Thursday, 24 August 2017

How much will my software cost?


The question we get asked the second most when speaking to clients and potential clients is “how much will my bespoke software cost to build?” This is extremely difficult to answer without lots of detail and even then the complexities of software development, the complexity of client requirements and clients changing needs over the course of a project make an accurate estimate challenging.

For this reason, most software development companies shy away from including prices on their website. In fact we checked the websites of a number of our competitors and the closest we found was one who offers a range of fee options from fixed price to a daily rate and a couple who ask for your budget when contacting them for more information. As a client, until you get that first email response, phone call or face-to-face meeting you’re no closer to understanding how much your software will cost. Even then it may be some time before you are any the wiser.

We can’t help you understand how much your project will cost until we speak to you. What we can tell you is how much projects have cost our existing clients. We’ve broken the figures down into the types of services we provide, the minimum project cost, the maximum project cost, the average project costs and where in the range most of the projects sit:

* All values are approximate, exclude VAT and are correct as of August 2017

To start investigating how your business problem could be solved with a bespoke application, please contact us for a chat

Monday, 21 August 2017

My Fantasy Gig: Polish Death Metal



It’s no secret that I like death metal. Three of my favorite death metal bands are all from Poland. I’ve been lucky enough to see all of them at least twice individually, but never together. I’ve often wondered why they haven’t all toured together. I’ve never been to Poland either so I’d settle for seeing them all together in their home country.

Decapitated

Opening the show I’d have Decapitated a technical death metal band. Their style, as you would expect, is heavy and progressive. While currently the smaller and less well know of the three bands on this bill, Decapitated are growing in popularity and are poised to step into the shoes of metal titans such as Lamb of God.

After getting into Vader and Behemoth I was really excited to read about another Polish death metal band and I wasn’t disappointed, especially as I also have a soft spot for progressive metal. Often with metal bands who have been around a while, their back catalogue is noisy and unpalatable. Not the case with Decapitated. They’re tight, aggressive and heavy from the first album through to the more recent ones. I’ve seen them play three times now (once even in Norwich) and their live performance demonstrates their skill as musicians.

Behemoth

I’d have Behemoth second on the bill. By far the biggest of the three bands, Behemoth are one of the best metal bands around at the moment. Currently (summer 2017) they are touring the US with Lamb of God and Slayer. I’ve seen them play three times. Once to about 10 people at a club in Bradford and twice to thousands at Bloodstock.

Their singer is often in the press, in Poland and around the world. He famously burned a bible on stage in Poland and was promptly arrested. Later he was diagnosed with and beat cancer.

In the early days Behemoth’s style of ‘blackened death metal’ was heavily influenced by US death metal giants Morbid Angel, but much more palatable. That said they’ve improved on almost every album. Their 2013 album the Satanist is a masterpiece of modern metal. Probably their least heavy album to date, but still crushing.

Vader

Headlining I’d have Vader. I’d describe them as the godfathers of Polish death metal. While not as popular or well selling as Behemoth, they belong at the top. Vader play more traditional death metal, sometimes with trashy tinges. I really struggled to get into their back catalogue. I just wasn’t ready, but every album is superb.

I’ve seen them twice, both times in small clubs. Their sound wasn’t the best, but being a huge fan I put that down to the PA in the clubs. I am sure that atop such a fine bill, they would shine and show what they can really do.

Of course the final encore would comprise of all three bands playing a metal classic together.

Monday, 14 August 2017

A Review: Express in Action

Express in Action: Node applications with Express and its companion tools

By Evan Hahn
ISBN: 978-1617292422

This is another excellent JavaScript book from Manning. It contains a great introduction to Express.js and I wish I’d read it sooner as it explains a lot of things about Express.js and how to use it, as well as the tools surrounding it and Node.js, which I had previously worked out for myself. If you’re thinking of writing a web application, especially one in JavaScript, I recommend you read this book first.

The book is far from perfect. It could have been a lot shorter. There is a fair amount of repetition and the chatty style makes it overly verbose and irritating in many places.  The author tries to cover too much and goes beyond Express.js unnecessarily in a few places. However, given that, it’s still not a huge book and quite easy to read.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

A review: JavaScript the Good Parts

By Douglas Crockford
ISBN: 978-0596517748

Every JavaScript developer with a pre-existing working knowledge of JavaScript should read this book. JavaScript is a powerful and varied language, but it was developed in a hurry and there’s plenty wrong with it. This book outlines the good bits of the language and highlights the bad bits and the bits you should just avoid. There’s also a fair amount about the author’s JSLint project in the appendices.

This book was written in 2008 and probably needs updating. It’s hard going in places and the diagrams did little to nothing to help my understanding. I’ve come away still wondering about new and constructors, but I know I just need to review them again when I need them and it’ll get clearer.  I’m still not sure which function declaration syntax is best, but I’m not sure it matters too much.


Friday, 11 August 2017

Getting to the route of the problem

In 2016, Venkat Subramaniam wrote an incredible book called ‘Test-Driving JavaScript Applications’ which, along with JavaScript tools such as Mocha, Istanbul, Prettier and Eslint, have made me fall in love with JavaScript and Node.js (well for UI development anyway). JavaScript isn’t a proper language, right? For a long time I argued not, because the tools weren’t available to develop software with unit tests, static analysis and code coverage. This has changed and now I’m starting to take JavaScript seriously, even beyond jazzing up a web based UI. I’m almost over the lack of static typing.

I’m currently using Express.js, a web framework for Node.js, a lot and Venkat includes a section on testing Express.js routes in his book. They’re a bit like controllers in the Modal View Controllers pattern:

router.get('/', function(req, res, next) {
task.all(function(err, tasks) {
res.send(tasks);
});
});

Venkat’s example test looks like this:

it('should register uri / for get', function(done) {
    // ...        

    var registeredCallback = router.get.firstCall.args[1];
    registeredCallback(req, res);
});

I’ve left out some mocking and other boilerplate for brevity and so that we can concentrate on the one bit I don’t like. Venkat describes the test in full detail in his book.  Take another look at this line:

    var registeredCallback = router.get.firstCall.args[1];

What it does is get the second argument for the first get route declared with the router. That’s what is returned by firstCall, the first declared route. So if there is more than one get route declared with the router and at some point you change the order in which they are declared or you declare another get route in-between, the test will break. It’s brittle.

In fact it’s worse. To get the second get route you’d use secondCall and so on. So although it’s probably a very large number, there are a finite number of get routes you can get from the router with this method. For me this rang alarm bells.
Google suggested this is the way that everyone is doing it. It appears to be the standard practice. It doesn’t sit at all well with me. I’d much rather be able to look up route in the router by its path. After a while printing all sorts of things to the console to find out the data structures, I was able to develop this:

var rh = {
    findGet: function(router, path) {
        for (var i = 0; i < router.get.args.length; i++)
            if (router.get.args[i][0] === path)
                return router.get.args[i];

        return null;
    },

   // ..
};

module.exports = {
    execGet: function(router, path, req, res) {
        var get = rh.findGet(router, path);
        if (get != null) get[1](req, res);
    },

    // ..
};

The findGet function takes a router and the path to test and returns all of the arguments declared for that route or null if it’s not found.  The execGet function uses those arguments to execute the route, meaning that the test now becomes:

it('should register uri / for get', function(done) {
        // ...

        execGet(router, '/', req, res);
    });

Which is not only far more expressive, but less brittle and less code per test. It means that the declaration order of the routes for the router no longer matters. Of course similar functions can be added to facilitate testing post, put and delete.

I wanted to write this up as I couldn’t find any other solution with Google. Hopefully it will encourage developers to write more tests for Express routes as they become easier and less brittle.


NorDev: JavaScript Starter Kit – Beginners Full Day Workshop


Date: 9:00 am to 4:45 pm, Thursday 5th October 2017

Location: The King’s Centre, King Street, Norwich, NR1 1PH

Price: £50.00 per person

Level: Beginner

Prerequisites: Laptop with wifi, modern browser, text editor

RSVP: https://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Developers-NorDev/events/242461849/

JavaScript is amazing.

It is a powerful, simple, infuriating, elegant and sometimes irrational programming language which was born in a hurry and can now do almost anything you can imagine. It can make whizzy websites, speak to databases, and draw maps, it can fly drones, make games, and build apps. You can run it on your watch or on your phone, on any web page or on hundreds of virtual servers.

And if you’re reading this you’re probably contemplating learning it.

This day-long workshop aims to cover enough ground to give you a broad base from which to start your quest. We’ll use plenty of practical exercises to explore the language. We’ll cover some of the tricky parts which often mystify people – especially handling asynchronous code, which is one of the language’s great strengths. We’ll spend most of our time in the browser, but we’ll also play around with node.js, JavaScript’s foremost server-side environment. There’ll be time to survey some of the different tools and frameworks which are popular with JavaScripters at the moment. As well as all this we’ll explore JavaScript’s history, its culture and community, and the factors behind its explosive growth. Perhaps most importantly we’ll introduce a set of resources which’ll help you continue your learning independently.

You’ll need to come equipped with a laptop, and you should have a modern browser installed, along with a text editor you’re comfortable using. You don’t need to have a lot of knowledge or experience to join in, though any familiarity with another programming language will help a lot.

There’s a lot to get into one day, so please bring lunch and Neontribe will be buying the first round in the pub straight after the workshop.

Rupert Redington

Rupert ran away from the theatre to become a web developer at the turn of the century. Since then he’s been making mistakes at Neontribe as fast as he can, learning from a reasonable percentage of them. Recently he’s been using Javascript to help teenagers talk to doctors, Americans to buy airline tickets and everybody to find their way to the loo.

“Rupert did a fine job of making this an entertaining subject and his enthusiasm for js was infectious.” – Matthew Shorten

“Thoroughly enjoyed it! Presenter was excellent. Would be interested in any other JS courses that he runs.” -Stephen Pengilley

“I’d certainly sign up for other courses Rupert hosts in a flash. This was an introduction and as such it was perfectly positioned (in my humble…), but if ever there’s an “intermediate” course which goes into more depth with core principles & real-world use of loops, arrays, functions & objects that would be great.” – Steve Harman

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Vacancy: Executive PA / Office Manager


Naked Element are a software development company based in Norwich looking to recruit a self motivated, outgoing, well organised person looking for variety in a small, yet progressive tech company. There is opportunity for the right person to grow into a more specialised role, based on your strengths, as the company grows.

Salary: £18-20,000 per annum salary (depending on experience)

Hours: 37.5 hours per week

Location: New Patricks Yard, 2 Recorder Road, Norwich, Norfolk, NR1 1NR

Application Deadline: 28th July 2017

Essential skills and qualities:

  • Good client and communication skills
  • Exceptional organisation
  • Self motivated
  • You thrive in a fast-paced office environment
  • Competent user of email systems, document creation and management software packages
  • Ability to prioritise

Desirable skills and qualities:

  • An Interest in Software, Technology, Development, or any wider part of the ICT industry
  • Previous Administration and Office Management experience 
  • A Level 3 qualification or equal in Administration or Business Management

Main Responsibilities:

Office Management

  • Running the office on a day-to-day basis depending on the needs of the business, it’s directors and employees
  • Purchasing stationery and equipment
  • Liaising with suppliers
  • Answering the phone
  • Preparing agendas, documents and contracts

Company Administration

  • Book keeping
  • Managing finances
  • Financial forecasting/producing reports
  • Paying and raising invoices
  • Paying bills
  • General administration
  • Payroll

Social Media & Marketing Assistant

  • Assisting the commercial director in all elements of marketing as required
  • Setting up daily social media
  • Preparing and sending marketing material
  • Attending networking events
  • Exhibiting at events

Sales Assistant

  • Assisting the commercial director in all elements of sales as required
  • Prospecting
  • Warm calling
  • Meeting prospects & clients
  • Sandler training provided

Account & Project Management

  • Day to day running of projects
  • Project reporting
  • Liaising with all stakeholders during projects
  • Regular client reviews & other account management as necessary

 Executive PA

  • Managing diaries for both the Commercial Director & CEO
  • Booking events & meetings
  • Booking travel

Benefits

  • Pension after 3 months
  • 6 Month probationary period
  • A lovely, air-conditioned working environment in the centre of Norwich
  • Flexible working hours

This is the perfect opportunity for those looking for an interesting, never the same each day role to grow their skills. You will benefit from the guidance of staff with over 20 years experience in Business, Finance and Project Management. This is also a chance to gain an in depth insight into the software development industry.

If you would like to apply for this opportunity, please send CV’s to emma@nakedelement.co.uk 

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Norfolk Developers Business Dinners Return



We are pleased to announce that Norfolk Developers Business (NorDevBiz!) is making a return. NorDevBiz is aiming is to increase awareness of Norfolk Developers member's businesses and stimulate internal and external referrals.

Our second evening meeting will be on Monday 3rd of July 2017 at the Library Restaurant in Norwich at 7.30pm.

Arrive is for 7pm for informal networking and a 7.30pm sharp start. The evening will (provisionally) be as follows:

  • Informal networking (from 7pm)
  • Introductions  - an introduction to the group from Dom Davis followed by a one minute introduction from each attendee (7.30pm)
  • Main Course
  • Spotlight -  Sean Billings will give a 10 to 15 minute introduction to his business and take questions
  • Pudding
  • Close - Dom Davis

This is a business focussed event where we will learn more about each other’s businesses with the aim of generating both internal and external referrals. Most content will not be of a technical nature.

Dress code is comfortable.

Please get in touch if you are interested in attending our business dinner. Please also note that places are limited.

paul@norfolkdevelopers.com

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Node.js the Right Way: Practical Server-Side JavaScript That Scales

By Jim R. Wilson
ISBN-13: 978-1937785734

Node.js the Right Way is a fantastic little book. It’s a small book (but then it’s Pragmatic exPress) and it doesn’t go into anything in much detail, but then that’s what makes it fantastic. It gives a useful and practical overview of writing Node.js server side applications and explains many of the tools and JavaScript patterns which will be useful to Node.js programmers.

It starts off with examples of manipulating the local file system using Node.js. This struck me a little odd as the only thing I tend to use the local file system for is reading configuration files. If I need to write a file I tend to put it in Amazon S3. However, this is genius and looking at how to manipulate the filesystem gives some useful insights into Node.js programming.

The book then goes on to look at networking with sockets, something which is often neglected in a world where we expect everything to be RESTful. There’s then a tour through scalable messaging, including clustering, how to access databases and how to write web services, including JavaScript promises and generators!

The final chapter covers writing a web application with a single page front end and authentication. This is the only place the book falls down. Too much is covered in two short a chapter. It’s still quite useful though.

This is not a book for a novice JavaScript or even a novice Node.js developer, but for once a little knowledge is not a dangerous thing and Node.js the Right Way will help increase that knowledge. It even led me to believe JavaScript might actually be the future.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Know your hammer from your screwdriver: The right tool for the job

As software developers, we at Naked Element, are skilled and experienced in a number of different programming languages and aware of many, many more. Choosing the right programming language for a piece of software is as important as choosing a hammer to knock in a nail, a flat headed screw driver for a flat headed screw and a cross headed screwdriver for cross headed screw. However with software it’s far more complicated as there isn’t always just one tool for the job.

It’s also important to consider the skills you have at hand. For example, you wouldn’t usually ask a plumber to fix your electrics or an electrician to fix your plumbing. However, given enough time most plumbers could learn to do electrics and vice versa. Generally people with a talent for practical things can easily pick up other practical skills. It’s the same with software developers, but you have to consider whether the investment in new skills will return sufficient results in an acceptable time frame, or whether to risk compromising your margins by bringing in already experienced outside help. It’s not an easy decision!

Software developers (the good ones at least) love learning new things - programming languages in particular - but there are divisions of course. Some software developers are only interested in writing software for Microsoft Windows, for example, or for Open Source platforms such as Linux and the tools they use are quite different. It’s even more pronounced with Android developers and iPhone developers! You don’t often get developers who like a bit of everything, but it does happen, and those are the sorts of developers we have at Naked Element.

It’s true that we’d happily write Java (a general purpose programming language aimed at open source software development) all day long, but that wouldn’t allow us to develop complete pieces of software. We regularly use various combinations of Java, Ruby on Rails and JavaScript in order to get the best result. We’ve turned our hand to Python and, more recently, Microsoft core languages such as C# and VB.net too. It depends what our clients need and our assessment of the right tool for the job. Sometimes it’s not even about choosing a programming language. Sometimes it’s about choosing pre-built software, such as Wordpress, and customising it to our client’s needs. We wouldn’t use Wordpress for anything more complicated than a simple e-commerce system, but for websites, including ours, it’s the right tool for the job.

So when you’re choosing your software development partner, consider whether they’re using the right tools for your project or whether they’re just using the hammer they’re familiar with to knock in your screw.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Sign on the Dotted Line – Why Contracts are Important

Contracts might seem like something only big business needs, and many small companies work without them, but if your work is important to you, it is vital to have a contract in place. A well put together contract can make a business relationship stronger and more successful, so it is worth investing some time and effort in getting a contract just right.

When people think of contracts, they often seem daunting, filled with complicated language only solicitors understand, fine print made to confuse the signatory and seemingly endless clauses that only apply in the most unique of circumstances. Documents like this are off putting, and occasionally detrimental to the business process, especially at the beginning of a new working relationship. Contracts don’t need to be pages and pages long, or contain lots of legal jargon or penalties, the most important thing is that all parties understand the content of the contract and all are in agreement as to their own responsibilities. It is very important to make clear what is expected of each party and what will happen if either side fails to keep up their end of the agreement. Being clear on cost is essential too - what is included in the charge and, very importantly, what is not included. A good contract should only contain information relevant to that particular piece of work and should be written in simple, understandable language where possible. Having someone sign something they don’t understand is not a good way to begin!

For general terms of business, applicable to every piece of work, a Master Service Agreement can prove useful to accompany each specific work contract and Naked Element agrees and signs an MSA with every client. This MSA does not oblige either party to work with each other, it merely details the quality of the service or product, each party’s availability throughout the business relationship and the responsibilities they have to each other. Only once a schedule is signed, does it become a binding contract. The MSA defines the confidentiality clauses, copyright details, intellectual property rights, payment terms and the scope of charges as well as liability from each party. These key details are indispensable for any business, whether the project is worth £500 or £5,000,000 as they are crucial if something were to go wrong.

Contracts also shouldn’t be designed to catch someone out, or tie them down unnecessarily, they should be an agreement, put together for the benefit of all parties. Where possible, a clever business person should be open to discussing and amending a proposed contract before it is signed if the other party wishes to make changes. It is also often beneficial to include a clause allowing either party to revisit a contract for adjustment after a set period of time. Being flexible and open to future issues in this way increases trust between parties, making a successful business relationship more likely.

A good contract should -

  • Only include relevant information
  • Use simple language
  • Outline benefits of the contract to both parties
  • Be negotiable
  • Be adjustable where appropriate

With a proper contract the client will feel they can depend on the product or service they are paying for and can rely on the contract to ensure they will not be out of pocket if something goes awry. By the same token, the service provider is protected by the contract if a client should renege on something that was previously mutually agreed upon. A good contract, that has everyone's  interests covered equally, makes a business seem more trustworthy, as well as more professional, and if everything goes well, more likely to do business again.

Words by Lauren.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

The Kings of Leon

Sheffield is in the North and things, well people, are very different in the North. They’re friendlier than other places. They apologise in a friendly way when they knock into you and several people run after your ticket when it blows away in the wind after you’ve been through security.

Given the recent events in Manchester security was tight at Sheffield Arena. There were plenty of police, some of them visibly armed. You weren’t allowed to take in a bag any bigger than A4 and everyone was searched before they could enter the arena foyer. Having said that, we had no problems parking (getting out of the car park was a different matter) and were through the security check in no time. Everyone there, including the security, was friendly! Even the armed police were posing for selfies and chatting at the end of the night.

I’m not a fan of the Kings of Leon. They’ve got a few good songs, I mean who doesn’t like having their sex on fire? I find them bland, monotonous and a bit boring. Live it’s a different story. They’ve still only got one sound, but it’s much more palatable and they’re very good at it. The lead guitarist can play, but is nothing special, the bass player looks like Billy Idol on a good day and the drummer spent most of the show chewing gum and blowing bubbles, but the singer, his range and the effortless delivery were incredible. He just needs to work on his interaction and eye contact with the crowd.


What was also quite cool was, about halfway through, a complete stage rearrange, the moving of the drum riser and the introduction of a third guitarist and a keyboard player all performed behind a curtain with sometimes just the front man and sometimes all of the main band playing out the front. It was fun, exciting and interesting to see.

They played most of the hits, as far as I could tell and didn’t do an encore, which always makes things easier and means you get more music and less messing around.



Monday, 5 June 2017

NorDevMag: Call for submissions

After receiving such a positive response to the nor(DEV):con magazines at each conference, we’ve decided to release a magazine outside of the conference too!

Each issue will contain tech articles, local features, news and interviews as well as tech events in Norfolk and further afield, but most importantly it will be free to download! But we need your help to make this a success.

We’re asking for your suggestions and contributions for our first issue due for release in September. This first issue will be focused around different aspects of A.I.

Contributions

We need

  • News – are you beginning or completing a project? Expanding into a new area? Taking on new staff/premises/tech? Have you won an award or achieved something noteworthy you want to tell people about?
  • Events – are you planning or hosting an event between September 2017 and the end of January 2018? Are you attending an event over the summer you think we should review or take photos at?
  • Articles – do you have something tech related you would like to talk about or share with the community? Can you write an engaging and interesting piece for our pages?
  • Columns – do you have something to say others would like to hear? An experience or opinion about something in the tech community or industry that others would enjoy reading?
Suggestions and comments for other articles or features are also welcome! What do you like about the past conference magazines? What don’t you like? What would you like to see more of? Less of?

Advertisers

  • Would you like to reach the tech community?
  • Do you have a service or product you think we should know about?
  • Are you holding an event that would benefit from being in front of the tech people of Norfolk
We want to hear from YOU! This is a magazine for Norfolk’s tech community, so please help us to make it what you want it be.

Contact us at: mag@norfolkdevelopers.com

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Coffee in the Mine: In Java I wish I could... part 1

I started programming in BBC Basic on an Acorn Electron in 1985. I then went on to learn and use commercially C, C++ (there's no such language as C/C++), C# and Java. When I was a C++ programmer I looked down on Java with it's virtual machine, just in time compiling and garbage collector. When I became a Java programmer I completely fell in love with it and it's tool chain. Not so with Ruby, especially its tool chain, a lack of a static type system and lack of interfaces.

However, there are some fantastic features in the language and a few of them I wish I could use in Java. For example, in Ruby, you can put conditional statements after expressions, for example:

return '1' if a == 1
return '2' if a == 2

Whereas in Java you'd have to write:

if (a == 1)
  return "1";

if (a == 2)
  return "2";

which is more verbose and less expressive. Ruby also has the unless keyword, which Java lacks, so in Ruby you can do this:

return @colour unless @colour.nil?

The example shows off another feature in Ruby. To test for nil in Ruby you can call .nil? on any object, whereas the equivalent null check in Java is more verbose:

if (colour != null)
  return colour;

I could go on, but I'll leave that for a later piece in the series.  These features of Ruby may only be, in the main, syntactic sugar, but they are the ones I miss most when I'm developing in Java.

Next time we'll look at what Rails taught me about Spring MVC projects.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

You Can't Do That

by Emma Roache
ISBN-13: 978-1523989560

I sat next to Emma (complete with orange jumper) at a Norfolk Chamber breakfast in Great Yarmouth. We had the best table for the event and the conversation ranged from Trivium (modern Thrash Metal band) to the Kings of Leon. It’s incredible how, when you get away from business, the conversation flows. Of course everyone talked about what they did and I was delighted to hear that Emma was a coach and that she had a book!

‘You Can’t Do That’ is like nothing else I’ve read. It’s not science fiction or fantasy and it has absolutely nothing to do with software development or management. The style was easy and simple and very readable. This isn’t a self help book, it’s a travel diary. In most cases you have to read between the lines to see the personal issues which Emma is overcoming, they are in no way exaggerated or over played. Although I’m in no two minds about her dislike of spiders!

Something came across loud and clear. Emma loves people. I found this inspiring. Despite working to break the classic software development mould I still struggle with ‘small talk’ with people I don’t know (unless of course we’re talking Rock & Metal).

This book won’t take you long to read and is well worth it! Could only be improved by being available for the Kindle.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Paul's Guide to Jazz

Hopefully you've read my guide to Death Metal. Death metal isn't the only type of music I listen too. In fact I don't only like rock based music, I like some other stuff too.

Wikipedia describes Jazz as “...a music genre that originated amongst African Americans in New Orleans, United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in Blues and Ragtime. Since the 1920s jazz age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African American and European American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation.”

As with my Death Metal guide, I'm going to run through the Jazz bands I feel are worth listening to, I have enjoyed and have made a difference to me.

Monday, 1 May 2017

You can go your own way - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

There aren’t many sequels as good or better than the original (obvious examples are Aliens, The Empire Strikes Back, Lethal Weapon 2, etc), but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is! It’s a totally different type of story, more in the classic sci-fi vein. Stories where you don’t have to start by building all of the main characters are often easier to get straight into.

I had one, for me, huge issue with the film. They used Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” in the most brilliant way for one of the action sequences, from almost the beginning right up to just before the bass lead section the BBC and Channel 4 use for the Formula 1 theme. Then the song stopped. Later on in the film they used it again and I thought “Great, we’ll get it all this time!”, but no, it finished too early again. Maybe this was a deliberate tease for the Fleetwood Mac fans and I’ve just fallen for it 100%.

As well as all of the main characters, Kurt Russell was excellent. My other slight issue with the film was that there wasn’t enough of Sylvester Stallone. I think they could have made much more of his character, but I suspect he’s being lined up for the next film. It was great to see a brief part for Ben Browder from Farscape too. He’ll always be John Crichton to me.

When a film as good and off the wall as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 is released and such a hit, there’s an automatic apprehension about a sequel. You shouldn’t be apprehensive about this sequel. Go see it!

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Happy 5th birthday to us!


5 years ago today, on the 26th April 2012 Naked Element was incorporated by Matthew Wells, Chris Wright and our CEO Paul Grenyer.

Over the 5 years Naked Element has successfully developed software for a wide variety of clients, helping them to improve their business processes and to increase their efficiency, saving them both time and money.

A couple of most recent projects that we’re proud of:

Fountain Partnership - An online marketing agency. “Naked Element’s software for Fountain reduces processing time by 95%.” Naked Element were chosen to build a script which would allow Fountain to manage one of their largest clients in Google AdWords. In simple terms a script was created that allowed the user to specify AdWords accounts, campaigns and ad groups and then to enter a search, replacing each with a phrase or word.

IDSystems - Suppliers and installers of doors and windows. Naked Element developed a bespoke web application for IDSystems. The new application is designed to aid their trade partners through the complex choices and range of options available to IDSystems customers. Because of the complex nature of the product and service that this Norfolk company offer, the software used to handle their sales and quotes, both internally and when with a potential customer, has to be truly unique.

Over time we’ve evolved to not only offer software development, but also the design and build of responsive websites and consultancy services to improve development processes.

In the beginning, neither Paul or Matthew claimed to be professors on the business side of things and only really wanted to write software! In order to grow, the guys worked with a handful of consultants to keep them on the right track. Emma Gooderham, who is now our Commercial Director helped back in 2015 for a few weeks to market Naked Element. We have also worked with James Allison from WLP who took on the role of our growth accelerator coach from April 2016-2017, and we continue to undergo sales training with Ermine Amies of Sandler.

Along with other networking events, Naked Element have been members of the Norfolk Chamber for a little over 3 years, and we continue to use the events as a way to build up our network and bring in business.

Over the years we’ve built up expertise in iOS Development, Front and Back end, .Net development and cross platform mobile apps using Xamarin with our trusted team of developers.

What was a team of 3 full time employees, is now an expanding team consisting of:

Paul Grenyer, CEO
Charlotte Grenyer, Sales Co-ordinator
Emma Gooderham, Commercial Director
Rain Crowson, Administrator Apprentice & PA
Chris “Frankie” Salt, Software Developer
Jack Rogers, Software Apprentice
Emily Vinsen, Junior Software Developer
Shelley Burrows, Web Developer
Kieran Johnson, Software Developer
Adrian Pickering, Software Developer
Luke Rogers, Software Developer

Lewis Leeds also played a big part of Naked Element and was with us throughout his apprenticeship and beyond. He recently moved on to pursue his interests in Project Management and wish him well in the future.

Naked Element are very keen to help bring young developers into the industry. We offer work experience to students throughout their courses and A-levels. A couple of A-Level students, Tom Alabaster and Chelsea Crawford were especially brilliant have returned to Naked Element  to work during school holidays.

So here’s to another 5 great years of expanding our team, our clients and our network. We thank everyone who has helped us to grow along the way, and we look forward to driving our successes even more over the next 5.

Click here to read on our blog.

Monday, 24 April 2017

A hand up, not a hand out

Cities, by their very nature, aren't small (unless of course you're a pretend city like Ely). According to Wikipedia there are over 141,000 people in Norwich and over 370,000 people in the ‘travel to work’ area. I've got a lot of contacts on LinkedIn, but these numbers of people are large by anyones’s standards!

Since I came back to work in Norwich for the third time in 2011, I've been expanding my professional network at an exponential rate. From time to time, and more frequently as time goes on, I encounter people I was at school with and Rebecca White was one of those people (although she was a year or two above me at Notre Dame High School).

Rebecca is a social entrepreneur and CEO of the social enterprise Your Own Place.  Your Own Place equips young people with the skills, confidence and knowledge to live safely and securely. They achieve this by continually developing innovative and entrepreneurial solutions as well as collaborating for the benefit of  young people. By working restoratively and delivering high quality interventions they create a culture of empowered and independent young people.

After a number of exchanges on linkedin, twitter and email with Rebecca, I was invited along to hear Baron John Bird, founder of the Big Issue, speak at the St. Giles House Hotel in Norwich. This was an unusual event for me to be invited to, as there was no tech or business angle, but we’re all familiar with the Big Issue and I was already  impressed with what Rebecca was achieving, so I was intrigued. On our way to the event my wife and I encountered the Big Issue seller who is often at the top of Lower Goat Lane near the Guildhall, and I couldn’t help but wonder if he knew John Bird was only meters away.

I was completely unprepared in almost every way for John Bird. We sat at the back, the only place there were two chairs left together, around one of a handful of tables shoehorned into the packed room on the first floor of the hotel. A couple of the usual suspects  such as Sarah Daniels from the Redcat Partnership and Lucy Marks of the Norfolk Network also wandered in. My first surprise was to discover that Sarah, who I know well, was chairing. I knew from that point on that with the self proclaimed, “loudest voice in room”, we were in for a fun couple of hours.

Baron Bird of Notting Hill was astounding.  A huge personality and presence in the room. He took us through the highs and lows of his life from his upbringing in Notting Hill by Irish, Catholic, racist parents to living on the streets of Edinburgh at 21, meeting one of the founders of the Body Shop, Gordon Roddick, his rehabilitation in prison where one of the “screws” taught him to read, his three wives, money, the Big Issue and admission into the House of Lords. John Bird was funny, entertaining, loud, inspiring and great entertainment. I’ve never seen someone move so much in such a small space, often with both arms in the air, a loud passionate voice and little respect for political correctness. It was refreshing.

26 years ago there were more than 500 homeless charities in London (there are now around 2000). All of them lacked something. None of those charities were helping the homeless to stop being homeless. John Bird had a vision, inspired by Street News in the USA and spawned from a case study funded by the Body Shop, the Big Issue was born. A way of helping homeless people make money to stop them being homeless. John Bird believes in a hand up, not a hand out and is working hard to prevent the next generation of Big Issue sellers.

I could have listened to him all evening. He finished by explaining some of the social ideas he’s pursuing, such as creating a Kitemark called the Social Echo to award to businesses who act on their social conscience.

One such social enterprise is Your Own Place. Following an introduction by Sarah, Rebecca White showed us a recent video which explains the work they do:


Your Own Place are looking for employer sponsored Volunteer Tenancy Mentors. The training costs the employers just £300 per person for two days. Your Own Place work with businesses to provide their staff with a unique training and development opportunity as Volunteer Tenancy Mentors and to prevent youth homelessness at the same time. Their Volunteer Tenancy Mentoring training packages include high quality volunteer training, comprehensive policies, training packs, vetting and ongoing support for the mentors.

The event was over all too soon, but as well as finding out more about what someone I was at school with was up to, seeing some regular faces and making a new contact at Leathes Prior, I was inspired to contribute and am looking forward to Rebecca coming to speak to the Naked Element team at Whitespace.



Friday, 21 April 2017

East Anglia One

Despite growing up and spending the vast majority of my life living in Norwich, I haven’t really been to the seaside town of Great Yarmouth that many times, despite it being only 20 miles away. I certainly never imagined finding work there. I’ve visited Yarmouth for business three times since Christmas this year, secured one piece of business with a local company and now it’s looking like Naked Element could be securing some more.

I’ve been fascinated by engineering since a young age. From the differential which helped drive the Lego car I had as a child, to internal combustion engines, power stations and large ships and planes, I like to know how things, big and small, work. When I was younger I even wrote to the BBC’s Playschool programme to find out how their clock worked and received a photo and a full explanation in response (I wish I still had them now).

So when a Norfolk Chamber breakfast offered the  opportunity to hear from a senior member of Seajacks, who own and run some of the most advanced off-shore equipment in the world, I was very excited. I enjoy the breakfasts and  networking at the chamber anyway, the big machines  were a real bonus!

After the customary speed networking, which is a great way to mix up the room and help you meet people, and the breakfast itself, John Vingoe, Operations Manager at Seajacks, told us about their largest vessel, the Scylla, and how it would be used to help build the East Anglia One windfarm off the coast of Great Yarmouth between July and October of 2018. The Scylla is a Gusto MSC NG14000X multipurpose jack-up which is home to 130 crew, has a massive deck area of 5000m2, can operate in waters down to a depth of 65m and does up to 12 knots. It’s a beast and will be used to install concrete jackets for the wind farm.

But what’s really great about Seajacks is their commitment to source locally and where they can, they do! There are, of course, some specialist equipment and skills which are not available locally. The East Anglia One wind farm operation will be based out of a port in the Netherlands and although equipment and labour is available in the Netherlands, Seajacks will be flying over its people and supplies from the local area, even though there is a modest extra cost.

The slowdown in the oil and gas industry and its effect, especially on employment in Great Yarmouth, is widely known. Seajacks weathered the storm in a unique way by redistributing its crew around different vessels. John described to us how usually a ship’s company is hired and released as needed on a per vessel basis.

This was Caroline Williams, CEO of Norfolk Chamber’s, last Great Yarmouth breakfast before she moves on to pastures new after 17 years. I’d like to thank Caroline personally for the help, advice, support and friendly engagement she has given me over the last few years since Naked Element has been a Chamber member.  I wish Caroline every success in the future and look forward to bumping into her, as I am sure I will!


Networking takes time. It’s not unusual to come away from a Chamber event having started to build some excellent relationships, but without much more than a warm lead. From this Great Yarmouth Chamber breakfast I came away with two solid leads and another demonstrating future potential. A morning well spent!

Friday, 14 April 2017

The Iron Tactician: A Review

By Alastair Reynolds ISBN-13: 978-1910935309

This book is quick and easy to read at only 98 pages. It’s a long way from being Reynold’s best work, but it’s enjoyable enough. Often I struggle to put books down, but not so with the Iron Tactician, not until the last 30% anyway, which I read in a couple of hours one afternoon.

Possibly the smallest number of characters Reynolds has ever had in a story I’ve read of his, each of them is likable and easy to relate to. A couple could have been explored in more detail.

It was clear there was a twist coming, but if the clues were there to what it was, I missed them and was oblivious right up until it was revealed, which is how I like it! Sometimes nothing spoils a book like a predictable ending and in fact there were two surprises for me!

I’m looking forward to Revenger which is released in just over a month (18th May), but I’ll be reading the next book in Peter Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga first, so it may be a while until I get to it.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Today Nor(Dev):con, tomorrow The World!

“Speaking at nor(DEV):con  is a good indicator that people know what they’re talking about”

If anyone knows the truth of that sentence, it’s Dom Davis. People in the tech industry know him for many different reasons – as CTO of TechMarionette, providing consultations through Somewhere Random, or perhaps even his YouTube gaming channels – but his speaking career was launched by nor(DEV):. “I started doing the local talks for the Norfolk Developers evening sessions, then speaking at nor(DEV):con, eventually graduating to larger and larger rooms at the conference. That eventually led to offers to speak from outside Norfolk.”

‘Outside Norfolk’ ended up being Israel. A conference over there was looking for interesting international speakers and found Dom’s talk from nor(DEV):con on YouTube. After negotiating travel arrangements, they flew him out to give the closing keynote. “Off the back of that I got to speak at Foundercon in Berlin. So now I can say I’m an international keynote speaker!” He’s also got talks at GraphConnect and ACCU coming up later in 2017.

Dom has also been engaged as a trainer as a direct result of being at nor(DEV):con. “I was asked to provide training on Go to others, based on the fact that I am a respected member of the community - Paul Grenyer’s opening keynote gave me glowing review! Speaking at Nor(DEV): is a good indicator that people know what they’re talking about.” Dom also bumped into the founder of one of the companies formed at the last SyncTheCity at the 2017 nor(DEV):con, who offered him consulting work. “There’s work and business to be done with all this talent and business in one place!”


Words: Lauren Gwynn

Sunday, 2 April 2017

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)

by George R.R. Martin

ISBN: 978-0007548231

This is an epic story. The breadth of George R.R. Martin’s imagination and attention to detail is incredible. Of course I’ve seen the HBO TV series, which is what inspired me to read the book, but that’s a doubled edged sword. Having seen the series it helped me to understand what was going on, but also it spoils it as I generally remembered what was going to happen, removing some of the mystery and excitement. Having said that, I did spend a lot of the book hoping things would turn out differently.

My biggest frustration is, why didn’t Syrio Forel pick up one of the Lannister swords and defeat Meryn Trant? The book is ambiguous, so maybe he did survive and will be back? There’s time and my fingers are crossed.

Catelyn Stark is an excellent character. However, I really don’t like her. She is proud, stubborn and ultimately causes her husband's death and the downfall of her house. Although, Eddard Stark does a pretty good job of that all on his own. All the characters are well thought out, it’s just a shame that some of them were cast badly in the TV series, changing them significantly.

The TV series follows the book really closely. Of course there is more detail in the book and things happen which are not in the TV series or are left for later, but it’s still remarkable how true to the book the TV series is. However, there are many scenarios in the book which take place in different places in the TV series. I spent quite a bit of time trying to work out why.

I’m taking a break from Westeros to catch up on some sci-fi, but I’m looking forward to coming back and if you haven’t been there yet, I strongly suggest you give it a try.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Couldn't be happier!

I often get asked about my tweets, but this one more than the others recently:


And the question is always, why were you so happy? Well, it’s quite simple really. It was early in the morning, Gt. Yarmouth was practically deserted, I had my laptop, my MP3 player (with the new Sepultura album) and good tea. I’ve mentioned many times how much I love my job and how lucky I feel to be paid for doing something which I enjoy. And there I was working away on some code without a worry in the world. Bliss.

Of course it didn’t last. I was in Gt. Yarmouth for a reason and not long after I had to go and visit a new prospect. 

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

We're Hiring!


Hoping to kick-start a career in software development? Looking to develop your programming skills? Grab this great opportunity to work with us at Naked Element, an experienced and innovative team producing bespoke software for a wide range of clients.

Naked Element would like to recruit a graduate to assist working on a varied range of software development projects.

Salary: 18k

Hours: 35 hours per week

Location: Whitespace, St. James Mill, Whitefriars, Norwich

Application Deadline: 26 February 2017

Interview Date: Week commencing 27 February 2017

The role will be tailored to suit your strengths and interests and specific tasks will include some of the following:

  • Maintaining existing applications and cloud based servers
  • Liaising with clients to gather information and provide support (including visiting clients at their premises
  • Full training will be provided and there will also be the opportunity for you to get involved in all aspects of this small but dynamic business.

Hands on software development of web and mobile applications using one or more of the following technologies:

  • Java
  • Ruby on Rails
  • JavaScript
  • HTML/CSS

Application of agile software development practices including:

  • Version control (git)
  • Unit testing
  • Automated build and deployment

Essential skills and qualities:

  • Keen interest in software development
  • Competency in at least one programming language
  • Pro-active, ‘can-do’ attitude
  • Flexible and adaptable

Desirable skills and qualities:

  • Able to demonstrate interest in software development by reference to a project you have worked on

This is the perfect opportunity to kick-start a career in software development. You will benefit from the guidance of staff with over 30 years’ experience of coding as well as receiving both in-house and external training. This is also a chance to gain an in depth insight into all aspects of a software development business.

If you would like to apply for this opportunity, please send CV’s to rain.crowson@nakedelement.co.uk

Monday, 13 February 2017

Updating Data Protection


Technology is developing constantly; communication is becoming faster and the exchange of ideas and information easier. Considering how quickly things are evolving, it’s shocking to discover that the legislation protecting our data hasn’t been updated since 1998! That was the year that Apple introduced the first iMac, Google had its first Doodle and someone hit Bill Gates in the face with a pie (a dissatisfied Windows 98 user perhaps?). Our data protection laws are as out of date as Apple making desktop computers in see-through candy colours. The state of information is unrecognisable from that time and the laws protecting it have been in dire need of an update. Cue an intervention from the EU.

After four years of work the new ‘General Data Protection Regulation’ will detail how data should be stored, how it should be used and when it should be destroyed. The public will have more control over their personal data and businesses will have a more simple set of regulations to follow when using said data. ‘Data’ in this case, refers to anything that might be used to identify an individual, including cultural and economic information as well as mental health details and even IP addresses and other online identifiers. If information held under pseudonyms has the potential to identify an individual this could also be classed as personal data. The GDPR has widened the definition of ‘data’ significantly.

The fines for those who do not comply with the GDPR are hefty (£20 million is no trifling sum) but businesses have until 25th May 2018 to bring their systems into line. The new regulations also apply to companies who process data on behalf of businesses, so developers need to be aware of the legislation too.

The basic principles are:

  • Data must be processed lawfully, transparently, and for a specific purpose
  • Data must be deleted when no longer required or it has served its specific purpose
  • Consent to keep and use data must be actively obtained and recorded
  • The public have the right to request, update, rectify or move their data or have it destroyed altogether
  • Data owners must also check the compliance of any processors they may use
  • Data breaches should be reported to those affected immediately and to the Information Commissioner’s Office within 72 hours
  • Companies outside of the EU are still subject to GDPR when processing or controlling data of individuals within the EU

Some of you may have already thought that as the UK is leaving the EU, their regulations don’t apply, but this isn’t the case. The UK will still be part of the European Union by the time the GDPR is in full force, and even after we leave the EU we still need to be able to work with them. Digital minister Matt Hancock said the GDPR should become part of UK law as it was a “decent piece of legislation”. He has emphasised the importance of uniform standards in order to maintain data exchanges with the likes of the EU and the US, and that the UK would meet the standards set out by the Union rather than asking them to meet ours.

For an in-depth guide on how to become GDPR compliant see the article below:
http://www.itpro.co.uk/security/27563/how-to-get-ready-for-gdpr-2018-data-protection-changes/page/0/2

Words by Lauren

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Naked Element’s solution brings 100% conformity in just two weeks



Ashford Commercial work with government agencies across the board, as well as social landlords, to install windows and doors as part of large constructions. Priding themselves on building good business partnerships, they engaged with Naked Element to create a timesaving, cross-platform mobile app for them, in order to reduce error and save time when compared to their paper processes. With a strict budget and prompt turnaround required, the Naked Element team had their skills put to the test.

This was Ashford Commercial’s first app, and they were new to having bespoke software developed, making it even more important that everything went smoothly. Developer Kieran said “The project was to create a mobile app to streamline the completion of Fire Door Installation paperwork. Ashford Commercial wanted to improve their paper-trail for fire door installation, as relying on paperwork often meant waiting for fitters to pass the forms onto supervisors and then having a bundle of documents arrive at once – or potentially get lost.”

Keeping in mind that a quick turnaround was desired, Kieran came up with a solution to what could have been a lengthy development process. “We leveraged React Native (a cross platform mobile development framework) to ensure we only had to work with one codebase for both iPhone and Android. This dramatically reduced the time required to build the app and allowed us to deliver the full app in 2 weeks.”

Instead of Ashford Commercial’s fitters having to complete necessary paperwork manually, the app allowed for pre-filling of much of the data required. “The app provided ‘Yes/No’ questions with sensible defaults to make completing the form a breeze. As a further improvement to the previous paperwork” Kieran said “we were able to take advantage of the cameras in smartphones, so photographic evidence of the installation is supplied each time, confirming that the door has been installed as specified.”

Neil Davis, Operations Manager at Ashford Commercial, said Naked Element had been chosen to create the app because they felt they were the right company to offer the support for development. “It was a quick process, 98% of which was done Naked Element help Ashfords to reduce lengthy paperwork processes with Mobile App fluidly. The app means that there’s 100% conformity now, which is exactly what we wanted, as well as the performance we wanted. There’s total legal conformance and a lot of transparency which there wasn’t before. We didn’t want to invest people, so it was better to get the system to work, which is what we made happen with Naked Element.” With a relatively straightforward project such as this one, there were few challenges outside of the time and budget restrictions. Everything was made clear throughout the development process, “I was quite satisfied with how everything went and I would be happy to recommend Naked Element” said Neil.

“The app means that there’s 100% conformity now, which is exactly what we wanted.”


Friday, 6 January 2017

Is 2017 the year you’re going to improve your efficiency by up to 95%?



At Naked Element we’re all about making your business process more efficient and more accurate, saving you time and money. In 2016 Naked Element helped its clients increase their efficiency by up to 95% with made to measure, cohesive software solutions.

• Are you drowning under the weight of spreadsheets?

• Do you need to streamline and automate your process for your team and/or your clients?

• Is manual monitoring of tools preventing you from getting the best results for your clients and costing you time?

• Are you struggling to find the perfect tool or mobile app to solve or improve your process problem?

• Do you need a tool or mobile app to make sure you’re compliant?

• Are you using a number of different tools you wish could all talk to each other seamlessly without the need for manual rekeying?

• Have you got a fantastic new idea for a digital product or service and don’t know how to start building it?

This year Naked Element has helped all of its clients with one or more of these issues.

What could we do for you? Contact us now to find out how we can make your business more efficient in 2017.

Email: info@nakedelement.co.uk
Call: 01603 383 458