Dogsbody Technology joins Google Hash Code 2017

Dogsbody Technology are stepping into the shoes of Google engineers and attending Google Hash Code 2017 in GROW at Greenpark, Reading, one of the 432 Hash Code hubs across 66 countries.
A team-based programming competition for students and professionals (18+) across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Pick your team and programming language, and Google pick a real-life engineering problem to solve.

Fancy entering a team of your own –  sign up today at g.co/hashcode! (last entry 20th February 2017 18:00 CET)

Check back to see how we got on!

Five Go on a Hacking Weekend

Last weekend (25th & 26th November 2016) Dogsbody Technology headed off to St. John’s church Hoxton in Shoreditch, London to attend (what turned out to be the last) Over the Air 2016.

Over the Air is an annual 2-day mobile developer event with a mix of technical workshops put on by the community, a Hackathon to celebrate programming & making as a creative discipline, and Lightning Talks to entertain and inspire.

This year the Dogsbody Technology team decided to do their first hack and enter the Hackathon Challenges for the first time – and boy did we have fun! It all started with us finding a 4ft Stormtropper while out shopping which we knew we could improve on! We named it ‘Dolly Stormageddon‘, or Stormy for short.

On Friday morning we packed the car full with Raspberrys Pi’s, Arduino’s, Lasers, Lego, wire, speakers, batteries, soldering irons, microphones, USB dongles, cable ties, SD cards, cables, drills, duct tape, sleeping gear and more! Heading off with a general plan of what we wanted to try and achieve.

After the welcome speech and Friday keynote presentation by Hadley Beeman on the effects of Brexit and Trump to the tech industry, we set ourselves up in the Crypt under the church and got to work.

We had a list of stuff we really wanted to do and a list of nice to haves as we knew time was limited to less than 24 hours!

Nexmo was a sponsor of Over the Air and so we decided to use their SMS API to make Dolly read out text messages. Rob set up the Nexmo SMS API and we used an existing Pushover script to communicate this to a Raspbery Pi which then used Amazon Ivona text to speech software (we picked Welsh) to read the text message out over a speaker we put in Dolly’s leg. This was all scripted/set up by Gary. We even added the function that if someone texted ‘shoot’ it made a blaster noise!

For a good demo you always need lights and movement so Dan wired up a laser pointer to his gun and Jim used Lego to mount a servo and programmed an Arduino to get his head to move side to side.

Finally we added an NFC Tag inside his chest with the number for people to text.

Testing included texts such as “I’ve got a brand new combine harvester” and the complete lyrics to Queens “I want to break free” – which is slightly strange spoken by a 4ft Stromtropper in a Welsh accent!

We entered three categories in the Hackathon Challenges –  The Nexmo APIs Challenge, The Best Hardware / IoT  Entry and The Best Use of Other Features. Below is our Show & Tell! We had exactly 90 seconds to present what we worked on.

WE WON!!!

The Best Hardware / IoT  Hack!! with an Nexmo Honourable mention

We got a pile of new toys to play with from our win and we couldn’t be happier

Dan, Jim, Claire and Rob attended a few talks but the hack took up most of our time, the always interesting and funny lightening talks included a  talk on ’10 stupid stuff I’ve bought on the internet’ (he had to narrow that down from over 40!) which include 1000 plastic ducks and entering an inflatable marathon whilst intoxicated.

Dolly and the Dogsbody Team are now home and the ultimate idea is Dolly will be in our office and alert us when a server goes down..we will rebuild Dolly better, faster, stronger…

Dogsbody Technology would like to say a BIG Thank you to the Organisers and sponsors of Over The Air throughout the years for a great event. We had an amazing time!

 

Feature image by Andy Piper

See you at Over the Air 2016

On 25th & 26th November 2016, Dogsbody Technology are off to a church in Shoreditch, London to attend Over the Air 2016 which is now in it’s 9th year.

This is our fifth year going to Over The Air with our founder Dan going on his own the first year and bringing the whole company each year as we have grown.

Over the Air is an annual 2-day mobile developer event with a mix of technical workshops put on by the community, a Hackathon to celebrate programming & making as a creative discipline, and Lightning Talks to entertain and inspire.

It is a free event (although for the first time this year, they are inviting a suggested donation of £10 to help cover the costs of the event).

Tickets are still available herecome join us!

Electromagnetic Field 2016 – An Amazing Weekend

This weekend we attended Electromagnetic Field (EMF) in Guildford. EMF is all about making things, breaking things, fixing them again, and learning a whole lot of stuff whilst you’re doing it, either directly through your hacking and experimentation, or via any of the fantastic talks and workshops, of which there were many.

We headed to EMF on Friday, which started as any normal day at the office; arrive at 9am, sort your tickets and have a cup of tea.

With the everyday stuff in order, it was time to head to EMF. This was my first time at EMF, and I must say it was AWESOME! Some of my colleagues had been before and told me great things, but I didn’t realise it was going to meet, and beat, my expectations so swiftly and so completely.

I was not completely sure what to expect, but as soon as I arrived at the site, you could really feel the excitement, with people looking forward to what was to be an awesome weekend. Everybody at EMF was very friendly, and everybody was there for the same reason; to learn and have fun. We got our (awesome) camp set up and said hello to the neighbours.

The Dogsbody Technology camp site at EMF 2016

The Dogsbody Technology camp site at EMF 2016

The variety of topics and talks was endless, from balloons to beer, and from security to sex robots, there really was something for everyone!

One of my favourite talks was from freakyclown who makes his living gaining access to various establishments and businesses in order to test their security. He explained how with nothing more than a hi-vis, a clip-board and a lot of confidence, you could work your way into some seriously secure places. It was actually a bit frightening to hear just how easy it is to breach certain security measures. A very well-prepared and well-presented talk, providing awesome insight into what is otherwise a fairly secretive (with good reason) industry. It also looks like freakyclown enjoyed giving his talk as much as we loved watching it.

Another talk that caught, and held, my interest was WhiteSpace by Beth Healey. The talk consisted of Beth telling us about her long stint at Concordia, one of the most remote and hostile locations on the planet, where she carried out research and experiments. Although amazing in itself, the data gathered on Beth and her colleagues during their time at Concordia would later be used by ESA and NASA to see how people coped in the extreme conditions, which will help them when we finally get around to sending people on a very long, manned missions to other planets in our solar system. Very exciting stuff!

Now I could talk literally all day about all of the fantastic things we did, people we met, and contraptions we created, but as the saying goes, a picture tells a thousand words. So here’s some of our favourite snaps from the weekend. Please leave some comments below and share your thoughts if you went along to EMF, we’d love to hear what you got up to! We will also be updating this blog post with links to slides and videos from the talks when they become available, so do check back.

Sadly EMF is only on every two years, but it will be back in 2018, and I’m sure the Dogsbody Technology team will again be in attendance. See you there!

See you at Electromagnetic Field 2016

This weekend the Dogsbody Technology Team are packing up their tents and laptops and heading to Loseley Park, Guildford for Electromagnetic Field 2016.

Don’t know what Electromagnetic Field is – here is a description from their website:

Electromagnetic Field is a non-profit UK camping festival for those with an inquisitive mind or an interest in making things: hackers, artists, geeks, crafters, scientists, and engineers.

A temporary town of more than a thousand like-minded people enjoying a long weekend of talks, performances, and workshops on everything from blacksmithing to biometrics, chiptunes to computer security, high altitude ballooning to lockpicking, origami to democracy, and online privacy to knitting.

To help matters along, we provide fast internet, power to the tent, good beer, and amazing installations, entirely organised by a dedicated team of volunteers.

Tickets were on sale in advance and are now sold out but come back here to see our review of the event next week.

Update: You can now see our write up of Electromagnetic Field 2016.

If you are attending feel free to come say hi and have a drink with us

Like the idea of attending these sorts of event with us! We are Hiring. You could be joining us at our next event :-)

Back from LinuxCon EU 2015!

We are back!
Finally caught up on sleep after the busy LinuxCon EU 2015 schedule. There was so much going on we really needed Hermione’s Time Turner to see all the sessions we wanted. Not to mention the conference hall filled with people and booths at all times. It was awesome to see so many projects and technologies flourishing thanks to Linux.

There was so much to do and see, we are still reviewing all of the notes we took over the event. But here is a summary of our favourites:

Dan – Open Storage in the Enterprise with Gluster and Ceph
“Gluster and Ceph are brilliantly powerful tools for distributing file storage. This talk discussed some of the more obscure ways that these tools can be used. One example used two great tricks to use thin provisioning to intentionally allow customers to over commit on their storage as well as virtualising virtualised storage! A complete abuse of technology but always fun to watch”

Alex – Dockerizing your infrastructure with MachinerySlides
“This was a talk about openSUSE’s new software called Machinery, it allows you to take a live bare-metal/vps environment and automatically split it up into docker containers. It can detect what services are running on the original machine and create separate instances for the database and webserver and looks in configuration files to determine what packages and libraries each docker image will need. It’s not currently available for Debian but looks like a really useful tool for testing bare metal to container deployments.”

Rob – Manageable application containerSlides
“Manageable application containers was a great session, initially drawn in by this quote from its description ‘an operating system in a single image which, rather than ever being updated, only gets rebuilt when needed’. It covered updating multiple containers at once with minimal downtime. I can’t wait to play with one of the technologies discussed OverlayFS, it’s really cool letting you mount a directory where any changes made are put into a separate location. I keep thinking of more use cases for it.”

Gary – The Art of Counting Potatoes With LinuxSlides
“Showed the process from going from a bare-metal implementation, to a Linux app with proprietary libraries, to a completely open source stack, showcasing the good and bad of each step. Very interesting how something as simple as sorting potatoes can involve such innovative and intelligent technology. And I like potatoes.”

We all cannot wait to play and explore all of the cool technologies we have seen and implement them in our company. If anyone has a project that needs GlusterFS, Docker, OverlayFS, OpenStack or just a very secure server we are your guys!

We all want to say thanks to the Linux Foundation for organising this event.
Keep up the good work, can’t wait to see you at the next one. :)

Photo credit to

Feature image: “Dublin, Convention Center” by The Linux Foundation is licensed under CC BY 3.0

See you at LinuxCon Europe 2015

  • Tickets Received ✓
  • Hotel Booked ✓
  • New Embroidered Polo Shirts ✓
  • New Business Cards ✓

We are ready for LinuxCon Europe next week!  An entire conference dedicated to our favourite Operating System.

We can’t wait to attend as many sessions as possible and explore what everyone else is doing in the community.

We will continue monitoring and patching servers as usual over this period and will always be reachable by email.

More information is available on the Linux Foundation website.

See you there.

Feature image: “The Custom House at sunset, Dublin, Ireland” by giuseppemilo is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Photo credit to Benjamin Ellis - https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamin2/

Over The Air 2015

On the morning of Friday the 25th of September the Dogsbody Technology team set out for the weekend, heading to London for the 7th annual Over The Air event. Over The Air is a combination of a hack day, workshops and talks, giving people the chance to make awesome stuff and learn new things whilst doing it.

Dan (our boss) has attended for the last 5 years, and this year he recommended that we all go along and get in on the fun. We’re always looking to expand and grow our knowledge of anything and everything technology related, and we figured there is no better place than a hackathon! It’s always a good thing to hang out with our fellow geeks, which there was certainly no shortage of, to see what everyone is working on and what they’ve been getting up to.

Friday morning consisted of getting to the venue (St. John’s Hoxton), pitching our tents, grabbing as much free loot as possible (my laptop is now covered in stickers…) and listening to the intro and keynote speeches. The keynote was very interesting with Howard Baker telling us about the BBC’s development of the micro:bit, and making us all very jealous of the year 7 students who will be getting one for free!

The Talks

Over the rest of Friday and Saturday, we all headed off to see some very interesting talks given by some very clever people! From HTML5 to Lego robots, and the Internet of Things to Smart cities, there was just so much to learn. We couldn’t possibly mention all of these talks, so here are each of our favourites…

Alex – The future of mobile identity with Fabric and Digits by Andy Piper -“An independent authentication service that allows people who are new to the internet to have an identity online. It’s completely free and works with 860 mobile operators in countries all over the world. It can even work out where the user is based and send them messages in the correct language!” You can read more about Twitter digits here.

Rob – How To Get New Characters Into Unicode by Terrence Eden – “Because it showcased that something that we take for granted is so complicated, but also very open and community driven” You can read more about Terrence’s efforts here.

Dan – Introduction to the Digital Catapult & our Weightless-N project with Camdenby by Peter Karney – “This new technology gives us the opportunity to put a sensor ~10KM away from a base-station, run it with a 9v battery for up to 7 years, and have it report almost live data. This has massive potential for use with the internet of things…” You can read more about Weightless-N technology here and see the slides from the talk here.

Gary – Ethical design by Laura Kalbag – “With so much data being collected about all of us everyday by so many different entities, this session posed some seriously thought provoking questions on how we can make privacy and security a reality for everyone, and not just the people with technical know-how.” You can see the slides from the talk here.

The Hackathon

Whilst all of these talks were happening, people were hacking away on their entries for the hack day contest. I can genuinely say I’ve never seen such clever things made by so few people in so little time. There were some truly awesome entries in each and every category, meaning there wasn’t a dull moment when it came round to the hack day show & tell. Though I can’t say I’m surprised, given the prizes that were up for grabs. None of the Dogsbody team got round to submitting a hack, so we have nothing to show off. However, you should definitely go and check out all of the categories and prizes that were on offer.

Until Next Time…

To quote Margaret Gold, one of the fantastic organisers of this years Over The Air; “and that’s a wrap!” We’ll (hopefully) be back next year for another 36 hours of awesome code and fantastic discussions. If you see us, come and say hey!

Photo credit to Benjamin Ellis

Campus Party 2013

We’ve just returned from Campus Party at the O2 Arena in London, Campus party is Europe’s largest technology festival and had more than 10,000 guests at the latest London event.

We really enjoyed the event and camped in O2 provided tents. The best talk of the event was from Vint Cerf who talked about how having a unique idea is useless unless you act upon it. You can browse the gallery below of the photos we took during Campus Party.

We hope to see you at future Campus Parties we attend!