Thursday, 30 January 2014

SyncDevelopHER January 2014 Review

The Virgin Money lounge in the centre of Norwich is perfect for (relatively) small gatherings like this. The thirty or so attendees, about a third of whom were women, fitted easily and comfortably. The last time I was in this room it was a clothes shop and for many years, while I was growing  up in Norwich and before they built Castle Mall, it was the main Norwich post office. It’s a room with an important heritage and hopefully that is something that Vickie Allen is building with SyncDevelopHER (with some help from Tipsy & Tumbler).

This is the third SyncDevelopHER event and Vickie lined up two great women speakers. It started off with Lily Ash Sakula who is a Partner at Bethnal Green Ventures telling us how they fund startups for three months with £15,000 in turn for a 6% share. She suggested that the technology world is probably less equal than others in many ways, that it’s bad that conference panels often only feature men and that only a tiny percentage of female founded startups get funding. While this is all true, in my opinion, it’s not for want of encouragement.

Lily then went through the usual ‘lady geek’ type arguments about why women don’t feel comfortable in some tech environments and why many are not interested in getting into tech. As I am a man you may feel that my opinion on this has little worth, but I don’t agree with a lot of these arguments and I think we need a fresh perspective and a practical, deliverable plan of action if we want to encourage more women into tech. Although I feel the the reasons why we want more women in tech are becoming clearer, at least to me, and have moved beyond the ‘lady geek’ attitude that “it’s just not fair that there aren’t”, the how still needs more attention.

Lily went on to explain that if men prevail as the main problem solvers they will continue solving male problems. Diversity is important. She showed us a hilarious app that demonstrated the issue well. It was ever so slightly risque, so I won’t mention here, but you’re welcome to ask me about it. It was pointed out from the audience that women participate in similar behaviour to that promoted by the app, which readdressed the balance slightly, but the point still very much stands.
To finish up, Lily told us about a group called TechMums run by one of the saviours of Bletchley Park, Sue Black. It is intended to build confidence in programming and to encourage it's members to help their kids.

Catherine Breslin gave most of her session with her baby strapped to her chest, which was absolutely brilliant! Catherine has worked in speech technology for ten years and has carried out a lot of research to improve speech technology. She has a degree from Oxford, a PHD from Cambridge and worked for Toshiba before taking a career break to have children. Next year she’ll start working for Amazon on a top secret project that not even she knows about yet (voice operated drones anyone?).
Catherine started off by taking us through the history of machine learning including the Turing test.  She showed us ‘real big data’ on a graph that showed the amount of data in the world now and in the future in zettabytes (one billion terabytes). The contributing sources include smart phones, computers and social media. Most of this data is transient and not stored. In the future when storage is even cheaper, less will be thrown away - a scary thought!

Catherine went on to explain that this amount of data cannot be looked at manually. Traditionally you decide what your computer program is going to do and then write and execute it, but in this instance the amounts of data are too big and too varied for this to work. Machine learning is ideal for analysing large amounts of varied data, but because it’s grounded in probability it makes testing and debugging quite difficult.

Catherine gave us spam filtering as an example of machine learning. Emails are used to train a spam filter. When a new email arrives the system must decide if is it spam or not. Humans marking emails as spam helps the machine learn. There are a number of libraries available, including one written in Python, for machine learning.
Object recognition, sentiment analysis (positive or negative) and fraudulent transactions are areas where machine learning is applied. Catherine is particularly interested in audio. Machine learning can be used to help identify gender, identify adverts, separate speech and for translation.

Spoken languages can be very difficult to model. However, machine learning can be used to identify likely word sequences in a model and then used to determine what is said in audio. Other factors such as background noise can make it difficult for a machine to understand speech. Applications include assisting technology,  helping people to speak. helping the elderly and hard of hearing,  in car control and preserving languages.

Although there is a date (13th March), there is no agenda for the next SyncDevelopHER, but I can’t wait! If the speakers are anything like tonight’s pair it will be fantastic.

Also published on the Norfolk Tech Journal.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Room 101 & More than just a UML ORM for .NET?

What: Room 101 & More than just a UML ORM for .NET?

Where: The Forum, Norwich, NR2 1TF

When: Wednesday 5th February 2014 @ 6.30pm


Room 101

Following the success of the Software Discussion Panel, Norfolk Developers is going to try a software related Room 101 based on the BBC TV show. Three contestants will take part in three software themed rounds and offer aspects of software development that they would like to see put into Room 101. At the end of each round the host will decide which contestants suggestion to put into Room 101. The contestants will make their choices prior to the event. The categories will be:

• Languages
• Process
• Wildcard

In the wildcard round the contestants can offer up any aspect of software development to go into Room 101.

Our three contestants are:

• Adam Wilson
• Time Stephenson
• Chris Holden

More than just a UML ORM for .NET? 

Scott Price

Capable Objects ECO framework is more than just another ORM for the .NET Framework.  Having used this tool for many years, Scott will discuss some of the advantages that have kept it as a tool in his component-set for many years, since before the Entity Framework was at Version 1.  From speed of designing a business model, flexibility of back end database persistence support, communications opportunities, strong UML and OCL support and advanced features such as Object Versioning.  This may be a fast packed session to cover so many of the features, hopefully of interest to other .NET developers.

Scott Price had been experimenting with computers and software since early teens, and not surprisingly has ended up involved with software, databases and custom systems.

Having started much of his early work with languages such as Pascal/Delphi, Java, C/C++ and other older languages, most of the past decade has been spent utilizing the .NET Framework.

Whist most of his time is spent consulting and working with and on corporate customers projects these days, he has enjoyed previous presentation opportunties with other developer groups (generally around London), and is very happy to be able to present some of these topics in Norfolk.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Norfolk Tech Journal Issue 03 Out Now!

It’s hardly surprising that pretty much everyone has heard of Silicon Valley. The term has been about for over 40 years and has become synonymous with hi-tech companies. Silicon Roundabout, despite the media coverage of late, is decidedly less ubiquitous, especially outside of the UK. Silicon Broads? You’re going to draw a blank from many there.
This lack of recognition is a problem for Norwich and Norfolk, one that a number of technical groups in the area are striving to address. The term Silicon Broads is just jumping on the “Silicon X” bandwagon and is never going to get the same acceptance as the original term, but I also think it’s missing the point. We don’t have chip fabrication plants in Norfolk, we have technical people, and a surprisingly large number of them.
The great thing about people is that they know other people. It’s these networks that companies like Facebook and Twitter have cashed in on. Get enough people together and the potential reach through their networks is astounding. This is precisely what the recent SyncNorwich Tech Crunch event was about: get a large enough group of technical people together to make people sit up and take notice.
Of course getting 300 people together for an event is easier said than done. Having Mike Butcher, Editor-at-large for Tech Crunch, as your headline speaker certainly helps though and John Fagan pulled off a huge coup for the region by getting him to come to Norwich. By using Mike as the glue, SyncNorwich were able to put together the largest tech event the city had ever seen, showcasing local startups and attracting everyone from students to CEOs.
The sheer volume of coverage from social media, blogs and local press shows the event tapped into something. Norfolk has announced its presence on the tech map, and it’s not just here to stay, it’s here to be an increasingly important player in Digital Britain.
The Norfolk Tech Journal is out now and can be downloaded for free here.
Words: Dom Davis

Monday, 6 January 2014

NorDevCon 2014 Programme Finalised

Naked Element Ltd. is very pleased to announce that the NorDevCon programme has been finalised. There's a lot to choose from this year so make sure you choose before you arrive! We’ve got an amazing 25 sessions running over  5 tracks over the day. Plus an opening keynote and a closing keynote on top!
Below are all the speakers and their session titles.
Opening Keynote
Closing keynote
Tech Track
Agile Track
Big Data and Cloud
SyncDevelopHER and Local Speaker
If you haven’t bought your ticket yet, they are just £75 + fees from:
If you haven't bought a dinner ticket yet then what are you waiting for? Tickets are only £35 for 3 courses and 2 glasses of wine plus the chance to catch up with all our speakers from the day! The Virgin Wines reception is between the conference and the dinner. Tickets are free, open to everyone and includes a free glass of wine and a bar!
Once you have your ticket, please also sign up for the event on the Norfolk Developers meetup site:
This is where the official photos will be posted and we’d like to see your photos and comments there too.
Please help us by spreading the word by tweeting @NorDevCon, blogging and telling everyone you know about the conference!
Originally published here.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

MobDevCon 2014: Call for Papers

Conference: Wednesday 9th July 2014
Submission Deadline: 14th February 2014 (email:
Where: The Kings Centre, Norwich (new venue for 2014)
If you would like to be kept up-to-date about MobDevCon, please join our email list here and follow MobDevCon here: @mobdevcon. 

Call for Papers & Speakers

Following the sold out success of last year’s conferenceNaked Element Ltd. is proud to present MobDevCon 2014, Norfolk’s Mobile Development conference. The conference will be held on Wednesday 9th of July at The Kings Centre in Norwich, UK. Naked Element Ltd. would like to invite proposals for sessions.
The keynote speakers have already been confirmed:
Submissions should be made by the 14h February 2014 to and include the following information:
  • Speaker name
  • Speaker email address
  • Speaker profile (max 500 words) including twitter handle, linkedin profile and photo.
  • Session type: case study, tutorial, workshop, etc.
  • Session length 45, 90 or 180 minutes (workshops should be 90 or 180 minutes)
  • Proposed track (iOS, Android, Cross Platform or Workshop)
  • Level (Beginner or Intermediate)
  • Session description (max 500 words)
  • Indication or whether you are happy to have your session filmed
If your submission is accepted you will be notified by the 15th of February 2014. Having a session accepted entitles the speaker to free entry to the conference and, if appropriate, free travel to the conference and one night’s accommodation booked by us. We hope to have as many sessions as possible filmed and published freely on the web. Please let us know if you do not want to have your session filmed. 


This year we are more specific in our requirements for sessions. There will be four tracks:
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Cross Platform
  • Workshop
We’re looking for up to three sessions in each track. Each session will be at either beginner or intermediate level. At the beginner level we’re specifically looking for ‘getting started’ type sessions for novice mobile developers. However, we will consider other beginner sessions. 

Type of Sessions

There are two session formats:
Presentation with slides
45 minutes in length, although double sessions will be available if needed (90 minutes)
Hands on keyboard workshop
90 minutes in length, although double sessions will be available if needed (180 minutes)
Participants for workshops are expected to bring their own laptops. Wireless will be available. Workshops will require participants to sign up in advance. If specific software is required speakers must make sure they allow time for this to be installed and configured or arrive early on the morning of the conference to help participants set up their laptops. A session the night before can be arranged if required. Please let us know if this is required when you submit your session.
All sessions must be entirely technical in nature. Any session that appears to be a sales pitch will not be accepted. 


Last year MobDevCon sold out it’s full capacity of 80 delegates (plus sponsors). This year our capacity is about 100 (plus sponsors). We attract predominantly developers, but you should also expect to find entrepreneurs, managers, testers, enthusiasts and all sorts of other people, even agents!
Please email submissions and any questions to:
Originally published on the Naked Element Ltd. website here.