Sunday, 21 December 2014

Five minutes with me, Norfolk Developers, SyncNorwich and NorDevCon

Recently I was interview by Mark Pryce-Maher for his 'Five Minutes With" series of audio interviews. He asked me about me, SyncNorwich, Norfolk Developers and the up coming Norfolk Developers Conference (NorDevCon). You can listen to the full interview here.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Norfolk Developers: Write your own compiler in 24 hours (F#)

What: Write your own compiler in 24 hours

When: Wednesday 7 January 2015 @ 6.30pm

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


Compiler writers are often seen as the stuff of myth and legend.

In this session we'll step behind the proverbial curtain and reveal how compilers actually work.

Expect plenty of live code samples, primarily in F#, covering language design and parsing, all-the-way through to emitting code. This session is aimed as a primer for those interested in writing an external DSL, general purpose language or just understanding how these things work.

Phil Trelford

Phil Trelford is a Software Developer and Architect. He's been using .Net since v1.1 and programming in F# for over 7 years. Phil is a regular speaker, trainer, blogger, open source author and co-organizer of the London F# Meetup.

Friday, 19 December 2014

The Battle of the Five Armies

I enjoyed the Battle of the Five Armies a lot more than the Desolation of Smaug. The first 90 minutes with the battle with the dragon and the arrival of the Elves just flew by. Then the main battle, which was most of the rest of the film was done extremely well and it didn’t feel like there was too much of it this time. Billy Connolly was superb, as you would expect and Richard Armitage proved even more than before what a fantastic actor he is. Evangeline Lilly was mesmerizing, very different from how she is in Lost.

With the exception of Feely and Keely the other dwarves weren’t featured much as individuals, which is a shame. Having read the book and listened to the audio book many times it was horrible knowing who was going to die and waiting for it to happen.

The new story that was added was very good and all fitted well. However the Orcs from the North never seemed to arrive, let alone get defeated. I’m sure just the killing of the white orc wouldn’t have defeated them. Maybe the eagles and Beorn were enough to finish them off, but the film didn’t show it. Maybe that’s been saved for the DVD extras next year.

Overall it’s a good film, but there are some bits of story missing.

MS Society Official Charity of NorDevCon 2015

The MS Society proudly sponsoring NorDevCon 2015. 

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) affects more than 100,000 people in the UK. The MS Society is a national registered charity committed to improving treatment and care for people with MS and funds vital research to help beat the disease for good.

We spoke to Anita O’Hara Corporate Partnerships Manager and passionate campaigner for  people affected by MS about what attracted the charity to NorDevCon 2015. Anita explains “this conference presents a fantastic opportunity for us to raise awareness of MS and share with the conference the vital work that MS Society does and why it’s so important. The conference attracts people from all over the county and further afield so it’s a great way to generate interest about getting involved with the MS Society to a large group of people.”

The conference is ripe with small to medium sized tech companies, both established and up-and-coming and as Anita points out the technology industry “is an area that is growing rapidly so we’d look to get involved with this industry in particular.”

As well as providing a fantastic fundraising opportunity Anita also reveals that they hope to gain and exchange knowledge from the 2015 conference. “NorDevCon will give us an insight into what’s happening in the tech worlds and the issues they’re facing, in particular looking at what Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies they have in place as there may be ways that we can help them develop them.”

“We’ve got branches of the MS Society local to Norwich so there may be an opportunity to get in directly  on the ground and link up our volunteers with local companies who have issues in-house” adds Anita.

As a disease that affects the nervous system, MS brings a unique range of disabilities and can have a different effect on different people. Anita explains how “we’re uniquely placed to help employers with information on accessibility and raise awareness of people affected by MS in the workplace. Research shows that 70-80% of people with MS will be unemployed within 10 years so we can educate employers and help them to understand and tackle the issue. We can help people stay in work longer so that they’re contributing to the economy longer and everyone benefits.”

From speaking with Anita not only is her passion for helping  people with MS clear but so is her appreciation of being part of NorDevCon 2015. “We’re a smaller charity and less well known than some of the bigger names out there so any opportunity to spread the word about the MS Society is brilliant and we’re just so grateful to Paul and the NorDevCon team for giving us this opportunity.”

The NorDevCon team approached the MS society after considering a list of worth-while causes, but with MS close to the heart of members of the NorDevCon team, this is a fantastic opportunity for both parties to do well by doing good.

You can buy your tickets for NorDevCon and see the full programme here.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Norfolk Developers December 2014 News Letter

The Joy of Generators & Philosophers, Knowledge and Children's TV Programmes
Wow! What a fantastically busy year. We’ve just been adding it all up and in 2014 we ran 11 regular evening meetups, 9 full or half day workshops, 4 special events, 3 lunches and 1 conference. That’s 28 events! We’ve also grown organically to over 500 members!

We decided not to run an event in December as there’s so much else going on and it’s difficult to get people to attend.  Plus, Dom and Ben left Norwich temporarily to go to London and be Techstars with Rainbird.

Don’t worry though, Norfolk Developers will be back with a full programme starting in January.


The regular evening event sees Phil Trelford, who spoke at the very first Norfolk Developers event, returning to Norwich for the third time to speak about functional programming in F#, with his presentation ‘Write your own compiler in 24 hours’. This is followed the next day by a full day F# workshop featuring ‘Ham or Spam’ and ‘Hands On FParsec’. More detail are on the website. The workshop will cost £20.00 per person.

The first Norwich Tech Lunch of 2015, the lunch we run every month together with SyncNorwich, will be on Wednesday 21st of January at 12.30pm at All Bar One in Norwich. You can RSVP here. These lunches are great! They’re very informal and lots of fun. In November the Norwich Tech Lunch fell on the same day as the Norfolk Software Leaders lunch, so we all grouped together. More than 20 people attended.

On Thursday 22nd of January we have our first special, ‘Learn Wordpress in a Day’. The workshop is being given by London company WP Courses. This course teaches you all the basics of building, running and marketing websites using WordPress, the world’s leading website solution. In one day, you will build your own stunning website, which will be hosted free for one year. The course runs from 9.30am to 5pm and is limited to 12 places. The cost of the course is £150 and you can RSVP here.


February is packed also! On Wednesday the 4th we have our regular evening meeting where local games company, Freekstorm will be speaking alongside a yet to be confirmed speaker on SQL from Redgate in Cambridge. You can RSVP here.

The February Norwich Tech Lunch is on Wednesday 18th of February. You can RSVP here.

Then we’re into a series of conference events. On Thursday 26th February, the evening before the conference, we have a very special pre-conference event with Kevlin Henney speaking about The Rule of Three and Allan Kelly telling us that Every Business is a Software Business. The event a 5pm for 5.30pm start. Each speaker has 30 minutes and there will be free beer! Everyone is welcome, whether attending the conference or not and it’s free. You can RSVP here.

Following on from the pre-conference special is the pre-conference dinner at All Bar One from 7.30pm. Everyone is welcome! We’ve got a fixed price (£11) menu this time and you pay and make your choices when you RSVP. You will then need to pay for your own drinks after the meal. You can RSVP here, places are limited to 40.

Then of Friday 27th of February it’s the Norfolk Developer’s Conference (NorDevCon). 2015 sees the return of the tech, Agile and workshop tracks and the addition of the business track and three graphic design sessions. The keynotes are given by Jon Skeet, returning after a superb performance last year and by Rupert and Harry of Neontribe, who will be closing the conference. Other highlights include 90 minutes on C# 6 from Jon Skeet, the first ever NorDevCon session from Norwich Winter conference regular Letitia Fearon, and Ali Clabburn of local company Liftshare speaking about how to get the best from developers when you haven’t got a clue. AWS will be returning to Norwich for a third time to give a 90 minute hands on workshop on continuous integration. With 29 sessions over 5 tracks, there’s something for everyone. Check out the agenda here.


We’ll be skipping the first Wednesday in March as it’s so close to the conference. The March Norwich Tech Lunch is on Wednesday 18th. You can RSVP here.

We’re hoping to organise an evening meeting towards the end of the month.


In late April we’re hoping to have a visit from one of the original creators of the Agile manifesto to do a couple of sessions on Agile at the evening session. Watch this space.

The Norwich Tech Lunch is on Wednesday 15th of April. You can RSVP here.

On Thursday 16th of April, in conjunction with the Norwich Ruby Users Group (NRUG), we’ll be doing a full day hands on workshop on Ruby on Rails from scratch. The cost is £30 and includes lunch. You can RSVP here.

The Norfolk Developers Team would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year and we look forward to seeing you all in 2015.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

NorDevCon 2015 was featured in the EDP (local paper) this week!

It's been an exciting week for NorDevCon 2015. Not only are tickets selling well (over 100 sold for the conference and about half the wine reception and dinner tickets sold), but NorDevCon was featured in the Eastern Daily Press this week.

Ben Woods, the business editor, wrote a piece on how the conference is calling on East Anglian businesses to back Norwich’s technology sector. You can read the full piece here.

Please go along and leave a comment!

In the next few weeks we'll have some more exciting additions to the conference agenda and about new sponsors for the conference.

In the meantime you can buy your tickets and find out about sponsorship opportunities on the NorDevCon website here.

Please spread the word about the conference as it's going to be fantastic for agilists, developers, designers and businesses.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Ever wondered what we do at Naked Element?

Here at Naked Element we design and build made to measure, enterprise software and cross platform mobile apps.

What’s more our entire business has been built upon the quality of the work we produce as well as our collaborative partnerships with clients. This means that our clients not only get what they want, but what they need and what’s truly best for their business.

But, what does made to measure, enterprise software and cross platform mobile apps really mean? Let’s break it down:

Made to measure – Everything we design and build is truly bespoke. The market has shown that the one-size-fits-all approach to software development can no longer provide a solution for many of today's business needs.

Enterprise Software – is the term used to describe purpose-designed business orientated software solutions that are designed to satisfy the needs of a particular company as well as individual users. Our enterprise software can stand alone or be integrated as an extension of customer’s existing software so you don’t have to start from scratch.

Cross platform – imagine Apple and Android as two different countries with two different languages.
Most (developers) people from either country will speak the native language, or mother-tongue of that country. Naked Element live (create software) in a third country that has its own language that is understood by both the other countries, halving the effort of working in both countries at once.

So what does this mean in the real world?

It becomes much clearer if we apply this to real life and most of us use lots of different types of enterprise software everyday, perhaps without even realising it, such as:

  • The websites of e-commerce giants eBay and Amazon
  • Online payment processing systems such as PayPal
  • Booking platforms for hotels, holiday providers and anything else you can think of where you book online
  • Mobile apps that deliver a specific functions like ordering food via brands such as and Dominos Pizza
  • All social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • Project management tools 

So, as you can see our made to measure, enterprise software and cross platform mobile apps are all about catering for that next level of functionality and delivering intelligent, high quality user experiences that add value to your business.

How We Work

As one of the select few companies across the UK to apply the tried and tested agile approach to our business, everything we do centres around effective customer engagement.

We design, build and take care of every detail involved in developing software, but you remain in control at all times. You get to see, feel and touch your software as it is developed. The software will be used in your business, so it’s important you have your say throughout the process. The benefits to our customers of this level of collaboration are that:

  • Expectations will be clearly understood, agreed and exceeded
  • Working and potentially releasable software is developed in short time frames
  • Functionality can be defined throughout, reducing the overall project lead time and in turn the cost
  • We can respond quickly to change and customers don’t end up paying for work they don’t need
  • Projects are broken down into manageable chunks, reviewed and agreed ensuring the client is happy every step of the way
  • Delays and any associated costs are reduced
  • You are in the driving seat and can directly influence the direction of a solution checking it is fit for purpose and addresses the need it was developed for in the first place.

We know that no two customers’ requirements are exactly the same and whilst we always pride ourselves on our effective internal and external communication processes we don’t over complicate things and encourage clients to just pick up the phone or pop by, as people solve problems not processes.

Our Process

Before we put pen to paper, or even cut code, we define a project’s user stories. This is a term used by Agile methodologies for the who, what, where and why of a project’s requirements and defines the features the software needs to include.

Every project we carry out is broken down into manageable development chunks called iterations. The user stories help us understand the features that are important to the customer and allow us to estimate what will be delivered within each iteration, how many are required and how long the overall project will take. This means our customers have a clear indication of a project's costs and never get any nasty surprises once a project is complete. This process also means that both parties can track progress and at Naked Element we only ever charge per complete iteration after delivering working software the client is happy with.

We have successfully used this process in a wide range of projects to date and we’re so confident that clients will be delighted with the quality of our work and the rate at which we deliver, we don’t usually require any upfront costs or commitment beyond the current iteration.

To see how Naked Element can help your business, please drop us a line or give us a call:

Phone: 01603 383 458

You can also follow us on:


Thursday, 16 October 2014

Breakaway Networking Norwich

There are loads of networking groups in Norwich, even more than there are tech groups! I haven’t been to that many. In fact it’s only four. There’s an breakfast club that I attend every other Thursday, another run my Lorna Burrows that I tried once, the BNI and now Breakaway Networking.

Breakaway Networking meet at the Refectory at Norwich Cathedral every Thursday morning at 7am. I was invited along to their ‘Big Breakfast’ by Nick Applin who is their current chairman and runs his business out of Whitespace, just like Matt and I do with Naked Element. The Big Breakfast happens every 6 months or so and involves inviting lots of guests and listening to a guest speaker. I believe that their regular meetings are smaller affairs, attendees being predominantly members. I’m looking forward to finding out.

The Big Breakfast started off with the usual informal networking over tea and coffee. I met some new people and bumped into some of the usual networkers I see everywhere (you know who you are!). At around 7.30am we all took to our tables in groups of about eight and Nick welcomed us all and suggested we did a quick round table to get to know each other before the food arrived. This we did. On my table I was joined by someone from the Benjamin Foundation, Breakaway’s charity for 2014, someone who worked in Health and Safety, another who cleaned computer workstations, a bathroom designer and fitter, someone in HR from Office to Office, a recruiter and singles matcher and a security consultant (the traditional kind, not internet security). All of them had a story to tell and all of it was interesting.

Following the breakfast Nick introduced Lee Todd, director at Just Regional, a local news magazine. Lee gave a fantastic talk and described how he saw the way news is consumed changing and suggested to Archant that they start a publication that concentrates more on local news. They weren’t interested so he left Archant and started up on his own, working a number of jobs to fund his dream. Just Regional is now very successful and employs a number of people.

The morning was rounded of with a presentation of £1000 to Break. About £350 was raised from the Big Breakfast and the members of Breakaway made it up to £1000.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Gone Girl

Don’t bother. Gone Girl, although clever, is overly drawn out and nothing new. It’s 18 rating appears to be due to a single bloody scene and some serious language towards the end. Neither added anything to the story. The second quarter of the film is extremely slow.

Ben Affleck doesn’t really make the lead role his own and is completely overshadowed by Rosamund Pike and Carrie Coone.

Go and see Dracula Untold instead. We wish we had.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

NorDev: Natural Language Processing & How to diagnose SQL Server performance issues

What: Natural Language Processing & How to diagnose SQL Server performance

When: Thursday, 6th November 2014 @ 6.30pm

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


Natural Language Processing of A&E Patient Notes
Richard Astbury (@richorama)

Richard will be talking about a recent project where he took 7 years of patient data from the A&E at Leeds General Hospital, and ran it through some natural language processing algorithms to extract rich information. This helped to inform clinical decision making, save money, and support the wider community of services in Leeds.
He'll be talking about the challenges on the project, and the tools, tricks and techniques used to extract useful information from hand-typed notes.

Richard helps software businesses around Europe migrate their applications to the cloud. Richard is a Microsoft MVP for Windows Azure, an experienced Node/js and .NET developer, and Senior Consultant at two10degrees. He lives in Woodbridge, Suffolk.

How to diagnose SQL Server performance issues like a Pro. 
Mark Pryce-Maher (@tsqltidy)

In this session, Mark will run through the tools that Microsoft use to track down performance issues with SQL Server. He will demonstrate how to use these freely available tools; SQLDiag, SQLNexus and ClearTrace to not only diagnose your SQL Server issues but make to look like a SQL god to your boss.

Mark is the owner and principle consultant at Iceni Solutions, a SQL Server Business and Oracle  consultancy in the UK with clients in a variety of sectors from banking to aerospace. He specialises in Administration and Performance tuning. Mark is a MCITP and MSCA in SQL Server 2008 & 2012 and has spoken a a number a a number of SQL Server conferences in the UK.