May Ball Fundraiser for NI21 – May 10th

Dear all,

I’m standing for Council in North Down and Ards. I would love you to help me and I’m not looking for something for nothing.

FaceBook Link

The event is on the 10th May. There’s a Champagne Reception from 7 pm and a 3 course dinner served promptly at 8 pm. We’ll have a live band (Villanova Junction) and a live cartoonist (Brian John Spencer). Dress is smart casual but if you want to dress to impress, go for it!

The cost for the event is £25 per ticket. You can get tickets from me or from any of the NI21 North Down Candidates.

This is an NI21 fundraiser as I mentioned and so you’ll expect us to talk about politics a little. But it will be a good night, it will be a lot of fun.

The MCS/M&S Beach Clean

221 kgs of trash was collected from the beach clean this morning at #ballyholme and the team I was in (The MMS Grafters – Anna, Ross, Stuart, Justin, Lisa and Sam) managed to get a whopping 65 kg of that. Myself and Steve Denny from NI21 busted a gut to keep up with the workers.

It was great to see our friends in the Green Party as well and thanks to Stephen Agnew MLA for encouraging words.

It was also very nice of the Mayor to turn up for the photo shoot at the start. But really, Andrew, you don’t wear a suit to a beach clean.

Special thanks due to M&S for sponsoring the event with fresh fruit and fruit juice as well as bags, gloves and litter pickers.

#beachclean #teamanna #ni21 #northdown

Windows XP Obituary

12 years, 7 months and 15 days ago, Windows XP was released to OEMs. Today the official support for it stops, though businesses and governments can continue to purchase support for it. This means that bug fixes won’t. It means that support will only continue if you can pay Microsoft to do it. And it means that if you’re hitched to Windows and not already running Windows 7 (or planning your Windows 9 deployment) then you should probably consider a new career.

Schools in Northern Ireland have done well out of Windows XP as of today, they’re (both primary and secondary) still running it.

At least we can say they were right when they insisted on Windows being the default OS – after all it is the operating system used by most businesses. I didn’t think they actually meant Windows XP.

Windows XP was the first time I felt comfortable with Windows. The pre-NT kernel editions were creaky as hell but I wished for the hardware compatibility and software ease of use of Windows 98 with the pre-emptive multitasking of Windows NT 4 and Windows 2000. XP was the first time it really worked. It’s stood the test of time as well – if you run a lean machine and keep the services under control, it still can be blazingly fast. On newer hardware it just gets out of the way. But that’s all coming to an end.

Today you die. You had a good run.

Resist(ance) Servers Going Offline

There’s a problem with online console gaming (and most MMOs). There’s a non-trivial effort required to maintain the server, lobby and match-making infrastructure which is nowhere near as glamorous as or perhaps as rewarding as developing the game.

For instance, the Resistance series is about to die:

If you’re a fan of Sony’s OTHER first person franchise – you know the one with aliens, not space fascists – you may want to tuck in this weekend as Sony will be shutting down the servers on April 8th. FOREVER.

This plagues consoles and how many MMOs have shuttered over the last four years, consigning to the bitbucket millions of hours of labour and craft in leveling, grinding and adding pretty textures.

It’s also affected the mobile industry as the early winners consolidate their gains. You only have to look at OpenFeint to see what happens. Matchmaking gone, leaderboards defunct.

For PC games, it’s been a little different. Some of them rely on the client-server model and they can lose their vital connection to ” lobby” services. Few have managed to transition them to community owned third- party services. But I can start a game that, without official lobby access, still manages to function.

There are reasons for doing it both ways but in my opinion if you’re going to shutter a service, it behooves you to find ways to work with the community.

My preferred solution is one that we thought of in Conquest Dynamics. Reducing the server component as much as possible while still allowing for match-making, interaction and sticky services. It does mean maintaining a server of some sort to act almost like a Torrent Tracker – a centralised location for the servers present in every client to find each other. We’re still working on it.

BelTech: thanks to all who made it happen

Just spent two breakneck days at the BelTech conference. Had a great time meeting dozens of techies on day one and hundreds of kids and educators on day two.

Thanks to Tom Gray of Kainos for the vision and congratulations to Sheree Acheson also of Kainos for launching Women Who Code Belfast.

Thanks also to Orlaith and Connla of Aisling Events for their military precision in running a tech conference. Apple and Google should hire you.

Thanks to Paul Braithwaite of the Building Change Trust for giving me a platform to speak about social innovation through digital.

Thanks to Willis McBriar of VIEW Digital for helping me man the Coder Dojo and 3D Dojo stand.

Thanks to Stuart and Ron from Mac Sys for paying for the island stand that would house not only Digital Circle and Coder Dojo but also Farset Labs and VIEW Digital.

And finally thanks to the US Consul General Gregory S. Burton and his wife for hosting us at the official residence at the close.

There Are Women Who Code

When Sheree launched Women Who Code Belfast, I was immediately supportive. I read the blurb and found it refreshing that WWCB was only open to individuals who identified as female. I thought that this was probably the best thing to happen to the NI Tech Scene since Belfast Open Coffee Club (back in about 2007). That’s a long time to wait for disruption.

I don’t mind being excluded at all. I’ve not gone to the Girl Geek Dinners because it’s a chance for women in the industry to network and support each other. I have no issues with this. God knows I’ve railed against the Bro-culture, the Beer-culture and the ‘rock out with…’-culture for years. That’s the sort of puerile shit that I hate having to deal with and I think there should be events that not only do not promote these activities, but that actively discourage them. Sadly the perpetrators are talented and popular and do not consider their culture as oppression (which is pretty much the dictionary definition of a bully).

Also, I work with dozens of businesses that are entirely male. And dozens more where women are represented in secretarial, catering or sanitation roles. It’s incredibly refreshing to me to see women representing for themselves. So much so that I was simultaneously embarrassed and proud when I was hiding at the back of the Women in Business event at CultureTECH in 2013 and both @cittiecait and @lyramckee singled me out as being a real help to their ‘getting into the local industry’. These two women, like Sheree (@nirushika), needed no help. If I gave any help, it was a privilege for me.

I read Annette’s blog with much interest:

The idea isn’t to get together a group of Women Who Code, wrap them up in a little bubble and keep them there. It’s not to exclude the men of the industry, WWC Belfast officially launches on the 2nd of April with a line up of speakers female and male. I believe that this group was sorely needed in Belfast and that it increases the awareness that there are in fact, many women who code.

I know I’m white, male, western and loaded with privilege. I’m also a Humanist, which means that I will not only treat every human as equals but that I will work to end inequality. We have a society rife with inequality and we all need to work to fix it.

With the future in the hands of women like Sheree, Catherine, Annette and Lyra, I can be optimistic. I enjoy working with and conversing with some of the finest people I have ever met; Mary McKenna, Joanne Stuart, Adrianne Peltz, Kim Johnston, Fiona McIlroy, Angie McKeown, Ellen Murray, Tina McKenzie, Alison Crawford, Danielle Barrios-O’Neill, Oonagh Murphy, Emma Leahy, Anita Murphy, Paula Cairns and dozens more. And it should be hundreds more.

Some of them will be at BelTech this year. Some at Women Who Code. Some of them will be at other events. They’re easily google-able, easily found on Twitter. So find them and listen to them. They’re awesome.