MonthMarch 2010

UK Maker Faire 2010 and Soul Technique release the ST EP!

A couple of weeks ago, I spent Saturday along at the 2nd Makerfaire to be be held in the UK as part of Newcastle Science Fest, a ten day event which aims to increase the North East’s enthusiasm for science and to encourage the younger generation to consider a career in the science field. Makerfaires have been going for quite a while now in America and have only just came over to the UK in the last couple of years, much to the surprise of me being held in Newcastle. Makerfaires celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science and the DIY attitude.

UK Makerfaire 2010

I went to the 1st Makerfaire to come to the UK last year, again held in Newcastle and thoroughly enjoyed myself, the visit also incorporated a photo walk with some of the usual’s from the Newcastle Photo Walk group on Flickr and when I saw the event organized again and coming back to the North East I just had to go along. This year you had to pay an entrance fee to get into the Center Of Life where the event was held (Last year it was held in Times Square), still it was quite reasonable at around £4 which also included access to the other exhibitions in the building. This year the event was also a lot bigger both with the amount of attendees and the amount of makers and stalls available to look around.

UK Makerfaire 2010

Here is a run down of some of the makers which I found most interesting.

Sugru – Make things more user friendly by hacking themOut of all the stalls I saw at this years Makerfaire this was the most useful product. A product called Sugru which allows further hacking of an everyday product to make it easier to use. It is a putty/rubber like substance which then sets and can be used on basically anything.

The 3 Drunks
Three robots which act drunk and who interact with passers by.

ZomeTool and Polydron
Exploring the ideas of symmetry in 2D and 3D by building mathematical sculptures.

Shapeways
A fascinating project which I first noticed at last years Makerfaire which print objects in a variety of 3D shapes using various different materials.

Twinkly, Sparkly cocktail bar
Demonstrated by Oli Wood, this is a cocktail bar made with LEDs and recycled products.

Web Cycle
A project created by Tom Scott and Matt, the Web Cycle uses open source Arduino technology and open source Ubuntu software. By cycling faster, the internet connection speeds up allowing you to browse pages faster.

Compukit UK 101
A project that is 30 years old, built from scratch and demonstrated at last years Makerfaire.

Percussion Kit II
Alistair McDonald’s scaled up version of the original Percussion kit which he built at a hack day last year in London. Very interesting to see how the younger people interacted it.

Power Tool Drag Racing
Racing power tools such as modified Angle Grinders, Dremels and Saws down a 30ft track.

Complete a Rubicks cube in under 30 seconds
A robot which detects the rubicks cube, computes the possibilities and solves the problem in under 20 seconds.

UK Makerfaire 2010

UK Makerfaire 2010

UK Makerfaire 2010

Soul Technique release the ST EP!

Following the Makerfaire on Saturday night we headed over to the World Headquarters as Soul Technique, a Newcastle band I’ve followed for a while now were releasing their EP which had been in the pipeline for a few months.

The gig was down to start at 8pm but as with any event like this, the unwritten rule is is that it will start at least 30mins later. We turned up for 7:50pm, the doors were closed. Odd I thought, but then a woman came to the door and told us that we had to stay outside (Event asking if we could use the toilet, she pointed to the bar across the street). 15 minutes later we were allowed in, and even then the girl taking the money on the front counter wasn’t ready. I found this very bad customer service and World Headquarters nearly lost two customers by doing this.

After paying the money to get in (and getting a free EP CD), I caught up with Ruth, the lead singer and had a bit of a chat. The night started with a set from Skrufz a rap group for the North East. I quite liked some of their stuff, but wouldn’t have minded seeing them again as I’m sure they would have grown on me.

The second set of the night was given by the main group of the night. A brilliant set including a lot of their older tracks and some new ones. I’ve found with a lot of Soul Technique gigs and their style of music that when people get a couple of drinks down them and the audience gets into the spirit of things, they can bring the building to the ground with their mix of soul, pop, bass and grungy music and the EP release was no exception!

Some of the tracks played on the night included: “Move with me”, “Ugly”, “I’ve been here before”, “Golden Era”, “Freakshow” and “Slow Down”.

Even with the troubles we had when we first arrived this was a truly fantastic evening. Soul Technique regularly play in Newcastle, so get yourselves along to the next gig!

Soul Technique can be found here: myspace.com/soultechniqueofficial

Mobile Android Development and Using PHP with Web Services

SuperMondays returned to Newcastle on the evening of 22nd February with an attendance of over 100 people. The attendees came to see 2 speakers, Alex Reid and Lorna Mitchell.

Android Development with Alex Reid
In this session, Alex gave an overview of Mobile Apps, How to write a mobile app, Differences from the web, Mobile device constraints and benefits and Android itself. Alex demonstrated 2 applications which he has already developed for Android including “Ask the Hoff” and “Next Metro”, an application which allows you to see which Metro will arrive next and if it is on time. He explained that to write a mobile application yo have to decide which device(s) to target, get to know an SDK, testing and publishing the app. Later in the session, Alex explained the differences of Mobile to the Web and how efficiency is the key when developing mobile apps.

PHP and Web Services and why they are the perfect partners with Lorna Mitchell
Lorna Mitchell is a big name in the PHP world and community and so needs no introductions. Lorna came to SuperMondays to discuss PHP and Web Services and why they are the perfect partners. During her talk she explained how PHP is solving the web problem, how the problem evolves and how PHP evolves to solve the problem. Lorna showed the architecture of Web Services and how different data formats can be used to communicate with Web Services including JSON and XML. She also discussed different services types which are normally associated with Web Services including *-RPC, SOAP and REST.

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