Conference call

July 20, 2006

Well, the first place I’ve come across where wordpress.com is blocked is The Sage Gateshead. It’s a splendid building to look at and wonderful to walk around (really!) but woe betide you if you want to blog from it’s public access terminals: you shall not pass. Hence the lack of postings over the last few days whilst I was attending the SITS:Vision User Conference in Newcastle Gateshead.

To be fair, I could probably have done it from the hotel’s business centre but they wanted five pounds for half an hour’s access, and frankly I didn’t think my reader would be that desperate for news.

Anyway the conference was jolly good. Lots of interesting things there which we should be taking notice of, however I know there won’t be time. What I should do is to sit and go though my notes, probably present the important points to my colleagues, and review current procedures to bring them in line with all the new knowledge. So what did I do? Attend a project meeting, help configure an Oracle database, attempt to sort out a few problems with online enrolment, and do some data manipulation to correct some data entry mistakes. Tomorrow’s busy too so it won’t get done then, and after that it will probably be starting to get too late. Same old same old but hey, I’m in a good mood so enough of that.

Now, while the business of the conference was very good, what is it that possesses so many sensible educational administrators to divest themselves of all self control in the face of a free bar? I name no names of course, but there were a lot of people the worse for wear the following morning, some of whom claimed not have gone to bed before three in the morning and seemed to be proud of it. Myself I stayed up until nearly midnight, but for us parents of youngsters, staying away from home means a chance of getting to bed early and an uninterrupted night’s sleep. Magic.

I’m still constantly impressed by the people who work on SITS:Vision. They really seem to know their stuff and have obviously got a lot of experience of implementing stuff on the ground which they pass on in their presentations. I’ve sort of made a resolution to try and help with one of these next year if we actually do something worthy of showing to the world. I must try and make time to consider this.

I had a chance to walk round Newcastle a bit too and was quite impressed. It seems a bustling place, with splendid architecture old and new, including the castle itself. With big civic open spaces, particularly on the quays, it has a really good atmosphere. On the other side of the river Gateshead, by contrast, and notwithstanding the Angel of the North, didn’t seem to have much to offer at all, although I’m prepared to concede that maybe I just didn’t find the good bits.

Trains were a bit squiffy on the way back because the weather was so hot there were speed restrictions in case of buckled rails, but arrived back home just after ten o’clock so it could have been worse. However I can recommend the Hilton Newcaste Gateshead as a place to stay. Excellent, unobtrusive service; clean, comfy, well-appointed rooms; great views across the Tyne to Newcastle. I really couldn’t fault it. But I wasn’t paying for it of course.

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