Monday, 30 June 2014

Norfolk Developers: Reactive Game Development & AngularJS 101

What: Reactive Game Development & AngularJS 101

When: Wednesday 2nd July @ 6.30pm

Where: The King's Centre, King Street, Norwich, NR1 1PH

RSVP: http://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Developers-NorDev/events/183266442/



This meetup includes free hotdogs, burgers (vegetarian option available), beer and soft drinks for all courtesy of Anglia IT Recruitment.

Reactive Game Development For The Discerning Hipster 
Bodil Stokke (@bodil)

To most people in JS, functional programmers are perceived as academic hipsters raving about things like applicative functors, semigroup homomorphisms and Yoneda lemmas for no good reason except to make the rest of us feel stupid. And this is fair; there’s no better way to make you feel pitifully mainstream than throwing category theory at you. Conversely, JS programmers tend to believe functional programming, therefore, can have no real world application because nobody in the real world has any idea what a Yoneda lemma is and they seem to be getting by just fine without it.

Except we aren’t. We’ve been living in callback hell for almost two decades now, and no matter how many control flow libraries we submit to npm, things don’t seem to be getting any better. And that’s where functional programming comes in—turns out callbacks are just functions, and those academics in their ivory towers with their Haskell compilers actually encountered and solved these problems long ago. And now we can have their solutions in JS too, because of functional reactive programming. To demonstrate, I’ll attempt to write a browser based game, from scratch, with ponies, using RxJS, everybody’s favourite reactive library, live on stage in 30 minutes with no callback hell in sight. And we’ll be finding out if this reactive stuff is all it’s cracked up to be or not.

Bodil Stokke

Bodil is a compulsive conference speaker in the fields of functional programming and internets technologies, and is a co-organiser of multiple developer conferences in Scandinavia and the UK, mostly because she’s still learning how to stop. She is a prolific contributor to the Free Software community, and has recently taken up designing new programming languages as a hobby. In her spare time, she works as a developer for Future Ad Labs, a London based startup that wants to make advertising a productive member of society. Her favourite pony is Pinkie Pie.


AngularJS 101 
Frank Reding (@Mottokrosh)

In this session, front-end aficionado Frank will give you an introduction to the immensely popular AngularJS Javascript framework developed by Google. We'll look at declarative markup, expressions, directives (Angular's name for custom elements), testing, and how to quickly and neatly hook your app with with RESTful backend services. We'll also touch on command line generators, dependency management and build tools.

Frank Reding

Frank is a senior front-end developer at Neontribe (they of the pulp prototyping fame), where he constantly seeks to eek out extra performance from web apps masquerading as native mobile apps. Unless he gets distracted by modern PHP frameworks, or new design tools.


Food & Drink Sponsored by: Anglia IT

Anglia IT Recruitment specialise in permanent IT careers in the East Anglia region covering Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex.  




MobDevCon Lite: Paul Lammertsma, Google Cast & Matteo Manferdini, iOS toolbox

What: MobDevCon Lite: Paul Lammertsma, Google Cast & Matteo Manferdini, iOS toolbox

When: Wednesday 9th July @ 6.30pm

Where: Whitespace, 2nd Floor, St James' Mill, Whitefriars, Norwich, NR3 1TN

RSVP: http://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Developers-NorDev/events/191805352/

We had to cancel MobDevCon, but all is not lost! We're running a MobDevCon Lite as part of Norfolk Developers with keynote speaker Paul Lammertsma and Matteo Manferdini.

We're holding MobDevCon Lite at Whitespace at St. James' Mill. Places are limited to 30 so be quick!

Google Cast

Paul is CTO and co-founder of Pixplicity, Holland’s leading Android- specific consulting and app-building company. He applies his knowledge of Java, Android and Linux in Pixplicity to develop high-quality apps and provide technical solutions for customers such as Mercedes-Benz, Parkmobile, NestlĂ©, De Telegraaf and De Consumentenbond.

Google recently launched Google Cast, a technology that enables devices to control content over multiple screens. This simple principle enables small, handheld devices to send and control media on larger devices, such as a television. The platform is easy to get started with and is a delight to play with! I’ll demonstrate creating our very MobDevCon Android and Google Cast app and getting content to display on a $35 Chromecast dongle! I’ll expand on the extensibility of the platform and show ways in which you can enhance your existing apps to benefit from the Big Screen.


iOS toolbox: must know technologies for iOS development 

Matteo is a software and business consultant specialized in iOS and Mac OS X. He has developed and published several apps, alone and for different clients, and has been a co-founder of New Lemurs, where he was the main developer on the first product. He runs a consultancy named Pure Creek, based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He has been one of the founders of Appsterdam, where he was the Speakers Bureau coordinator for almost three years, organizing the weekly lectures and giving speaker training. He's also a teacher and trainer in programming and iOS, he's spoken at different conferences and he's currently writing a book on learning iOS by example.

As the iOS platform has evolved over the years, Apple has introduced many useful technologies to help developers ship quality apps. While some technologies are useful only in specific cases, many new and old ones should be in the toolbox of any iOS developer as they are required for the development of most apps. In this talk we will have a look at the functioning of many of them and to the general design patterns for iOS development.

Review: Dr Who: Harvest of Time

By Alastair Reynolds

ISBN: 978-1849904193

When I was a boy I loved Dr. Who and Blake's 7. When I was at University, in around 1997, they used to show Dr. Who and Blake’s on UK Gold on a Sunday morning. While Blake’s 7 still had me totally captivated, Dr. Who didn’t live up to my memories. Of course I grew up with Tom Baker, Peter Davidson, Colin Baker (who I barely remembered at all at the time) and Sylvester McCoy. In my mind the illusion was complete, but watching them again aged around 20 I saw straight through the special effects and the memories were somewhat shattered. So I approached the Harvest of Time with a little apprehension.

As with everything Alastair Reynolds writes, the story is excellent. However, I don’t think the Dr. Who universe gave it anything and it would have been much better as a straight time travel and invasion novel. The Sild are a very Dr. Who type enemy and I didn’t really believe in them. Of course The Master was a superb character and I didn’t see the twist with the Red Queen until just before it was revealed. I don’t really remember UNIT from the original Dr. Who, but they came across a bit nieve, over enthusiastic and stiff upper lipped.

I did enjoy Harvest of Time, but I’m looking forward to the final book in the Poseidon's Children trilogy and what will come after. In the meantime I’ll be diving back into Pandora’s Star by Peter Hamilton. My recent change of job has given me far more reading time again, so expect more reviews.

Monday, 9 June 2014

MobDevCon is back by popular demand!

Tickets on sale now!

Following on from the huge success of last year’s sold out conference, MobDevCon is back by popular demand!

We’ve combined the successes of last year’s conference with the fantastic reviews and feedback we received to bring you an impressive programme that will take a look at what’s new in the ever changing world of mobile technology.

The programme is centred around the changes in the mobile market, trends innovations and keynote speaker, Mike Spradbery will be discussing everything from wearables to compossable apps and healthcare mobile innovations to hardware capabilities.

He will also be addressing the implications of new technologies on enterprise architecture and explore how organisations can build flexibility into their mobile strategies.

Ruth John from mobile giant O2 will also have the title of keynote speaker at the conference. Ruth will be talking about the browser, its emerging technologies and how much mobile technology has changed the direction of the web. She also addresses the battle of Web vs. Native.

We’ll then get to hear how Paul Lammertsma from Pixplicity, Holland’s leading Android-specific consulting and app-building company, used his knowledge of Java, Android and Linux in Pixplicity to develop high-quality apps for some of the most famous brands around.

Next up Stephen Charman from Proxama will take an insightful look at designing for Android with Android in the technical sense. Karl Krukow from Xamarin then goes on to introduce and demo Calabash,  an open-source technology for automated UI and acceptance testing of Android and iOS native and hybrid apps.

Other marvellous mobile minds include Frank Reding from NeonTribe who looks at how to use PhoneGap to package web apps built with HTML5 and Javascript as native mobile apps. Andrew Ferrier and Donal Spring from IBM address the best practices required to build applications rapidly and successfully with the IBM Worklight Platform, and Pure Creek’s Matteo Manferdini explores the iOS toolbox and must-know technologies for iOS development.

Matt Davey teaches us to ‘design between the lines’ and covers all things app-design on behalf of Nimble Studios. If that’s not all enough there’s an all day workshop with Microsoft Guru Shawn Wildermuth who will walk you through the basics of building HTML/JS-based projects for iOS, Android and other platforms.



The 2014 MobDevCon is a one day conference covering all the latest and greatest goings on in the world of mobile development from some of the brightest mobile minds around. From presentations to workshops this year’s conference will be held on the on the 9th July 2014 at The King’s Centre in Norwich. The King’s Centre is a popular and accessible conference venue right in the heart of the city, with excellent facilities and ample parking close by.

Thanks to the really positive exposure last year’s conference generated we already have some fantastic sponsors. MobDevCon is the perfect opportunity for those who want to get noticed by around 100 mobile developers and industry influencers in and around Norfolk and from further afield.

Even if your company operates outside the mobile development arena, sponsoring the 2014 MobDevCon is a fantastic way to show that your company is a progressive and innovative brand that likes to keep its finger on the pulse with new and emerging technologies. So, if you would like more information on sponsorship opportunities check out the website’s Sponsors page here.

We hope you’re as excited about the 2014 MobDevCon as conference hosts Naked Element, and, if our list of confirmed speakers and the success of last year’s conference is anything to go by. It’s sure to be a fantastic insight and insiders’ perspective into mobile technology.


Buy your tickets now.

Words: Lauren Yaxely

Saturday, 7 June 2014

SyncNorwich Review: Paper Prototyping


It’s been a long time since I’ve been to SyncNorwich. This is partly because I’m busier these days, partly because there’s only so many maps I can take, and partly because I’ve been contributing to other groups such as NRUG and NorDev. However, I’m incredibly glad that I came, with 22 other people, to SyncNorwich tonight because Harry and Rupert were amazing.

But more about them in a moment.

As usual, I looked around at the other people attending. Back in the early days of SyncNorwich, I recognised and could name 80% or 90% of the people who attended (that’s good coverage in any developers book!). Not so many now. Alright, I haven’t been to SyncNorwich for a long time, but the point is that less than 20% of the people attending tonight attended SyncNorwich when it first started. W hat’s happened to all the people who used to attend, but aren’t attending now?

SyncNorwich crowds have reduced by about 60% compared to in the past, but their membership has rocketed.

The tech community in Norwich, not just SyncNorwich, is changing again. I’ll be writing more about this soon.

My first, very brief meeting with Harry Harold (I’d had to run off to fix something or other) was at SynConf. A few months later we met again when we interviewed Neontribe for the then Norfolk Tech Journal, and Harry was kind enough to be on our Question Time panel at Norfolk Developers in October.

He was still a relative unknown to me at that point, but he was phenomenal. Harry possess a very unique charisma, which he demonstrated in January with a presentation on Preaching the Gospel at Norfolk Developers and then again at this years NorDevCon in February, alongside Rupert Redington. I received more feedback about Harry and Rupert’s NorDevCon session than any other (even more feedback that Jon Skeet’s!!) and it was all extremely positive. It was a no-brainer that they would be sensational when they repeated Paper Prototyping at SyncNorwich.

Harry and Rupert came here tonight to tell us that Paper Prototyping exists. They’re very excited about it and want to encourage us to try it ourselves. They certainly did all of that. They started off by telling us about the book, Paper Prototyping by Carolyn Snyder and about what Paper Prototyping is not:

  • A technique that works in windy conditions
  • Photoshop mockups
  • Wireframes
  • Early stage mockup

Despite there being no code or digital images, it is a heaven for people with a stationary fetish: it involves cards representing things like pictures, text, paragraphs of text, modal dialogues and buttons. Blue Tak is used to make buttons ‘clickable’.

I learned that Paper Prototyping is a way of getting users to test an interface before it’s implemented and even before a designer has knocked up some wireframes or photoshops. Harry and Rupert demonstrated this with the help of two volunteers. Harry presented them with a large piece of card with various other bits of card stuck to it to represent the widgets that formed the interface. Then, as the volunteers operated the widgets and expressed how they felt about the interface, Harry changed it to demonstrate the result of their actions. Meanwhile, Rupert recorded what they learnt from the volunteers on post-it notes he stuck to the wall.

They demonstrated how Paper Prototyping works and just how effective it can be.

All too soon it was over. Harry and Rupert’s performance was highly entertaining at the same time as being incredibly informative, and I can’t wait to see them again!

Originally published here.


Monday, 26 May 2014

NorDev: Just A Minute!

What: NorDev: Just A Minute!

When: Wednesday 4th of June 2014 @ 6.30pm

Where: The King's Centre, King Street, Norwich, Norwich, NR1 1PH

Sign-up: http://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Developers-NorDev/events/184896552/

Norfolk Developers will be holding their own technical version of the popular radio 4 show Just a Minute. Four contestants will attempt speak on technical subjects for a minute without:

  • hesitation 
  • repetition 
  • deviation

A contestant scores a point for making a correct challenge against whomever is speaking, while the speaker gets a point if the challenge is deemed incorrect. However, if a witty interjection amuses the audience, even though it is not a correct challenge, both the challenger and speaker may gain a point, at the chairman's discretion. A player who makes a correct challenge takes over the subject for the remainder of the minute, or until he or she is correctly challenged. The person speaking when the 60 seconds expires also scores a point. An extra point is awarded when a panellist speaks for the entire minute without being challenged.

This is guaranteed to be an entertaining evening. We already have:


as contestants and we’re looking for more! If you would like to take part, please drop Paul an email: paul@nakedelement.co.uk.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

NorDev: Software in the City & CoffeeScript is for...

What: NorDev: Software in the City & CoffeeScript is for...

When: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 @ 6:30 PM

Where: The King's Centre, King Street, Norwich, NR1 1PH

Sign-up: http://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Developers-NorDev/events/167058832/


Software in the City: the real story

Burkhard Kloss (@georgebernhard)

The news is full of tales of trillions of derivatives being traded in global financial centres. This talk will give an insight - with thinly veiled anecdotes, and possibly some humour - of how the software behind these trades really gets developed, and what it's like to be in the thick of it.

Burkhard has been writing Software in the City of London for longer than he cares to mention these days. Starting in C++, but occasionally venturing into Python, Java, .Net and sometimes VBA (but we don't talk about that), he has seen the good, the bad, and a lot of the ugly side of what really happens in "The City".


CoffeeScript is for... 

Anders Fisher (@atleastimtrying)

Anders Fisher will be giving an in depth look at the pros and cons of coffeescript as a compiled language as well as some of its advantages in encouraging good practices in JS development and encouraging different approaches. He will also be going into some of the diverse projects he has used coffeescript for including mobile development. If it sounds a bit much remember, it's just Javascript with a fancy hat on!

Anders Fisher is a seasoned front end developer working daily with a variety of clients helping to implement a variety of approaches to front end development.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

On The Steel Breeze

by Alastair Reynolds
ISBN: 978-0575090453

Fantastic! I loved this book. I really struggled to put it down and was reading it at every opportunity. I was even reading it for the three minutes it took to microwave my lunch at work each day.

It’s great not to have to start my review saying that this book is excellent, but not as good as Revelation Space, because it is, although it’s not as broad in terms of the scope of the story.

Unlike Blue Remembered Earth, you’re straight into the action with On the Steel Breeze and there’s none of the slow character building. It sits so well on the foundations created by Blue Remembered Earth that I wish I’d gone back and read it again first. I also liked all the characters this time.

There’s a great sense of mystery right up to the end. Most science fiction stories based around a paranoid machine intelligence remind me of HAL. However, HAL was a well intentioned, mislead child. Arachne, at least the version of her integrated into the Earth mech is clearly evil.

Science fiction is usually a look at possible future societies and many of them are utopian futures where there is no more conflict or murder and all of them are wavering on the brink of falling back into chaos. It’s the same in the future painted by On the Steel Breeze. And of course the characters acting for the good of everyone push it over the brink.

Following an experiment that went catastrophically wrong and destroyed a holoship, all development of the engines needed to slow the holoships down and allow them to reach their goal was prohibited. I was frustrated with the authorities making this decisions all the way through the book. It just felt so short sighted, but this is often how governments are. I also missed why the holoships couldn’t turn themselves over and use the engines they’d used to reach their transit velocity to slow down.

The end only answers about 90% of the questions asked by the rest of the book and sets the scene perfectly for the third and final part of Poseidon's Children. In the meantime I’ll be readying Doctor Who: Harvest of Time, also by Alastair Reynolds.



Tuesday, 15 April 2014

MobDevCon 2014 Sponsorship Packages Announced


MobeDevCon 2014, Norfolk’s Mobile Development conference, will take place on Wednesday 9th July at the Kings Centre in Norwich. As a sponsor this is an ideal opportunity to get exposure to around one hundred mobile devs and decision influencers from the Norfolk area and beyond. Please take a look at the sponsorship packages below and if you would like to sponsor, please email mobdevcon@nakedelement.co.uk. Tickets for MobDevCon 2014 are onsale now from £80 plus fees on eventbrite.




Associate £300
  • Mention on twitter
  • Logo on website
  • Logo on slide in opening presentation

Partner £800
  • Mention on twitter
  • Logo on website
  • Logo on slide in opening presentation
  • Table & space for a small banner at the conference
  • Lunch and refreshments for person manning the stand

Elite £1500
  • Mention on twitter
  • Logo on website
  • Logo on slide in opening presentation
  • Table & space for a small banner at the conference
  • Lunch and refreshments for person manning the stand
  • 30 minute speaking slot that may be of a sales/marketing nature (all other presentations are strictly technical)

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Workshop: Test Driven Development (TDD) in Ruby

What: Test Driven Development (TDD) in Ruby

When: Wednesday, 23rd April at 7pm.

Where: Further, The Old Church, St Matthew's Road, Norwich, NR1 1SP

Sign-up: http://www.meetup.com/Norwich-Ruby-User-Group-NRUG/events/174652322/

This month I will will be leading a workshop on Test Driven Development in Ruby:

Most of my experience with Ruby has been creating Rails apps using the command line engine and plenty of help and advice from people like Matthew Wells, my co-director at Naked Element Ltd. How a vanilla Ruby programme hangs together and especially how you use Rake to build one has been quite opaque to me. When NRUG asked me to do a session on Test Driven Development (TDD) in Ruby I saw this as an ideal opportunity for this to change. 

Concentrating on testing outside of a Rails context, Paul will be covering the setup and structure of a testable Ruby program, and will demonstrate how you can write your own tests.

To take part in the workshop bring along a laptop with Ruby installed.