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. 


Monday, 29 June 2015

Docking SyncIpswich

It’s been a while since I’ve visited SyncIpswich. These days, unfortunately, I only get down when I have something to tell them about like a conference or a workshop. Naked Element is hoping to change that and this was our first step.

Tonight Nigel Brown took us through the basics of Docker. Nigel has a background in Ops.  After 15 years he exited a startup he’d helped to create and been running and decided he wanted to get back to tech.

Nigel took us through what Docker is, it’s architecture and what images are and how to author them. He also explained a lot of the background of Docker and the companies, some of them very large well known names, involved.

After the break for more beer, pizza and some promotion of a new AWS group in Colchester from Elliott Stoneham, Nigel concluded with a practical demonstration of Docker which ended with an impressive demo of a Docker container running Ubuntu and Firefox!

I love attending SyncIpswich as everyone is always so friendly and has lots to say. I’m looking forward to making it to more of their events.


Friday, 12 June 2015

New website, new look - same commitment to your software

It’s been a busy few months for Naked Element, in between client projects, sponsoring conferences and awards AND joining forces with a new business consultant, we’ve also managed to find the time to launch our new website.

Take a look at our new look and all-new navigation. We’ve given our website more than just a face-lift - we’ve included more information on the services we offer and how we can make a difference to your business through innovative technology.

Check out our services section for a more informative insight to what we do and why we do it. Find out more about the friendly faces behind the brand and bit more about what makes Director’s Paul and Matthew tick. We’ve not only given visitors an insight into the what, why and who but how too, with information on the tried and tested agile approach to projects. You’ll read what this means for you as potential customers and how it will benefit your project, business and ultimately bottom line.

Our latest news section does exactly what is says on the tin - it brings you all the latest and greatest goings on from the team as well as the wider tech communities events happening in Norwich. Our blog is regularly updated with technical tit-bits, a look at some of the latest tech trends as well as a run-down on everything from ruby on the rails to recruitment news and platforms to prototyping.

You’ll even find it easier than ever to be able to follow us on Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook with our prominent social media icons.

We’re also looking to grow our referrals network and are calling for companies, agencies and other tech businesses to get in touch if they’re looking to expand their suite of services. Whether you’re already offering similar services but are at capacity and want to expand without the overheads of recruitment and new in-house employees, or are looking to be able to offer clients the level of technical innovation we provide we want to hear from you.

Plus, if you have contacts or colleagues with contacts who may have a need for our services we’re also offering attractive referral fees for confirmed projects. Speak to us today about becoming part of the Naked Element referral network and reap the rewards of our innovative enterprise software solutions.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

No Women Allowed

A strange thing happened yesterday. I was asked to take part in a lunchtime networking event in Norfolk where a well known local businessman was speaking. This in itself is not strange, however when I enquired whether it would be alright to bring along my PA, as I usually do to such events, I was told that this particular event was ‘male only’ and that if my PA happened to be a man that would be fine. My PA is very much not a man.

I responded that if that was the case, then the event wasn’t for me either. I can’t imagine a networking event where it would be necessary, let alone acceptable to exclude women. I didn’t enquire any further about the event or the reasons it was male only. I don’t think I want to know.

I have to admit that I was still shocked an hour or so later and wasn’t sure it had really happened, but the email evidence is there.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Naked Element is Hiring: Software Development Apprentice!


Naked Element are looking for a software development apprentice. Could this be you? Your work will vary according to current projects, but will include some of the following:

Hands on software development of web applications using one or more of the following technologies:

  • Ruby on Rails
  • Javascript

Hands on software development of mobile apps using one or more of the following technologies:

  • Appcelerator Titanium
  • Javascript

There will be a strong emphasis on agile software development practices including:

  • Version control (git)
  • Unit testing
  • Automated build and deployment

You will require a flexible approach. Training will be provided in all relevant areas, but a self motivated, proactive attitude to learning will be expected.

You will be someone with a keen interest in software development who has achieved a basic level of understanding of at least one (any) programming language and has a desire to pursue a career in software development. It would be a bonus if you can demonstrate your interest through a personal project you’ve worked on.

Please contact Kelly Symonds, kellysymonds@3aaa.co.uk 

Originally published here.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Review: Docker Beginners Hands on Full Day Workshop

Hands-on workshops have become a mainstay of Norfolk Developers over the last 18 months. As is well documented they started with a Neo4j workshop following an evening presentation when it became apparent that forty-five minutes just wasn’t enough for some topics. Covering many aspects of software engineering, from databases to JavaScript, the workshops are an opportunity to learn by doing rather than just listening and are created and given by both visiting speakers and our exceptional local talent.

Today it was the turn of Dom Davis of local Techstars Rainbird to tell us about Docker, an open platform for developers and sysadmins of distributed applications. Docker is a hot topic at the moment and a very popular method of deploying applications.

As with a lot of new technologies I’m keen to learn, but struggle to find the time, so a workshop like this one where I have to put the time aside is extremely valuable to me.

A lot of work clearly went into the preparation of the workshop. Each of the twenty one people who took part had three Amazon Web Services (AWS) instances running CoreOS, a version of Debian with Docker pre-installed. One instance for the docker repository, another for development, which got around the cross-platform issues as the participants had the usual mix of Macs, Linux and Windows machines, and one for production to simulate real deployments. Dom has a lot of AWS experience and was able to easily replicate the instances, but he’d also prepared individual small pieces of paper for everyone with the details of their three instances.

Once a few teething problems with Windows users who were relying on Putty to connect to their instances were quickly overcome, we were off! Dom had prepared nineteen exercises each with detailed steps and highlighted gotchas that could be completed via SSH to, in many cases, all three of the allocated instances. The first exercise was actually part of the Docker website where we could use an embedded shell to create Docker images, deploy and interact with them.

The rest of the exercises took us from creating slightly more complex images with Docker files to creating a repository and pushing Docker images to it from the development instance and retrieving and starting them on the production instance. The final few exercises showed us how to create a Node.js Docker image which served a simple message and simulated blue green deployment with a human router.


Throughout the workshop Dom was informative, funny and patient and easily held the attention of the group. Everyone learnt a huge amount about Docker and we’re hoping that as our experience grows and Docker matures, that Dom will come back to give us an intermediate and advanced workshop in the future.



Thursday, 21 May 2015

NorDev Event: Bluemix, a Platform for Digital Transformation and An Introduction to CoreOS

What: Bluemix, a Platform for Digital Transformation and An Introduction to CoreOS

When: Wednesday, June 3, 2015 @ 6:15 PM to 9:00 PM

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

RSVP: http://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Developers-NorDev/events/222366789/


There will be Free burgers, and the usual free drinks!

6.15pm - Free Food and Drink
7.00pm - Introduction
7.10pm - Bluemix, a Platform for digital Transformation
7.55pm - Break
8.10pm - An Introduction to CoreOS
8.55pm - End


Bluemix, a Platform for digital Transformation 
Sukhvinder (@saujla)

In this session, Sukhvinder will describe and show the IBM BlueMix platform, demonstrating how it fits into an innovative organisation and how its DevOps approach leads to quicker time to deployment. Bluemix is IBM’s Digital Innovation Platform to enable developers to rapidly build, deploy, and manage their cloud applications, while tapping a growing ecosystem of available services and runtime frameworks.

Attendees can download a free 30 day trial of Bluemix from this link -
http://bit.ly/BluemixTrial

Sukhvinder has worked in the software industry for over 25 years in roles including software development, design and architecture. He is now helping organisations take a business outcome focused view of Cloud, including using it as a platform for digital transformation. He is a firm believer in the transformative approach of the API economy and Mobile devices.



An Introduction to CoreOS
Dom Davis (@idomdavis)

Docker, containers and immutable infrastructure seem to be the buzzwords of the day, but while it’s easy to get immutable infrastructure in Docker it’s not always so easy with the infrastructure that runs the infrastructure. Enter CoreOS, a simple, relatively lightweight Linux implementation designed out of the box to run containers as distributed infrastructure. In this talk we’ll be having a brief look at what CoreOS is, why it’s needed, and some of the things you can do with it.

Dom Davis is a veteran of The City and a casualty of The Financial Crisis. Not content with bringing the world to its knees he then went off to help break the internet before winding up in Norfolk where he is now a technology evangelist for a small startup. Dom is an enthusiastic and impassioned speaker [read: he gabbles] who uses a blend of irreverent sarcasm and flippant humour to bring complex technical subjects to a broad audience. Whether or not they understand him is up for debate, but he likes to believe they do.