Friday(ish) Round-Up: 14 – 17 March

OpenTechSchool London

Once again, we’ve had a fantastic week here at Skills Matter HQ! On top of the meetups and user groups below, we were also joined by the amazing OpenTechSchool London for their final introduction session to Python. This followed from their introduction to HTML and CSS back in February, and we’re joining with the group’s members in their excitement for the next event!

We’ve also had the chance to talk to some of our amazing experts this week for our While It’s Compiling series, most recently Martin Pilkington, founder of M Cubed Software.

If you missed out on coming along to Skills Matter this week, be sure to check out our upcoming events here!

The Week in Skillscasts

Every week we record the majority of meetups and user groups that come to our offices in London for evening events and talks. These are our Skillscasts – and their all available for free on!

The London Ruby User Group

Three speakers and two talks kicked off the week with the London Ruby user group, for their meetup on Re-using GDS code & aspect-oriented programming. Camille Baldock spoke about Aspect-oriented programming in Ruby. Camille discussed how aspect-oriented programming is a solution to the problem of some features affecting virtually all business requirements, and expresses that problem in a compact and DRY way. This practical talk introduced the basic concepts of AOP, showed how to easily leverage some AOP principles in your Rails application and walked through two existing Ruby frameworks to practice AOP.

The second talk from James Smith & Sam Pikesly looked at adventures in early-adoption of open-source code. James and Sam are from the ODI tech team that last year found themselves wanting to use the code behind for a new project. They talked on their experience of picking up a codebase which was open source, but never really designed for reuse, and what they learned along the way.

On Tuesday we were joined by Deep Learning London for a talk on Brains, Data, Machine Intelligence & Cortical Learning with Jeff Hawkins. Jeff was a founder of two mobile computing companies, Palm and Handspring, and was the architect of many computing products such as the PalmPilot and Treo smartphone. He discussed his past experiences revolving around Cortical Learning Algorithms to the Numenta Platform, streamed live from California!

Wednesday brought the London Scala user group through our doors, as they met to discuss Batshit Crazy Algebra with Types. Jon Pretty, a Scala community member since 2004 (when he launched the first commercial application in Scala), discussed what it means to “”add”” or “”multiply”” types like Boolean and List[Int], what interpretation you could attribute to differentiating types, and what this has got to do with zippers.

We were also joined by the London Java Community who met to talk about the what, why and how of Development Testing. After a quick lightning talk by Chris Newland, Marat Boshernitsan took a broad look at development testing and examined how it fits in a software development process. There was then an interactive discussion on some of the strategies for introducing development testing in both greenfield and legacy software projects.

Lock Free Data Structures and Designing Perfect Software was the topic of the day for the London Big-O meetup. Sergio from eBay gave a technical talk on lock free data structures before the group shifted gears somewhat, and Pieter Hintjens (founder of ZeroMQ, among other things) talked about algorithms on a meta level: how (not) to design and organize software projects. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, we were not able to record this talk.

We’re so quick with our Skillscasts, they’re available before the meetups even happen! (Well not quite… As we get an extra long weekend here in the UK, this post is going out a day earlier than normal, but these Skillscasts will be available later on this evening…)

The London Software Craftmanship Community wrap up the week here in sunny London. Ben Arroyo leads the evening off discussing efficient coding, teaching you how to save time in the mechanics of coding, and how to become a more efficient developer by taking advantage of productivity tools and practices.

Alastair Smith then discusses his top 10 tips for good object-oriented programming, covering some observations of common mistakes in object orientation, particularly in C# codebases. Alastair is the founder of the Cambridge Software Craftsmanship Community, and is part of team at Red Gate building ingeniously simple tools.

The Week in Blog


Martin Pilkington talked to us about iOS app developmentAndres Löh wrote a guest post about Haskell and Static Typing; we announced a very exciting – and exclusive – workshop with Daniel Steinberg!

Next Week in Brief

Monday: Four-day weekend, woooooooo!

Tuesday: The London Java Community talk WildFly 8

Wednesday: Deep Learning London on Artificial Neural Networks

Thursday: The Limited WIP Society on increasing creativity; Women In Date on Cynefin & speech recognition; In The Brain of Mark Harwood, software engineer at Elasticsearch

And Finally…

The amazing weather, fantastic user groups and meetups, and the long-awaited four-day weekend were topped off this week with the fact that iOScon 2014 – our first ever iOS focused conference – is now one month away. The response from the community has been amazing, and this promises to be one of the must-attend events of the year for all you iOS developers out there.

iOScon 2014

It may be a month away, but the line-up is already looking fantastic. The above mentioned Daniel Steinberg and Martin Pilkington will be joined by Lee Armstrong (one of the co-founders behind Pinkfroot), Abizer Nasir (organiser of NSCoder Night London), Kieran Gutteridge (co-founder of Intohand) and Matias Piipari (CTO of Papers at Springers Business and Media, and co-author of the Papers app) – and that’s just day one!

If that wasn’t enough (!), day two brings you Daniel Thorpe (iOS platform lead for Badoo), Simon Whitaker (developer of firmware for the embedded chip in a hydraulic test rig, debugged using an oscilloscope), Boisy Pitre (Affectiva’s Mobile Visionary and lead iOS developer), Amy Worrall (iOS developer passionate about user experience), Max Scott-Slade (Game Design Director at Johnny Two Shoes & GLITCHE.RS) and Tim Duckett (Product Lead for Numbrs).

Book your ticket for iOScon now, and make sure you don’t miss all of this! As an added bonus (yes, we know, just how could this be any better?), we will also be holding the iOS Hackathon on the weekend of the 17-18 May. Sign up to rise to our challenge of creating something unique and magnificent in just a few hours with a whole bunch of other eager developers: make new friends, exercise your creative muscles, and if you make a great app you’ll be in with a chance of winning a prize!

(We’ve got devices from companies like Estimote, who have created beacons which sense where you are and deliver cool extras to your phone, and Scentee, who have invented a device that can spray scents on command. Plus, we’ve got a giveaway of Pluralsight’s 30-day trial cards for premier membership for everyone who attends. Pow!)

That’s it from us, enjoy the long weekend – see you all next week!

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