Last night’s Reading Geek Night had a definite feel of "other" geekiness, with not a programming-based talk in sight. This seemed to be a well-received change, with a crowd bigger than any I’ve seen so far.
Claire Thompson: Making a difference at The next level
After the introduction from Jim Anning, Claire Thompson opened the night with an introduction to The Difference Engine – a seed capital and mentorship programme based in the north of England, similar to US-based Y Combinator. She gave a nice overview of how the programme works, including both the benefits (money, advice, environment) and the costs involved (sleep, a slice of your company).
Tom Lord: Tips and tricks on how to take better photos
Tom Lord took the next slot, offering advice on "tips and tricks on how to take better photos." Although obviously nervous, Tom gave a good rundown of the basic use of and connection between shutter speed, aperture and film speed (ISO), and showed off some of his own fantastic shots (even if the projector didn’t do them the justice they deserved.)
Alan Bradburne: Use it or lose it
Alan Bradburne was next up, and his presentation was actually Reading Geek's first product launch. Alan – along with Stuart Robinson under the lastpixel banner – has created Use It Or Lose It: a site aimed at helping people get rid of the clutter in their lives.
By Alan's own admission, it’s very much a v1.0 product currently, but they’ve got a whole host of new features and ideas that they’re currently working on. In addition, the whole platform is based on an API, which the front-end itself uses, and will be opened up to third-party developers to use. Everyone in attendance was given a pre-launch signup URL to start using the product and coming up with suggestions and ideas.
Raymond Lee: M-Pesa: Mobile tech in Africa
Finally, Raymond Lee stepped up to talk about "M-Pesa: Mobile Tech in Africa." M-Pesa is a mobile-phone based money transfer service which began life in Kenya where only 20% of people have access to a bank account, but 70% of people have mobile phones.
Ray gave some amazing numbers for use of the system, such as that the system has over 10m users in Kenya, with 10,000 new subscribers daily, and that 35% of all Kenyan transactions currently go through M-Pesa. It sounds like a fantastic system, and it was great to hear about this sort of innovation.
Overall, another great night of Thames Valley-based geekery. Reading Geek Night 10 is on August 10th. See you there?