NE:Tech Online - July 2020

July 9, 2020

Jon Skeet

Crash, bang, wallop: miscellaneous lessons from exploring a drum kit


Development / Writing Code

In the summer of 2019 I bought an electronic drum kit. I'm thoroughly enjoying playing it (badly) but I've spent even more time talking to the kit over a USB MIDI connection, in an application which allows you to load, edit and save the drum kit configuration. Personal projects are always fertile grounds for learning and reflecting, unburdened by deadlines and other external forces. This session looks at specific aspects of the (C#) code - particularly mutability and efficiency - but more importantly, it reflects on the nature of personal projects and how we can use them to become more effective in our professional coding lives.

Staff Development Platform Engineer @ Google

About Jon

Jon Skeet is a Staff Developer Platform Engineer at Google, working on Google Cloud Platform client libraries for .NET, based in the London office. That's the theory, anyway. Most of the time he works from his shed instead - particularly with Coronavirus shutting offices, of course. He's best known for contributions to Stack Overflow as well as his book, C# in Depth. Additionally he is the primary maintainer of the Noda Time date/time library for .NET. Outside of software, Jon is a committed Christian, and enjoys theatre (particularly musical theatre, playing board games, and spending time with his amazing family.

NE:Tech - March 2020

March 12, 2020

Leigh Rathbone

The future of tech, and the role of the mobile phone



Is the mobile phone dead?

This is a slight re-work of a talk I've given last year at around 15 events. I'll bring to life my journey through tech, and why I do that is I predict what tech is going to look like in the future, the role of the mobile phone, and what skills will be needed in order to survive.

Test Principal @ The Very Group

About Leigh

I've been in tech for 21+ years now, worked at 10 different companies, across 10 different industries. I love tech, I love thinking about how building and testing code in the future will challenge us. I'm a family man, and for my sins I'm also an Aston Villa fan - I must have done something really bad in a previous life. By the time I come and talk, Villa will have gotten battered at Wembley by Man City. I have two kids, they are my world, and I love real ale. I used to do live beer reviews on Facebook, live, but they just got too messy. I'm a believer of self development, and its a key driver in my life. I dislike people that judge others, without knowing the life they've had.

NE:Tech - February 2020

February 13, 2020

Stephen Powers

Limitations of Sentiment Analysis


Natural Language Processing

I'm sorry I don't do sarcasm

Sentiment Analysis has become an increasingly popular tool for businesses, public bodies and researchers in aiding decision making by mining data for useful information. With a rush of natural language processing service providers entering the market, we must ask ourselves ‘how accurate can sentiment analysis really be?’. This talk sets out to explore this very question by looking at data containing political opinions, which exposes one of sentiment analysis’s greatest weaknesses – sarcasm. We will discuss briefly the methodology of building a simple API to collect tweets, the algorithm used in this study to analyse sentiment and the key findings.

Software Engineer @ SAGE

About Stephen

Previously worked in the public and political sector with a strong interest in driving the digital economy, particularly here in the North East. Went back to University to complete a master’s in computer science completing a thesis focused on Sentiment Analysis of data containing political opinion. Since finishing University in July 2019, has worked at SAGE as a developer.

Colin Eberhardt

Build Your Own WebAssembly Compiler


Development / Writing Code

For more than 20 years JavaScript has been the only 'native' language of the web. That's all changed with the release of WebAssembly. In the coming years, you'll see people writing web apps in Rust, C#, C++ and all manner of other languages. But just what is WebAssembly? And what’s all the fuss about? WebAssembly is a low-level compilation target, which means that it is unlikely you’ll use it directly. However, as developers and hackers, we love to know how technology works! In this talk, we will look at some of the internals of WebAssembly, explore how it works ‘under the hood’, and look at how you can create your own (simple) compiler that targets this runtime.

Chief Geek @ Scott Logic

About Colin

I’m the Technology Director at Scott Logic, a UK-based software consultancy where we create complex application for our financial services clients. I’m an avid technology enthusiast, spending my evenings contributing to open source projects, writing blog posts and learning as much as I can.

NE:Tech - January 2020

January 9, 2020

Bartosz Jedrzejewski

The journey to DevOps


Delivery and Process

I will talk about meaning of DevOps and a practical way teams can embark on the journey to adopting the mindset and practices. The talk is based on my experience introducing DevOps to people and organisations over the past 3 years.

Technical Principal @ Scott Logic

About Bartosz

I am passionate about working with people and changing the world through technology. I am excited about DevOps and the future of "serverless" computing. You can read my thought on and the Scott Logic blog.

Steven Waterman

Solving Minesweeper in Polynomial Time


Development / Writing Code

A talk written before learning that minesweeper is NP-Complete

By modelling minesweeper as a set of constraints, we can reveal new information by looking at how they interact with each other. Brief explanation of minesweeper, followed by explanation of constraints and how they can interact with each other, then audience-partipation to do a game of minesweeper as a group.

Graduate Developer @ Scott Logic

About Steven

Fresh out of Uni, I started my journey in the world of work and was shocked to discover a distinct lack of hacky code and disgusting bodges! Come with me, let us explore a land where there's no such thing as a best practices - a place where exponential runtime is implied, and the real question is "why not?"

NE:Techmas - December 2019

December 5, 2019

Mark Jose

30 Minute App



React, Firebase and VSCode carnage

Let's build a [fully] functioning PWA in 30 minutes. Watch me squirm while you all become realtime testers, a shouty-outy, typo-ridden crash course in hacking together a React app for Firebase. I know, it'll probably all fail miserably, but at least we'll have some fun.

Tinkerer of Machines @ Scott Logic

About Mark

A technical principal with more than 20 years of software development experience. I have developed software in most languages and would consider myself a “full stack” developer. When I’m not in front of a laptop, you’ll normally find me under the bonnet of a car trying to figure out how I broke it.

Paul Graham

The Computer Skills of Average Joe


User Experience and Design

Worse than you think.

When producing software it is expected to receive support queries and issue reports from the user base. It is surprising just how many of these turn out to be questions about how to achieve something within your application. However, if you look into this a little deeper, it should not be *that* surprising that our users find something difficult that we, as IT professionals, may consider easy. A survey of 33 developed countries found that the majority of people are unable to complete medium-complexity tasks, and only a small percentage of the population has high level computer-related abilities. This is something we all need to take into account when building software. But it can’t be all that bad, can it? This talk will show a summary of the results of the survey, along with some key points, to help people visualise the ability levels of the average user.

Senior Developer @ Scott Logic

About Paul

Paul is a senior developer at Scott Logic with over 20 years of experience working in the North East software development community. He spends his days developing high quality software that meets the requirements of the client and the needs of their users. He also is passionate about best practices in both UX and agile methodologies and is a co-organiser of the Agile North East meetup. Away from his keyboard he enjoys riding his bicycle up hills.

Automated Music Genre Classification with WhatGenre


Alternative projects

We classify music into genres manually. But what if we could classify them based of what they SOUND like?

As part of my dissertation in University, I researched audio analysis and built and app around this. The app can listen to a track and classify it into a genre. Sort of like Shazam but with more AI thrown into it.

Test Engineer @ Scott Logic

About Chris

What to write in a bio... hmmm... Well I'm Chris. Some (mainly taxi drivers for some reason) would call me a fake or posh Geordie given that I'm originally from Whitley Bay. I love to ask, 'What if?'. In fact, this is something that I've made a career out of and have been doing for a number of years now. I test software for a living and have a passion for this, that and the other. If you're reading this then I'll assume you have somewhat of a passion for software also and so I won't bore you by explaining how I love tech. The key points (or a TLDR) are that I've worked with Ruby, JavaScript and testing iOS with XCTest. I've also written blogs in the past (which can be found here: and I've spoken at a few tech meetups. Lastly, I love cars. Dream car is an Aston Martin DB9. If you wanted to talk about any of the above mentioned, drop me a line or come and listen to one of my talks. Cheers!

NE:Tech - November 2019

November 14, 2019

Testing Progressive Web Apps



How to achieve api-ness

First proposed by Google in 2015, Progressive web apps (PWAs) are now in the infant stage of their development. As with any child, people are curious about which developmental direction the technology will take. A couple of years ago, we entered a programme of work that intended to produce multiple PWAs for the financial industry. Never having worked with them before, we did a lot of research and asked industry colleagues for help in understanding the tech. However, there was little to no help forthcoming on how to test for this type of app as the tech was so new. This meant we had to come up with our own! Drawing on comparable experience, trial, error (lots of error) and some tools, we formulated a series of heuristics, automation, methods and processes for testing which we are here to share. As a part of the talk, we will pull apart the layers of a PWA and define what they are. This will draw out how this approach impacts the testing that needs to be done to prove the functionality of an app of this type.


Altitude Foundation: Smashing Barriers to Digital and Tech Careers

absolute beginner


This talk will explore how Altitude Foundation, a brand new tech-focused charity based in the North East, will unlock young people's potential to excel in their careers. I will outline the charity's vision, its work in the pilot year, and its ambitions for the future.

General Manager @ Altitude Foundation

About Colin

Colin is responsible for managing all aspects of the Foundation as it is established and grows. Colin is passionate about education, social mobility and demonstrating evidence-driven impact. His professional background covers university outreach, strategic planning, business intelligence and school governance. Originally from Northern Ireland, he moved to the North East over twelve years ago and hasn’t looked back! When he gets the time, Colin likes to run (a lot) and clean up after his two cats.

NE:Tech - October 2019

October 10, 2019

Holly Grace Williams

Hacking for a Living.



Stories from my most memorable work breaking into companies. Including a couple of demos of how the hacks works. Looking at both technical hacks and physical access attacks. .

Technical Director @ Secarma

About Holly Grace

Holly Grace Williams is the Technical Director of Secarma, a cybersecurity consultancy firm specialising in penetration testing. She has twelve years experience in leading information security teams. Her early career was spent in the military working in roles such as Site Security Officer, although she now works with a wide range of organisations. She currently holds a Master's degree (MSc) in Information Security from Cardiff Univerisity, and is working on a Master's in Business Administration (MBA).

A Kubernetes cluster on Raspberry Pi?



This talk introduces Kubernetes as a technology, why you might want to use it, what it gives you and what it takes to set it up yourself but instead of doing it on Cloud infrastructure, it shows how you can do it yourself using Raspberry Pi devices.

Head of Engineering @ RBS

About Chris

Passionate technologist. Love making cool, useful kit and understand what makes things work.

PHP Is Not Dead



PHP gets a lot of criticism and is described as being a dead language. But, PHP has grown up. I hope this talk gives you a bit of an insight into how PHP has lots of modern features, but is also quite a performant language.

Lead Backend Developer @ Climb Creative

About Chris

I've been programming for almost as long as I've been able to walk. I love coding challenges, learning new programming languages and making existing programming languages do new and interesting things. I'm also a huge fan of the Linux operating system, open source software and tinkering with IoT devices.

NE:Tech - September 2019

September 12, 2019

Dan Pudwell

How we built a production application with Serverless and AWS for under $100.



No servers allowed

I'll go over the application architecture, some design decisions, how it all works together, and all the costs associated with building, testing, and running.

Technology Director @ Grid Smarter Cities

About Dan

I've been developing software for over 12 years. Started my career at Accenture and learned a lot. Have moved around to a few different places in the NE, always looking for interesting things to work on, not necessarily things I've done before. For the last (almost) 2 years I've been at Grid Smarter Cities working on a virtual parking application, a marketplace (think Deliveroo for local market traders, and another application to help disabled passengers needing assistance at airports. I've been really liking using Serverless with AWS over that time.

The fresh prince of the Leeds Test Atelier


Testing & Tech

My experiences helping to create and run the awesome Leeds Test Atelier. A practical experience report of how to create awesome tech communities people love. Loads of takeaways.

A rap! How I started an amazing testing conference and what makes people love it and come back year after year. We sell the tickets out in less than 24hours! Completely run in our own time. Diversity, Drawing, Inclusivity, Building your community team and who should be involved, Fun, Games, Retrospectives, Things we learned along the way, funny mistakes

Agile Delivery Manager

About Stephen

Agile coach, tester, dev ops enthusiast . Learning, listening, sketching. Conference and meet-up organiser. A good co-conspirator!

NE:Tech - August 2019

August 8, 2019

Will Mac

Estimates are estimates

absolute beginner

Delivery & Process

Given as stripped down version as an ANE lightning talk, exploring the difficulties of predicting the future and how to best handle giving and receiving news that plans must change.

Product Manager @ Safecall

About Will

Somehow managing to convince people to pay me whilst indesively hopping between Product and Project Management.

Using Visual Aids

absolute beginner


This talk is focused on what draws human attention and how we can use that in presentations and in daily life. There is a balance to be drawn with a visual aid dominating and distracting from the talk and being obsolete.

Developer @ Scott Logic

About Emma

I've been working at Scott Logic as a developer for 2 years now. I'm a full stack developer but I specialise in modern web frameworks, mainly react. As well as writing code I like nattering in the kitchen and going to the pub. Outside of work I spend all my time swing dancing and climbing and I love a good boardgame.

NE:Tech - Launch - July 2019

July 11, 2019

Graham Odds

Beyond a more capable web


UX & Design

Our vision of how we interact with most productivity, line-of-business and data systems has remained largely the same for the last two decades while we have been busy moving them from the desktop to the web. Throughout, we have needed to compromise the idealised experience to accommodate the constraints of the web's capability. However, browsers increasingly are no longer the constraint they once were. Maybe now is the time we need to stop hiding behind the excuse of technology, and start truly exploring how we might interact with complex systems?

Innovation Director @ Scott Logic

About Graham

Graham is a designer and developer working on complex systems across desktop, web and mobile. As Innovation Director at Scott Logic, he works primarily with financial services and energy trading institutions, creating everything from direct-to-consumer investment platforms and chatbots to research, trading and analysis tools. He delights in pushing at what is possible, to discover beautiful, effective solutions to problems.

Adabox - An Awesome Adventure


Development / IoT

Developer @ ThingCo

About Rosie

Rosie is a software developer at ThingCo and has spent the last 13 years working within software development. Her background is in software testing and she started work as a professional software developer at the beginning of 2018. She is an active member of the local tech community and frequently attends events and meet-ups. She is a professional learner and constantly pushes herself outside of her comfort zone. She found herself shifting from testing and focusing on coding back in 2016, building web applications and APIs as a hobby. In August 2018, she completed Harvard University's CS50 computer science course via Edx. She loves the start up way of life and the insane amounts of learning that result from walking a path that no-one has followed before.

In Retrospect


Delivery & Process

Why we perform retrospectives, where we go wrong, how to make them right

I've seen a lot of projects where retrospectives have failed to deliver incremental change. In this talk I take a look back into history to understand the cross-disciplinary evidence for iterating on feedback, reflecting on how this is the "engine" of Agile development.

Lead Developer @ Scott Logic

About Sam

Sam is a lead developer at Scott Logic. Working across the technology stack, he is passionate about building systems that deliver high value, incorporating new ideas, improving productivity and communicating with the developer community.