As a father of a toddler, and an interest in electronics, I am always on the lookout for what might be interesting to her.
In the last 5 years there has been an explosion in platforms (both software and hardware), the learning to code series looks at 12 combinations from pic to arduino to raspberry pi.
Now there is a growing group aimed at youngsters, cheap badge microcontrollers with easy attachment.
3 uk based products that interest me. Only the last one is currently available. There is the MicroBit that will be given to school children in uk in yr 7, The CodeBug that is on kickstarter and the Crumble, which can be bought now for £12. I Dont have them, but it would be nice to get all three to compare there strengths and weaknesses(hint hint).
A major BBC project, developed in pioneering partnership with over 25 organisations, will give a personal coding device free to every child in year 7 across the country – 1 million devices in total.
Code Bug (currently on kickstarter, by the PiFace people)
and my current favourite
Crumble Microcontroller, by redfern electronics http://redfernelectronics.co.uk/product/crumble-controller/
Google is changing its search engine ranking to promote websites that are 'mobile-friendly'.
From 21 April 2015 your website could lose its ranking in results pages if it is not deemed to be 'mobile-friendly' by Google.
In it's official blogpost, Google has said:
"Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices."
Google is using a number of factors to determine if a page is mobile-friendly. It tests to see if your website:
Google has created a simple tool that you can easily test your own website with:
If you would like to make your website more mobile-friendly please call Lewis Atkinson on 07958 482 509 for an informal discussion.
Find out more about this open source contact management system for voluntary and community organisations.
If your organisation is looking for a better way to manage your contacts you may be interested in this talk on CiviCRM on 29 April 2015 at 6pm.
CiviCRM is an open source web-based contact management system that is specifically designed for non-profit organisations. It is used by thousands of organisations across the world including Amnesty International, the UK Green Party and Medecins Sans Frontier.
Adam Hill from Consult and Design will be talking about CiviCRM and Drupal at the next Drupal North East meet up in Newcastle. He will be joined by William Mortada from CITA, who will be saying a few words about how Children North East has used CiviCRM to manage cases in their peer mentoring programme. Drupal North East is the user group for Drupal developers so the content may be a bit technical at times, but it should still be of interest to those without a technical background.
If you'd like to attend, please book a place: CiviCRM and Drupal talk
If you can't make the talk but would like to know more then please get in touch and we'd be happy to discuss how your organisation can best manage its contacts.
Success has many fathers and some very lucky coincidences. Before my original suggestion for an accelerator in the North East, the Cloud Foundry (which turned into the Difference Engine), I failed to raise funding for a startup.
Ian Leader (now Product Lead, Calendar at Google) is a very good friend that I met at PaperX – a dotcom business formed only a few months before the meltdown. Needless to say, it didn’t work out too well for the investors that included Mike Chalfen who went on to be a successful VC at Advent Venture Partners and now Mosaic Ventures.
Ian went on to become my best man at my wedding and godfather to my second child – Angus Bradford. We had been trying to find an excuse to do a startup together – and after many suggestions we landed on building an online accounting software package known as SoSage (“Son of Sage“). Fortunately for the world, it failed to get off the drawing board and failed to raise funding from the “Proof of Concept” Fund managed by North Star Ventures (who are investors in Ignite which I founded with Paul Smith as the successor of the Difference Engine).
The primary reason for failing to raise funds from “Proof of Concept” fund was a business called Kashflow which ironically was founded (and successfully exited) by Duane Jackson – who has subsequently become a very good friend and mentor at Springboard and Techstars London.
Whilst we failed to raise funding for SoSage, we agreed to publish our thoughts on ReadWriteWeb called “Online Accounting: The Next Killer App For Google Apps“. Our first blog post also appeared momentarily on Techmeme.
I blame Duane for ensuring that SoSage (what a stupid name) never saw the light of day – and without which the Difference Engine, Springboard and multiple other accelerators would not exist today. Thank you.
The second Difference Engine was a more sober affair. The Difference Engine had been publicly funded by One North East (the Regional Development Authority) and in the intervening period between the two programmes there was a change of government – from the Labour party to the Conservatives. Austerity measures meant that the programme came under threat – but ultimately ended up running but with a much reduced budget – resulting in a cutback of the funding reported in Techcrunch by Steve O’Hear.
The programme was moved to Sunderland Software City and this time there were ten teams:
As with the first Difference Engine, a series of videos recorded the second programme, including a retrospective of some of the companies from the original programme. Below is the final video from the second programme.
The programme quietly slipped away on 31 March 2011 without much fanfare – only being reported in the local press. In its place Springboard its successor had been launched in Cambridge a few months earlier.
And a quiet revolution started with the launch of the Difference Engine on 30 November 2009. It was initially picked up by The Next Web (thank you Martin Bryant), Computer Weekly, and Techcrunch (thank you Mike Butcher). The original application deadline was just 5 weeks later with a Christmas break in the interim with the programme expected to start in mid February – very ambitious and totally unrealistic.
Nine teams were selected (a tenth team declined an offer to participate – I know who you are) with a start date of 22 February 2010. Ironically, the original programme was planned to be 16 weeks (my theory was that Europeans would take longer to pick up the concepts) but due to delays the programme had to be compressed to 13 weeks – the original length of Techstars. And guess what, Europeans aren’t any slower than Yanks. Thirteen weeks is a perfect balance between having enough time to GSD and creating a real sense of urgency.
So who were these initial nine companies (in alphabetical order).
The original Difference Engine was based at the very awesome Digital City Business in Middlesborough – which on a sunny day was amazing. A series of videos was prepared which followed the programme over the 13 weeks, culminating with a final video at the London Demo Day. Don’t forget to check out the very embarrassing video of Basti, late one night.
There was also a series of great pictures taken by Basti taken during the programme.
Somehow we managed to persuade some amazing people to come and spent time at that first programme including Iain Gavin, Jeff Barr, Bindi Karia, Stewart Townsend, Mike Butcher, John Lunn, Paul Kinlan, Alex Van Someren and many others who I collected from Darlington station. We even managed to get Dave McClure to Skype in and do his famous AARRR presentation.
We had two demo days – the first of which was in the North East and the second was at the Microsoft HQ in Victoria – thanks to Bindi Karia – which I vividly remember included Rogan Angelini-Hurll, Adil Mohammed and Richard Newton; all of whom went on to become very influential in ongoing programmes.
The Demo Day was written up by Mike Butcher from Techcrunch and the presentations were recorded as a single page cartoon shown below.
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