Posted by Belle in Geek on February 18, 2013

BarCamp Hong Kong 2013

After organizing our 5th consecutive BarCamp at CoCoon last summer, our team at BeansBox decided to take a break and passed the torch to other volunteers this year. We remain as sponsors of this meaningful event and will be attending on both dates — it's February 23rd and 24th, 2013.

If you have never been to a BarCamp and are not sure whether it's worth going, check out the official site, what people have presented at the past BarCamps and the Facebook Group to get an idea. For many people who have only been to traditional type of conferences, BarCamp would be a breath of fresh air.

Everything is "user generated" at a BarCamp — you are expected to participate actively and every one is there to share and learn. It doesn't matter what you do for a living, what language you speak, what topics you're interested in, or whether you plan to present .. there will always be a good mix of smart and interesting people to meet. Check out our previous posts on BarCamp:

See you at the HK Polytechnic University this weekend!

Posted by Belle in Geek on December 20, 2011

BarCamp Hong Kong is the biggest unconference in town and we're proud to be part of it for the 4th consecutive year. Together with the ever awesome Ben Crox, we put together the whole event in a few weeks, and I have to say, it's been our toughest project of the year! A total of 940 people signed up, over 500 attended and 54+ sessions were hosted at BarCamp Hong Kong 2011 on November 12, 2011. 

The Venue

To avoid the heat, we decided to move BarCamp to mid-November this year and totally by accident we found the newly-completed Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre at the City University of Hong Kong which happened to be available to us at that time. We were thrilled that we were able to host BarCamp there and the folks at the School of Creative Media have been extremely supportive and professional throughout.

The Preparation

We started by launching the official website, then spread the word with an EDM and various updates on Facebook and Twitter. On top of the usual signage and lanyards, we also designed a BarCamp T-shirt without any sponsor logos for the first time and sold a ton of them.

Instead of using multiple sign-up channels including Wiki, Google Spreadsheet and Facebook Event like in previous years, we wanted to find something that could help us better manage sign-ups and check-ins. After looking at a lot of other BarCamp sites, we went with Eventbrite and it turned out to be a godsend.

On the other hand, we also had to coordinate with the venue, sort out all logistics (like finding lunch caterer and a bar), the run-down and unfortunately also the huge task of finding sponsors in the last minute when the organizer in charge of that did not follow up. 

On The Day

With Eventbrite, not only could we manage sign-ups easily, we were also able to accept donations, sell T-shirts in advance, setup custom fields for surveys and generate all kinds of reports that help us plan and run the event more easily. The killer? It must be its Entry Manager iPhone app —  it made the check-in process not only painless but nearly addictive! I was amazed by how smooth the check-in was, and of course this could not have been possible without the help of our volunteers - big thumbs up to Ryanne, VinciAdaline, Maloney, Chris, Echo, Alan Lai, Water, Howard, David, Koala, Kwong, Marianne, Asuka, Brian, Eddie, Alan Ho and Polly!

This year we took the schedule wall and put it up online so there was much less "squeezing" at the physical schedule wall. The hard part? Entering all 54+ sessions into the online spreadsheet in 15 minutes when hundreds of attendees were eagerly waiting behind your back! It felt as terrifying as shooting zombies in The Typing of the Dead.

Personally, I wouldn't say the day went "perfectly" (there's no perfect in anything) but given the brand new venue and resources we had, I'm happy with what we have achieved. The CMC is not a traditional classroom building so we weren't able to setup rooms that were close to each other, and the security system also prevented us from keeping the room doors open for the flow of attendees walking in and out during the sessions. But overall I still think this is a fantastic venue and if we were able to host another BarCamp here, we would definitely be able to iron out a lot of the small kinks.

See you all again next year!

P.S. Be sure to check out our new side project - the BarCamp HK Wall.

Posted by Elmer in Geek on June 15, 2011

BBC, the worlds largest broadcaster with about 23,000 staff, is currently developing an iOS application which will allow field reporters to broadcast news live from their iPhone devices, reports.

Posted by Elmer in Geek on November 16, 2010

One of the benefits of dealing with Yahoo! Answers is to virtually ask questions for everyone to answer. We get to reward someone who proposes the best answers through awarding a certain number of points which in turn translate to certain incentives.


Posted by Elmer in Geek on October 05, 2010

Social media website Digg is a popular avenue to gain something. From a visitor point of view, the site offers a wide spectrum of information neatly classified according to major sections. Such experience provides a dose of knowledge or answers to life-long questions. For websites looking for exposure, Digg offers such opportunity -- of course aided by its discerning brigade of loyal members. And for good reason.

Digg users are empowered to promote or veto any content submitted by fellow user. By digging an article, someone is doing the submitter a favor by promoting the article and improving its chances of landing on the homepage, a lucrative piece of real estate that exposures the link to thousands of potential visitors ready to visit that interesting news, image or video. All for free courtesy of Digg.

Websites evolve in function, design and purpose and Digg is not an exception. But when the latest site (version 4) update took place a little more than a month ago, users revolted against sudden removal of basic functions that made Digg a hit to the masses. Features like bury, friends submissions, subcategories and upcoming pages were removed. The site "innovation" is equivalent to taking away the power of users. Users even organized a "quit Digg day" and prompted rival site Reddit to add the iconic shovel into its logo as a way to welcome disgruntled Digg users.

Such exodus of users is a common observation in social media, where members feel empowered and sometimes feel impatient when things aren't going their way. From one of the most popular sites, Digg lost a third of its loyal audience and became haven for spammers looking to take advantage of the immobilized power users. Digg tried to restore its old algorithm in a bid to avert further loss of confidence and credibility. Would Digg be able to recoup its loses if it does things right? In the sphere of social media -- like pretty much elsewhere -- it's much easier to lose visitor loyalty than gain it. And with one silly move, Digg altered the competitive market and allowed its challengers to compete in a better vantage point.

So what do we learn from this experience?

Posted by Elmer in Geek on September 01, 2010

It's the first of September. In some regions of the Earth, autumn season ushers in leaves start to fall. Changes in foliage color provide significant change in surroundings as school season begins. 

Here in Hong Kong, September also means the annual BarCamp Hong Kong is happening. For the uninformed, BarCamp is an ad-hoc gathering of people from different walks of life, aiming to share and learn various subjects where intense discussion and interaction is a norm. BarCamp's "unconference" format defies conventional template for formal speaking engagements and allows speakers to freely share their adopted expertise at their most comfortable approach.

Posted by Elmer in Geek on July 19, 2010

Not too long ago, Google disclosed that site speed is one factor that it considers when evaluating pages/websites for search engine visibility. This means websites with sound technical make up has the advantage on that front. Fast loading websites allow search engines to access pages quicker, efficiently jumping from one page to another and covering more content without facing the risk of server time outs.

But what about those websites that face site speed challenges? Are they just left at the mercy of search engines, hoping that when spiders pay a visit at its most idle time? Or is immediate switch to a better, faster web host the way to go? Even if the latter is a good strategic move, let's not take our chances; there are still things we can do with out slow website.

Posted by Elmer in Geek on July 14, 2010

Facebook used to be just a place for friends to communicate, interact and share. But Facebook wasn't contented with that role, in the company with Ning, Tagged or Friendster. When searching for information, users typically leave the site and head towards popular search engines. Facebook wants to be the one-stop web utility and not just a social media hangout. Not long ago it revised its page layout to emphasize use of search engines. Unlike its early days, Facebook now displays people's profiles, groups, pages and web results. Therefore its usefulness extend beyond simple searches; it becomes a legitimate search engine more than just an internal site search feature.

As we consider Facebook's 400 million plus users spending longer hours to play virtual games, viewing photos or writing on "walls", chances are, a portion of them should be using Facebook search at any given time. If our Facebook fan page does not appear on the autofill results screen, we are missing out on Facebook's opportunity. Heck, many sites don't even have Facebook pages.

But to those who wish to rank for Facebook pages, being there as the user types the first few letters of a search query brings lots of opportunity (brand exposure, to begin with). However, unlike typical search engines where rankings are based on finite set of factors, Facebook relies on user behavior (past visitors, likes, events, clicks, connections, etc) so that the search form can be more appropriately called suggest form rather than search form.

Possibly, Facebook does this auto suggest feature to attract users into clicking them and staying in the website instead of going directly to the search results page -- a portion of which is served by Bing -- whose quality is still inferior compared to Google's.

According to Aim Clear Blog, Facebook Suggest ranking factors could be the following:

Posted by Elmer in Geek on July 14, 2010

First impressions can be lasting. But in the realm of World Wide Web, that perception can quickly be extinguished in a matter of seconds.

Imagine if you're an owner of a online retail business selling books, software or air tickets. You intend to impress your target audience by securing the services of a top-notch web design agency, and when it's time to launch, you are excited and hyped to surprise your visitors with cutting edge design, high resolution photos and fancy content.

Launch date passed and -- with right marketing mix -- curious visitors flocked towards your website. That's good news. But at the end of the day, you noticed that the web analytics metrics better represented passers by rather than legitimate visitors: most of them reached the homepage but left soon after.

Instead of you surprising your visitors with a brilliant looking revamped website, their behavior is the one that surprised you.

Well, your visitors' behavior is not really surprising if you answered 'yes' to the question: Did you consider user experience in building your website?

Posted by Elmer in Geek on May 17, 2010

About a month ago, Facebook made the change so that all entities we have become fans of are now simply entities that we like. Prior to that change, I can click the "Become a Fan" button to receive updates, just like the outcome of following a Twitter user. Consequently, my name appears on the page profile as one of its fans while the page appears on my account profile. Obviously, "Like" is not new to Facebook. To signify my thumbs up feedback to a photo album or a friend's status update, I can easily click the "Like" button. According to Facebook, users click "Like" almost twice as much as they click "Become a Fan" -- so, it follows that if Facebook changes "Become a Fan" to "Like," more users will click on it. Whatever source Facebook such info was extracted, the numbers don't seem to add up.

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