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.

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

RSVP: http://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Developers-NorDev/events/221748446/

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 
(@idomdavis)

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)

RSVP: http://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Developers-NorDev/events/219153512/

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.

Prerequisites:

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.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

The Power of Prototyping: Consultancy View


Imagine this scenario: You’re sitting in an initial meeting with a new client and they’ve just explained their requirements to you. Naturally, you’ve explained that you can build everything they’ve asked for and they look pleased. However, they are a new client. They’re new to you and you’re new to them. You haven’t worked together on a project before, so there hasn’t been chance for trust to build up between the two of you. And although you’re confident you can deliver, because you have experience from different aspects of a number of projects you’ve completed in the past, you can’t help wondering if that confidence has fully transferred to the client.

So why not just show them what you’ve done before? There may be at least two reasons. A lot of the work you may have done in the past might be internal to previous clients and therefore cannot be shown to a third party, even under NDA. Another reason might be that you haven’t built some of the specific aspects the new client is asking for before so there is nothing to show.

One solution is to 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 me and said he was looking for a system which would allow scanned documents to be stored in the cloud, classified and searched for. I have worked on a system in the past that included similar features, but I was unable demonstrate it as it was an internal system belonging to someone else.

To demonstrate that we could fulfil the clients requirements, I 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 then search for and retrieve them. This was both enjoyable and liberating! I had the opportunity to work with and learn about some technologies in a way I hadn’t before, some of them new to me. As this was a prototype, the functionality was basic and as I knew I’d be throwing it away, I worked without automated tests, continuous integration, static analysis or security.

Once I had something reasonably presentable (using a basic Bootstrap theme) I invited the client in to see the results. He was immediately pleased and excited about the prototype and I felt I had demonstrated that I could deliver his requirements and was reassured that he now had confidence in me. Of course I explained clearly that this wasn’t production ready code by any stretch of the imagination and further development would require investment.

While this demonstrates how powerful a prototype can be, what are the costs? Often no money is paid for prototypes. This means it is very important to do a cost benefit analysis. In the example described above the few hours it took to put the prototype were slotted into free time and the real cost to me was very small, while the benefit was relatively large. This may not be the case for every company or freelancer.

It is important not to give services away for free. You could take this argument to an extreme and say that even discussing requirements with a client is of material benefit to them and should be charged for. This is not what I believe, but is the reason why the prototype is kept basic and nowhere near production ready.

Prototypes are a powerful way of demonstrating what you can do and increasing your knowledge of unfamiliar technologies and how they fit together.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

NorDevCon 2015 - Survey Results and Winners!

As NorDevCon continues to grow and attract higher numbers of attendees, we began to consider running the conference over two days. To find out if this was something the tech community would be interested in, we conducted a survey of NorDevCon 2015 visitors.


We were very pleased to see that two thirds of the 93 respondents would like to see NorDevCon happen over two days.


PieChart.png


The majority of those surveyed would prefer Thursday and Friday to any other combination of days, with Friday and Saturday morning coming in second, head and shoulders above the other options.


BarChart.png

Based on this feedback and the direction we would like to take the conference, we have decided to run a number of parallel, hands-on workshops on the Thursday and the regular conference on Friday, with a keynote followed by five streams on the Saturday morning.


We are very pleased to announce that Michael Feathers is joining us from the US to give the opening keynote on Friday, as well as running a workshop.


Russel Winder, who spoke at the inaugural Nor(DEV):, will be giving the closing keynote for 2016 and the conference will finish lunchtime on Saturday.

On Saturday Richard Astbury will present the day’s keynote, which will be followed by five tracks, four of which will be lecture style presentations of 45 or 90 minutes. The fifth track will run at the same time and will comprise a 90 minute hands-on workshop.


Workshop tickets will be sold separately and individually for each workshop. We will offer tickets for Friday and Saturday morning as well as day tickets for those who only want to attend Friday or Saturday. The pre-conference special, the pre-conference dinner and the conference dinner will all be the same as before.


Those who completed our survey also went into a draw to win tickets to NorDevCon 2016 and our five winners are:


  • Luke Kittridge
  • Paul Cutting
  • Matthew Dunn
  • Tracey Tutt
  • Roberto Bezzi

We look forward to seeing everyone next year!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Nor(DEV): Docker Beginners Hands on Full Day Workshop



What: Nor(DEV): Docker Beginners Hands on Full Day Workshop

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

When: Wednesday 27th May @ 9.45am - 4.30pm

RSVP: http://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Developers-NorDev/events/221748446/

Price: £30 per person
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
(@idomdavis)

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.

Nor(DEV): Unlocking Your IT Data & Building on the EPoS Now Platform

When: Wednesday, May 6th 2015, 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm 

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

RSVP: http://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Developers-NorDev/events/221751186/ 

There are Priorities, Priorities, and then there are PRIORITIES. 

Today IT is generally seen as a critical if not essential part of our daily live’s, the data that it generates is readily accepted to be of essential importance. From mundane user generated data such as word documents (but only mundane as its content), to critical infrastructure regulating electricity supplies (but only critical if service affecting). One of the challenges we face is how do we understand what data is of critical importance and what is not. In addition another layer of added complexity is that one departments criticality is anothers nuisance, so how do we advise and decide as IT professionals what an organization really needs? Firstly in order to make an ‘informed’ decision we need to be….. Informed. 

We at Sumo Logic will enable you to create a platform which enables you to collect the right information in the right context, at the right time. 

Clive McDonald 
(@sumologic

I would describe myself firstly as an IT Data evangelist, I think it is quite apt with regards to where I am in my career. In previous positions I have built and managed global teams,designed & implemented various technical enterprise wide solutions,and won multi-million pound contracts within both start-up companies and global enterprises. This work was done under various guises such as a EMEA Manager or a senior security professional/architect, predominantly dealing with FTSE 50 companies across a wide range of verticals. The reason I have chosen such a generic description for myself is simply because IT data and its use within the world has gone through a seachange, the use of ‘Big Data’ has blurred the previous delineations that existed between security, operations and auditing as an example. 


Building on the EPoS Now Platform 

April 2015 celebrates 3 years of software development at local tech company EPoS Now. The business has had great success from introducing Software as a Service and some great developer tools.They are soon to extend this by offering Platform as a Service, which will allow developers to build, host and resell their creations. 
In this talk Wayne will demonstrate how to build and host a simple JavaScript app using real-time data from multiple API's. As well as exploring the approach and scalable technology used to build the platform. 

Wayne Taylor 
(@wtaylor509

Wayne works as Head of Software at EPoS Now where he has helped to create the successful SME from a fledgling start-up. Day to day means managing, coaching, problem solving, architecting, designing, watering the plants, keeping an ear to the ground and an eye on competitors... and every once in a while he still gets to write some code. He is very proud of the department he has built and is often amazed by the fantastic people he gets to work with.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Two birds, one stone: The future of mobile at New Patrick's Yard.

On Wednesday 1st of April (no, I’m not fooling) Norfolk Developers held a special event in the new “Technical Offices for Technical People”, at New Patrick’s Yard on the corner of Prince of Wales Road and Recorder Road in Norwich. New Patrick’s Yard is the location of the new Norwich based offices for Liquid 11, the very successful technology company created and run by Grant Hardy. They also have plenty of spare space, which they want to rent out to other tech businesses.

I first met Grant at SyncNorwich’s Agile August and we’ve kept in touch and bumped into each other at various events since; so when Sally Harding, Liquid 11’s Business Development Manager, asked me if I would help to promote New Patrick’s Yard, I thought what better way than to run a Norfolk Developers’ event there?

Some of you will remember that we had to do a last minute room swap between Seb Rose and Neil Garner at NorDevCon in February. It was so last minute that Neil had actually started speaking and sadly it also meant that we didn’t capture the video. So I thought that a special, last minute event at New Patrick’s Yard would be fitting and give us a chance to record Neil’s conference presentation again. Fortunately, Neil was very keen to do it too!

About 25 people, including some new faces and some members of Liquid 11’s team, descended on New Patrick’s Yard to consume the plentiful beer, wine and pizza which was very kindly laid on by Liquid 11. Twentyfive was the perfect number for the double office we were using for the presentation. New Patrick’s Yard had even created special Wifi just for NorDev.

We kicked off at 7pm and Grant gave a brief overview of the offices and their facilities before inviting everyone to look round after the presentation. Then we dived straight into Neil’s enhanced presentation from NorDevCon, Mobile Commerce: Past, Present, THE future.

I originally met Neil just before he opened MobDevCon for me in 2013 and I’ve seen him speak a few times since. His friendly, charismatic style lends itself brilliantly to these sorts of high level, business focussed technical presentations and it was clear that everyone was engaged with the material from beginning to end.

Neil told us about wearables and questioned how popular the new smart watches would be, given that many people wear a styled watch as a fashion accessory or as a status symbol. He posed the question, what will Apple and Google do to keep up?

He explained how the mobile app would become a thing of the past and how the mobile experience would become fully integrated, rather than segregated into separate apps. He told us that mobile developers are already predominantly engaged in integration.

Neil told us that “There are 102 lego bricks for everyone on the planet” and that this is particularly interesting because most software engineers are no longer writing low level code to display some text, capture input from a keyboard or setup networking. Now, we’ve all become integration engineers building software on top of other software, just like putting lego building blocks together.

Mobile phones are being used more and more for purchasing and Neil explained how mobile phone coverage is better in East Africa and across Asia than it is in Europe and how just about everyone with a phone there can make and receive payments on their phones.

Neil finished off by telling us about Loka, a new app from Proxama which delivers offers from high street in real time based on your proximity to certain shops. This sparked a number of questions about the technology behind it and how consumers would react to the notifications.

Following Neil’s presentation, New Patrick’s Yard was still buzzing as people finished off the pizza and beer, explored the offices and chatted. Norfolk Developers had a fantastic time at the Technical Offices for Technical People and we’ve been invited back.

Don’t miss the Norfolk Developers lunch at All Bar One at 12.30pm on Wednesday 15th of April followed by our regular evening event. This month, it’s Tools of the Javascript Trade & Coachtrain: the challenges of innovating the inter-urban public transportation system, from 6.30pm at the Kings Centre. RSVP here: http://tinyurl.com/pcfxowa and follow us on Twitter, @NorfolkDev.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

NorDev Special: Mobile Commerce: Past, Present, THE future at New Patrick's Yard

What: NorDev Special: Mobile Commerce: Past, Present, THE future at New Patrick's Yard

When: Wednesday, April 1, 2015 @ 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM

Where: New Patrick's Yard, 2 Recorder Rd, Norfolk, NR1 1NR

RSVP: http://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Developers-NorDev/events/221181938/

Come along to our April special at New Patrick's Yard and hear Neil Garner of Proxama telling us about mobile. Refreshments including beer, wine, soft drinks and pizza will be available!

Mobile Commerce: Past, Present, THE future.
Neil Garner (@Proxama)

Mobile Commerce has come a long way from basic automated voice and text messaging services in the late 90s, through basic WAP services on feature phones in late 00s through sophisticated shopping apps of today. Mobile Commerce is still at early stages of evolution in western economies like the UK despite many emerging countries like Kenya using services like m-Pesa instead of cash. What will the future bring? Growth of Proximity Commerce linking digital with physical wallets… wearables… Biometrics and authentication… death of Apps… however the future pans out the mobile will be at the heart of commerce in 2020.

About Neil

Neil founded Proxama in 2005 (then called Glue4 Technologies). The business focused on creating services that link people and brands using consumer technologies. In 2008, the company was rebranded as Proxama with a focus on the applications of mobile, smartcard and NFC technologies. Neil passionately believes in using emerging technologies to create valuable services for people.

Prior to founding Proxama, Neil ran a division of a niche consultancy, Consult Hyperion, where he led the systems implementation teams for a number of ground breaking products including Vodafone’s m-Pesa, MasterCard’s PayPass, Sky and Barclaycard’s SkyCard and American Express Blue card.

Neil has a MEng and DPhil from York University and is a Chartered Engineer. Any precious time at home is split between renovating an old property and enjoying life with his wife and three young children.