Friday, 21 April 2017

East Anglia One

Despite growing up and spending the vast majority of my life living in Norwich, I haven’t really been to the seaside town of Great Yarmouth that many times, despite it being only 20 miles away. I certainly never imagined finding work there. I’ve visited Yarmouth for business three times since Christmas this year, secured one piece of business with a local company and now it’s looking like Naked Element could be securing some more.

I’ve been fascinated by engineering since a young age. From the differential which helped drive the Lego car I had as a child, to internal combustion engines, power stations and large ships and planes, I like to know how things, big and small, work. When I was younger I even wrote to the BBC’s Playschool programme to find out how their clock worked and received a photo and a full explanation in response (I wish I still had them now).

So when a Norfolk Chamber breakfast offered the  opportunity to hear from a senior member of Seajacks, who own and run some of the most advanced off-shore equipment in the world, I was very excited. I enjoy the breakfasts and  networking at the chamber anyway, the big machines  were a real bonus!

After the customary speed networking, which is a great way to mix up the room and help you meet people, and the breakfast itself, John Vingoe, Operations Manager at Seajacks, told us about their largest vessel, the Scylla, and how it would be used to help build the East Anglia One windfarm off the coast of Great Yarmouth between July and October of 2018. The Scylla is a Gusto MSC NG14000X multipurpose jack-up which is home to 130 crew, has a massive deck area of 5000m2, can operate in waters down to a depth of 65m and does up to 12 knots. It’s a beast and will be used to install concrete jackets for the wind farm.

But what’s really great about Seajacks is their commitment to source locally and where they can, they do! There are, of course, some specialist equipment and skills which are not available locally. The East Anglia One wind farm operation will be based out of a port in the Netherlands and although equipment and labour is available in the Netherlands, Seajacks will be flying over its people and supplies from the local area, even though there is a modest extra cost.

The slowdown in the oil and gas industry and its effect, especially on employment in Great Yarmouth, is widely known. Seajacks weathered the storm in a unique way by redistributing its crew around different vessels. John described to us how usually a ship’s company is hired and released as needed on a per vessel basis.

This was Caroline Williams, CEO of Norfolk Chamber’s, last Great Yarmouth breakfast before she moves on to pastures new after 17 years. I’d like to thank Caroline personally for the help, advice, support and friendly engagement she has given me over the last few years since Naked Element has been a Chamber member.  I wish Caroline every success in the future and look forward to bumping into her, as I am sure I will!


Networking takes time. It’s not unusual to come away from a Chamber event having started to build some excellent relationships, but without much more than a warm lead. From this Great Yarmouth Chamber breakfast I came away with two solid leads and another demonstrating future potential. A morning well spent!

Friday, 14 April 2017

The Iron Tactician: A Review

By Alastair Reynolds ISBN-13: 978-1910935309

This book is quick and easy to read at only 98 pages. It’s a long way from being Reynold’s best work, but it’s enjoyable enough. Often I struggle to put books down, but not so with the Iron Tactician, not until the last 30% anyway, which I read in a couple of hours one afternoon.

Possibly the smallest number of characters Reynolds has ever had in a story I’ve read of his, each of them is likable and easy to relate to. A couple could have been explored in more detail.

It was clear there was a twist coming, but if the clues were there to what it was, I missed them and was oblivious right up until it was revealed, which is how I like it! Sometimes nothing spoils a book like a predictable ending and in fact there were two surprises for me!

I’m looking forward to Revenger which is released in just over a month (18th May), but I’ll be reading the next book in Peter Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga first, so it may be a while until I get to it.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Today Nor(Dev):con, tomorrow The World!

“Speaking at nor(DEV):con  is a good indicator that people know what they’re talking about”

If anyone knows the truth of that sentence, it’s Dom Davis. People in the tech industry know him for many different reasons – as CTO of TechMarionette, providing consultations through Somewhere Random, or perhaps even his YouTube gaming channels – but his speaking career was launched by nor(DEV):. “I started doing the local talks for the Norfolk Developers evening sessions, then speaking at nor(DEV):con, eventually graduating to larger and larger rooms at the conference. That eventually led to offers to speak from outside Norfolk.”

‘Outside Norfolk’ ended up being Israel. A conference over there was looking for interesting international speakers and found Dom’s talk from nor(DEV):con on YouTube. After negotiating travel arrangements, they flew him out to give the closing keynote. “Off the back of that I got to speak at Foundercon in Berlin. So now I can say I’m an international keynote speaker!” He’s also got talks at GraphConnect and ACCU coming up later in 2017.

Dom has also been engaged as a trainer as a direct result of being at nor(DEV):con. “I was asked to provide training on Go to others, based on the fact that I am a respected member of the community - Paul Grenyer’s opening keynote gave me glowing review! Speaking at Nor(DEV): is a good indicator that people know what they’re talking about.” Dom also bumped into the founder of one of the companies formed at the last SyncTheCity at the 2017 nor(DEV):con, who offered him consulting work. “There’s work and business to be done with all this talent and business in one place!”


Words: Lauren Gwynn

Sunday, 2 April 2017

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)

by George R.R. Martin

ISBN: 978-0007548231

This is an epic story. The breadth of George R.R. Martin’s imagination and attention to detail is incredible. Of course I’ve seen the HBO TV series, which is what inspired me to read the book, but that’s a doubled edged sword. Having seen the series it helped me to understand what was going on, but also it spoils it as I generally remembered what was going to happen, removing some of the mystery and excitement. Having said that, I did spend a lot of the book hoping things would turn out differently.

My biggest frustration is, why didn’t Syrio Forel pick up one of the Lannister swords and defeat Meryn Trant? The book is ambiguous, so maybe he did survive and will be back? There’s time and my fingers are crossed.

Catelyn Stark is an excellent character. However, I really don’t like her. She is proud, stubborn and ultimately causes her husband's death and the downfall of her house. Although, Eddard Stark does a pretty good job of that all on his own. All the characters are well thought out, it’s just a shame that some of them were cast badly in the TV series, changing them significantly.

The TV series follows the book really closely. Of course there is more detail in the book and things happen which are not in the TV series or are left for later, but it’s still remarkable how true to the book the TV series is. However, there are many scenarios in the book which take place in different places in the TV series. I spent quite a bit of time trying to work out why.

I’m taking a break from Westeros to catch up on some sci-fi, but I’m looking forward to coming back and if you haven’t been there yet, I strongly suggest you give it a try.