Friday, 16 March 2018

April nor(DEV): A.I. and Cognitive Computing with Watson & Keep Secure and Under the Radar

What:  A.I. and Cognitive Computing with Watson & Keep Secure and Under the Radar

When: Wednesday 4th April, 6.30pm to 9pm.

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


A.I. and Cognitive Computing with Watson
Colin Mower

Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Computing have become the latest buzzwords in the industry, with companies big and small rushing to work out how they can take advantage of this emerging technology.

In this discussion, we’ll look at the myths behind the hype, how mature the technology is and how IBM’s Watson has evolved from game show winner to one of the market leaders.

Colin works for IBM as a Technical Leader, crossing all the IBM technologies and services. Prior to Big Blue, he worked in Aviva for over 14 years and has contributed to nor(DEV):con and Norfolk Developer Meetups.

He still lives in Norfolk and apart from plenty of travel working for some of the big blue chip companies, he tries to get out in South Norfolk running and cycling in a vain attempt to lose weight and keep fit.

Keep Secure and Under the Radar
David Higgins

Some basic and some not so basic steps to keep you and your business safe in the on-line business arena.

David is ex UK Gov contractor discusses simple steps you need to take to stay ahead of current data security legislation and keep yourself / your business secured.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Linux & SQL Server at MigSolv a Review

We love the MigSolv data centre out at Bowthorpe in Norwich. This was nor(DEV):’s second visit and they always make us very welcome. Walking into what feels like a massive Blakes 7 set and getting the tour,including the retina scanner and massive server hall, is incredible and seriously interesting (even though it’s my third time!).

The intimacy of the board room with the table down the centre and nor(DEV): members arranged each side is great for generating conversation! And when you have a humorous and huge personality like Mark Pryce-Maher it encourages the banter and the discussion even more! It’s safe to say this was one of the most interactive nor(DEV): evening presentations for some time.

Mark was there to tell us about how you can run Microsoft SQL Server on Linux (or is that “Lynux”?). Anyone would think Mark had been on the WINE, but no, you really can run SQL Server natively on Linux now. The first question though, has to be “why?”. The answer is simple. Microsoft are going after geeks, Oracle users and Linux houses who only run Windows to run SQL server.

The second question is “how?”. Developers at Microsoft discovered that, despite the vast number of methods available from the Win32 API, there are only a small number of methods which actually talk to the operating system. These are for allocating memory, disc storage, etc. A project called Drawbridge was developed to identify these methods and port them to Linux. SQL Server can then make use of those methods to run on Linux. Simples!

Mark did a live demo of installing and connecting to SQL Server. Unfortunately he hadn’t made sufficient sacrifices to the demo gods and things didn’t go precisely to plan. SQL Server can be run on an Ubuntu instance on Microsoft’s Azure from about £1/day (I’m intending to try it on a Digital Ocean droplet which is slightly cheaper). It’s incredibly easy to install. You just add the necessary repositories to Ubuntu’s package manager and tell it to install SQL Server. There’s also a pre-made Docker image (if Docker is your thing) which is even quicker.

Microsoft have developed an open source version of the client tools called Microsoft Operations Studio . It is also very easy to install (I did it on my Linux Mint laptop over 4G while Mark was speaking), but for some reason during the demo it just wouldn’t connect to SQL Server. However, Mark talks a great talk and I’m sure with a little bit more playing it would have!

We enjoyed being at MigSolv and hearing from Mark! MigSolv would like us to go back and we’re keen to do so in the future.

The Next nor(DEV): is on 4th April and features “A.I. and Cognitive Computing with Watson” from Colin Mower of Microsoft and “Keep Secure and Under the Radar” from David Higgins. RSVP here:

Thursday, 8 March 2018

National Apprenticeship Week

Seeing as it’s been National Apprenticeship Week this week, we thought we would shine a light on our apprentices, past and present. Naked Element would be a duller place without them and the valuable work they do!

We’ve had three apprentices in total, Lewis, Rain and Jack and they’ve all been invaluable to our business. Lewis spent his year-long software development apprenticeship with us, before staying on a while longer as a full-time employee. He headed User Story workshops, held meetings with clients and even managed to join in with some of the social sides of Naked Element too! Lewis got a lot out of his time with us, saying "an apprenticeship is a great way to get your foot in the door of an industry, gain some excellent skills and first-hand experience in a job you may want to turn into a career". Lewis decided to be an apprentice because he felt that a more hands-on approach to learning would suit him better than studying full time. At the time he hoped he would be working in the US in the near future, but he has since decided to settle down at university and is due to begin a Computer Science degree at the UEA later this year to bolster his industry experience with a formal qualification.

Rain joined us as an administrative apprentice for just over a year, keeping us organised and the company running smoothly. Rain was an asset to Naked Element, as a natural networker and often the first face to greet clients, she helped start the conversation about software and business. From the professional presentation in her initial interview to managing conferences, she impressed us all. She took her experience with Naked Element and became the executive PA to the CEO of Apple Helicopters!

Our current apprentice is Jack, who is part-way through his software apprenticeship. We’ve been so impressed with Jack that we’re hoping he will stay on after his course has finished to be a software developer full time! He’s a good problem solver, helping Naked Element deliver projects more cost effectively and equally enthusiastic at tech events when he represents the company.

Our CEO Paul says "I believe that apprentices are an excellent way for the predominantly small tech companies in the TechEast region to grow and a way to help fill the skills gap we have here. They are also a great way to support young people in our region to get industry experience." Naked Element has found all three apprentices invaluable to supporting and growing our business and we’re very proud of how far they’ve come!

Sunday, 25 February 2018

The new issue of the nor(DEV): magazine is out now, free to download!

This issue focuses on Business in Tech. Or Tech in Business, as it is almost impossible to have one without the other and they both have an equally important role to play in our region. Countless reports from business minds, governments and international organisations are all talking about how technology is going to play a bigger part in manufacturing, commerce and business in general.

So where does Norfolk fit in?

Luckily we’ve pulled together articles and interviews from some of the region’s leading names including Chris Sargisson and Tim Robinson, as well as celebrating all things Her with a gallery from the DevelopHER Awards. Speaking of women in tech, Hayley Johnson from Epos Now has been kind enough to close the issue with an inspirational call to action for all businesses.

We hope you enjoy this new issue and share the link with your friends and colleagues!

Download here.

Industry 4.0 – I Was There!

Last week we attended the Evolution: Journey into Industry 4.0 event and it was an illuminating experience! Not only did we get to hear from some of manufacturings leading lights in the region, we got to talk alongside them at Naame’s packed conference.

As well as having our exhibition stand, our Director Paul Grenyer spoke at the event, demonstrating the value of process automation within manufacturing and how it will support growth in the sector. No capital expenditure required! Paul was able to share the benefits our clients have already seen from automating processes, and have a little fun along the way too!

Other speakers included industry gurus from Loughborough University, the Department for International Trade, Knowledge Transfer Manager – KTN – Innovate UK, Cranfield University, Hethel Innovation and West Suffolk College. We were also fortunate enough to hear from companies already putting automation into practice to great effect, including Warren Services, asset intelligence group Pathfindr, telecoms giant Huawei UK and electric motors company MSF Technologies. We were also reassured that despite some reports claiming future tech would mean job losses, those at Industry 4.0 disagreed, saying job roles would simply evolve from manual tasks to monitoring and analysing. It was also interesting to discover that our region is leading the way in disruptive tech!

Henk Koopmans, chief executive of Huawei UK, encouraged business to ‘think big’ and focus on their market first, but the main takeaway message from the event was that engineering needed to play an important part of the New Anglia LEP economic strategy. The LEP is hoping for greater involvement from businesses to help define the skills needed in five years time so it can work with colleges to get those skills taught now in preparation.

For Naame’s part, it hopes to support manufacturers and introduce them to others who may be able to help with the challenges they face. They are also looking to create manufacturing groups in Suffolk – contact Naame if you are interested. The New Anglia Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering group are also looking to develop a strategic map and would like feedback on a consultation document being released onto their website this week.

The day proved to be a worthwhile investment, with genuinely interesting speakers and an intelligent audience keen to support and be involved in the next phase of industry in our region.

Interested in finding out what Naked Element can do to prepare your business for Industry 4.0? Get in touch for a cup of tea and a chat!

Originally published here.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

MyTech once again a roaring success!

Held by Inspired Youth Projects, My Tech 2018 was another successful meeting of tech employers and burgeoning tech talent.

Naked Element was proud to support the event, as always, and our developers really got a lot out of it too! "The MyTech Inspired Youth event brought together some of the great local tech companies and organisations including EposNow, Breakwater IT and Tech East” said our developer Henri Keeble, “It was was great talking to the students about what it is we do at Naked Element - the technically minded students showed a lot of interest. We were able to give some insight into what a career in software may look like, but also speak about the different routes we'd taken to get to where we are now, with my colleague Jack and myself having very different experiences. We were able to offer some advice we wish we'd known! It was also good to see those who were uncertain of their future career goals taking an interest in the various companies that were present.”

The day started with employability workshops and employer speed networking sessions, designed to help students get an idea of the variety of opportunities available to them.
For those who felt a little anxious at the idea of networking, there was a new ‘no pressure’ session for a more relaxed way to talk to employers. Our apprentice software developer Jack Rogers found it interesting to hear more about what students were considering after high school. “I enjoyed listening to students that were passionate about their future after finishing their GCSE's. Some of the students were also not certain what they were going to do, so it was very helpful to explain the decisions I made. It was interesting to see the diversity of career paths of the young people attending and the choices that each of them are making, as well as seeing how technology has advanced as more and more students are showing an interest towards it.”
The second half of the event was dedicated time for older students who had their sights set on career opportunities, training or apprenticeships within the tech industry and it as clear that those who attended found the day valuable. Supporting the new wave of techies in the region has long been a significant part of what Naked Element do. Director Paul Grenyer explains “It’s very important to inspire and encourage students to choose a career in tech in Norfolk, as there is increased demand for digital skills and this looks set to continue for a considerable time to come - Norfolk companies contact me weekly looking for developers and people with supporting digital skills.” Paul is also involved in a work group to help address the skills shortage in our local area. “TechNation has put Norwich firmly on the map when it comes to innovative tech companies” he says “and these companies will be looking to grow over the next 5+ years and will require a local workforce to support that growth. That’s why events like My Tech are so crucial.”

Thursday, 18 January 2018



Tech Nation is a groundbreaking series of reports on the UK’s digital tech ecosystem. Over the last three years – it has captured the strength, depth and breadth of activity across the UK. It has revealed the scale of the digital tech sector, captured its growth, and – crucially – developed an understanding of the characteristics of the communities driving it.

We hope to make Tech Nation 2018 the best report yet.

To do this, we need your help. Last year the survey had 2,700 responses, this year we hope to reach 11,000 responses, and to hear from all tech communities in the UK to allow us to provide the most up to date and insightful data on the UK tech community in 2018.

If you work in or run a business in the technology, digital sector or any business that is related to or supports these sectors such as investors, legal, education etc. then we need your input.

We want to hear from you on topics such as diversity of the tech sector in your local area, on opportunities for high growth businesses and the quality of education and training.

Help keep Norwich & Norfolk at the forefront of peoples minds when they consider Tech Communities in the UK.

It only takes 5 minutes!

If you would like to join Tech Nation 2018 Community Partner please email details of your business along with your logo to This will mean that you will be sent updates of completions in your area, and have the opportunity to contribute further to the report.

All community partners will have their logos featured in the report.

The survey will close on Friday 2nd of February.


Monday, 8 January 2018

Full Day Workshop: BDD with Cynefin - Liz Keogh

What: Full Day Workshop: BDD with Cynefin - Liz Keogh

When: Wednesday, February 7, 2018, 9:00am to 4:45pm

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

How much: £130.00


Behaviour-Driven Development is a practice in which we talk through different examples (scenarios) of how a system might work, from the perspective of its many users. In this unique tutorial we mix BDD with Cynefin, the sensemaking framework that helps makes sense of the world around you and the problems you encounter depending on their predictability.

The course provides thinking and conversational tools to enable teams, product owners and managers to address risk early, develop a deep understanding of requirements at different scales, shorten the time needed to reach that understanding, produce high-quality, innovative solutions, and create human-readable, relevant and memorable tests as a by-product… and it's not just applicable to software!

For each outcome, attendees will demonstrate the skill during interactive exercises in the course.


  • Explain BDD and its practices
  • Create well-formed scenarios which are relevant to your own domain
  • Use conversational patterns to draw out new scenarios and explore scope
  • Discuss how best to engage Developers, Testers and Analysts or Business Experts in conversations
  • Identify and design mechanisms for quick feedback using single scenarios


  • Explain the Cynefin model and how it relates to BDD and Specification by Example
  • Estimate the level of complexity in different requirements phrased at different scales
  • Predict when an unelaborated requirement is likely to cause conflict or excessive discussion
  • Discuss shortcuts to apply to well-understood requirements to reduce analysis and planning time
  • Differentiate between well-understood, domain-specific, and innovative / uncertain aspects of work through using scenarios in conversations

Capability Red

  • Identify core and incidental stakeholders for a project
  • Generate a map of desired capabilities from lower-level stories and scenarios
  • Identify risk and uncertainty in capability maps
  • Discuss prioritization of long-term plans accordingly
  • Decide whether to engage stakeholders before or only after implementation (educators vs. gatekeepers / checklist)
  • Phrase capability-level problems in problem-space language, without diving into solution-focused features
  • Identify continuous capabilities to which BDD can be applied using monitoring (non-functionals and other non-discrete requirements)
  • Discuss monitoring mechanisms, including manual processes and compliance / governance where applicable.

Please note that automation of scenarios will be mentioned in this course, but is out of scope; this course focuses on the conversational and analytical aspects of BDD.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results

Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results
Stephen Guise  (Author)

ISBN-13: 978-1494882273

I’ve read quite a few self help books and while they always seem really good at the time, I’m not particularly good at following through. I guess I don’t necessarily have the willpower or the presence of mind to do what they recommend.

Mini Habits are different. They’re to small for failure.

There’s lots of repetition, which is slightly irritating until towards the end of the book the when the author hints as to why. As the author often says, you start with ridiculously small habits, the reoccuring examples are one pushup a day and writing 50 words a day, because it gets you into the habit, making it easier to do more. But you only have to achieve the small habit you set out to do. That’s what success looks like. So you can’t fail.

The book was recommended to me by my good friend Tom Bool. Soon after I started reading the book I started walking everyday right around the park. This took a good 30 minutes or more. Will power failed me some days. Now I make sure I walk for 15 minutes every day. Most days I do more as I walk to work. If I don’t walk to work I do 15 minutes or more in the park.

In addition to this my habits are drinking a pint of water a day and reading two pages of a book a day. Everyday I drink more than a pint of water and my incentive is that I don’t have a cup of tea until I’ve drunk my pint. I’m finding reading is enough reward in itself and I’m usually reading more than two pages a day. But if I haven’t found the time to read, I know I can read two pages just before bed.

I wish I’d read this book when I was still responsible for sales calls, because I could have done one a day which would be much easier than the 10 I’d often try and I could have been a success every day.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

New Tech Startups born in 54 hour Sync The City event

From the moment I walked into the refectory at the Cathedral, ahead of the Saturday night pitches, I felt there was something special going to happen. It wasn’t until the pitches actually began an hour or so later, that I realised exactly what it was.

I’m ashamed to say I’ve never been to Sync The City, despite it being in its fourth year. The idea behind the event it to build a tech based startup in just 54 hours and then pitch for funding at the end. It was these final pitches I had come to see.

Twelve startups waited anxiously for Fiona Lettice, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the UEA, SyncNorwich and Sync The City organiser, to make her introduction to this year's event. She described Sync The City as The Apprentice crossed with Dragon’s Den, with all the tension and hard work compressed into a little over two days. With this, and the prize of £3,000 in funding on their minds, the twelve groups began their pitches.

When I’d been in the refectory earlier there was clearly some concern about these pitches, but every single one was excellent. I was expecting lots of hesitation in the delivery, having been put together under the pressure of the time limit, but there was hardly any. The styles, methods, number of presenters, etc. for each pitch varied greatly, which helped keep my interest to the end.

By only the second pitch I knew what it was that felt special when I had arrived. It was the sense of comradery shared by everyone who was taking part - a real feeling that they were all in it together, regardless of who won at the end of it all.

There was a clear winner for me - a team called Footprint whose product helped individuals identify all of their data on the internet.

The People’s Prize, as voted for by the audience, went to Unwind, a chatbot intended to help with mental illness.

The official judges, Ian Watson (CEO Start-rite shoes), Chris Sargisson (CEO Norfolk Chamber), Kirsty Jarvis (CEO Luminus PR and Jazz Singer), Juliana Mayer (CEO SupaPass) and Wayne Taylor (CTO Thyngs) chose Lone Safe, a team who developed a system for keeping lone workers safe, as the overall winner.

The runners up were a team called ViaCab who were developing an app for hailing Black Cabs.

The explosion of excitement from the winning team and the audience alike was incredible! After Lone Safe were led off to sign the paperwork for their prize money, and Sean Clark brought the event to a close, they could be heard still celebrating in a side room, excited to be able to make their startup a reality.