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Interesting stuff club

Our monthly roundup of anything we’re doing and learning in our own time.


Rachael

Rachael

Design and Marketing

“This almost feels like a cop out as it’s something I watched on TV, but The Big Life Fix with Simon Reeve is amazing. The team are based at the Institute of Making in London are made up of designers and engineers who (in their words) ‘create ingenious new solutions to everyday problems and build life-changing solutions for people in desperate need.’ Being part of a team with similar skills, it’s lovely to see how they’re using their skills to make such a difference to people’s lives. In the latest episode the team helped a man with locked-in syndrome who was unfortunately unable to speak, or move anything other than his head and left arm. He was using an iPad to communicate but this was slow, tiring and made people forget that he was still completely sound of mind. What they made for him was amazing. It was a personalised app with phrases grouped into themes, such as ‘comfort’ or ‘emotion’. And what was best was that they found home movies, so a lot of the recordings used his own voice! It was so moving to see them introduce him to it, and to see that the first thing he chose to communicate, after 2 years of not being able to, was ‘I love you’ to his wife.”


James

James

Frontend Developer

“I set up a WordPress website when I was at uni which is a football column where I write football related news, but I’ve not really changed anything for years so it’s become quite stale. I’ve decided to make it a one-page app built in Angular 2, and it aggregates information from two sources at the moment. I don’t know of another football news column doing this, so I think it’s pretty cool. I’d certainly use it anyway. Then for something more on topic, I have a Christmas related fact: do you know how many Christmas trees are sold in the UK per year? No? Well, it’s not as many as you might think… 8 million.”

Dave

Dave

Frontend Developer

“I also have some facts:

  • A Formula 1 car on a wet track can displace a bathtub amount of water every 2 seconds
  • You can execute JavaScript in an href attribute using the “javascript:” prefix. I learnt this on https://xss-game.appspot.com/, a Google game where the aim is to hack a site inside an iFrame.
  • When you’re trying to install development dependencies in npm you have to do “npm install –save-dev” and your fingers get tired, well you can use “npm i -D” instead
  • And finally…did you know that the C drive is so called as traditionally the A and B drives were used for floppy discs?”

Alex

Alex

Developer

“I wanted to talk about my favourite sport: drinking. The oldest known written recipe in the world that still exists is for beer. It was created by accident as a result of fermenting bread, and often contained actual bread which meant that it had to be drank through a straw! The recipe is over 4,000 years old.”

Ryan

Ryan

Developer

“In a recent issue of .net magazine I read an article by Liv Erickson (developer and evangelist at Microsoft HoloLens) about Web VR. Flicking through it got me thinking about the future of how web content will be consumed and whether VR – like mobile – will become an unexpected but critical experience online. Reading through the article prompted memories of reading Ready Player One, and most recently having my first VR experience on the oculus rift on John Lewis’s Buster the Boxer of all things, making some of Liv’s observations all the more relatable. Liv’s article covered how immersive experiences are already underway. From Facebook having 360 degree photo panning in their apps, Snapchat’s face filters augmenting our reality, to Oculus announcing development on their own VR-first web browser: Carmel.

The article also covered some practical tips on getting started with the Web VR API on the web, with a breakdown of device capabilities detection from the VRDisplay.capabilities object and included some great resources for getting started with Mozilla’s A-Frame framework to Vizor’s VR editor.
At a time when VR hardware is seemingly becoming more prevalent and affordable, and developer tooling is gathering pace, it’s an exciting area to be keeping tabs on going into the new year.”

Jay

Jay

Junior Developer

“Since I started my placement year with UVD I’ve been working on a Slackbot which is how we book our holidays, and it’s been a great first project but now I’ve learned more about best practices, I want to start from scratch and re-write it. I initially looked at JavaScript/Node libraries, but Python is looking better. Python’s NLP (Natural language processing) libraries are much more powerful than the ones available in Node, not to mention that Python as a language is great because I can express my code in fewer lines than Node. I already worked through some Python tutorials in my first weeks here, but I’ve picked it up again and have been doing a few hours a night at home. I also have some new ideas for the implementation. It’d be nice, for example, for us to say ‘I want to book a holiday next week’ and for it to know what next week is.”

Kirsten

Kirsten

Founder


I’ve been doing a bit of research into Conway’s Law which states:

‘organizations which design systems are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations’

— M. Conway

I think it’s interesting to consider this law because it helps to understand how the structure of an organisation will lead directly to how a system is built. And with this knowledge, it should enable organisations to adjust their structure to something that will enable the product to be created to their vision. For instance, if your vision is for a truly distributed system, then you’d be advised to consider a distributed organisation to produce that system

There’s also quite a lot of research to back this from both MIT and Harvard Business School”

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