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Updated: 2013-04-27T15:46:48Z


Going Freelance


After 3 amazing years, yesterday was my last day working at Forward.

I've had a great time, worked with some awesome people and made some brilliant friends, now it's time for a new challenge, I'm freelance.

I've been getting more and more involved with the communities, running meetups, hack days and open source projects. I got to the point where I was running on empty and had no free time to myself and had to find a better way to balance my life.

Once I've got my freelance business stabilised I'm hoping to do even more community and open source work and help to make the UK a great place for developers to work, socialise and share knowledge.

Get in touch if you'd like to work with me on a project:



I've put a kind of living CV up on GitHub pages that sums up the kind of stuff I've been working on over the last couple years.


Nodecopter Sponsorship


One of the sponsors that I had arranged to help pay for drones for the upcoming Nodecopter Bath event was BAE Systems, who are active in encouraging interest in science, technology, engineering and robotics.

After revealing the sponsorship, there was an active discussion within the NodeCopter community about having a large defence company as a sponsor.

Therefore, on reflection, both myself and BAE have jointly agreed to withdraw the BAE Systems sponsorship from this Saturday's event.

I'm still looking for sponsors for the event, if you would like to sponsor a drone please get in touch:


Upcoming Conferences in 2013


There are so many great conferences coming up this year, I thought I'd highlight some of the best ones.

Waza - 28th February

Heroku's annual developer conference, the line up this year is brilliant including Matz, the creator of Ruby.

#inspect - 25th March

The first official RubyMotion conference in Brussels. If you are getting into Rubymotion, you can't afford to miss this.

Ruby Manor - 6th April

The community conference organized by members of the London Ruby Users Group, I spoke there last year and had a blast.

Write the docs - 8th April

A new conference for people who write and maintain documentation, this is really interesting to me as I've been focusing a lot on documentation recently.

BACON - 12th April

I also attended Bacon last year, unlike most technical conferences, the talks were incredibily varied, including talks about beer, lego and coffee.

Railsberry - 22th April

Yet another amazing lineup, and good to see this traditional rails conf expanding into other topics as well.

Git Merge - 9th May

A conference focused purely on git. It's pretty niche but ran by GitHub so you know it's going to be good.

Webshaped - 23rd May

Finland's only Frontend web design and development conference, I'm going to be speaking there about super charging your frontend development with Node.

Fluent - 28th May

The massive 3 day O'Reilly conference in San Francisco with a massive range of speakers and technologies being covered.

NodeConf - 27th June

The official Node conference in California with a twist, it's at the beautiful Walker Creek Ranch with series of hands-on workshops mixed with presentations and talks.

HybridConf - 15th August

The most exciting UK conference this year organised by Zach Inglis, it's a good mix of design and development talks from some world class speakers.

dConstruct - 6th September

dConstruct is one of those conferences that I just can't miss, I've been 3 times in a row now and it gets better every year.

Barcelona Ruby Conference - 14th September

I missed going to this last year, and after watching the videos from the conference I've been kicking myself since, definetly won't miss it this year.

ArrrrCamp 7 - 3rd October

The rum-fueled Belgium Ruby conference, on it's 7th year, it's small but perfectly formed.

I've also keep track of all of these on Lanyrd Guide.


Post 731


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A short video of my dancing nodecopter presentation at Bathcamp yesterday.


Open source contributions


In the past few weeks there has been a fair amount of activity on the Split repo, reaching over 500 watchers and I've just released version 0.5.0, a major update to the gem.

Adding the ability to swap out the persistence adapter and sampling algorithms as well as configuring your ab_tests from a YAML file rather than in code.

I've not been using Split in production for a while now, and it's encouraging to see that whilst other people are still using it, members of the community are stepping up to help continue to drive development forwards rather than leaving it to languish until a new, shiner library comes along.

I put together a little script ( to see how much work the community has contributed to the project, and the results are surprising:

Owner contributions
  3278 ++
  1360 --

Community contributions
  4274 ++
  2141 --

On split, developers other than myself have added and removed more lines of code to the project, which is quite exciting. I've become more of a manager of the project, ensuring that any pull requests are inline with the goals of the project.

This feels like one of the goals of an open source project, first and foremost it should solve the problem it was designed for but after than the project should aim to be supported by the community at large, fault tolerant.

If I were to step down now, I feel that the other developers working on the project could pick up where I left off, rather than it becoming just another abandoned project.


Post 729


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Quadcopter got caught in a strong wind about 20 meters up, hit a tree and fell, landing on one of the rotors.


Post 728


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The first test flight trying to get the Nodecopter to dance (go up and down) in time with a song, code is on github:




Every year I like to set myself a number of goals or challenges to improve myself, last year included reading a new book every week and improve my level of personal fitness with a better diet and exercising more.

This year, as well as continuing with the good habits I've gained in 2012, I'm going to work on some new things:

  • Level up my terminal skills with vim and tmux

  • Get back into writing on a regular basis

  • Ship a RubyMotion app on the App Store

  • Get over my irrational fear of using the telephone

  • Dabble in hardware hacking and electronics including Nodecopter and RaspberryPi.

Heres to a great year!


Green Tea Press: Free Computer Science Books


A great collection of computer science books made available for free under a creative commons license. There are also a great collection of freely available books on O'Reilly's Open Books Project.


Invisible Widget


Yesterday at the Simpleweb Halloween Hack Day I built a little service on top of the upcoming Invisible Hand API yesterday, Invisible Widget:

It's basically two parts:

  • A proxy for the API that renders a webpage full of results but with no layout with most of the same options as the API passable via url parameters, written in node
  • A jquery plugin that embeds that page into any webpage as an iframe with some nice default options

The use case for this can be seen on, I wanted to embed some links to Node books but not have to manage the links myself.

Some things I'd have liked to add if I had time:

  • Autodectection of region from user's request, i.e. show german results to users in germany
  • Pass through a list of ISBNs and show all of them with the cheapest prices
  • Ability to pass through a url for a custom stylesheet so it can match the site it's embedded in
  • A little invisible hand promo badge at the bottom
  • Varnish caching to reduce number of api requests
  • Better documentation

Hopefully once the API is available to all there will be a revenue-share program so anyone can profit from embedding the widget in their site.


Ruby on Rails Bootcamp


I'm thinking of running an introductory course in Ruby on Rails in London, if you are interested in attending please register your interest.

It will be a one day introductory course for developers who want to get started using Ruby on Rails to build websites and web apps.


Post 723


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Bicycle Merry-Go-Round at Maker Faire in San Francisco


Post 722



Photos from my recent trip to San Francisco


Split 0.4.2 released


Split, the Rack Based AB testing framework, has just been updated to 0.4.2, and now supports v3.0 of the redis gem.




A Lightning talk timer app that I made for iOS using RubyMotion.




I've been playing around with pinterest recently, follow me!


Post 719





The slides for a lightning talk I presented at Bacon Conf a few weekends ago.


Using Node and Ruby on Rails for uber productivity


A talk about a site I recently launched using Ruby on Rails and Node which needed to scale to 3000 concurrent users.




A javascript wrapper around the new libsass c++ library for compiling sass in node that I've been hacking on.


Sinatra is a Hammer


A presentation about the benefits of using rails over sinatra that I made last year.


Post 713



LNUG April Meetup - Lightning Talks


This month at the London Node User Group we're doing lightning talks, please get in touch if you'd like to speak.


Post 711



Split 0.4.1 released


Split, the Rack Based AB testing framework, has just been updated to 0.4.1, with a few important bug fixes and the ability to disable it via a configuration option.




Forward is now hosting a weekly coding school for kids called CoderDojo.

CoderDojo is a movement orientated around running free not-for-profit coding clubs and regular sessions for young people.

If you know any kids who would like to get involved then send them and their parents the link.


Are you a Brogrammer Quiz


Answer some questions and we’ll calculate your Broficiency Quotient (BQ).

My BQ is -95, making me a standard nerd!


Interactive download graphs on


A couple weeks ago I submitted a pull request to that added interactive graphs to the stats pages for each gem.

Since then it's been deployed to the live site and is working great!


Post 706



A little something I'm working on


Split 0.4.0 released


I've released a new version of split, it has quite a few improvements including experiment start times, visitors only participating in one experiment by default, cleaning up old sessions and some bug fixes.


Split featured on Railscasts


This is pretty awesome, Split has been featured on Railscasts, a full 10 minute tutorial of how to do A/B testing with split and some of its more advanced features.


Post 703



An Evening with Go Tickets


Tickets are now available for the Go meet up that I have been organising in the Forward Offices on 20th March.


Project Euler


I've recently been taking a stab at the Project Euler challenges, these are the solutions I've done so far in Ruby.


Post 700



Deploying Go apps on Heroku


I've been dabbling with Go recently and this guide to deploying Go web apps is really handy.


Post 698



My first ever dribbble post.




A small but helpful library I released yesterday for encoding and decoding base62 strings, ideal for url shorteners.

It's also my first npm release, you can install it with the following command:

npm install base62

London Web Standards Slides


Last week I spoke at London Webstandards about the LNUG website, these are the slides from my talk.


Fast Kat


A fun little HTML5 3D game.


How to transfer your number between mobile providers


A surprisingly useful little page that gives you the exact instructions for switching your number between each UK mobile provider.

I just moved from O2 to 3 mobile and couldn't be happier.


Stereographic Google Streetview


This awesome visualisation of Google Streetview with blow your mind!


Devs Love Bacon


A really interesting 2 day London conference in April put on by the guys at Mint Digital with a great mix of speakers.


Cherry-pick twitter account


I'm now syndicating to twitter so you can easily follow along with the best repos each day.


Forward Live


We've just finished our live streaming setup for meet ups that our hosted in our office, you can now watch the meetups live from the comfort of your own home (without the free beer and pizza that we usually provide).


An Evening with Go


An event that I've been organising to introduce the Go programming language to more developers across London.

It's on 20th March and it's completely free!


Hacking Events Management


The slides from a presentation I did recently about hosting meet ups and events.


Split 0.3.2 released


Split, the Rack Based AB testing framework, has just been updated to 0.3.2 and it now handles redis errors and downtime gracefully.


Forward Technology Newsletter #2


I just recently sent out second Forward Technology newsletter, getting my feet wet with email marketing.

If you've not signed up already here's the link: