Friday Round-Up: 28 April – 2 May


We were delighted to welcome two new user groups to Skills Matter this week, with MEAN Stack on Wednesday and Codebar on Thursday.

The MEAN Stack user group met for the first time in early March, and this week they came along to our venue for the first time. The group is aimed towards anyone interested in learning more about MongoDB, ExpressJS, Angular JS and Node.js – if you’re interested in the MEAN Stack, or just interested in Javascript as a programming language, then you should definitely get yourself along to their next meetup.

Codebar is a new group that’s aiming to make tech more diverse though helping to teach programming skills. They’ve organised free sessions on HTML, CSS, Javascript and Ruby, all with the goal of helping groups of people who are under-represented in the tech industry. They also host some great tutorials on their website!

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!


We began the week with three In The Brain talks. First up was Luke Hohmann who took the evening off during his Certified innovation Games for Customer Understanding course to come and discuss Enterprise Retrospectives. Luke explored how to use online collaboration games to improve agile movement, bringing focus to teams as a whole, improving individual units and solving the issues that affect multiple teams or are beyond the control of any single team.

Shashikant Jagtap also joined us for a talk on Headless BDD & Responsive Test Automation, expanding on the processes and discussion from his previous talk of the same title at this years CukeUp! conference. This time around, Shashikant looked at Headless browsers such as PhantomJS and Zombie, how to speed up the entire BDD process and integration with popular tools such as Cucumber and Behat.

Finally on Monday Adam Gundry, a Haskell Consultant for Well-Typed LLP, gave a talk on overloaded record fields for Haskell. Find out how, with the help of Simon Peyton-Jones, Adam has extended Haskell to overcome some of the common frustrations with records.

The London Java Community were joined by Richard Warburton Tuesday for a talk on performance and predictability. Richard talked about why access patterns are important and the fact that fast code needs a harmonious environment to operate. He went on to discuss how this can work well with hardware such as RAM, disks and SSDs, and the unifying themes treating memory access patterns in a uniform and predictable way.

Neo4J were joined by three speakers – Yan Cui, Mark Wright and Nigel Small – for an evening about the graphs of gaming and recruitment on Wednesday. Nigel gave an overview of Zerograph features, and talked about its protocol and ZeroMQ connection management. Mark then discussed private social networks, before Yan looked at modelling a large scale social game with Neo4J.

Wednesday also saw MEAN Stack’s first meetup at Skills Matter, when they were joined by Mark Chapman and Tamas Piros. Mark looked at using the MEAN Stack to remove CRUD whilst Tamas explored geospatial data in the MEAN Stack.

Thursday brought the F#unctional Londoners and Michael Newton to Skills Matter HQ, as they looked at creating type providers in a hands-on session that provided expert advice on constructing and hacking existing providers, using the brand new Visual Studio.

The London Java Community were joined by Sam Adams, one of the lead developers at LMAX Exchange. Sam has been part of the team that built one of the fastest trading platforms in the world, and he brought his skills and knowledge to cover the architecture behind LMAX Exchange.

Finally, Codebar brought three speakers along – Swathi Kantharaja, Rosa Fox and Jarkyn Soltobaeva – for an evening looking at making the jump into coding as easy as possible.

The Week in Blog


Udi Dahan talked to us about NSBCon 2014; the F#unctional Londoners tell us what they’ve been up to; Daniel Steinberg talked to us about what motivates iOS developers.

Next Week in Brief

Tuesday: Robots, Haskell & Hedgefunds with the London Clojure Community

Wednesday: In The Brain of Farid Tejani; Cloud Developers DHARMA with the London Java Community

Thursday: Mixing biology and physics together, with the F#unctional Londoners

This week at Skills Matter: 14th – 17th April 2014

Here’s what’s coming up at Skills Matter this week!


The Open Tech School are back for round 2 of their introduction to programming. They will continue with the back-to-basics of writing code, setting you up with the friendly programming language, Python. No experience necessary.

The London Ruby User Group will be around tonight to discuss aspect-oriented programming in Ruby and run through some of the adventures in early-adoption of open source code. Three leading experts, Camille Baldock, James Smith and Sam Pikesley will take you through these interesting topics.


Deep Learning London will be joined by Jeff Hawkins, a serial entrepreneur, scientist and Numenta co-founder. He will discuss his past experiences revolving around Cortical Learning Algorthims to the Numenta Platform. This talk will be streamed live from California, so make sure you are there to ask any questions!

Paul Ardeleanu will be joining Skills Matter to deliver an In The Brain on the ever popular topic of iOS testing. Usually perceived as a painful experience, Paul will get hands-on and show you how BDD can make your iOS projects a much more enjoyable experience.


The London Java Community will be joined by Marat Boshernitsan, a software development researcher and practitioner who will take a look at development testing. He will examine how it fits in a software development process, discussing strategies for introducing development testing in both Greenfield and Legacy software projects.

The Scala User Group may take you by surprise this week, as they are joined by Jon Pretty, who will be running through some crazy algebraic stuff with types with results that my shock you. Jon has been an active member of the Scala community since 2004, when he launched the first commercial application in Scala. This talk is definitely not one to be missed!


Ben Arroyo and Alastair Smith will be speaking at this month’s London Software Craftmanship Community, a great opportunity to pick up top tips for good object-oriented programming and saving time in the mechanics of coding. They will be running through the ins and outs, the mistakes made and how to improve OO and efficient coding.

Friday Round-Up: 10 – 14th February

The rain wasn’t able to keep most of you away this week, in fact we had even more than expected! With a mixture of In The Brains, User Groups and a bundle of courses filling the building, Skills Matter HQ was abuzz with activity. Remember if you haven’t already done so, sign up to our new website!

This week in Skillscasts:

This week's meetups and user groups at Skills Matter, London

So we kicked off the week with 9 fantastic lightning talks hosted by the London Ruby User Group. All with a theme of Ruby and Rails, the event was a hit among the LRUG community. We do apologise to those who did not manage to catch a glimpse of what was in store, but the bug with our online bookings system has now been resolved.

To continue the busy evening, Jimmy Bogard took a look at how Octopus enables Continuous Delivery at his In The Brain talk, looking at what it offers over standard tooling, and most importantly how to make your ops team love you again. Crucial! Jimmy is a member of the ASPInsiders group, the C# Insiders group, and received the “Microsoft Most Valuable Professional” (MVP) award for ASP.NET in 2009-2012. Jimmy is also the creator and lead developer of the popular OSS library AutoMapper.

Limited WIP hosted a talk based on Agile Product Planning co-organised and presented by Value Glide Ltd and PMI UK Agile CoP. The speakers looked at how to execute a product strategy in a way that is complimentary to the principles of Agile – the debate was lively and enthusiastic, so be sure to check out the Skillscast!

The London Android User Group brought together Steve Plank and Mandy Waite to explore building mobile backends in the Cloud & accessing the Cloud through your Android app. Mandy and Steve put together two fabulous talks for you, so check out if didn’t manage to make it there in person. Many thanks to Microsoft for sponsoring the event!

Finally Tomas Petricek made an appearance this week at the F#unctional User Group introducing Deedle, the new open-source library for data and time series manipulation. A fantastic talk, which demonstrated the Deedle library as well as the ‘data science’ stack for F#.

Friday Round Up: 4th November – 8th November

It’s been a quiet week in the line of conferences but we’ve had a very busy week here at Skills Matter hosting nine free events with our community. These included three In The Brain sessions and six User Group meet-ups all receiving positive feedback and marvellous turnouts! These events wouldn’t be what they are without our community so we’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the attending delegates and speakers for learning and sharing at Skills Matter this week.

This week in SkillsCasts:


Monday saw the arrival of the London Java Community with a talk from Martijn Verburg and Richard Warburton ‘The Bleeding Edge’ where they spoke about what happens to your technology stack if you’re willing to take a risk. Martijn and Richard work together at jClarity and are running production systems using Html 5, Angular.js, vertx, Mongo, groovy and are deploying using chef. They explained how it has been an interesting ride: how some things worked really well and how some things didn’t. They also explained how they ended up with such a diverse stack and how to make technology choices in a fairer way.

Infracoders London were also in for their November meet-up with an interesting talk on ‘A Journey of Windows Infrastructure Automation At’ – a brief history, where it started, what’s happening now and where it’s heading using Chef, VMWare, power-shell plus a few other tools.

The London Clojurians had three separate lightening talks from the speakers, Henry Garner, Kris Jenkins and Jamie Brandon. This is definitely one to catch up on!

Oren Eini (aka Ayende Rahien) graced us with a first-rate In The Brain session, with a talk on ‘The DB Disassembly Kit’. Oren went into the details that make up the different components in a database, how they are put together and what the different design choices you have for each component, and how they work together.

Our second In The Brain session of the week was from Susanne Madsen who spoke about ‘Project Leadership: Are we too busy with the urgent to focus on the important?’ A very interesting and relevant talk – worth a watch if you missed out!

The London Pyramid Group had two awesome talks, the first from Jon Staley who gave a quick intro to Deform & Colander and spoke about how you can wrangle them into doing what you want. The second from Riley Doyle who covered key lessons learned in building an advanced ‘DNA Search Engine’ with Pyramid.

The London Lua had a talk on ‘Lua & Corona SDK – Cross platform mobile game development’ for their November meet-up. This talk is great for anyone interested in a basic beginners guide to getting started with indie game development in Corona and Lua…

The final In The Brain session was with Ian Plosker who spoke about The Triumph of Simplicity: how database complexity will be replaced by simple services. He discussed why the level of complexity in storing and querying data has exploded and how database software eventually will be overrun by simple services. The Skillscast to this talk will be available in two weeks.

Next week at Skills Matter:
Monday – The London Big-O November meet-upLondon Ruby User Group November meet-upLondon AJAX User Group November meet-up

Tuesday – In The Brain of Vaughn VernonIn The Brain of Jon Jagger

Wednesday – London Scala User Group November meet-up

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Friday Round-Up: 7th – 11th of October

It’s been busy busy busy here at Skills Matter, we’ve kicked off our season of conferences with a Haskell shaped bang! Not only did we have the Haskell eXchange 2013 on Wednesday but also 3 fantastic ‘In The Brain’ sessions with the brilliant Rob Harrop, Peter Ledbrook and Robert Annett. All talks received fantastic turn outs even though the bitter cold now seems to be upon us in London! Here at Skills Matter we’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to this week’s events.

This week in Skillscasts

In The Brain of Rob Harrop: In this talk Rob demonstrated how to apply decades-old techniques from formal methods as the ideal tools for agile modelling. Rob presented a mathematical state model using the Z modelling language and a concurrency model using CSP.

In The Brain of Peter Ledbrook: Peter gave a fantastic talk on Open Source – thinking about the important questions that should be answered if you are to gain the benefits of open source and avoid any disappointment (do we yet understand how open source works? How is it funded? Is it a sustainable model? And how should we as developers approach open source?). Peter also spoke about how open source software cannot be treated as simply having no financial cost and that investment reaps rewards.

In The Brain of Robert Annett: Robert discussed and explored some of the issues of upgrading; maintaining or replacing many Java and .NET based systems that haven’t been touched in over a decade. He also provided some pointers on solving common problems.

Haskell eXchange 2013

The Haskell eXchange 2013

The Haskell conference on Wednesday went swimmingly. We had 7 enlightening talks from the great Simon Peyton Jones, Neil Mitchell, Adam Bergmark, Andres Loh, Gracjan Polak, Bas van Dij and Simon Marlow. If you missed the event don’t worry, we were live blogging throughout the day so you can catch up on the hour by hour events. Also all of the Skillscasts (film/slides/code) are now available on our website!

We’d like to say a gigantic thank you to all of our speakers and all of the delegates who contributed and attended, we couldn’t have done it without you. Why not secure your place for Haskell 2014? If this year is anything to go by it’s not to be missed! As an added bonus, the first 25 tickets for the 2014 eXchange are only £75!

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This Week at Skills Matter – In Pictures

Rob Harrop's In The Brain talk at Skills Matter

Check out the pictures from this weeks events on our Facebook page or our Google+ page.

Next week at Skills Matter
Monday: London Ruby User Group October meet-up
Tuesday: In The Brain of Martin Thompson
Wednesday: London Ajax User Group October meet-up, the Pentaho London User Group October meet-up & In The Brain of Andy Singleton
Thursday: London Java Community October meet-up & the Functional Londoners Group October meet-up