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July SuperMondays Review

2009/07/29

This months SuperMondays started of with the usual round of pre-event geek talk and networking. As a result I now definitely want to get myself down to Bletchley Park and I’m some-what gutted that I wasn’t aware of the Big Geek Day Out before it happened, sounds like those involved had a blast.

The event proper started off with an announcement from Mike at Orange Bus stating that they are currently hiring. If graphical work and web design is your thing give them a look.

The presentation proper was provided by John Colqulon, John introduced his project with Newcastle University aiming to provide aid to GPs and other medical practitioners to determine a patients risk to cardivascular problems. There are other applications that provide this level of support available, but this project goes one step further, by visualising the impact a mitigation and/or lifestyle change could have to that patients risk, using several underlying research models (who’s names I can’t remember, sorry)

I’ll admit that this wasn’t exactly my favourite of topics, but both John’s presentation and the debate raised in the questions section provided a good insight into the many different aspects that need to be considered to complete a complex IT system, from interface design to data protection issues. Although I personally struggle to understand the importance of using smiley faces to represent discrete mathematical figures, just not my field of expertise…

The second part to this month’s event was a first in SuperMondays history, no presentation just a group wide discussion of a selected topic, in this case encryption and ‘sharding’. Despite most people’s original understanding that isn’t a typo, sharding with a ‘d’. The concept is to break up meaningful files into smaller component parts (with each encrypted if the information warrents it) and scattering the shards to multiple locations. Theory is that if one location or server is compromised, the data it holds is useless without the other shards, or the blueprint information to rebuild the original file.

It certainly generated a lively discussion, with various weaknesses, trade-offs and mitigations being proposed and countered by differing group members, the wide array of different fields of expertise was within the attendees as different issues and factors where introduced from angles I had never considered. I enjoyed the format of the discussion and thought it worked well, although how well this was recieved if the topic was outside of your zone of interest and/or speciality I’m not sure. To counteract this it was proposed that it may be beneficial to move to a bar-camp type structure for similar setups to allow for multiple topics of discussion, allowing attendees to get involved in the topic that most interests them.

Rounding off the event was the announcement that Gavurin are also hiring (what credit crunch?), again if this is within your field and are looking for a new challange give them a look.

As usual, the event ended in the local pub for more highly geeky conversation over a drink, this time round I ended up in some interesting discussions on the legalities of accessing or operating an insecure wireless access point, support contracts for companies with (seriously) legacy systems and everyones ‘love’ of telco providers.

As I usually state, if you’re in the area and industry, and haven’t been to a SuperMondays gathering: Why Not? But it’s looking like this may get easier to attend, as SuperMondays is growing there are developments afoot to create an official not for profit organisation to take the group forward and to widen the location of events to across the North East, rather than just Newcastle itself.

See you all at the next event,

Andrew Waite

P.S. thanks to David Coxon who beat be to a review of the event, and made it easier to find some of the links I wanted.

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Categories: SuperMondays
  1. 2009/08/04 at 02:00

    Nice review of the evening, thanks for the link (even if you miss spelled my name ;-> ) and great to have your expert knowledge of security adding to the debate on sharding i might add.

    On the subject of Supermonday becoming a none profit company, there is an interesting blog post on the “Draft IT strategy for the North East” over on James Burkes blog. http://bit.ly/kvkT8 I understand that there is growing hopes that this might mean some funding to support projects like Supermondays and some recognition for the service that these groups provide.

    • 2009/08/04 at 03:16

      Oops, don’t know where the typo came from, knew it wasn’t spelt like that, duely updated.

      Not sure how I’ve managed to give you the impression of expert knowledge, either you’ve got me confused with someone else or you’re trying to butter me up to buy the first round at the next event 😉

      Thanks for the link to James’ blog, makes for interesting reading and is hopefully a positive sign for the local industry. Fingers crossed it comes off.

  1. 2009/08/04 at 02:05
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