 2 races: 10k and half marathon

5k is on Friday night at 8pm, 10k is Saturday morning at 7am and the half is on Sunday morning at 7am.  We have to be in the corals an hour before the race so that is a 4:30/5am wake up – lovely 🙂

We do this because we all believe that Feel the Force Day is an amazing cause. It is completely run by volunteers and is funded by donations and the kind sponsorship of local companies.

If you can spare £1, €1, $1 or any amount in any currencey to sponsor us  that would be amazing. You can donate to our run by visiting our Just Giving page or hit the donate button below. If you wish to donate or pledge a donation in person please let us know.

All donations go straight to the 1st Sensory Legion charity who are the team behind Feel The Force Day and every penny really does count.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Thank you SO MUCH to our regular supporters who have sponsored us every year – you are amazing people and we love you.

To find out more please see the following links:V

PonyCam or Raspberry Pi surveillance system

This was a super simple and not very expensive project. I needed a way to watch the ponies in the horse box whilst we are travelling. Obviously you can buy systems that do this, but they are expensive – starting at about £150 for a low end one .. and they can get as expensive as £600.  I was convinced that I could make something way cheeper than that with a Raspberry Pi .. so I googled.

What you will need to make a surveillance system:

Something to use as a screen – an old phone, tablet as long as it can connect via wi-fi and it has a browser that will work fine.

 

 

Raspberry Pi Zero W – which you can buy from the awesome PiMoroni or PiHut for less than £10

Link to Pi Zero – Pimoroni
Link to PiZero – PiHut

 

Pi Camera – I have this one from amazon £13 comes with a handy camera holder
Amazon Link to PiCamera

 

 

Wireless nano router – again from amazon for less than £20, this allows the Pi to talk to the device to show the streaming video
Amazon Link to Nano Router

 

 

 

Basic Steps

Setting up the Nano Router

Super simple. You normally fire it up and browse to its web interface and login to set it up. Most have very simple guides to set it up and to be honest as its not connecting to anything other than the RaspberryPi and an old phone default settings are fine.

I have changed the wireless settings on mine to call it PonyCam and gave it a sensible password.

 

The only other things I have changed is making the IP address of the Pi and phone sticky so they keep the same ones

 

Setting up the Pi

  • Set up the Pi as normal – the lasest version of raspbian and patch it – you can get info about installing if you have never done it before here
  • Build the camera housing .. it is a bit fiddly but takes about 5 mins.
  • Enable the camera module – Either from the UI

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or the terminal –

sudo raspi-config

and select the Interfacing Options > Enable/Disable the RaspberryPi camera

once complete reboot

  • Shut the Pi down and plug the camera in
  • Turn it back on
  • Attach the Pi to the new wireless network – PonyCam in my case
  • Get the IP of your pi – from a terminal
ifconfig

The IP of my Pi is 192.168.0.102 and I have set it in the router to always assign that IP.

nano rpi_camera_surveillance_system.py
  • Run the script by running the following command
python3 rpi_camera_surveillance_system.py
  • Test the script from the Pi by going to the following url:
    http://ipaddressofpi:8000
    i.e – http://192.168.0.102:8000

A lovely image of the back of a chair, but it works 🙂

Start up and shutdown

As I am going to want to use this ‘headless’ as a plug and go solution I wanted the script to run on Pi boot and have a way to shut the Pi down nicely rather than just pulling the plug.

Firstly configure VNC

  • If you don’t already have one, create a free VNC account
  • Enable the VNC from the UI under Preferences > Raspberry Pi Configuration

  • This will open up the config dialog, enable VNC
  • Once rebooted you can configure the Pi – by default you log in with the standard Pi username and password.
  • Install VNC viewer on the phone or tablet and configure it – make sure it is connected to the same wifi as the Pi.
  • You can now connecto to the Pi using it’s local IP address and the Pi username and password.
  • This will allow you to shut the pi down and command it from the phone or tablet – simples

Add the Camera script to the startup

We now have to add the camera script to the autostart file

  • Run the command
sudo nano /etc/xdg/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart 
  • Once the file has opened use the arrow keys to navigate to the end of the 2nd line and press enter. Add the path of the script on to line 3 just above the screen saver.

  • Save and close the file and restart the Pi. The camera script will start when the Pi boots.

And there you go .. all done .. I will post an update over the next week with it all installed and working.

The idea for this was taken from the randomnerdtutorials site which has loads of cool Pi camera projects. Use this link here to see the video streaming posts tutorial and thanks to my hubby Nathan for doing some of the grunt work as I was busy working – he is now full of ideas for projects with Pi cameras 🙂

HCL Connections – Our Future is Now

On Tuesday I joined the HCL Connections – Our Future is Now call, thank you Mat Newman for tweeting about it as I had totally missed this was on.

Wow there was a lot packed into that hour ..

The highlights for me were:

  • Tailored Experiences  and the community updates
    • Totally customisable spaces
    • Built with widgets
    • Lifecycle management (YES!)
  • The Road Map – so so much being delievered over the next 18 months
    • Connections 6 CR
    • Connections 6.5
    • 3rd Party Integrations
    • Connections 7
  • Lowering the TCO for the Componant Pack – Can not come soon enough for me

There is so much good stuff coming plus the news on Connections Cloud and the new offerings, I have written a full roundup over at the BCC Blog , so please check out the full posting there.

MS Teams stuck on dnd

Yesterday after an update and a reboot my Teams app was set to offline and no matter what I tried to do it was stuck. Not at all frustrating as I use Teams every day.

My other office apps were working ok, and my status showed as online in the web version of teams.

I couldn’t work out why it wasn’t playing ball so a quick google led me to a few community articles about setting the status as a command rather than from the UI.

Even though I was offline already the only way I could get my status to show up as available was to set my status to dnd on the desktop app using the command /dnd and then back to available with /available, I then had to force it by hitting the webapp version of teams and suddenly my desktop app showed up as being available!

No idea why it happened in the first place, but this work around seems to have resolved the issue. Hopefully this won’t happen again, but if it does at least I have a work around.

European Collaboration Summit was a blast

The European Collaboration Summit was last week in Germany. I am still fairly new to the world of Microsoft Conferences and user groups / community events, but the collabsummit was fantastic.

Will about 2,000 attendees it is one of the biggest, if not the biggest community run events in the world. Jam packed with lots of sessions about all types of collaboration there was too much to chose from.

I presented on Wednesday 29th May. The session “How to automate life cycle management of Teams and ensure compliance and security”, covered some of the challenges organizations face with managing teams – from creation and security, through to Teams lifecycle management and how BCC can help with our new Teams Management module for AdminTool.

My first time presenting at a Microsoft Event and the audience were great – so thank you 🙂 Yet again Olaf pushed me slightly out of my comfort zone as he is a big believer in my ability – which I am very greatful.

 

The sense of community at the collabsummit was amazing .. this conference has been running for about 10  years and the community is family to a lot of the attendees – which I can relate to after being in the IBM space with the community.

The thing I have learned most is that

  • The adoption problems are the same not matter what the technology you use
  • Collaboration is all about the people – still all about the people and has always been about the people
  • Teams is the way forward for Microsoft as far as real time collaboration goes
  • The Microsoft community guys are fantastic

I am very much looking forward to seeing some of my new family at Microsoft Ignite in Novemeber and the ECSP Conference in December.

Next step is to get an MVP .. that is high on my priority this year 🙂

 

 

We had an excellent time at Engage

Slightly delayed due to many conferences and travelling,  here is my round up of Engage 2019.

This year’s Engage was bigger than ever. In the amazing location of AutoWorld in Brussels – I have no idea how Theo finds these great venues year after year.

With over 400 attendees, 1500 tweets, 88 speakers, 85 sessions, 26 sponsors and 35 IBM Champions – I am sure this was the biggest Engage event yet.

HCL and IBM were working in partnership, but this time HCL took the lead as the sale of the ICS products to HCL is going to happen very soon (news on the street is somepoint in June 2019). Richard Jefts is like Robin Hood, it feels like he has stolen the ICS products away from IBM (the Sherrif of Nottingham) and he is giving it back to the community. That isn’t to say that IBM have done a bad job at all over the past 2 years with our beloved products – its all steps in the right direction.

I am very much looking forward to see what HCL do with my beloved WebSphere Commerce – the software I worked on for 7 years. If I can dip my toe in the Commerce pond again I will be a very happy person.

I was lucky enough to present at Enage with my big boss Olaf. Our session Making Domino & Office 365 your Dream Team” covered integration, pain points and challenges, some things you may not have thought about and how to ensure that organisations can work effectively with both sets of technology. There were plenty of people (almost 40) in the session and we had some great questions and discussion. You can find the slides below

 

Speed Sponsoring this year was a little different too. This year each sponsor had a 2 minute 30 second pitch in the OGS and the audience voted on their favourite.

Stephanie and I had great fun reading the news and we won 🙂 You can watch our fun news broadcast here:

Absolutely loved it as usual .. already looking forward to next year and what Theo and the team have instore for us 🙂

 

May will be a busy month

I have been a bit quiet of late .. I have been a little busy – working hard at BCC, spending time with the family and the horses and booking my place at the Magic Run Weekend at Disneyland Paris (more about that in a later post) but May will be a busy month ..
I will be at the awesome Engage with co-speaker (and my boss 🙂 ) Olaf Boerner. We have a great session for you on Making Domino and Office 365 your Dream Team ..

Engage is a fantastic event .. free to attend and has some of the best speakers from the ICS bubble, it is well worth the trip.

Just after Engage there is the European Collaboration Summit in Germany. One of the largest user run conferences in Europe for Microsoft.  Again I will be speaking (at my first Microsoft conference) on Microsoft Teams: How to automate life cycle management of Teams and ensure compliance and security. I am really looking foward to it

So hope to see you at one or both of these events 🙂