Hull Digital April Meetup


Just a week after the event, some notes from the Hull Digital April Meetup on the 11th.

I was a bit late arriving, but I did get to see some interesting stuff about Model View Controller (MVC) in JavaScript from Duncan McMillan. He’s a web designer and developer at Art and Soul. MVC is a very popular way to structure an application, and it was interesting to see how it can be employed when you are writing a web based client program with complex behaviours. If you want to find out more about this technology Duncan suggested the site as a good place to start.

Of equal interest, to me at least, was the Paper application that Duncan used to present his talk. This made for some lovely looking slides. The application is interesting for another reason too; they are using the “freemium” model to sell the program. The starter version costs nothing, but before long you are paying for extras to give you different fonts and sketching tools. I rather like this way of selling a program. It means that you can only pay for the things that you are going to use. It also means that you will take the trouble to learn how to use a feature once you have paid for it, and that you are not overwhelmed with features in the program when you first start using it.

Next up was a chat from Stephen Lewis who was talking about the latest developments in PHP. I first used this ages ago. I’m so old that I can remember that PHP stands for “Personal Home Page”. It is a server side scripting language of great power, that integrates really well with databases. I used it to run PHPBB, a bulletin board system that for many years powered the forum in our department. Stephen was telling us that the language is still moving forwards, with object oriented support and lots of other goodies goodies. I’m not sure his talk will send me back to writing PHP again, but it is interesting to see that such things are still moving forwards.

All in all an interesting evening. And I even got a free drink.

Get Into Global Game Jam Hull


Global GameJam Hull is picking up speed. Registrations are coming in thick and fast but we still have room for more. We want to fill Hull Studio School to bursting with folks who are keen to make games and have fun. We were down at the venue making plans today and we’ve got most things sorted out, thanks to some sterling work from Tom, Simon and team. Networks have been tested and upgraded, venues selected and a fantastic poster designed (thanks for that Lewis, love the critic with the scary eyebrows). All we need now is you.  If you aren’t convinced that you need to take part I’ve jotted down fifty reasons why I think you should come along.

  1. You will learn stuff.
  2. You will make stuff.
  3. You will meet interesting people.
  4. Including me.
  5. And Simon.
  6. We will have professional game developers taking part.
  7. And game publishers.
  8. Taking part will give you something to talk about at job interviews.
  9. And to put into your portfolio.
  10. There will be Free Food.
  11. And Drinks.
  12. You might win a big prize.
  13. Or a little one.
  14. There will be toys to play with.
  15. Including networked Xbox Gaming
  16. You might get worldwide fame and recognition.
  17. Or you might just get your next job.
  18. It only costs five pounds to register.
  19. You might get to play with crayons.
  20. We will let you write on the walls. (at least some of them)
  21. You can bring your friends with you.
  22. You can make some new friends too.
  23. You can forget completely about the outside world for 48 hours.
  24. You might become a viral sensation because of your awesome turn on our live webstream.
  25. You can make a board game if you like.
  26. Or bring one along and play it.
  27. You get to see what other people are up to in this area.
  28. And maybe even start a company with them.
  29. You get to take part in a worldwide event.
  30. It will be nice and warm.
  31. You can wear what you like (But please wear something).
  32. You will get a shiny nametag to wear.
  33. There will be movies to see.
  34. And some breakout presentations.
  35. You can even choose the subjects of the talks.
  36. You might meet a childhood hero.
  37. Or become one.
  38. You can stay the whole 48 hours if you like.
  39. Or you can sneak off home for a shower and a power nap.
  40. You get to choose your pizza toping (But not too many anchovies, OK?)
  41. We will have fizzy drinks and sweeties available (great at 4:00am).
  42. You can bring your guitar if you like.
  43. There will be nobody there playing the accordion. (Unless you like the accordion, in which case we will try to get someone in. Or your could bring yours at a pinch)
  44. You can mention it on Facebook.
  45. And maybe even blog about it.
  46. And Tweet too.
  47. The more people that come along, the more fun it will be.
  48. TV on a Saturday night is rubbish now that Strictly has finished.
  49. It might just change your life.
  50. It is certainly a great way to fill 48 hours of it.

Actually, if you are serious about getting into game development I really think you should come along. When you go for a job, and you are sitting alone on your side of the big desk, they are going to ask you something like “What have you done with your life?”. You could easily spend half an hour talking about the fun you had at GlobalGameJamHull, the people you met, and that silly game you published as a result. As you say those things you will see the interviewers checking things off in their heads “Works well in a team – check”, “Likes making games – check”, “Not afraid to put their ideas out there – check”. And so on.

I can’t guarantee that going to GlobalGameJamHull will change your life. But I can guarantee that if you don’t go, you’ll miss out on the chance that it could.

Sign up at

Hull Digital May Meetup


Hull Digital are another good reason why you should live in Hull. They’ve been going for a while now and I’ve gone along to a number of their Meetups. I always leave with plenty to think about, and tonight’s meeting was no exception to this.

There were a couple of speakers tonight. First up was Marc Towler who was speaking about Open Source. Marc made some very good points about Open Source development, including one which I think is particularly relevant to students. Taking part in an Open Source project is a great way to get development experience. It exposes you to production quality code, and lets you work with other developers, some of whom will be the best in their field. It lets you build your expertise and get yourself noticed. It is a wonderful way to break the “can’t get a job with no experience – can’t get experience without a job” cycle. And with a wealth of projects out there it is very likely that you will find one in an area you find interesting.

The second speaker was Adam Jennison who works at Hull City Council. These people are in the big league when it comes to data processing, with more systems than they can count and a huge number of users, all with different needs. Adam was talking about Open Data and how the council is building APIs that will allow developers to get hold of council data and use it. By the use of appropriately designed interfaces based on RESTful principles, anyone can take the information and do things with it.

For me the strongest message from the talk was that Adam doesn’t see himself as in the business of predicting exactly how the data will be used, or how it can be combined with other data to produce new kinds of applications. He spoke about one or two ideas that he had, and how the open data could be used within the council itself, but it seems to me that there are all kinds of fascinating options to explore. Benjamin Welby, who also works for the council, has written some interesting background here.

From a teaching point of view the possibilities for great projects and practical work look really interesting.