EduGeek Conference June 2011 in Preston

It is now the end of another very successful EduGeek conference in Preston. I am going to summarise the event below and also go through some of the 'social' area's of the evening get together. 🙂

The Journey Inbound to Preston actually went very quickly after a fellow EduGeek joined the train at Crewe Train Station. We arrived at Preston Train Station on schedule around 16:00hrs and had a Latte and a Chocolate Muffin whilst waiting to see if any other members were around so we could get a taxi together to the Hotel. Unfortunately no one else turned up so myself and Stuart jumped in a Black Cab to also then be amazed by the cab driver whom showed us his bit of Tech 🙂 Integrated Monitor on the passenger Sun Visor and he played Top Gear for us!! I think it was just luck that he picked up a couple of geeks at the time so we were pretty damn impressed to be honest.. although he let himself down when he started using his mobile phone whilst driving! naughty.

So, we managed to arrive at the hotel without the taxi driver being pulled by the local police force unlike the previous year where the taxi driver that took us got caught speeding and was presented with a £60 and 3 points! but we won't go there it must just be a Preston / Taxi Driver thing.

Myself and Stuart checked in to the hotel, put out stuff in the room and chilled out in the hotel bar catching up with other members that filtered in. We had a couple of hours before the arranged meal time so it was good fun. Once everyone had arrived we jumped in a few taxi's and went for a very nice group meal at Checco's which was an Italian Restaurant on Garstang Road about 3 minutes away in a taxi. We spent a good few hours there loads of chatting and catching up before heading back to the Hotel Bar for more drinks! 🙂 Myself, Shaun (ZeroHour), Chris (Dos_Box) and Tony (GrumbleDook) sat down at a table to have a taste of some fine whiskeys that Grumbledook brought down for us to have a try. I don't remember much about them apart from the fact they were very nice.. this lasted until around 3am where we all headed up to bed for a few hours.

Getting up in the morning was not too much trouble, and although i don't get hangover the whiskey made me go into a very nice sleep so waking up at 8am was not something i wanted to be doing but anyway was up and joining everyone in the lobby ready to head off to the conference location.

Now, the new location for the conference itself was much better indeed we had an internet connection that worked which was like gold for us geeks! the size was pretty much the same as the last location and this time we had a very nice area for the Exhibitors that joined us. Due to an accident on the M6 some members were running late and due to some technical difficulties! (we won't go there) we was running behind schedule by around 45 minutes but thankfully through-out the day we managed to catchup with ourselves.

Now, I won't go into too much detail as to be honest even though I was listening I was very busy with Shaun looking after the Video Feed and Online Discussion that we had in place so that members whom could not attend could also benefit from what the speakers/presenters had to say. We used Adobe Connect to do this and I must say it is very smooth!! much better than what we used previously (mixture of different online services thrown together).

Rick Byers (Dos_Box's) brother was up first to discuss 'The Data Protection Act - Myths and Musts' it was a very interesting topic, and the key points here were as follows:

  • Becta Data Handling area on the National Archive site, including the guidance. View Here
  • You can outsource the data hosting, but you are still responsible for the protection and DPA compliance
  • schools are no 3 on the list of the ICO's watch list. Lots are having action / investigation at the moment.
  • Audit of Data Protection closely linked with ISO27000 ... (also can be linked to ISO9001:2008 for Quality Management)
  • Understand where your data comes from. Information Asset Register ... where is it stored? Do a risk assessment on it.
  • Do people need access to it? think of it like a firewall ... all closed off and then open up what you need.
  • Think about what people need to do their job, and make sure the right people have the right information at the right time.
  • Make sure you have a process for handling data access requests. (Samples can be found via EduGeek Wiki - Tony Shephard's Old Files)

The Presentation for Rick Byers Session can be downloaded from HERE

Up next was Jason Meers One Planet Computing - Environment Tips / Green Computing notes from this session are:

  • A switched on but unused pc and monitor is the equivalent of over £200 in electricity per year
  • Get a cheap power meter from Maplins / CPC to see what your kit is using and work it out
  • Desktop Virtualisation can work to support Information Security.
  • Don't throw away your old kit because you can make use of it. (however, sometimes you have to hide that it is old kit fro the kids!

The Presentation for One Planet Computing can be downloaded from HERE

Tom Newton - Smoothwall - Security Tools

Below are a list of security tools that were recommended:

  1. WEPAWET - Good website that will check URL's for you before you visit them... useful for checking links on facebook etc. gives you a good report.
  2. VIRUSTOTAL - Online Virus, Malware, Spyware checker (upload a file or point to a URL)
  3. WIRESHARK - Go Deep so it says, good for analyzing network traffic etc.
  4. ZENMAP - Scan Networks for interesting stuff 🙂 you can also use 'FING' for your smartphone (basically tells you what devices are on network)
  5. Cain&Abel - USE WITH CAUTION it is a product that is very dangerous for finding out information on a machine. If you use this in your environment make sure you speak to your line manager first!! IMPORTANT
  6. Trinity Rescue Kit - Allows you to rescue systems that have died, retrieve files before formatting etc.

If you want any further information regarding security speak to the chaps over at Smoothwall or/ Follow there BLOG. 🙂 very helpful chaps.

The Presentation for Smoothwall can be downloaded from HERE

AEG - UPS and Power Management

I did not catch much of this presentation to be honest, but basically AEG talked about MicroGrids and how to re-use energy and maybe give some back to the grid. Looking into Solar Power also which in line with Thin Clients could save a school/business a hell of a lot of money.

The Presentation for AEG can be downloaded from HERE

Adobe Presentation

Adobe showed all the members some pretty cool things you can do with various Adobe Applications, Showed us how powerful Adobe Acrobat can be for Student Portfolios etc.

I will try and re-create some of the demo's over the course of the weekend to show you, but also consider checking out for some fantastic Video Tutorials.

  • < Is a good place to go for Tools for Education
  • Adobe Connect API can be used on VLEs such as Moodle, Sakai, Glow etc.
  • use tools like Capivate to record training for staff on how to use key IT systems including HelpDesk, etc

Adobe THANKED ALL the EduGeek members for there feedback, Adobe do watch the forums and use the information/feedback from members to help improve there product base and service in future.

Lancaster University Network Services- Schools and Independent Internet Connections

Again I did not catch much about this presentation, but you can download the presentation from HERE

Joskos / DELL KACE

Joskos walked through DELL KACE with everyone, basically it is a centralized patch management system, imaging system, audit system, helpdesk, knowledge base etc. I thought it was very good personally and some people whom have looked at Microsoft System Centre may be having difficulty might find KACE much eaiser but to be honest from what i can gather the cost's of KACE compared to System Centre on EES puts Microsoft in lead providing you can get System Centre up and running properly.

I do not have a presentation for this session, but if you wish to speak to Joskos regarding the DELL KACE Product visit there website:

Also as a note don't get me wrong I do really think the KACE system is VERY good, I would personally look into it for consideration and I do need to look into the actual costs of having such a system. At this moment in time from knowing about Microsoft System Centre I know it is very cheap under an EES Agreement.

End of Conference Day

I know I have not covered too much in regards to the actual conference, some of which I have taken back of twitter (it was kind of like the notepad for me) but hopefully the presentations will give you a good idea and the contact details for the presenters are contained within so if you have any further questions drop them an email/call or jump over to the forums and ask there:

Photo Courtesy of Ric Charlton (EduGeek Admin)

Evening Event/Aftermath

After a very successful day at least 50% of the conference attendees gathered together at the hotel just before moving on to the pub next door called "Phantom Winger" which is a very nice pub with good food to be honest. It became rather worrying that they had actually booked the table for the Thursday before and therefore our reservation was not in place but thankfully the upstairs dining area was still vacant and therefore we were able to use that as per arranged anyway.

Some of the members went for some rather large burgers, others had fish baskets and then some regular sized meals like myself whom had Sirloin Steak with Chips 🙂 (which was very nice Yum!) We stayed there for a good few hours following through with discussions on the days events and members views on the sessions held.

After we had the meal we all driffted back outside the pub, and finished off our drinks ready for us to split up (EduGeek Town Group / EduGeek Hotel Bar Group / Home Time Group) 🙂 as you can probably guess I was part of the 'EduGeek Town Group' anyway before that even happened I had a little surprise!

As some of you may or may not be aware at the last conference I had a bar of Sun Glasses, and that managed to get lost and the story goes that they decided to go on a trip around the world.. so a year later I still not seen them apart from a few twitter updates found here: EduShades on Twitter anyway he knows Grumbledooks (Tony Shephard) contact details and decided to send some gifts my way from his trip along with a very nice email (which i shall post up soon enough).

The Image shows, Miss EduShades which is his girlfriend that he has sent over for me. (how very kind!), A set of Stress Balls and a bottle of Whiskey Liqueur which as far as i am aware you can only purchase from Scotland, so he must of got this from his visit there.

The update we had on the E-mail is that he is on his way to the USA at that moment time, So I can only imagine that is where he is at the moment.

View Email Sent to Grumbledook for Myself from EduShades

So, after that very humorous 20 minutes or so we headed off and the the people that were coming up town for a night out broke down in to 3 small groups and jumped in a taxi to the first pub of the evening which was "Roper Hall" in Preston, we had a quick drink there before heading down to the 'The Dog and Partridge" where we had another drink and continued to pleasant conversations 🙂 once we had had a few each we then decided to head to the clubs for a bit more noise!

We went to the 80's bar first called Reflex but unfortunately 2 of the chaps could not get in due to them wearing the wrong footwear which was a bit odd because another member got in fine! so anyway we had to not go there in the end and we headed over the Revolution which is pretty much where we stayed until 3am. Unfortunately on the way we ended up loosing someone (Glennda know on the edugeek forums (it was his first time as well! 🙁 ) but we now know he headed to the toilet and then could not find us so he jumped in a taxi back to the hotel 🙁 which was a shame.

We were all pretty much drinking the shots at this point along with the spirits.. having a really good time and a laugh before we ended up loosing the Smoothwall chaps!! they had a very early start the following day but they did drag away the lady (Carlsberg) and i don't think she really wanted to leave the boys! 🙂 so that left 5 people in total in the end which were

- Myself (James / EduTech)
- Shaun / ZeroHour
- Ric / Ric_
- Stuart / TheScarfedOne
- Tim / Timbo343

Us 5 stayed at Revolution until 3am during this time we managed to drink loads more alcohol, have a dance on the main stage and also Ric_ managed to speak to a few ladies and he kindly "asked them where they were going next?", they told us a bar and it was actually closed! 🙁 mean people! so anyway after a fantastic night in Revolution we left at 3am and went outside to be attacked in a kind of nice way by around 5 girls on a bench, 1 of which was having a moment of madness with her boyfriend but we won't go there they had a think with a Birmingham Accent for some reason we left them quite quickly before heading over to Lava / Ignite to have a few more drinks and a dance before having to leave at 3:45am which was the closing time.

We got back okay without any problems and we all went to bed ready to get up quite early the following day to go home. There were no dramas during the night out everyone as usual had a very good time and everyone was alive in the morning! 🙂

As ever the Conference was a great success which of course is the primary reason for the entire few days, and the night life as usual went really well and everyone had an amazing time! and i am pretty sure everyone whom went cannot wait for next year's conference or! the one that should be happening later this year. (hopefully around October 2011).

I hope you enjoyed the read, you can find the images here: Photo's by Ric Charlton - EduGeek Conference 2011

If you wish to go back and review the tweets for the day the HashTag was #egconf11

Also, If you are not already a member of EduGeek.Net head over to the forums and have a look around! 🙂 EduGeek .Net Ltd Forums



Links to Conference Exhibitors

And for anyone whom is interested, here is the picture of me working hard (hence why sometimes I did not always catch what was being said)

Comments (11)
  1. GJE says:


    Shouldn’t really respond but I found this post to be informative especially as I didn’t go to the conference.

    I’m not sure why you have bothered posting a response to the blog – you could have pressed that little red cross in the corner, turned your machine off and not thought any more about it. You must be so proud.

    Cheers for the post James.


  2. Little-Miss says:

    AConcernedITguy, I find you comment extremely rude and feel it was completely unnecessary.

    Didn’t mother ever tell you that if you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all?

    That’s good ol’ keyboard courage for you i suppose…

  3. IT_IS_FUN says:

    AConcernedITguy – you really need to get a life! This is an article written by a very committed young man who knows more about IT than most people learn in a lifetime. Yes his spelling and grammar aren’t perfect but he is just trying to give a flavour of what went on, from both a technical and a personal perspectiveand if you follow up the links to the various presentations, you will see that there was plenty going on and the conference content was not dull at all.
    If you go over to edugeek and join in, you will find that they are certainly not dull!

  4. Russell Dyas says:

    Well I will give you thumbs up for article James. It does what is needed gives people a run down of the event. Also as I attended event certainly wasn’t dull. Unfortuantly you will get people comment like the above guy I wouldn’t let you worry about it.

    Over the years I have been called some dam right nasty stuff due to peoples perception of my public image. You learn to let comments ride over you…


  5. Plexer says:

    Dear Mr IT guy,

    I think you’ll find that edugeek is a well known global it resource so your comment that it could be a good resource is a load of tosh.

    James has produced a post which illustrates that edugeek is more than just a website but you felt the need to make a negative comment causing him to question himself.

    There are always 2 sides to everything and yes there is moaning from ict support staff directed to teachers etc…. From time to time but no more than is seen on other forums directed towards it staff. Your teams never having a negative encounter with teaching staff I find very hard to believe.

    Anyway as they say opinions are like orifices, some are bigger than others…..


  6. Grumbledook says:

    Let’s be frank folks … This blog is not read as a journalistic report of the latest tradeshow, is written by someone regarded as a friend by many of the regular (and irregular) readers, is in a language / structure which we know and love as pure ‘James’ and I doubt that many of us would want to change that.

    James’ take on the community spirit as he experiences it identifies why so many of us (both the typical and atypical geek) love the EduGeek community.

    However, it is not for everyone and some people do prefer a more precise, purely literal, report on the presentations / exhibitors at the event itself. If that is what aConcernedITguy wants, then it will not appear here. This is James’ blog and he writes for his friends and those of a similar ilk. If there is a problem with the view of stereotyping the general person working in IT on this blog then please feel free to come over to mine and contribute … More than happy to have lengthy discussions about what is a typical person working in IT and what is a geek. I am also happy to listen to why you feel there is a ‘them and us’ feel to things … and we can happily discuss how this is created, how it continues and why too little is done to help bridge the divide.

    The role of IT in schools is wide and diverse. It is not just support but also in developing strategy, it is not just technical but also to help develop pedagogy, it is not just being a a person to be called on for last minute things but also someone to sit down and chat with when beginning to plan.

    The feelings of frustration run deep on both sides. I presume you are equally happy to go into the TES forums and have a go, to attend TeachMeets and say why tech gets a bad press due to the actions of others, to take part in other communities (such as Computing At School) to help shape the future.

    As always … you know where I am (or any of the EG community are) if you want to chat. Perhaps it might be best to have the discussion elsewhere rather than detract from this particular blog post, which James has spent a lot of his own time in preparing.

  7. X-13 says:

    This blog post make me wish I had gone to the conference…

  8. Impero says:

    Hi James,

    Just a very quick note that our website will shortly be going back to the original in preparation for Impero v4… i was wondering if you would kindly change the link on your blog (if possible) to reflect that?

    Many thanks and hope you’re well,

    Impero Software

    1. I have now done this for you 🙂

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