Our Next Meeting Wednesday 16th December 2009 "Gadgets & Party evening."

December is once again our Gadgets evening. Please bring along any new gadgets or toys that you have collected over the year to demonstrate. Remember they do not have to be computer related , in the past we have had everything from kitchen gadgets to a paper clip!!

As this is a relaxed evening near to Christmas, feel free to bring any light refreshments along for us to consume while chatting. I will bring my usual Doritos and dips, and some home made mince pies.


Our Last Meeting: Wednesday 18th November
Social Networking & Web applications (Facebook, Twitter etc.)
by Gareth et al.

For our evening on Social Networking we looked at ways of interacting and sharing status information on the modern Web. As this was a hands on evening using live internet sites we had internet access using a 3G dongle which was successful, if a little slow at times. Some of the sites visited were quite bandwidth intensive and did require downloading in the background as the evening progressed.

Social Networking sites come in a variety of shapes and sizes ranging from Facebook where you can interact and comment on all aspects of life in great detail, to Twitter where your updates are limited to 160 characters similar to text messages. In addition we have the traditional blogging format using Wordpress and Livejournal to name but a few, and also the video and picture sharing sites such as YouTube and Flickr which allow you to upload and discuss your media.

We began with a brief look at MySpace which was possibly the first big site to gain popularity with the general internet users. This site made it very easy to create a web presence with streaming audio, images, video etc. with comments, and the notion of friends. While it is used by individuals its strongest following is probably via bands and groups, often small but not exclusively that use it as a means of communicating with fans. Although MySpace did wane slightly in popularity a few years ago it does seem to be seeing a resurgence today, probably following the explosion in Social Networking sites more recently.

Looking at conventional blogging we moved on to look at LiveJournal. This is one of large number of blogging sites together with WordPress, Joomla and many more. Again many of these sites have been running since before the Web 2.0 boom, LiveJournal claims over its time online to have served over 24 million distinct blogs. Blogging can take many forms from a commentary about your life, to specific blogs be they technical, political etc. and on the evening we did look at a random IT blog. In addition to the free blog hosting, certain sites offer the code for free to host your own, Joomla and Wordpress for example.

Many businesses now allow or encourage public blogging. One example of this in the IT industry is SUN Microsystems where many employees blog daily, including the CEO. I (Gareth) follow a blog from their SUN Ray thin client division which we briefly looked at on the night. The guy who runs this particular blog has a mix of work promoting SUN technology to social and family, and also maintains a list of related blogs both internal and external to SUN.

Next we looked at FaceBook probably the most heard of experiment in social networking of recent times. Using FaceBook you can comment in quite a lot of detail on anything that is happening via "status updates", upload photos and videos, find friends, organise events and much much more. FaceBook uses a set of open APIs allowing third party's to provide extensions to the core site developed by the FaceBook team. This now includes huge numbers of apps from games you can play within FaceBook such as Farmville and Mafia Wars through to the ability to send hugs, gifts, throw pies.... you name it. It is these 3rd party add ons that probably make it such a success, but that is not without privacy concerns.

In FaceBook you can set how much of your personal information can be seen by your friends, select groups of friends, and the whole world. It is down to you to manage it, and you must be very careful. Some people restrict all information both personal, status updates and photos etc. unless you are a confirmed friend, some have everything open (dangerous). I opt for a middle ground, although even that is somewhat controversial (Gareth).

An additional concerns is that all these 3rd party applications running on external servers to FaceBook also require access via secure means to some of your profile information. While the link between these apps and FB is secured, can you be certain what information is being stored?? That aside, it has been useful to me to get back in touch with old school friends, colleagues etc. (Gareth).

Very briefly we also looked at LinkedIn. This has status updates, friends etc. and is designed to help you build and maintain a network of contacts, but in a business and career oriented way.

Another site from the earlier days is Friends Reunited which offers a way of discovering old friends from schools, universities, businesses etc. without adverts, but is not free and required subscription. This has now branched out into other fields to maintain competitive, probably as a result of FaceBook offering some of the experience for free.

Moving on from the verbose experience of blogging sites and FaceBook we moved on to Twitter. Twitter allows the user to publish small SMS style updates called Tweets online pushed to any device that supports Twitter and to the main website. Twitter has a number of quite high profile users including Stephen Fry who has over a million registered followers of his Twitter feed. Paul also uses Twitter to follow Radio Scilly which publishes small Tweets from its shows online.

On an open source theme we also looked very briefly at identi.ca which is very similar to Twitter but is completely open source. You can use the service from the website, or download the code to integrate into your own site.

Wrapping up the evening we moved on to a look at the media sharing sites, in particular YouTube and Flickr. These allow you to upload video and pictures online, both publicly and semi-privately and to allow comment etc. YouTube in particular is useful to allow streaming of a video from your own website without the bandwidth requirements. On Flickr we can upload photos in full original quality but with smaller sized automatically available. We can create photosets for particular events and set both public access, and restrict to friends/family although they must then have Flickr accounts. Although some of this privacy functionality has been implemented we discussed how this is quite limited and not everyone would find this acceptable for putting their media online.

Finally we mentioned RSS or Really Simple Syndication. This is a means of pushing out updates via a simple XML format to any client that can support RSS. Many many websites now use this, you can follow the BBC News via RSS to a browser or client of your choice, but also you can subscribe to Flickr feeds etc. and get informed when new photos are uploaded or tags etc. change. This is quite powerful as you can bring many sources of information into one single app.


Once again we near the end of the year so I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Please suggest any topics which are of interest to you either if you want to present to the Club, or if you would like us to try and present an evening on it.


We also need to think of a suitable venue for the January Social Evening- has anyone any good ideas/ experiences.


ICENI Future programme

16 December Gadgets and Party evening All
20 January Social Evening TBA All
17 February Windows 7 "The Release" Michael
17 March Mac OSX update "Snow Leopard" Gareth
21 April AGM plus update on software
iLife,Photodesk 3.09 etc.

Note the programme is flexible and in particular the February and March meetings may be swapped around.

Meetings are now on the Third Wednesday of the month unless otherwise stated.

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.

There is now a full list of meetings up to the end of the year listed on their website.


Tea/coffee/biscuits usually available.

Visitors pay 2.00 GBP for the evening, which is deductible from the

normal joining subscription if you decide to join at a later date.

See the Membership page of the website for more information:


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

Ipswich Computer Club (formerly Mid-Suffolk Computer Users Group)

For information on this group we have added a link here

http://www.ipswichcc.co.uk They have now a brand new website although they don't have a link from their old website.

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."

However many household insurance policies will include cover away from home often with no increase in premium. (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