Workshop Experience at W-Tech 2009

Though I had registered for four sessions at W-Tech 2009 (Women in Technology) workshop, I was not expecting much out of the event. May be because of this attitude, actually it turned out to be good and I learned something new. This workshop was held at Savoy Place in Embankment, London. Therefore, another fringe benefit that I got from this workshop was the lovely shots that I took from the River Side Room at the third floor... here we go with recap of the sessions in my own flavour, laced with lovely shots of Thames and attractions.

How to Behave in an All Male Team - This title itself was controversial and naturally I was attracted to it. First, I was expecting to get tips and tricks for women to handle situations in an all male work place. When the speaker started to describe the difference between the compositions of male Vs female brains, I was a bit pissed off, as I used to hate biology even in my school days AND I didn't want to sit through another lecture. But, luckily, the topic coursed through an analogy of how the excessive brain cells affect our thought process and moved on to psychological analysis of why men and women behave in certain ways. Well, this might sound like oft spoken and run of the mill stuff, but as this was presented in a different tone and approach, I was able to see and identify myself with the past situations. For example, when I was told, "you should never take things personally" I used to think, "when you intend it to be personal, how else can I take it". Now, I can see that in reality those harsh words and negative criticism was mere gorilla chest beating syndrome.

Interacting with Technology - by Text, Face, Voice and Touch - This was conducted by professionals from Microsoft. I was hoping to hear trends in semantic web/web 2.0 and 3.0. But, it was pretty disappointing that they were merely showcasing Office Communicator and Microsoft Surface. On top of it, the business case video for Office Communicator client bombed, so they had to quickly jump to MS Surface until they could set live Office Communicator. MS Surface was futuristic and if you had watched The day the Earth Stood Still, you would remember the lady in intelligence dept using a touch screen application to sort through information and that is exactly how MS Surface works. The applications built on this were interesting, but the presenters were NOT well informed or rather they didn't know how to demonstrate. They were not even able to answer a couple of technical questions thrown from the audience and they just said that they could find out. Let me give them some credit, just for handling the situation with grace.

Living in the Future - For this session, I had no expectations at all and in fact, I was like "clean glass". So, I am sure that I never had any pre-conceived ideas BUT this was the worst session and I yawned several times. The presenter was reading a business case story set in the future. Note that she was plainly reading from a sheet. What can be more boring? The story sounded like a scene out of a recent Bollywood flick "Love Story 2050", where technology is so advanced that embedded systems could do wonders by interacting with real and virtual worlds. I was also reminded of a Reader's Digest article that I read few years ago about a virtual kitchen. The only benefit I got from this session was that I met an interesting person with E-learning background and we became friends so quickly that we had a long chat at Starbucks after the sessions:)

Emotional Intelligence (EI) - I would say that this was the liveliest session, with packed hall. The agenda was supposed to cover on gaining better understanding of EI, learn about tools to practice and be inspired to take action. The session was so short that we could only get a glimpse of what EI is all about, where as I was expecting to learn about some practical tools like "Free Writing" techniques that helps in solving mental blocks. Of course, the speaker was a professional coach and we were encouraged to learn about the training provided by her company. Personally, I would say or do something only after thinking how I would feel if someone does same thing to me. Well, this was the concept of EI as well. EI is all about Intra and Inter personal management and how we respond to external stimuli. I plan to learn more on this subject, because I believe that it could help me in many ways.

Yet another incentive form this trip is that I managed to see the much elusive Cleopatra's needle, and I will share about this in another post.


Spanning Both Hemispheres

It was an awesome experience at Greenwich, especially when I planted my feet in both the hemispheres!

After changing a couple of trains from East Croydon, we arrived at Greenwich (supposed to be pronounced as Grenich) and followed the directions to Greenwich Park. After checking the maps, we realized that we had to take a short hike to reach the Greenwich Royal Observatory, which hosts THE meridian, which is supposed to divide world into Eastern and Western hemispheres.

Look at the dome that is designed like a crown. Then the view from there is breathtaking. You could see the sprawling lawns of the park and the distant Thames looks so peaceful.

As usual, my camera was working overtime trying to capture as much as possible. The first attraction was the 24 hours clock that records the GMT.

As we are following British Summer Time, now we are ahead of the time shown in this clock by 1 hour! What you see at the bottom is the Royal Imperial Standards set in the late 18th century that shows the accurate measurements for British Yard, Two feet, One feet, six inches and three inches.

When we entered the first room, I noticed a short metal strip on the floor and out of curiosity, I asked the helper over there and she explained that it was the first meridian, identified in the 16th century! Here we go...

 As I was taking this photo, people started queuing up to follow me! When we came out, we heard that there is going to be a short guided tour to explain the history of GMT. Well, the guide was dressed in period costume, she explained the history in a dramatic way and the whole crowd was cheering up:)

We learned that before fixing the meridian to the current position, two different locations were identified.

I can't imagine how the astronomers would have observed the moon and stars in the freezing nights in this no man's land back in the 16th and 17th centuries, where there was no electricity! At the correct location of the meridian, a digital clock that shows accurate time down to the millisecond.

Look at the fascinating meridian strip that marks the position of various countries in both the hemispheres.

Then there was a curio clock that shows time in terms of degrees...

It was fascinating to learn that how Newton tried to publish the results of his junior Flamsteed's findings against the wishes. These were all presented in a well thought interactive display. Time and again, it proves that the well-known and famous take advantage of lesser known geniuses.


Wellington Arch

After a couple of stressful weeks, I wanted to take a break and decided to roam in London for a whole day with friends. What a surprise, weather too cooperated, for the whole day we didn't have to use jacket, and in fact, I was feeling a bit hot and stuffy.

From London Victoria, we took a bus to Hyde Park, instead of taking the tube (underground train). I had a good time clicking away to my heart's content:) As we crossed Wellington Arch, luckily traffic light turned red and gave me a good chance to take pictures...

This arch was supposed to be the grand entrance for Buckingham Palace, but now it is relocated here. The splendid sculpture on top of the arch symbolizes peace and it is known as Peace Descending On The Chariot Of War. Now, am waiting for my turn to experience the 360-degree panoramic view from the arch's gallery. Here is another view of the arch and the sculpture...

As a die-hard cloud watcher, I feel that this angle looks as if peace is descending from beautiful clouds. Am I right?


Western Veggie Delicacies

Here in UK, there is a lot of choice for vegetarians. Am sharing a couple of delicacies that I enjoyed recently, I mean pictures of the yummy food...

Jacket potato with garlic, mushroom and cheese filling with a toss vegetable salad. As my taste buds approve spicy Indian and Chinese food, I thought that I would never be satisfied with a bland food, so I just ordered on the assumption that "as long as anything that is vegetarian, am fine with it". It was so delicious and filling.

Another soup based vegetarin meal...

The Broccoli and Stilton soup had a distinct flavor and was quite creamy because of the stilton cheese, but the dry baguette was a perfect match, whereas the vegetable samosa was an extra:P


Clouds Grazing Trafalgur Square

Today's clear beautiful sky dotted with fluffy clouds prompted me to take shots, but the pictures taken from my mobile did not turn out well. So I was looking through my archives and thought that this shot is worth to be shared, where Nelson Column at Trafalgur Square tries to graze the clouds:)

Well, desi flim goers wold recoganize this place as it has been immortalized by King Khans and their heroines who chase doves at this place when they sing duets :P

Willow and T20

Today, a friend asked me if I would be interested to follow her to The Lords to watch T20 match between India and New Zealand. Though am not an ardent fan of Cricket, I would have loved to go THE HOME OF CRICKET, just for the sake of experience. Hmm, I had other appointments that I could not postpone, so had to pass it this time. This post is just to lent out this frustration

Well, now look at the willow shrub from which cricket bats are made...

Wondering how this nondescript shrub yields itself to become a powerful cricket bat that can make or break million $$$ bets!

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