Thursday, 3 September 2015

NorDev Event: Agile on the Bench (September)

When: Wednesday, September 30, 2015, 12:30pm to 1:30pm

Where: Band Stand - Chapelfield Gardens, Norwich

Sign-up: http://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Developers-NorDev/events/225066351/

Agile on the bench is a lunchtime "stand-up" session with ad-hoc content provided by attendees.

Each talk is 5 minutes. Please let us know if you would like to come and give a talk: nordev@nakedelement.co.uk.

Speakers so far include:

  • Tom Price (Proxama) 
  • Lisa Donovan (Aviva) 
  • Rupert Redington (Neontribe)
  • Matt Osborne (Liftshare) 
  • Williams Gareth (Validus)

You can read about the first Agile on the Bench in Norwich here.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Pandora's Star

by Peter F. Hamilton

ISBN-13: 978-1447279662

I haven’t posted a book review to my blog for a very long time. This is because I haven’t finished a book for a very long time!  Last night I finished Peter F. Hamilton’s Pandora’s Star, the first of the Commonwealth Saga. At 1151 pages it took me just over a year to read on my second attempt. I think the first attempt started a year earlier than that. I was struggling with it, but it was worth it.

Pandora’s star is a space opera of reasonably wide scope. I like books that force me to keep up to follow the interactions of the characters, often in separate plot lines that come together at the end. There’s plenty of that in Pandora’s Star. Some of the sub-plot lines used to build the characters felt a bit much and there are places where it’s a little ploddy and others, such as the flight of the Second Chance where more detail would have been good. I also didn’t get on with Ozzy or his storyline at all.

Overall it was a good read. I really liked some of the characters, like Paul Mayo. The end of the book is fast paced, exciting with a few unexpected twists. If it had been like that most of the way through I wouldn’t have been able to put it down. I’m already looking forward to Judas Unchained.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Want to learn to program? Come along to Norfolk Developers Two-Day Python Workshop for People New to Programming.

What: Two-Day Python Workshop for People New to Programming

When: Thursday, October 8, 2015, 9:00am to 4:45am & Thursday, October 9, 2015, 9:00am to 4:45am

Where: The King's Centre, King Street

Price: £65

Sign-up: http://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Developers-NorDev/events/224262366/

This hands-on workshop is to enable people who are not programmers to get into the world of programming. These two days are just an initial foray, to give people the basic ideas and a taste of what it is like.

The course will introduce programming using Python to people who have little or no idea what programming is. This will be a version for adults of the sort of new computing material that will be being taught to primary and secondary school students starting next year.  The goal is to make sure people begin to understand the theory and practice of programming and computer science, but coming to it from a very practical viewpoint: theory emerges from practice.

There will be four sessions, each of three hours, each structured as a short introduction to a few topics, followed by a series of practical exercises to investigate the topics, and finishing with a short review/compare/contrast to consolidate the material of the session. The introductions will be part lecture part interactive demonstration – PDF files rather than paper will be provided for any overhead slides used in lecture mode. The series of practical exercises will be attenders, working in pairs, writing programs as directed by worksheets. The review session will a group discussion, and possibly live coding by the workshop leader, based around sample answers to the exercises.

In the spirit of being agile, although there is a programme set out for the four sessions, it will be amended as needed to suit how things progress as it happens. The planned default sequence is:

The Basics  - Tools of the trade
"It's turtles all the way down"

  • Sequence 
  • Selection 
  • Iteration

Abstraction

  • What programming is all about 
  • Values 
  • Objects  
  • Functions 
  • Classes

Testing

  • The whys and wherefores 
  • Unit testing 
  • System testing

Applications - A quick delve into some of the standard applications of Python:

  • Graphical User Interfaces 
  • Data Analytics 
  • Build and Control 
  • Web applications

This course is not intended to be trivial or easy, people should expect to be tried and tested, but people should not find themselves taken "out of their depth". The days should be hard work, but also they should be fun and enjoyable.

Learning programming and a programming language is a four to nine month activity for most people, so these two days will not make people professional programmers. If however you feel the urge to learn more about it, I am sure there are other courses you could go on...

Russel Winder
(@russel_winder)

Ex-theoretical physicist, ex-UNIX system programmer, ex-academic. Now an independent consultant, analyst,author, expert witness and trainer. Also doing startups. Fascinated by programming and programminglanguages, in particular: Groovy, Java, Scala, Clojure, Ceylon, Kotlin, Python, Go, D, Rust, C++, Nim, Fortran, and others. Interested in all things parallel and concurrent. And build.

Actively involved with Groovy, GPars, GroovyFX, SCons, and Gant. Also Gradle, Ceylon, Kotlin, D and bit ofRust. And lots of Python especially Python-CSP.

EoEA: Apprenticeships are good for people and good for business & Born digital

What: Apprenticeships are good for people and good for business & Born digital

When: Thursday, October 22, 2015, 5:30pm to 7:30pm

Where: 3aaa, 25-27 Surrey St, Norwich, Norfolk NR1 3NX

RSVP: http://www.meetup.com/East-of-England-Apprentices/events/224328465/

Apprenticeships are good for people and good for business 
Huw Sayer

Huw Sayer will explain why apprenticeships benefit both employers and employees. His view is that investing in developing people is not just a social good but also an economic necessity. He will look at the value of social brands to businesses – and personal brands to individuals.

Huw Sayer
(@HuwSayer)

Huw’s passion is creating engaging conversations that empower people, build brands and inspire change. He specialises in helping clients spark such conversations with their employees, buyers and suppliers. This involves researching, writing and editing content for everything from annual reports to social media.

He has over 25-years marketing experience, including time as an account director and analyst. This has given him a detailed understanding of all aspects of business communications. He now runs his own communications consultancy, Business Writers Ltd, with clients across Europe. These include financial institutions, government agencies, industrial manufacturers, technology companies, and food and drink producers.



Born Digital - What it really means. 
Julie Bishop

Why businesses need digital skills and what will happen if they choose to ignore this advice

Julie Bishop
(@jobhopjulie)

Media Strategist, Social Media Trainer, Social Media Speaker.



Friday, 7 August 2015

Scala & Clojure Workshops with Russel Winder in Norwich in September

Scala Full Day Workshop

When: Wednesday, 2nd September 2015, 10:00am to 4:45pm

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

Price: £25

RSVP: http://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Developers-NorDev/events/222659057/

This hands-on workshop is aimed at people who currently program in languages other than Scala, who wish to gain an appreciation of Scala. The day comprises a short introductory session and then a sequence of problem sessions: each session will have a quick introduction to set the scene and give direction, a period of pair-working creating a solution to a problem, rounded off by a whole group period ("mob programming") creating a group answer to the problem. The sequence of problems starts from the very simple and leads through various features of Scala to end with some definitely not so simple things.

Scala is a JVM-based programming language, but there is no need to have knowledge of Java to attend this workshop. It will though be necessary for attenders to have Java pre-installed, and authority to load new software onto the machine. In particular, we will be using ScalaTest, SBT, and Gradle. Eclipse, IntelliJIDEA and NetBeans users will want to load their respective Scala plugin. Emacs users will want to install Scala mode and probably ENSIME. VIM users will want to use Pathogen or Vundle to install Scala support bundles.


Clojure One-Day Learning Workshop

When: Thursday, 3rd September 2015, 10:00am to 4:45pm

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

Price: £25

RSVP: http://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Developers-NorDev/events/222659136/

This hands-on workshop is aimed at people who currently program in languages other than Clojure, who wish to gain an appreciation of Clojure (and thus of Lisp). The day comprises a short introductory session and then a sequence of problem sessions: each session will have a quick introduction to set the scene and give direction, a period of pair working creating a solution to a problem, rounded off by a whole group period ("mob programming") creating a group answer to the problem. The sequence of problems starts from the very simple and leads through various features of Clojure to end with some definitely not so simple things.

Clojure is a JVM-based programming language, but there is no need to have knowledge of Java to attend this workshop. It will though be necessary for attenders to have Java pre-installed, and authority to load new software onto the machine. In particular, we will be installing Leiningen as well as Clojure. Eclipse users will want to load Counter Clockwise (the Clojure plugin for Eclipse). IntelliJ IDEA users will want to load La Clojure (the Clojure plugin for IntelliJ IDEA). Emacs users will want to install the Clojure mode, and possibly CIDER. VIM users will want to use Pathogen or Vundle to install one of the Clojure environments.

Russel Winder
(@russel_winder)

Ex-theoretical physicist, ex-UNIX system programmer, ex-academic. Now an independent consultant, analyst,author, expert witness and trainer. Also doing startups. Fascinated by programming and programminglanguages, in particular: Groovy, Java, Scala, Clojure, Ceylon, Kotlin, Python, Go, D, Rust, C++, Nim, Fortran, and others. Interested in all things parallel and concurrent. And build.

Actively involved with Groovy, GPars, GroovyFX, SCons, and Gant. Also Gradle, Ceylon, Kotlin, D and bit of Rust. And lots of Python especially Python-CSP.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Join East of England Apprentices

The Oxford dictionary defines an apprentice as ‘a person who is learning a trade from a skilled employer’. These days being an apprentice is so much more than that.

Providing the perfect platform to earn as you learn whilst taking your first step on the career ladder, apprenticeships have never been more topical.

There are many benefits to being an apprentice but we know that it can often be a daunting time too. You may be the only apprentice in an organisation, be the youngest member of the team and feel a lot less competent compared to colleagues with decades of experience in your field.

East of England Apprentices is about bringing together apprentices, past, present and future, to share their experiences, advice and socialise with like minded folk who are at a similar stage in their chosen careers. Our quarterly meet ups are packed with networking opportunities, presentations and the chance to chat and swap stories.

If you’re wondering whether an apprenticeship is for you then it's a unique opportunity to ask those who have already walked in your shoes and get some advice on the application process - as well as some inside info on what it's really like to be an apprentice.

Perhaps you’ve recently completed an apprenticeship and want to give something back; share your tips and hints for a successful apprenticeship with a new generation of apprentices?

East of England Apprentices is also open to businesses and organisations who are looking for an apprentice. If you’re looking to expand your team and kick-start someone's career through an apprenticeship then the group has the perfect pool of potential candidates. The same goes for companies who provide services to the apprenticeship marketplace, whether it's support services for funding or you’re an apprenticeship recruitment service.

An apprenticeship is a unique window into the world of work and East of England Apprentices is here to help you make the most of this exciting and enriching experience.

Join us on meetup: http://www.meetup.com/East-of-England-Apprentices/

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Naked Element sponsoring 2015 DevelopHER awards

Naked Element are delighted to announce they will be sponsoring this years’ DevelopHER Awards. Committed to raising the profile of women in tech in East Anglia, the DevelopHER Awards will take place on the 25th November at The King's Centre in the heart of Norwich.


One of Naked Element’s Directors, Paul Grenyer, reveals “we want to support the DevelopHER Awards because we’re passionate about supporting and promoting women in technology. We’ve been big supporters of award hosts SyncDevelopHER since before the group began and we want to continue to show our support in any way we can.” Paul adds that the awards’ organiser Vickie Allen “is doing great things for women in tech in Norwich and we acknowledge the issue of a gender imbalance in the industry and that women aren't as encouraged to go into the tech industry as they should be” He adds “whilst more women certainly do need to be encouraged to enter the industry, more people in general do, as it’s an industry that isn’t going away and is only going to get bigger.”


Matthew Wells, also Director at Naked Element adds “the DevelopHER Awards present a great opportunity for us to add our voice to the local tech community and other decision makers in local businesses and show our support of an important issue - the lack of women in tech.”


As one of the premier software development providers in Norwich, Naked Element are sponsoring the Innovation Award. Matthew explains “we provide tech solutions for innovative businesses and are passionate about innovation so it was an obvious choice for us. We’re excited to see what the nominees have to offer and be a part of rewarding innovation.”


So passionate about finding out what the rest of the tech community has to offer and how they’re contributing to putting Norwich on the tech map, Paul will sit on the panel of judges and help choose a winner for each of the 12 awards. When asked what he will be looking for from nominees and ultimately a winner Paul revealed “someone who’s up-and-coming, someone who’s contributing to the tech community and has a can-do attitude. Ideally someone who’s going to help close the Norfolk skills gap and really be an ambassador for women in tech.”  


On announcing Naked Element as a sponsor, awards’ organiser Vickie Allen comments “We’re really pleased to have Naked Element on board as they have such an established presence in the local tech community, a great reputation for getting involved with industry events and have a pretty impressive and far reaching list of contacts.” She adds “We asked Paul to join the judging panel as he runs the popular Nor(DEV):Con event so knows what goes into making an event successful, he’s got a really good understanding of what Norfolk needs and the awards fit really well with what Naked Element do - it was a no-brainer really.”


The DevelopHER Awards are a not-for-profit event funded entirely by sponsorship and are presented by SyncDevelopHER, a Norwich based community group, which runs regular meetups with the aim of promoting women in tech.


Applications for nominations are open and a full list of award categories can be found here. If you know an amazing woman in tech, nominate her for one of the awards and make sure that she receives the recognition she deserves.

For more information on the DevelopHER Awards visit www.developherawards.com. For sponsorship opportunities and to make a nomination contact Vickie at vickie@vickieallen.co.uk

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Roxette - Not even the look!

I’ve been lucky enough to see Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, Europe, Marillion and many other bands whose musicianship and vocal talent is perfection. Sometimes I wish that I hadn’t.

I was on holiday with my parents in Richmond, North Yorkshire at the end of the 80s. I must have been about 12 and I had discovered radio. My parents had rented a little cottage just off the main square and every morning over breakfast the radio would be on. As they do, the radio station played many of the same songs from the current chart every day. One of them was The Look by Roxette. I loved it and the follow up, Dressed for Success. My friend at school had the album and another bought me the Joyride album when it came out a few years later. Then several years later I borrowed the third album from someone after a party. They’re a band I’ve always been into, even in their later, shamelessly even more poppy stages, and I’ve always wanted to see them.

I thought they’d split up until I saw them advertised at the NEC arena on my way into see Rammstein for the second time. I really wanted to go, but I didn’t get around to it until they announced their 30th Anniversary tour in 2014. I decided I was going and I’m glad I did.

I checked the set list before I went and I couldn’t have asked for it to be much better. Nearly all the hits (Almost Unreal was missing for some reason) and plenty from Joyride and Crash Boom Bang, so I was in for a treat!

The support band weren’t up to much, but did have a wonderfully clear sound. Roxette didn’t. With the exception of Per Gessle the band were appalling and I’m sorry to say that included Maria who sat for the entire gig. It appears she couldn’t stand, but I have no idea why and Per didn’t explain it. The instruments didn’t gel and the lead guitarist was all over the place. Roxette have some fantastic guitar solos and piano parts, but it all sounded a mess. The solo and big fat guitars of Listen to Your Heart, were just murdered. Perhaps I have just been spoilt by other bands.

Per however sang brilliantly and was the complete pop/rock star. Maria had moments of excellence, especially at the end of Crash Boom Bang, but there was no consistency and it was clearly a struggle for her. Maybe sitting down restricted her range.

All that said, I had an amazing time singing along to every song I knew (which was all of them). It’s done now, I’ve achieved another goal, but I won’t be going again.


Thursday, 9 July 2015

Docker up and running (on Ubuntu*)?

Do you ever have one of those days where it feels like you’ve wasted hours trying to get something to work that should be easy and it turns out you were just missing one vital piece of information and Google was holding out on you? You do? Me too! I had one of those days today.

I’m currently reading ‘Docker Up & Running’ by Karl Matthias and Sean P. Kane. So far it’s fantastic and I’m hoping the rest of the book is as good. As with most introductory books it has instructions on how to install it’s subject, in this case Docker, on a few different platforms including Ubuntu. In fact the basic install is just three commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install docker.io
sudo ln -sf /usr/bin/docker.io /usr/local/bin/docker

The book then goes on to describe how to test Docker sing a Dockerfile and project which can be cloned from a Github repository. This is where everything fell apart for me. It didn’t just work out of the box. I even enlisted the help of my very good friend Dom Davis, who eventually helped me identify that I had an old version of Docker! In fact it looked like I didn’t have Docker at all, I had Docker.io. We then spent what felt like a very long time trying to uninstall Docker.io and install Docker using:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install docker

But we kept getting a message that Docker was already installed, but trying to run Docker gave us the message that it wasn’t installed and that we should install it with the command above. We were stumped and in the end I had to let Dom get back to what he was doing and I soldiered on. Eventually I stumbled upon this Stackoverflow post,  which explained that Ubuntu has another package called Docker and therefore you must install Docker.io! But of course the Docker.io package build for Ubuntu is an old version of Docker. Luckily the post also described how install the latest version of Docker.io:

sudo sh -c "echo deb https://get.docker.com/ubuntu docker main > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/docker.list"
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install lxc-docker

And suddenly everything started working as expected, including the example from the book. I know they can’t cover everything, but it would have been great and saved me hours if the book had just mentioned this and instructions for installing the latest version of Docker had been included.

Hopefully this blog post will be easier to find than the Stackoverflow post and help others with Ubuntu install the right version of Docker.

* Actually I use Linux Mint, which is basically a nicer Ubuntu.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Norfolk Developers: Micro Services Full Day Workshop

What: Micro Services Full Day Workshop

When: Tuesday, July 28, 2015, 10:00am to 4:45pm

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

Price: £20.00/per person

RSVP: http://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Developers-NorDev/events/222837405/

This full-day workshop will introduce the concepts and practices of designing and delivering applications composed of independently executing micro-services.

By the end of the workshop, you will have developed a component of a larger application, using Docker at every step of the process from development and testing through to deployment in Amazon Web Services.

Steve Engledow is head of software delivery for Proxama's cloud platform which is composed of services developed in a variety of languages but with a strong leaning towards Python.

Intro: 1 hour

Micro-services - what, why, and how?

  • What are micro-services?
  • Why split applications up into micro-services?
  • How to break an application into in(ter)dependent components

Workshop: 3 hours

Developing a micro-service using Docker

  • Quick intro to Docker
  • Using Docker in development
  • Building containers for the full development cycle
  • Using docker-compose to ease integration

Workshop: 2 hours

  • Deploying a stack of micro-services into AWS
  • Overview of AWS tools
  • Using Docker with AWS
  • Deploying and linking a stack of components.