Saturday, 27 December 2014

Norfolk Developers: Let's get function with F# in January

Norfolk Developers are extremely lucky to have Phil Trelford returning for both the evening event and a workshop the following day. Details are below. Please sign-up now.

What: Functional Hands on Workshop with Phil Trelford

When: Thursday, January 8, 2015 @ 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

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

How much: £20.00


Prerequisites: A laptop with F# installed.

Ham or Spam

In this session, we'll learn about the Naive Bayes classifier, and take a classic Machine Learning problem, recognizing Spam from Ham.

Hands On FParsec

FParsec is a parser combinator library for F# that let's you quickly build a recursive-descent text parser.

This session will introduce parsing domain-specific and general purpose languages using FParsec. Along the way we'll also cover creating a simple Abstract Syntax Tree (AST) with discriminated unions, and interpreting or compiling the language using pattern matching.

What: Write your own compiler in 24 hours with Phil Trelford

When: Wednesday, January 7, 2015 @ 6:30

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


Write your own compiler in 24 hours
Phil Trelford (@ptrelford)

Compiler writers are often seen as the stuff of myth and legend.

In this session we'll step behind the proverbial curtain and reveal how compilers actually work.

Expect plenty of live code samples, primarily in F#, covering language design and parsing, all-the-way through to emitting code. This session is aimed as a primer for those interested in writing an external DSL, general purpose language or just understanding how these things work.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

It's Friday I'm in Love

I booked tickets for the wrong night and I’m so glad I did! The Cure announced two dates at the Hammersmith Apollo in December and I was ready at 9am on the day they went on sale as if I failed to get them there was no way Charlotte would forgive me. When the list of gigs came up I selected the latest one as I assumed that would be the least popular. Little did I know that they’d added a third date last minute and that was the date I had bought tickets for. After the initial panic with what I thought was the wrong date on the confirmation email I decided it didn’t matter.

After the second of the three nights I looked up the setlist online. Charlotte has told me of a number of bands she wants to see and asked me to look out for tickets. The first was Placebo. I’m not the biggest Placebo fan ever, but I thought as long as they play Nancy Boy, which I like, it’ll be fine. They didn’t. I’m not the biggest fan of the Cure, but I love Friday I’m in Love. They didn’t play it on either of the first two nights, so I wasn’t really looking forward to the gig.

We arrived in time for the support band, The Trees. They started off well, but became very inconsistent in their playing and the lead singer was a pretentious muppet. I don’t think we’ll be bothering with them again.

The Cure came on soon after. They were good from the start. I knew very little that they played up until In Between Days but it was all great. We were in seats and most people were stood up around us. Some people had just sat down when Robert Smith said “I know I’m going to regret this!” and started playing Friday I’m in Love. We really weren’t expecting it to be played and were both over the moon. It’s the only song we stood for.

The remainder of the first set consisted of 23 songs. The last 10 or so were quite heavy by Cure standards and really amazing. I was surprised how many I recognised and there were quite a few from Wish, which is an album I really like. The four encores consisted of more songs I didn’t know plus all the classics you’d expect like Boys Don’t Cry and Love Cats. All played brilliantly. In fact in the end the only thing that could have made it better for me would have been Killing an Arab and Letter for Elise.

(Thanks to Penny Batson for the photo).

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Five minutes with me, Norfolk Developers, SyncNorwich and NorDevCon

Recently I was interview by Mark Pryce-Maher for his 'Five Minutes With" series of audio interviews. He asked me about me, SyncNorwich, Norfolk Developers and the up coming Norfolk Developers Conference (NorDevCon). You can listen to the full interview here.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Norfolk Developers: Write your own compiler in 24 hours (F#)

What: Write your own compiler in 24 hours

When: Wednesday 7 January 2015 @ 6.30pm

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


Compiler writers are often seen as the stuff of myth and legend.

In this session we'll step behind the proverbial curtain and reveal how compilers actually work.

Expect plenty of live code samples, primarily in F#, covering language design and parsing, all-the-way through to emitting code. This session is aimed as a primer for those interested in writing an external DSL, general purpose language or just understanding how these things work.

Phil Trelford

Phil Trelford is a Software Developer and Architect. He's been using .Net since v1.1 and programming in F# for over 7 years. Phil is a regular speaker, trainer, blogger, open source author and co-organizer of the London F# Meetup.

Friday, 19 December 2014

The Battle of the Five Armies

I enjoyed the Battle of the Five Armies a lot more than the Desolation of Smaug. The first 90 minutes with the battle with the dragon and the arrival of the Elves just flew by. Then the main battle, which was most of the rest of the film was done extremely well and it didn’t feel like there was too much of it this time. Billy Connolly was superb, as you would expect and Richard Armitage proved even more than before what a fantastic actor he is. Evangeline Lilly was mesmerizing, very different from how she is in Lost.

With the exception of Feely and Keely the other dwarves weren’t featured much as individuals, which is a shame. Having read the book and listened to the audio book many times it was horrible knowing who was going to die and waiting for it to happen.

The new story that was added was very good and all fitted well. However the Orcs from the North never seemed to arrive, let alone get defeated. I’m sure just the killing of the white orc wouldn’t have defeated them. Maybe the eagles and Beorn were enough to finish them off, but the film didn’t show it. Maybe that’s been saved for the DVD extras next year.

Overall it’s a good film, but there are some bits of story missing.

MS Society Official Charity of NorDevCon 2015

The MS Society proudly sponsoring NorDevCon 2015. 

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) affects more than 100,000 people in the UK. The MS Society is a national registered charity committed to improving treatment and care for people with MS and funds vital research to help beat the disease for good.

We spoke to Anita O’Hara Corporate Partnerships Manager and passionate campaigner for  people affected by MS about what attracted the charity to NorDevCon 2015. Anita explains “this conference presents a fantastic opportunity for us to raise awareness of MS and share with the conference the vital work that MS Society does and why it’s so important. The conference attracts people from all over the county and further afield so it’s a great way to generate interest about getting involved with the MS Society to a large group of people.”

The conference is ripe with small to medium sized tech companies, both established and up-and-coming and as Anita points out the technology industry “is an area that is growing rapidly so we’d look to get involved with this industry in particular.”

As well as providing a fantastic fundraising opportunity Anita also reveals that they hope to gain and exchange knowledge from the 2015 conference. “NorDevCon will give us an insight into what’s happening in the tech worlds and the issues they’re facing, in particular looking at what Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies they have in place as there may be ways that we can help them develop them.”

“We’ve got branches of the MS Society local to Norwich so there may be an opportunity to get in directly  on the ground and link up our volunteers with local companies who have issues in-house” adds Anita.

As a disease that affects the nervous system, MS brings a unique range of disabilities and can have a different effect on different people. Anita explains how “we’re uniquely placed to help employers with information on accessibility and raise awareness of people affected by MS in the workplace. Research shows that 70-80% of people with MS will be unemployed within 10 years so we can educate employers and help them to understand and tackle the issue. We can help people stay in work longer so that they’re contributing to the economy longer and everyone benefits.”

From speaking with Anita not only is her passion for helping  people with MS clear but so is her appreciation of being part of NorDevCon 2015. “We’re a smaller charity and less well known than some of the bigger names out there so any opportunity to spread the word about the MS Society is brilliant and we’re just so grateful to Paul and the NorDevCon team for giving us this opportunity.”

The NorDevCon team approached the MS society after considering a list of worth-while causes, but with MS close to the heart of members of the NorDevCon team, this is a fantastic opportunity for both parties to do well by doing good.

You can buy your tickets for NorDevCon and see the full programme here.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Norfolk Developers December 2014 News Letter

The Joy of Generators & Philosophers, Knowledge and Children's TV Programmes
Wow! What a fantastically busy year. We’ve just been adding it all up and in 2014 we ran 11 regular evening meetups, 9 full or half day workshops, 4 special events, 3 lunches and 1 conference. That’s 28 events! We’ve also grown organically to over 500 members!

We decided not to run an event in December as there’s so much else going on and it’s difficult to get people to attend.  Plus, Dom and Ben left Norwich temporarily to go to London and be Techstars with Rainbird.

Don’t worry though, Norfolk Developers will be back with a full programme starting in January.


The regular evening event sees Phil Trelford, who spoke at the very first Norfolk Developers event, returning to Norwich for the third time to speak about functional programming in F#, with his presentation ‘Write your own compiler in 24 hours’. This is followed the next day by a full day F# workshop featuring ‘Ham or Spam’ and ‘Hands On FParsec’. More detail are on the website. The workshop will cost £20.00 per person.

The first Norwich Tech Lunch of 2015, the lunch we run every month together with SyncNorwich, will be on Wednesday 21st of January at 12.30pm at All Bar One in Norwich. You can RSVP here. These lunches are great! They’re very informal and lots of fun. In November the Norwich Tech Lunch fell on the same day as the Norfolk Software Leaders lunch, so we all grouped together. More than 20 people attended.

On Thursday 22nd of January we have our first special, ‘Learn Wordpress in a Day’. The workshop is being given by London company WP Courses. This course teaches you all the basics of building, running and marketing websites using WordPress, the world’s leading website solution. In one day, you will build your own stunning website, which will be hosted free for one year. The course runs from 9.30am to 5pm and is limited to 12 places. The cost of the course is £150 and you can RSVP here.


February is packed also! On Wednesday the 4th we have our regular evening meeting where local games company, Freekstorm will be speaking alongside a yet to be confirmed speaker on SQL from Redgate in Cambridge. You can RSVP here.

The February Norwich Tech Lunch is on Wednesday 18th of February. You can RSVP here.

Then we’re into a series of conference events. On Thursday 26th February, the evening before the conference, we have a very special pre-conference event with Kevlin Henney speaking about The Rule of Three and Allan Kelly telling us that Every Business is a Software Business. The event a 5pm for 5.30pm start. Each speaker has 30 minutes and there will be free beer! Everyone is welcome, whether attending the conference or not and it’s free. You can RSVP here.

Following on from the pre-conference special is the pre-conference dinner at All Bar One from 7.30pm. Everyone is welcome! We’ve got a fixed price (£11) menu this time and you pay and make your choices when you RSVP. You will then need to pay for your own drinks after the meal. You can RSVP here, places are limited to 40.

Then of Friday 27th of February it’s the Norfolk Developer’s Conference (NorDevCon). 2015 sees the return of the tech, Agile and workshop tracks and the addition of the business track and three graphic design sessions. The keynotes are given by Jon Skeet, returning after a superb performance last year and by Rupert and Harry of Neontribe, who will be closing the conference. Other highlights include 90 minutes on C# 6 from Jon Skeet, the first ever NorDevCon session from Norwich Winter conference regular Letitia Fearon, and Ali Clabburn of local company Liftshare speaking about how to get the best from developers when you haven’t got a clue. AWS will be returning to Norwich for a third time to give a 90 minute hands on workshop on continuous integration. With 29 sessions over 5 tracks, there’s something for everyone. Check out the agenda here.


We’ll be skipping the first Wednesday in March as it’s so close to the conference. The March Norwich Tech Lunch is on Wednesday 18th. You can RSVP here.

We’re hoping to organise an evening meeting towards the end of the month.


In late April we’re hoping to have a visit from one of the original creators of the Agile manifesto to do a couple of sessions on Agile at the evening session. Watch this space.

The Norwich Tech Lunch is on Wednesday 15th of April. You can RSVP here.

On Thursday 16th of April, in conjunction with the Norwich Ruby Users Group (NRUG), we’ll be doing a full day hands on workshop on Ruby on Rails from scratch. The cost is £30 and includes lunch. You can RSVP here.

The Norfolk Developers Team would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year and we look forward to seeing you all in 2015.