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A packed night, from Flash to OpenPandora

The January Super Mondays event was bigger and better than ever before. Our fourth event had almost 60 attendees and while we over ran a little on time, the crowd was well entertained with four excellent presentations.

(Tea and Coffee was sponsored by Lee Irving from Transcendit)

James Rutherford — “Flash – Saviour of the Universe”

James tries to convert us to Flash development

James tries to convert us to Flash development

James was first up and he gave a very interesting presentation covering the rather convoluted history of Flash from where it started in 1996 by FutureWave Software, its sale to Macromedia and eventually Adobe. James told a familiar story of how he tried to use Flash a few times in the past but he abandoned it due to its complexity, cost and lack of acceptable usability standards. James was going to forget about Flash development until he was commissioned to develop a game in late 2008. This time he was impressed at the way Flash had developed its feature set, including its increasing strong usability standards and impressive database integration. James urged us to take another look at Flash.

You can download the presentation here:

Danni Matzk — I got into it for the penguins!

Linux on your desktop is ready for the mass market

Linux on your desktop is ready for the mass market

Danni started using Linux a few years ago out of frustration borne out of repeated antivirus updates on her WinXP computer. While Tux was one of the reasons why she moved over to Linux she cited OpenOffice, The GIMP, Firefox and Pidgin as excellent applications on Linux.

Running Linux on your laptop was rather hard in the past but with the advent of Ubuntu Linux things are much easier. Ubuntu is very easy to install and suports most network cards, wireless cards and USB broadband dongles.

You can download Danni’s presentation here:


Paul Callaghan — “A taste of Haskell”


Paul was next up and he gave a presentation on Haskell, a little known advanced and purely functional programming language. The presentation gave a high level overview of the languages strengths, mainly it’s a great tool for manipulating data.

In particular, it is a polymorphically statically typed, lazy, purely functional language, quite different from most other programming languages.

Haskell changes the way that you write programs from functional steps to flow of information. This makes it easier to produce flexible, maintainable high-quality software.

You can download a copy of the presentation here, and Paul has setup a Haskell Google Group here:

Craig Rothwell — “Building a computer was easier in the 80’s”


The final presentation was given by Craig Rothwell from the OpenPandora project. The Pandora is designed to be a handheld game console with high-end PDA capabilities, but may also be run as a low-powered full-featured Linux desktop. The unit uses a 1GHz Texas Instruments processor, 256Mb of RAM and a battery which should last 10 hours.

The units are manufactured in the US as they have had problems finding a UK based company to work with. With over 4,000 pre-orders the unit this seems rather short sighted by UK industry.

Craig was supposed to bring a demo unit with him to the talk but the courier couldn’t get it to him in time. He expects to bring one next month and hinted that we may see them in the shops soon with a price point of around £200.

We also had contributions from the University Mark from the Twestival.

Newcastle Twestival is part of a global event taking place on Thursday 12th February. The event is more than a pint between a few folk who use Twitter; it’s a chance to be part of something bigger, to witness just how powerful and real Twitter’s influence can be. Because everyone running the event is a volunteer, all money raised goes directly to support charity: water projects.

We also heard that Newcastle University has taken the recent VAT windfall and put the money towards working with industry so if you need to engage with the university with a project there is funding up to £5000 application need to be in by April but funding available to June.