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.

Whither Minecraft NI?

From the British Geological Survey:

Inspired by the Ordnance Survey (OS), BGS has reproduced the 2D geology of mainland Great Britain and surrounding islands within the world of Minecraft. This map shows the OS map data on the surface and the rough position of real geology beneath, repeated down to the bedrock.

In reality the geology varies with depth, like cake layers, and BGS is working on representing the arrangement of the rocks and sediments in the form of a 3D geological model. Watch this space!

Which just highlights how Northern Ireland is “a place apart” within the UK.

The original, made by an Ordnance Survey intern, Joseph Braybrook, was a 4.3 GB representation of the island.

A bit of linked-list triage.

Because I’ve been out of circulation, I’m kinda forced to triage some stuff here. If you don’t find anything interesting from this list then you’re at the wrong blog anyway.

More on Civic Conversations

For the last couple of years I’ve been listening to Denis Stewart talk about Civic Conversations. Last summer I got to take part in one (in Riddell Hall) and again earlier this year (in the Crescent Arts Centre). This time, it’s in the MAC.

A further gathering of citizens in this place to continue with ‘civic conversation’ – conversation that is both aspirational and grounded, visionary and pragmatic.

This gathering will provide opportunity for open conversation. And there will also be time for more focused talking together about themes that emerged in from the civic conversation that took place in February. What should the next chapter in Northern Ireland’s story say? What can be done to help shape and write that ‘next story’?

But what is a Civic Conversation?

To find out, you will have to come along but I’ll give you my perspectives.

  • At the Conversation last year, Graham and Andrew from the International Futures Forum and Denis put forward the notion that arguments are disagreements among friends.
  • At the February Conversation, I proposed my basic position was to hold everyone in high regard. I explained this in terms of agape, that being passionately committed to the well-being of others was not a religious exclusive.
  • Another participant mentioned that it was cathartic to talk about the things Northern Ireland does not talk about.
  • Earlier this week, having lunch with Denis, I said my aim for this Conversation was to leave on better terms with the individuals involved than I had been at the start.

These events are driven by the people who need to be there. People for whom being part of the architecture of the future of Northern Ireland is without question. People who know we must move forwards. If that describes you, I’m sure you’ll be there.

Pi-Cade Complete

Today we completed the Pi-Cade.

Pi-Cade Completed

We were interrupted briefly a small group of Bangor Academy students (who were not in the project group) coming in and marvelling that this sort of thing was being made at their school, in their Technology class.

The problem we had was with the pins-GPIO mapping. The instructions we were using, sourced off the Internet, were incorrect. Through a lot of trial and error and swapping pins about, we managed to figure out where the errors in the mappings were and modify the breadboard accordingly.

The teacher, Mr Pollock, is now taking the new pin layouts and intends to make some PCBs which will make the layouts permanent. As we have another set of joysticks and buttons, the intention is now to make a pretty one.

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)

Raspberry Pi: some useful links for doing more than playing around.

Miranda Sawyer at the Guardian:

Everyone wants a slice of Raspberry Pi
The £25 programmable computer invented by British scientists has turned into a global sensation. Will it encourage kids to teach themselves code, or just end up in the hands of nerds?

Kit Buchan at the Guardian:

12 things to do with a Raspberry Pi
From keeping tabs on your baby to brewing your own beer, here’s a dozen DIY jobs for a Raspberry computer

  1. Nixie Clock
  2. Robot Slave
  3. Weather Station
  4. Rocket Launcher
  5. Portable/In-Car PC
  6. Jukebox
  7. Radio
  8. Arcade Game
  9. Baby Monitor
  10. Home Brew Beer
  11. Bird Box
  12. Near-space craft

Liam Fraser from

Use Python to make your first game on Raspberry Pi in our easy to follow step by step tutorial
In this tutorial we’re going to be remaking the classic game, Pong. To do this, we’ll be using a Python module called Pygame. Pygame is great, because it allows the programmer to create 2D games without having to worry about things such as rendering the graphics in too much detail. The main portion of the code will be the code that makes up the game’s structure and logic.

Rob Zwetsloot from

Build your very own media centre out of a Raspberry Pi to save on space and money using XBMC
One of the great things about the Raspberry Pi is that it not only has plenty of power to play back high definition video, but it also has the HDMI output to allow you to do so. This would naturally lead the media enthusiasts among you to think of the possibilities for using the RasPi as a media centre, but the list of advantages don’t stop there. It has network support to stream video, has a ridiculously small form factor so you can tuck it out the way, and of course the low price doesn’t hurt.