I’ve just noticed that they’ve made a video of my talk available. I haven’t dared watch it (does anyone like watching videos of themselves?), but I figured I should share it anyway!
A few code snippets for how you can quickly stand up a SQL database, and provide a REST API for DB read/writes
I was helping out a team at a hackday hosted at Hursley last week. One of the things they wanted for their hack was a SQL database to put sensor data in, which they could access via a REST API. And they wanted it in node.js.
I’d never used Node before, so I used this as a chance to give myself a first crash-course.
I’m not saying this is the way to do this in Node, as it’s the result of my first hour’s tinkering. But it worked, and I mostly wanted to share how quick and easy it was.
- Step 1 – My first Node webserver
- Step 2 – My first Node databases
- Step 3 – My first Node REST API
- Step 4 – REST API for a database
This week I went up to Newcastle for Thinking Digital.
It was the seventh Thinking Digital, but my first.
I’d seen a bunch of references to it being the UK’s answer to TED, the tickets aren’t cheap, videos from previous years look slick and professional, it’s held in The Sage which is a hugely impressive venue, they manage to get a great line-up of speakers, and the logistics in the run-up to the event were more organised than any event I’ve been to before.
So… I was expecting a cool and geeky, if faceless, serious, formal, and intimidating event.
I’d read it completely wrong. It’s absolutely a professionally run event. And there was no shortage of cool geekiness. But, more than that, the organizer, Herb Kim, has created a real sense of community in it. There’s a feeling of almost familial warmth amongst attendees who come year after year after year.
This is a write-up of the presentation that Grace gave at Barcamp Bournemouth this weekend. I’ve written about the reaction she got already, but I thought her presentation was interesting enough that it’s worth sharing here.
The idea behind her talk was that the way maths is taught in schools today is different to the way it was done when I went to school.
Put another way, her basic premise was “when Dad helps me with my homework, he gets it all wrong”.
I guess she must’ve enjoyed it, because today she came along with me to Barcamp Bournemouth.
— BarCamp Bournemouth (@bcbournemouth) May 10, 2014
I’ll write a post about what she talked about later, as it was actually pretty interesting. First, I want to get the shameless proud dad post out of the way.
In this post, I want to explain how to create a text analytics application in BlueMix using UIMA, and share sample code to show how to get started.
First, some background if you’re unfamiliar with the jargon.
What is UIMA?
UIMA (Unstructured Information Management Architecture) is an Apache framework for building analytics applications for unstructured information and the OASIS standard for content analytics.
It’s perhaps better known for providing the architecture for the question answering system IBM Watson.
What is BlueMix?
It’s in open beta at the moment, so you can sign up and have a play.
I’ve never used BlueMix before, or Cloud Foundry for that matter, so this was a chance for me to write my first app for it.
A UIMA “Hello World” for BlueMix
I’ve written a small sample to show how UIMA and BlueMix can work together. It provides a REST API that you can submit text to, and get back a JSON response with some attributes found in the text (long words, capitalised words, and strings that look like email addresses).
The “analytics” that the app is doing is trivial at best, but this is just a Hello World. For now my aim isn’t to produce a useful analytics solution, but to walk through the configuration needed to define a UIMA analytics pipeline, wrap it in a REST API using Wink, and deploy it as a BlueMix application.
When I get a chance, I’ll write a follow-up post on making something more useful.
You can try out the sample on BlueMix as it’s deployed to bluemix.net
The source is on GitHub at github.com/dalelane/bluemixuima.
In the rest of this post, I’ll walk through some of the implementation details.
This year I started a Code Club at my local primary school.
It’s still early days for me (I’ve only run four sessions of the Club so far) so I’m obviously not an expert on this stuff. But I thought I’d share some of my first impressions as a volunteer.
What is Code Club about?
If you’ve not heard of it before, Code Club is about giving children aged 9 – 11 a chance to try computer programming.
“A nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11″
It isn’t something that they normally cover in primary school (in theory, this should all change from September 2014 with Year of Code, but we’ll see how that works out), so Code Club is an attempt to introduce programming in primary school, rather than wait until it gets introduced in Secondary school.
I lost my Fitbit today. It fell off my trousers when I was out for a long walk while the kids rode their bikes, and I didn’t notice. Boo.
But I found it. Yay!
A few thoughts for Fitbit about this:
I don’t like the Fitbit One‘s belt clip as much as the Ultra‘s belt holster. It’s stronger, and less likely to snap (which is what happened to my Ultra and why I ended up having to get the One). But it’s not as effective. It’s hard to attach it to many of my clothes, which was never the case with the Ultra. And it falls off. This isn’t the first time it’s fallen off, although it’s the first time it’s happened without me noticing.
Design-wise, I think it needs reconsidering.
Knowing when I lost it
We’d been out for hours. I had no idea when it had gone missing.
Last synced: 40 minutes ago.
That was a big clue. I knew where we’d been and could retrace my steps. Knowing how fast we’d been going and that my phone had last seen the Fitbit 40 minutes before gave me a rough idea of where it might be.
But Fitbit, if your app stored a location with each sync, and could show me a map, that would’ve been so much better! I guess you need to think about the battery implications for my phone, but even a rough large-radius location estimate would’ve been appreciated.
Using my phone as a fitbit-detector
When I tried to manually get the app to sync with the Fitbit, it threw a “Tracker not found” error.
I retraced my steps, repeatedly hitting the sync button. My idea was that once I was within Bluetooth range (What is Bluetooth’s range outside? A dozen metres?) my phone would sync, and I’d know I was close.