Twitter saved my Hamster’s Life!

The festive season is upon us, so I thought I’d share a merry tale with you all.

Last week I was away at a conference and left my family to fend for themselves. I gave them a ring on the second night and found out that the hamster (a male Syrian hamster called ‘Tickles’) had escaped. My middle daughter had left the cage door open and Tickles had gone for a wander, anyway disaster was averted and Tickles was found safe and well.

The night I got back Tickles seemed to be ‘going for it’ in his hamster wheel and all seemed to be well. In the morning everyone was ready for school/work when there was a sudden scream from my middle daughter (it’s her hamster – and she keeps telling us as much too). Tickles was lying flat out in her cage and looked dead. I sent the children away and gave them the old “animals can’t live forever, he’d had a good life” talk – which wasn’t strictly true as he was only 6 months old. I figured he’d eaten something while being out on of his cage the other day. I took the children to school and told my daughter’s teacher about the situation. We decided we’d bury Tickles that evening. Sat at my desk ready to work I sent the following tweet:

I then received this reply from @glittrgirl

Was I wrong, was he still alive?

I got up and took another look at Tickles – he was limp and cold like a cuddly toy, but he was still alive. His cage had been in our conservatory, which although OK during the day was pretty cold at night. The manic running around in his wheel could have been an attempt to stay warm. It looked like he was hibernating.

I did some research on the Internet ( and found out that this can happen when there is an extreme drop in temperature and that I needed to wake him up to save his life. I sat put the lifeless hamster onto a hot water bottle and started massaging him. Not a lot happened but I managed to get some sugary water into his mouth. By lunchtime there were signs of recovery but when I put him back into his cage he went all limp again, almost like he was in a coma. I ended up putting him on a towel on my modem (nice and warm – probably not a good health and safety tip) and spent any spare moment I had rubbing his and talking to him. I was now determined to bring the hamster back from the dead!!

By early afternoon Tickles was showing real signs of recovery and I was able to tell my daughter the good news at the school gates. She was very ecstatic (and only slightly disappointed that the grave stone she’d coloured at school would go to waste and that a guinea pig was now out of the question!)

So Tickles lives to fight another day and it’s all thanks to @glittrgirl and Twitter.

Tickles in a festive mood!

Merry Christmas to y’all!


Disaster Planning for Conferences

Skype link and presentation stage

Disaster! Your key note speaker can’t make it due to a family crisis!!!

This is what happened on day 2 of this year’s International Digital Curation Conference, 5 – 7 December 2011, Marriott Royal Hotel, Bristol, UK. Unfortunately Professor Philip E Bourne from the Department of Pharmacology, University of California San Diego wasn’t able to fly over for the conference.

So what did we do?

Plan A was to have Philip connect through a Skype connection and provide the audio part of his presentation. His slides would be presented on the big screen at the conference and the chair (Professor Matthew G.Davidson, Associate Dean (Research) from the Faculty of Science, University of Bath) would move the slides for Philip. Luckily this worked perfectly and the audience (and remote audience) were treated to a seamless presentation.

Behind the scenes there were a couple of things going on that are worth noting. We connected up with Philip through Skype in reasonable time for the talk and made sure that he was kept up to date with what was going on using messaging e.g. “get ready to go, the sound is perfect etc.) We didn’t allow Philip to hear the audio till the end of his talk – primarily to avoid distracting him with our conversations but also because the last minute nature of the set up didn’t allow time for testing. At the end of Philips talk we managed to connect to the mixer desk and use the microphones in the room so he could hear questions. We didn’t use video for the talk. It was 1am in California where Philip was Skyping from so he was probably ready for bed! Not only this but there were concerns about using video over the wireless connection, which was all that we had. Big thanks to the AV team at the Marriott hotel for helping us with this.

We did have a Plan B. Philip’s slides were available on Slideshare and he had also pre-recorded his talk and shared in on SciVee (it would have been played in video and document mode). SciVee is a provider of internet video and rich media solutions for the scientific, technical, and medical market.

SciVee in video and document mode

Plan C was phoning Philip’s mobile up!!

So what’s your back up plan for when your speaker can’t make it?

Rich Pitkin on the streaming desk