Coder Dojo Bangor – book now.

The first session for Coder Dojo Bangor just went live for booking. It’s free to attend and it’s in the evening on the 18th September and will be on Thursday evenings. The initial age limits are 14-21 and we’ll be focusing on building games first.

What is Coder Dojo: it’s free tuition for young people on how to make stuff with computers, how to develop new skills that are immediately and globally marketable and how to see whether this incredibly lucrative career is actually of interest!

The venue is the Bangor Campus of South Eastern Regional College and you can get the tickets here:

We’re keen to find mentors as well as students so if you have a little bit of knowledge about code, design or even if you want to learn as a mentor, please email the organiser, Eamonn and pledge your interest.

Lastly, we are also keen to find a sponsor for the USB wristband memory sticks. If you want to volunteer, even just in the organising, please get in touch.

Please help spread the word as success here means more dojos in the region.

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.

Unity. C#.

Something that Paul from South West College has drummed into me is the need to have a knowledge of C# to get the best from Unity. I found these tutorials on Youtube via the Unity forums.

The beautiful thing about Unity 3D for me is that you can achieve so much without code. In an ideal world your artist can achieve much, your designers can achieve much and your storyboard-ists can achieve much…all before a line of code is written. In theory it allows everyone to focus on where they have strengths.

Courses in @unity3d announced this week…

We’re just about to announce new courses in Unity 3d, organised by Digital Circle and the Image Centre in South West College. They’re beginner courses – designed to turn some designers and 3D modellers into Unity developers and also allow some programmers to get their hands dirty with the visual side of Unity.

This is the sort of thing you can develop with Unity on Mobile:

But really – it’s an amazing networking opportunity for industry, teachers and academics and new entrants to the industry. We’ll be reserving spaces in each course for individuals from each group and we intend that each group will take the opportunity to learn, make contacts and maybe even gain in other ways. We would see this as an opportunity for teachers and new entrants to gain placements within local companies. We would see this as an opportunity for industry to talent-spot. We would see this as an opportunity for new entrants to seize a niche in a global market. The only cost to this course is a cost in social capital – make the commitment, in return for a days training, to network and help your fellow course attendees.

Are games really that big of a deal? The beauty of games is that they subsume every other aspect of the digital media industry. They include 2d design and 3d modelling, animation and music, camera work and storytelling, art and special effects. With modern games engines like Unity, you can achieve amazing results without a single line of code but it also provides a fertile ground for being introduced to code.

And you have to consider that it’s not just games. It’s an engine for developing experiences, for developing e-learning tools and for creating new interactive information displays incorporating real-time data.

I hope you’ll keep an eye out on the Digital Circle web site. Courses will be announced soon in Belfast, Derry, Coleraine and Enniskillen. Places will be limited in each location and the cost, other than the social capital commitment, is free.

These courses would not be happening if not for the Arts Council and the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure in their commitments to new entrants, who may not previously have been in employment, education or training. This course is paid for using the Creative Industries Innovation Fund, supported by South West College, the University of Ulster and Digital Circle.

Hacker Schools show results. Duh.

How Etsy Attracted More Female Engineers

The key, says Elliott-McCrea, was partnering with other companies to fund a training program that would attract candidates ready to learn. Etsy, together with 37Signals and Yammer, kicked in for $7,000 per student in grants to cover women’s living expenses for a Hacker School session held at Etsy’s offices in the summer of 2012. (For the uninitiated, Hacker School is a three-month intensive free coding training program in New York that trades on its culture of mutual respect.) Over 600 women applied, which Hacker School narrowed down to 23 attendees, or nearly half of the session for that semester.

The solution seems obvious in retrospect, which means it’s innovative. If women are being burned by a male-dominated culture, then you have to grow them differently. To be fair, I don’t see male-culture as inherently bad, but it’s easy to see how male monocultures become increasingly self-absorbed, even selfish in nature. They work to perpetuate themselves by providing fertile grounds for the same (sometimes obnoxious) behaviours.

Provide an environment not polluted by male monoculture and females excel. This is no surprise to many of us. It’s never really been about gender per se, it’s always been about toxic monocultures.

I guess the question is:-

If this process works then why would a nation-state-city not provide it by default? Are we not accelerating towards a future where knowledge workers are dominant? And if we are, why is your government not seeding the future now?

Minecraft Pi Edition Snippets

If you want to get Minecraft Pi Edition: see here

This is more difficult because I don’t know python (or any language for that matter)

I open LXterminal:

cd /home/pi/Desktop/mcpi
cd /home/pi/Desktop/mcpi/api/Python/mcpi
import minecraft as minecraft

then python shows >>>

To connect with the new API:

mc = minecraft.Minecraft.create()
mc.postToChat("Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey")
mc.postToChat("Hey, beautiful day")

mc = minecraft.Minecraft.create()

The latter creates a block of dirt, 10x10x3.

Code from MinecraftForum


From StuffAboutCode:

  • Minecraft – API – The basics – an introduction into the Minecraft API, its functions and how to use it.
  • Minecraft – Hide and Seek – a really simple game of hide and seek for Minecraft.
  • Minecraft – Auto Bridge – an absolutely brilliant utility (even if I say so myself) which automatically creates a bridge in front of you, no more falling off cliffs, no more having to swim across oceans, the auto bridge allows you to walk straight on

Pi-Cade Project Team at Bangor Academy


+ Case designed and constructed
+ Electronic bits and bobs (wires, breadboard)
+ Car reversing monitor screen (with separate power)
+ Raspberry Pi with 5V power
+ SD card
+ Salvaged and donated joystick and buttons

Special thanks to Mr Pollock ([Bangor Academy]( Technology Dept) and Steve Sloan (Momentum/All Island Software Network) for getting things moving.

Digital Circle does Computing Clubs

For the past few weeks, I’ve been helping Bangor Academy with a Raspberry Pi project.

I had attended the school with Young Enterprise and the VP asked if I would be interested in helping them out with a project. As I lack the ability to say ‘No’ to good ideas, I agreed. The project was determined to be a Pi-Cade; a mini-arcade machine that could fit on a desk that was operated by a Raspberry Pi.

Today we were joined by Andrew Bolster from Farset Labs and Stephen Sloan from the All Island Software Network (part of Momentum). They worked with the teacher and kids to discover the intricacies of the GPIO pins, breakout boards, shoot the breeze about Arduino and try our damnedest to get MAME to compile on the device.

All in all it was great fun, even when we ran into an immovable object.

C2K block anything useful; getting the source and binaries for anything was made anything between ‘more difficult’ and ‘impossible’. We had to use an iPad mini 3G (in the Faraday Cage of school building) running GoodReader to download the modified xmame source and then transfer to a Mac over USB onto a USB stick so we could load it onto the Pi. Thanks, C2K.

Anyway, thanks to the students, to Mr Pollock (the teacher) and Andrew and Stephen, we’re making some progress.

The equipment and time I’m putting into this is kindly given by Momentum. There have been some other donors too and we’ll thank them specially when everything works. And special thanks to @vedanator for the joysticks and buttons at the last minute (ours haven’t arrived from yet)