2012 and All That

Node.js Lab Day

“Node.js Lab Day”, at L4RP

This year has felt downright seminal since it started. Against the backdrop of a Mayan prophecy for the new social cycle, the Arab Spring, Occupy, the (sometimes unmentionable) triumphant Olympic Games and the ensuing breakdown of the Eurozone and who knows what else… things are also changing for us, albeit in significantly less dramatic ways.

Lab for the Recently Possible

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We’ve moved on from The Werks, the coworking space at Palmeira Square in Hove. Our trusty corner of the coworking space was a godsend, and we spent a happy three and a half years there with other freelancers and small businesses – designers, developers and all manner of other industrious folk.

An opportunity arose to move into a new space called The Dock, run by the same crew as The Werks. It has a heap of new space near Hove station and the Cricket Ground (if you’re looking for new office or coworking space, do get in touch). Heartfelt thanks to Ian, Matt, Mel and Manojiita for helping us to make the shift happen. Realising a dream of the last couple of years, we’ve taken on an experimental workspace on the top floor of The Dock.

Node.js Lab Day

Our new space is the Lab for the Recently Possible (L4RP). Beyond its basic function as Dharmafly HQ – a hub for our client projects – we now have a venue to host experimental technology events and collaborative workspace.

We’ve been running a series of Lab Days – free one-day events, where people can come and spend the day trying out new (mostly web) technologies, contributing to group projects and meeting and collaborating with others along the way.

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Topics have so far spanned Node.js, programming hardware (we created a drawing robot from Lego Mindstorms, Node.js, an iPad and a fat red marker) and coding an interactive fiction adventure game.

Data Viz Lab / #GameLabBrighton

Coming soon are three Data Viz Labs (27th July, 4th and 10th August) and #GameLabBrighton (4th August). Let us know if you’d like to set up a Lab Day on another topic.

Coding For Humans

Tom, Pete and I will be teaching “Coding For Humans” a one day ‘learn to code’ workshop for non-coders on 24th July. In this, one can learn the very basics of coding for the web in HTML, CSS and JavaScript – either as a step to a new career, or just to demystify that curious thing that developers do that makes the Web so amazing. Spaces are limited. Read more and get tickets…

Developing Drum

Wind-up Robot

For the last year, amongst other smaller projects, we’ve been working on a project for an amazing local company, creating a web app that I feel has helped Dharmafly to come of age. With a team of eight (Tom, Patrick, Simon, Aron, Pete, Gabes, Adhip and myself), we have produced something (it’s a web-based collaboration tool) that in many ways feels on the edge of its field. Tom presented some of its technologies and architectural design principles at a recent Async. It’ll be launching this year, and we’re eager as anything.

Async in its third year

Async” has just had its fiftieth session. Amazing. Since we started the developer meetup two years ago, we’ve attracted an impressive list of speakers, on a wide range of JavaScript-related topics, with events twice a month at Brighton’s city centre coworking space, The Skiff.

Ali has joined Aron and I in organising events. The crowd who attend has evolved into a supportive community, with new people arriving each time. We now span topics from day-to-day JavaScript to new libraries, tools, techniques, design patterns and technologies in HTML5, Node.js, SVG and more.

Aron has re-imagined the Async website, with a ground-up redesign and a Git-powered events engine, served via GitHub Pages. (More on the Lanyrd widgets we’ve made for the Async website another time).

Packed house

“JavaScript Show n’ Tell” at Async

Async is expanding its visions too. We are planning to launch a video podcast, for those who can’t attend a session, or who live beyond the catchment of Brighton. For help with this, we’re inviting sponsors to get on board and support us (please get in touch or pass it on to your boss).

Some of my thoughts and experiences, two years into running Async have been captured in this article on the Lanyrd blog about starting local user groups (in short: start one today; it’ll be extremely rewarding).

Summer of Code

Summer internships have chanced upon us. Following on from their presence at Async and Lab Days, we’re thrilled to have Aaron, Chris and Adam on our first summer internship. We’ll be sharing some of our creations soon.

Experiments await

Spiders!

Come and see the Lab! It’s a veritable oasis. There are lots of opportunities to get involved in activities, or to contribute energy and ideas to the space.

We’re seeing it as a six month project. If it works out and it feels right, then I hope and expect we can keep it going into a new cycle. I wonder what the Mayans would make of that.

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