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


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, 

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


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 -

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.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

The Power of Prototyping: The Client View

"After visiting Naked Element with my document management idea. Within a few days they were able to take that idea, and transform it into a working prototype. It was quite remarkable! Thank you Naked Element" 

- Jonathan Knight of Norfolk IT Support

When you come to see Naked Element for the first time at the start of a new project, you’ll tell us about your requirements and we’ll explain how we can implement them for you. However, we’re a new supplier. You’re new to Naked Element and we’re new to you. We haven’t worked together on a project before, so there hasn’t been the chance for trust to build up between us. And although we know we can deliver, because we have experience from many projects we’ve completed in the past, we know you would feel more comfortable if we had something to show you.

Ideally we would like to be able to show you the work we’ve done before and in a lot of cases we can. However, there are at least two reasons why we may not be able to. A lot of the work we do is internal to clients and therefore cannot be shown to a third party, even under NDA. Another reason might be that we may not have built some aspects of your requirements before so there is nothing to show.

What we can do in a lot of cases is build a basic end-to-end prototype which demonstrates a few key features and/or how a number of key technologies might work together.

For example a client recently came to speak to us and said he was looking for a system which would allow scanned documents to be stored in the cloud, classified and searched. We worked on a system in the past that included similar features, but we were unable demonstrate it as it was an internal system belonging to someone else.

To demonstrate that we could fulfil the clients requirements, we spent a few hours building a simple prototype web application which stored scanned documents in a well known cloud storage service, indexed them in an enterprise level search system and could search and retrieve them. As this was a prototype, the functionality was basic and as we knew we’d be throwing it away, we worked without our customary automated tests, continuous integration, static analysis or security.

Once we had something reasonably presentable we invited the client in to see the results. He was immediately pleased and excited about our prototype and we had demonstrated that we could deliver his requirements. Of course we explained clearly, as we would to you, that this wasn’t production ready software and further development would require investment.

Naked Element does not give away services for free, but there are occasions where a quick, basic, non-production prototype can add value to the requirements gathering process.

Prototypes are a powerful way for us to demonstrate to you what we can do, when we don’t have an appropriate example to show you. When you come to see us, ask us if a prototype is appropriate for your project with Naked Element.

This is a piece I originally wrote for the Naked Element blog. The original can be read here. You can also read the consultancy view here.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

NorDev: Docker Beginners Hands on Full Day Workshop

When: Wednesday, 27th May 27 2015 @ 9:45 AM to 4:30 PM

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

Price: £30.00


Level: Beginners
Prerequisites: Laptop with SSH client
Location: Conference Room 1 (1st floor)

In this hands on workshop we’ll be looking at the basics of using Docker to deploy services in immutable servers.

Starting from the absolute basics of installing and running docker we’ll then look at running pre-packaged images before moving onto creating our own. We’ll then use these images to see how Docker can be used to simplify testing and deployment of code.

During the session we’ll be working with the linux command line, so a familiarity with that will be beneficial. The practical sessions will be run from the cloud, so a laptop with an SSH client will be needed.

Dom Davis 

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.

Monday, 4 May 2015

NorDev: Ruby on Rails from scratch full day workshop

What: Ruby on Rails from scratch full day workshop

When: Wednesday, May 13, 2015 @ 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM

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

How much: GBP30.00/per person (includes lunch)


Ruby on Rails Full-day Beginner’s Workshop

The aim: 

To take developers from a position of very little or no ruby experience, to the point where you are comfortable building  and hosting a simple Ruby on Rails web application.


Some programming experience in any language (e.g. Javascript). Understand what a database is, maybe a little SQL, and be reasonably comfortable with HTML and CSS.

Basic familiarity with the command line (changing directory, running scripts).

You will need to bring a laptop with a recent version of ruby and rails installed (Ruby 2+ and Rails 4.1+)

The syllabus:

We will walk you through the basics of building a simple application using Ruby on Rails, and in 8 hours will aim to cover at least the following:

  • Basics of Ruby & Setting up a rails application 
  • Overview of the Rails architecture 
  • Building and querying your models 
  • Controllers and Routing 
  • Views and forms 
  • Helpers and rubygems

Note that we probably won't be able to cover more advanced topics such as building mailers, file uploads or model validations. However, this workshop will provide an excellent base for exploring these topics yourself.

About the workshop:

This workshop will be run by four professional rubyists. On a good day, we spend our time writing and debugging rails applications, and spend some of our evenings giving presentations on how to write and debug ruby code.

We recognise that programming is not something you learn by hearing about, it's something you learn by doing. Each section will consist of roughly 20mins talk and 20mins practical, though this will vary depending on the content. All the presenters will be on hand to give assistance during the practicals.

There will be reference materials given out during the day, and ongoing online access to help and advice.