Sunday, 22 December 2019

A review: .Net Core in Action

.Net Core in Action
by Dustin Metzgar
ISBN-13: 978-1617294273

I still get a fair amount of flack for buying and reading technical books in the 21st Century - almost as much as I get for still buying and listening to CDs. If I was a vinyl loving hipster, it would be different of course…. However, books like .Net Core in Action are a perfect example of why I do it.  I needed to learn what .Net Core was and get a feel for it very quickly and that is what this book allowed me to do.

I’ve been very sceptical of .Net development for a number of years, mostly due to how large I perceived the total cost of ownership and the startup cost to be and the fact that you have to use Windows.  While this was previously true, .Net Core is different and .Net Core in Action made me understand that within the first few pages of the first chapter. It also got me over my prejudice towards Docker by the end of the second chapter.

The first two chapters are as you would expect, an introduction followed by various Hello World examples. Then it gets a bit weird as the book dives into the build system next and then Unit testing (actually, this is good so early) and then two chapters on connecting to relational databases, writing data access layers and ORMs. There’s a sensible chapter on micro services before the weirdness returns with chapters on debugging performance profiling and internationalisation. I can kind of see how the author is trying to show the reader the way different parts of .Net core work on different platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac), but this relatively small volume could have been more concise.




DevelopHER Overall Award 2019

I was honoured and delighted to be asked to judge and present the overall DevelopHER award once again this year. Everyone says choosing a winner is difficult. It may be a cliche, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is.

When the 13 category winners came across my desk I read through them all and reluctantly got it down to seven. Usually on a first pass I like to have it down to three or four and then all I need to agonise over is the order. Luckily on the second pass I was able to be ruthless and get it down to four.

To make it even more difficult, three of my four fell into three categories I am passionate about:

  • Technical excellence and diversity
  • Automated Testing
  • Practical, visual Agile

And the fourth achieved results for her organisation which just couldn’t be ignored.

So I read and reread and ordered and re-ordered. Made more tea, changed the CD and re-read and re-ordered some more. Eventually it became clear.

Technical excellent and the ability for a software engineer to turn their hand to new technologies is vital. When I started my career there were basically two main programming languages, C++ and Java. C# came along soon after, but most people fell into one camp or another and a few of us crossed over. Now are are many, many more to choose from and lots of young engineers decide to specialise in one and are reluctant to learn and use others. This diminishes us all as an industry. So someone who likes to learn new and different technologies is a jewel in any company’s crown.

The implementation of Agile methodologies in Software Development is extremely important. Software, by its very nature is complex. Only on the most trivial projects does the solution the users need look anything like what they thought they wanted at the beginning. Traditional waterfall approaches to software development do not allow for this. The client requires flexibility and we as software engineers need the flexibility to deliver what they need. Software development is a learning process for both the client and the software engineer. Agile gives us a framework for this. Unlike many of the traditional methods, Agile has the flexibility to be agile itself, giving continuous improvement.

When implementing Agile processes, the practices are often forgotten or neglected and in many ways they are more important. Not least of which is automated testing. The practice of writing code which tests your code and running it at least on every checkin. This gives you a safety net that code you’ve already written isn’t broken by new code you write. And when it is, the tests tell you, they tell you what’s wrong and where it’s wrong.  We need more of this as an industry and that is why I chose Rita Cristina Leitao, an automated software tester from Switch Studios as the overall DevelopHER winner.


Sunday, 15 December 2019

Shakespear Sister Ipswich November 2019

I was very surprised and excited and then immediately disappointed to see Shakespere Sister on the Graham Norton show. They performed Stay, which is their big hit (longest single at number in the UK be a female artist, 8 weeks), but Marcella wasn’t even trying to hit the high notes and it was awful. We decided to go and see them on tour anyway as it was potentially a once in a lifetime experience before they fell out again.

The Ipswich Regent was half empty in the stalls and the circle was closed and oddly there were quite a few security guards - apparently at the request of the band. Encouragingly Shakespear Sister came on on time and they sounded good! As they ploughed through many of their well known songs, new songs and a few older more obscure songs, the vocals were strong from both Marcella and Siobhan.

The rhythm section was incredible.  The drumming was tight, varied and interesting, but what really stood out was the bass. I think part of this was that the player had fantastic bass lines to play, but also oozed talent. It’s really uncommon for a bass player to need to change bass guitars between songs but Clare Kenny swapped frequently. It’s just a shame that the lead guitar player was totally unremarkable and I’ve no idea what the keyboard player was for.

The highlight I, and I imagine many others, had been looking forward to was Stay. It was better than with Graham Norton, but it’s clear that Marcella can not get to the highest notes and live, she doesn’t try. It was still a good performance of a fantastic song.

Would I go and see them again? Probably not, unless I was dragged.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Borknagar

I was pretty sure I had seen Borknagar support Cradle of Filth at the Astoria 2 in the ‘90s. It turns out that was Opeth and Extreme Noise Terror, so I don’t really remember how I got into them now.

Whatever the reason was, I really got into their 2000 album Quintessence. At the time I didn’t really enjoy their previous album, The Archaic Course, much so with the exception of the occasional relisten to Quintessence, Borknagar went by the wayside for me.  That was until ICS Vortex got himself kicked out of Dimmu Borgir for allegedly poor performances, produced a really rather bland and unlistenable solo album called Storm Seeker, and then got back properly with Borknagar.  That’s when things got interesting.

ICS Vortex has an incredible voice. When he joined Dimmu Borgir as bassist and second vocalist in time for Spiritual Black Dimensions, he brought a new dimension (pun intended) to an already amazing band. I’ve played Spiritual Black Dimensions to death since it came out and I think only Death Cult Armageddon is better.

ICS Vortex’s first album back with Borknagar is called Winter Thrice. Loving his voice and being bitterly disappointed with Storm Seeker I bought it desperately hoping for something more and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s an album with a cold feel and lyrical content about winter and the north. I loved it and played it constantly after release and regularly since. It’s progressive black metal which is the musical equivalent to walking through the snow early on a cold crisp morning.

This year Borknagar released a new album called True North. When I’ve loved an album intensely and the band brings out something new I always feel trepidation. Machine Head never bettered Burn My Eyes, WASP never bettered the Crimson Idol. I could go on, but you get the picture. True North is another album about winter and the north. So I ought to have been on safe ground, but then Arch Enemy have pretty much recorded the same album since Doomsday Machine, but never bettered it. They’re all good though.

My first listen to True North was tense, but it didn’t take long for that to dissipate. I had it on daily
play for a few weeks, together with the new albums from Winterfylleth and Opeth. True North was so brilliant I thought it might be even better than Winter Thrice. So cautiously I tried Winter Thrice again, but I wasn’t disappointed to find it was the slightly better album. The brilliant thing is that I now have two similar, but different enough albums I can enjoy again and again and other than Enslaved’s In Times, I haven’t found anything else like it.

I hope they do what Evergrey did with Hymns for the Broken, The Storm Within and The Atlantic and make it a set of three. Cross your fingers for me.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Winterfylleth

At school I had this friend, Jamie, and he once said to me that he always preferred having a band’s live album to their studio album of the same songs. His example was Queen’s Live Magic. To me, then, this was madness. It didn’t have all the same songs as It’s a Kind of Magic and the production isn’t as good. Let’s face it, unless it’s Pink Floyd, the production of a live album is never as good as in the studio. I avoided live albums for years.

Pink Floyd’s Pulse was the first live album I really got into and then there was nothing until the teenies when live albums from Emperor, Immortal, Arch Enemy, Dimmu Borgir and Blind Guardian got me completely hooked.

The latest live album I’ve bought is ‘The Siege Of Mercia: Live At Bloodstock 2017’ by Winterfylleth. It’s amazing for a number of reasons. I was at Bloodstock, watching the band, when it was recorded. It’s a fantastic performance of of some brilliant songs. It’s got a, atmospheric, synth version of an old track at the end. It’s encouraged me to relisten to their studio albums and enjoy them so much more.

Winterfylleth are a Black Metal band from Manchester. Their lyrics are based around England’s rich culture and heritage.  Some of their album covers and songs depict the Peak District. You’d have thought a song about Mam Tour, a hill in the Peak District, might be a bit boring, but it’s not! Maybe because, being black metal, you can’t really hear the words, but as always the vocal style, heavy guitars and fast drums make for the perfect mix.

I currently have the Siege of Mercia, along with some similar new albums from the likes of Borknager, on my regular daily playlist and it just gets better and better.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

nor(DEV):biz Big Dinner with Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure



What: nor(DEV):biz Big Dinner with Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure

When: 7th October, 2019

Where: Norwich City Football Club

How much: £40.99

Book: https://nordevbiz-oct-2019.eventbrite.co.uk

Join the best Norfolk and Norwich tech companies for dinner, while enjoying good food and great company.

Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure

A desire to innovate, with continual reinvestment creating bigger and bolder attractions – this is what our guest speakers have in mammoth (or should I say dinosaur!) proportions.

Owners of award-winning, Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure in Lenwade, Martin and Adam Goymour will be sharing their aspirations to develop this thriving business both in Norfolk and further afield. Not ones to rest on their laurels, they’ve already rebranded and invested millions so they can appeal to a broader market.

In 2018, they won the Best Large Visitor Attraction award in the Norfolk and Suffolk Tourism Awards. With more projects ‘in the pipeline’, their hard work and enthusiasm for innovation and redevelopment are evident.

From advancing their green energy strategy by placing solar panels on their indoor play area to a fossil dig and a steampunk-inspired restaurant in the Victorian walled garden, they are delighting thousands of visitors of all ages in Norfolk’s very own Jurassic Park.

About nor(DEV):biz

The aims of nor(DEV):biz (Norfolk Developers Business) are:

  • to be the go-to group for local businesses requiring a technology solution.
  • to facilitate and increase referrals and collaboration among Norfolk’s tech businesses.
  • to help close the digital skills gap.
  • to facilitate better collaboration between technology businesses and academic institutions.
  • to have a great meal with great company

Tickets prices do include a donation to the nor(DEV): chosen charity of the year, for 2019/2020.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Breakfast: One for the bikers with Matt Leach of Geotekk


Breakfast: One for the bikers with Matt Leach of Geotekk

When: Tuesday: September 3, 2019 - 7:30am to 8:30pm
Where: The Maids Head Hotel, Tombland, Norwich, NR3 1LB
How much: £13.95
RSVP: https://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Developers-NorDev/events/qqwhznyzmbfb/

Matt will talk about Geotekk’s product design and fund raising journey and how the company has developed through a belief that anything which serves to reduce stress and worry in everyday lives enables a happier life empowering us to “Live More”.

Matt is co-founder of Geotekk, a company specialising in smart alarms for bikes. Founded in 2015 in response to ever-rising levels of bike theft, Matt and his co-founder James strive to provide customers with freedom and peace of mind by creating an affordable, versatile and best-in-class smart alarm. This alarm would combine and improve the most effective features of other security products into one multi-functional package.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Breakfast: Technological Future – Utopia or Dystopia?



When: 04/06/2019 07:30 - 08:30
Where: The Maids Head Hotel, Tombland, Norwich, Norwich
Price: 13.95 GBP
RSVP: https://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Developers-NorDev/events/qqwhznyzjbgb/


Technological Future – Utopia or Dystopia?

A Norfolk Developers breakfast discussion with Callum Coombes and Fiona Lettice.

Technological innovation allows organisations to do more with less. As well as improving innovation and productivity, new technologies will help us with some of the key challenges ahead – making better use of limited resources like energy and water, mitigating the effects of climate change on food and poverty, disease prevention, and improving healthcare for an ageing population.

Technological innovation has generally been a powerful force for good, creating new jobs and improving salaries. But new technology also threatens jobs and whole industries, with devastating consequences in some communities and with the benefits unevenly distributed. So is the future utopian or dystopian?

Whichever, technological change will continue, so If we are to realise the potential of new technologies, like artificial intelligence and machine learning, we will need responsible innovation approaches and new regulatory frameworks.

We will need to develop future technologies using multidisciplinary perspectives and methods so that we better consider the future of work, protect our privacy and data, build consumer trust, and respond effectively to ethical and safety issues.

Norfolk Developers are facilitating this by bringing together its members and speakers to debate and shape a healthier technological future.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Breakfast with Norman Wilson: Size matters! Why size determines everything...


Breakfast with Norman Wilson: Size matters! Why size determines everything...

When: Tuesday, 12th March @ 7.30am to 8.30am
Where: The Maids Head Hotel, Tombland, Norwich, NR3 1LB
How much: £13.95
RSVP: https://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Developers-NorDev/events/qqwhznyzfbhb/

Size matters! Why size determines everything in your organisation.
Norman Wilson

An anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist, Dunbar's fame largely focuses around a single number, 150. The theory of Dunbar's Number posits that 150 is the number of individuals with whom any one person can maintain stable relationships.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Join us for the process sessions at nor(DEV):con 2019: #Evolution from #NoProjects to Continuous Digital!



Join us for the process sessions at nor(DEV):con 2019 on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd of February in Norwich!

Get your Early Bird tickets here before they finish on Friday!


# Evolution from #NoProjects to Continuous Digital

Allan Kelley

Once upon a time there was IT, and IT departments had projects. Projects were always a bad fit for software development but somehow we made them work. As IT became Agile the damage caused by the project model became obvious and #NoProjects emerged to help teams go beyond projects.

Today growth businesses are digital. Technology is the business and the business is technology. Projects end but do you want your business to end? Or do you want it to grow? Growing a digital business means growing software technology.

In this presentation Allan Kelly will look at how #NoProjects came about, how it evolved into Continuous Digital and why it is the future of management.


Miscellaneous Process Tips
Jon Jagger

This session will explore three important process laws.

1. The New Law.
Why does nothing new ever work?

2. The Chatelier’s Principle.
How do systems change? How do they stay the same?

3. The Composition Fallacy.
No difference plus no difference equals no difference is a fallacy. Why?


Jugaad: Bringing Troubled Projects Back On Track
Giovanni Asproni

What do you do when a project is not going well—e.g., the client is upset, the team demoralized, the quality of the product is low, the project is late—to bring it back under control and make the client and the team happy again?

How do you that in highly politically charged environments?

In this talk I’ll answers the questions above and more, by sharing my experience in doing that in several projects of various sizes (from small to quite big) using some jugaad—a Hindi word, which, roughly, means thinking in a frugal way and being flexible, which, in turn, requires the ability to adapt quickly to often unforeseen situations and uncertain circumstances in an intelligent way.

I’ll describe, among other things, how to:

  • Work in highly politically charged environments
  • Deal with difficult (and powerful) people and speak truth to them
  • Help the teams to improve their morale and motivation
  • Make progress with limited resources
  • Use different leadership stiles (including command and control)
  • Make your client happier
  • Deal with serious mistakes


Bug-First Development – Agile Software Development For User Story Prospecting
Adrian Pickering

The idea behind bug-first or bug-driven development is devilishly simply: Everything is a bug until it isn’t.

As far as a user is concerned, there is essentially no difference between a bug, a feature that hasn’t been delivered and one that is otherwise unusable, say through substandard user interface or user experience. Bug-driven development essentially asks the user what operation they want to do next that they currently can’t undertake. The benefit this brings is laser-focused story discovery and prioritisation.


Working remote vs Working colocated
Paul Boocock

We often talk about waterfall, scrum, agile and many other processes but these are often considered from a colocated perspective.

As demand for remote working continues to increase, we will discuss if our usual processes work in a remote environment and what changes or considerations do we need to make to support remote workers?


One Team, Two Teams, Many Teams: Scaling Up Done Right (90 or 45 minutes, 90 preferred)
Giovanni Asproni

Scaling up software projects is one of the trends of the moment—many companies, big and small, try to do that  to increase the speed of delivery of their projects.

However, scaling up can be quite difficult (even going only from one to two teams),  especially if it is done focusing on the wrong aspects – most companies give too much weight to formal structures and processes (e.g., mandating the use of SAFe, LESS or other frameworks), and not enough weight to other aspects that would give a bigger bang for the buck: eg removing friction, improving communication channels, setting clear goals, delegating responsibility and accountability, etc.

In this session I’ll share my experience in successfully helping companies to do the right thing in projects ranging from two to about eighty teams, and I’ll offer some tools that you will be able to use right away in your projects.

The session, among other things, includes:

  • A description of what needs to be done right before scaling up
  • Strategies on how to decide when to add new people to a team and new teams to a project
  • Things to consider when deciding the structure of the teams (eg feature vs component teams), and its relationship with the shape of the system
  • How to use simple rules to allow teams to collaborate productively
  • An explanation on why each project has a upper bound in its ability to scale, and what to do about it


Reengineering a Library
Burkhard Kloss

Session abstract: Over the last few years, I’ve been consulting on reengineering a quant library. As is wont, the library had originally accreted, rather than been designed; eventually, it had turned into a ball of mud, and maintenance was becoming increasingly problematic. We decided to rewrite the library from scratch, using best practices as we understood them, and eventually turned it into a piece of code we can be proud of – and maintain and extend without too much pain.

This talk is a personal retrospective on techniques and processed we applied; what worked, what did not, and why.


Get your tickets now: http://nordevcon-2019.eventbrite.com

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Join us for the nor(DEV):con 2019 Business Sessions: Running a business is hard!


Join us for the nor(DEV):con 2019 Business Sessions on Friday 22nd February!

Get your Early Bird tickets here before the price goes up after Friday!

Running a business is hard

John Gostling

Running a business is hard….harder when you don’t have much experience of running a business! 6 years ago I joined Breakwater IT as a Systems Engineer, I quickly realised there was so much potential that had yet to be tapped into, and every day since then my focus has been on releasing this, creating a better company to work with, and to work for. It’s been a constantly evolving journey, 2 steps forward, one step back (sometimes two!), but things are finally starting to fall into place.

This is a very open self-appraisal of the how we have transformed a loss making company into one that turns a profit and is currently growing at 20% year on year.


Crack the motivation code!

Cassandra Andrews

Imagine if you knew precisely what motivated each member of your team, how motivated they were and what you could do to improve their motivation! 

Cassandra Andrews interactive workshop focuses on motivation in the workplace and introduces ‘motivational maps’, an incredibly accurate and user-friendly tool which enables us to unlock and measure employee motivation.

Understanding exactly what motivates individuals in an organisation can be used with significant impact to support business growth and profitability by maximising employee and team motivation, retain employees and recruit the right people to complement existing teams.

At the workshop you will discover how to create high performing teams by learning:

What motivation is, how it can be measured and how it impacts the workforce.
About the nine motivators identified in motivational maps.
How to increase team performance by identifying conflicts in motivation.

To enable all delegates to get their own ‘wow’ moment from the workshop, there will be an opportunity for four attendees to win a complimentary individual motivational map with feedback/insight session and discounted motivational maps available for other attendees.


Developing an app to promote emotional resilience

UEA

Since summer 2017, Dr Laura Biggart and Dr Kamena Henshaw, from the School of Psychology, have been working with UEA computer science students and Steve Jones and Adam Ziolkowski from JoziTech to develop a student support app. Currently the app is focused on supporting students’ transition into Higher Education. In this session we will talk about the development of the app, the research background to the features, and the feedback since our launch in September 2018. We will conclude with a discussion of our future plans, including evaluation of the app and our plans to work with other organisations to develop bespoke OpenUp apps


Don’t fall over like Elon Musk did – How to stay energised and disrupt an industry

Ian Hacon

Elon Musk is one of the most famous workaholic cases in recent years. So much so, many others quoted him as a badge of honour when they too worked too hard. In 2018, his wheel fell off, forced to take a total break due to exhaustion. This session will help you understand how looking after your own energy is good for business and you will leave with some easily implementable steps to do so.


Orchestrated Mobility – Changing The Way We Move

John Fagan

By late 2030, its predicted that 95% U.S. passenger miles travelled will be served by on-demand vehicles owned by fleets, not individuals, in a new business model Transport-as-a-Service (TaaS).

Citizens will pay a monthly fee to go anywhere they wish, much like we do today using on demand services for music and video, like Spotify and Netflix.

TaaS will unify public, private & autonomous transportation into an efficient service and is predicted to deliver a largely carbon-free road transportation system.

In this talk i will…

Vision of Transport as a Service

Key Drivers (Technologies, Autonomous electric vehicles, ride sharing, costs and barriers)
Impacts on society, economics and the environment
Who should be the Netflix for Transport?
Examples of use cases and disruption happening today


Harnessing the power of subscription technology

Juliana Meyer

Thousands of professionals are discovering ways to transform the way they work and the way they earn a living. Leveraging the skills we each have, the talk uncovers how anyone can can build their own subscription business using the knowledge and talents they already have.

I’ll go deep into the steps needed, opportunities available, the how and why, and what has worked and not worked for others. This has already been a game changer for others who learnt this from my previous talks which then transformed their lives, their living, and their opportunities.

Given the key trends of subscription, technology and self-education, I’ll explore and explain how anyone can successfully launch their own apps from home to generate a passive income and lift the lid on exchanging time for money.


Get your tickets here: http://nordevcon-2019.eventbrite.com