Our Next Meeting: Wednesday 20th August at 7:30 p.m.
Social Evening, Meal at the Black Buoy Wivenhoe.

Our next meeting is our August Social Evening, which is to be a meal at the Black Buoy in Wivenhoe. The social evenings are always an enjoyable way to catch up with friends from both Iceni and the Essex club, and we hope you can join us for an evening of good food and conversation!

Details to follow.

Our Last Meeting: Wednesday 2nd July 2008
"Internet Applications - Ebay, Web 2.0, Flickr and more" - Everyone

At our last meeting we spent the evening looking at a number of Internet applications, and looked at some aspects of Web 2.0. A hectic evening with lots to look at, that I think was informative and enjoyable for all.

We began the evening with an introduction to one of the latest buzzwords on the web, the so called Web 2.0. While this often refers to modern interactive sites in general it can be considered more specifically to include sites that use AJAX - Asynchronous Javascript and XML. This web technology allows the web page to send and receive data to the server, and dynamically update without page refreshes. Combined with dynamic HTML this can create feature rich pages with lots of added functionality over standard HTML, some of which was demonstrated during the evening.



Other "web 2.0" technologies include blogs, wikis and RSS feeds which many people are familiar with.

AJAX technology was originally developed my Microsoft originated as an ActiveX object which was later implemented in JavaScript in Mozilla.

Web 2.0 sites often provide open APIs to interact with the sites functionality which has led to a type of application called Mashups. A Mashup is a site/application that interacts with a number of components of multiple other websites. Examples include sites that can display the geographical locations of photos hosted on a photo site such as Flickr, on a Google Map. Later in the evening we looked at an example of a mashup, Walkdb which interacts with Google Maps to show walking routes loaded by users.

As a hands on evening, with 3G Internet access we demonstrated a number of sites. The first was DhoniShow, http://lifedraft.de/projekte/dhonishow/ which showed an example of JavaScript and dhtml dynamically loading photos into the page as a slideshow.

A site with lots of examples, many of which are free to use is http://www.ajaxrain.com/ . From this site we looked at prettyPhoto http://www.no-margin-for-errors.com/projects/prettyPhoto/ , a so called Lightbox clone, which loaded images selected from thumbnails as a pop up layer over the text of the main page.

Looking at general features rather than purely image related functions, we also looked at Flexigrid http://webplicity.net/flexigrid/. This allowed tables and grids to be placed on the page, including next page functionality, add and remove data, and the ability to save this back to a server all included in the API. Such features begin to show how web applications that look and feel similar to a standard native program could be implemented.

Our final demo of the underlying technology for the evening was SproutCore. This is a set of APIs to provide a framework to develop web apps with the look and feel of normal applications all running within the browser. This provides most of the widgets required when GUI programming, icons, folders, text boxes, and also drag and drop etc. A major vendor has implemented fully featured Email, Calendars, Photo Galleries and more for use from any browser using these APIs.

After a break we began looking at real examples on the web, beginning with Google.

Google Maps was widely known to most members present needing little introduction, but we also looked at the ability to create mashups and extend the Maps application, as well as looking up the location of Barham church using the satellite view.

Google Docs provides a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation apps, which are simplified but similar to Word, Excel, Powerpoint. They are surprisingly useable for web apps, and can import Office docs. Documents created can be shared and edited by other users online.

Google Calendar provides an online calendar including drag and drop of appointments. Events can be imported and exported in the common iCal format.

Google Photos using the technology from Picassa provides online photo gallery and image editing support.

There are many many more applications from Google. Reader for RSS feeds, iGoogle for use as a home page desktop in your browser and much more.

Another feature of Google is AppEngine which allows you to develop your own applications using the Google APIs and host them at Google. Apps are written in Python and can store data etc. in the same way as Google's own applications. Here we looked at WalkDB, a mashup using Google Maps to add, view and manage walking routes, complete with distance calculations. http://walkdb.appspot.com

A downside of such mashups is that they are dependant on the APIs of all 3rd party sites being available simultaneously in order to work correctly.

Moving on from Google we looked at Flickr, a photo hosting environment now owned by Yahoo. This allows the account holder to upload and organise sets of photos, batch edit sets etc. with all the management features using JavaScript and AJAX. Visitors to your pages can view your sets of photos including JS driven slideshows.

Finally we looked at RSS - Really Simple Syndication which allows snippets of data from web pages (news items etc.) to be made available using XML and aggregated in a common reader. Examples shown included BBC News and Drobe.

Finally to round off the evening, Peter introduced the methods he uses to maintain the club website and upload new newsletters... we're not quite Web 2.0 yet... but who knows in future!



Peter writes:-

I am hoping you are all having an enjoyable summer and will be able to come to the Dinner on the 20th. This is a new venue for most of us but the menu you would have received in a separate email looks varied and interesting and has been designed in order to simplify our accounting afterwards by allowing a choice of two or three set price courses. I'm looking forward to it.

ICENI Future programme

We have had a committee meeting this month to revise our programme. Some of the topics below may change .

August 20th Social Evening at Black Buoy, Wivenhoe All
September 3rd MS Office 2007, Office 2008 for Mac Michael, Gareth
October 1st Linux Evening (provisional) TBA
November 5th Storage & Backup Peter
December 3rd Gadgets and Party evening All

Talks with Visiting speakers are shown in Red. We will give more details as soon as they are confirmed.

Our meetings are held at the Bourne Vale Social Club, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE , for a map and other details please see the website. http://icenicomputerclub.users.btopenworld.com

The first visit is free and subsequent visits for non - members is £2·50. The membership fee is £20 due from the AGM date in April, but may be reduced for those joining late in the year.


Continuing our publicity for EAUG events - please see their Website for details of their next meeting.

Meetings are at the Great Baddow Village Hall, on the second Tuesday of the month

opening at 7:30 p.m. for a start at 7:45 - 8:00 p.m.

For directions see below (note the new web addresses)

http://www.eaug.org.uk or 'phone one of the contacts on http://www.eaug.org.uk/ppl.htm

Mid- Suffolk Computer Users Group

For information on this group we have added a link here


Special Notice - Insurance

"ICENI does not have any Insurance cover for computers or other equipment so please be advised that you bring machines to the club at your own risk."

P.S. My insurance company have added my computer cover away from home with no extra premium required, yours might do the same.(Ed.)

Our Website and Email

If anyone would like a copy of the CD of our old newsletters this could be arranged.

I am open to suggestions on what people would like to have included in the website.

Our website URL is

http://icenicomputerclub.users.btopenworld.com as a virtual domain,

it can also be reached using http://www.btinternet.com/~icenicomputerclub

Email to: iceni@woolridge.org.uk