Elections 2014 (Tiny!) Extension

Since we’re such lovely and kind people (but mostly since I’ve been on the road all day without internet and unable to answer some questions), we’re¬†extending¬†the deadline for¬†submission of your pitch¬†from midnight tonight (Sunday)¬†to midnight tomorrow night (Monday). So you’ve just got a little under 22 hours to polish off that thousand character manifesto and take your place among the¬†all-powerful ruling elite¬†people with slight influence!

You can read about the details¬†here¬†and, as always, don’t hesitate to contact us with any queries.

Results from CoderDojo Attendee Survey

A few weeks ago we sent out survey requests to anyone who’d attended (and registered) to our CoderDojo programme since day one.

This was so we could get a better handle on what we were doing well, and maybe not so well, and was also intended to answer one simple question; which day is better to run it. I’ll not be making any grand analysis yet as I believe the results tell their own story.

If you’d like to add your thoughts, the poll is still open, but we’ll be feeding these findings back into our plan going forward and will let you know any changes ASAP.

And don’t forget, the next dojo is next Friday

What day of the week works best for you and your family to attend the Dojo in the evening

We intentionally restricted the options in this question to Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday as Wednesday is already reserved for free for any usergroup that wants to hold an event, and Saturdays are too high value for hackathons and other events to block book.

[wp_charts title=”daychart” type=”bar” align=”aligncenter” width = “60%” datasets=”1,4,5,5,0″ labels=”Mon,Tues,Thurs,Fri,Sun” scaleFontSize=”24″ scaleOverride=”true” scaleSteps=”5″ scaleStepWidth=”1″ scaleStartValue=”0″]

How did you hear about the Farset Labs Dojo?

[wp_charts title=”hearchart” type=”bar” align=”aligncenter” width = “60%” datasets=”5,0,1,2,3″ labels=”Friend or Colleague,School Visit,FSL Website,Social Media,Other” scaleFontSize=”24″ scaleOverride=”true” scaleSteps=”5″ scaleStepWidth=”1″ scaleStartValue=”0″]

How safe did you feel at the Dojo?

[wp_charts title=”safechart” type=”bar” align=”aligncenter” width = “60%” datasets=”7,3,1,0,0″ labels=”Extremely Safe,Very Safe,Somewhat safe,Slightly Safe,Not at all safe” scaleFontSize=”24″ scaleOverride=”true” scaleSteps=”7″ scaleStepWidth=”1″ scaleStartValue=”0″]

How would you rate the venue/location?

[wp_charts title=”venuechart” type=”bar” align=”aligncenter” width = “60%” datasets=”3,6,2,0,0″ labels=”Excellent,Very Good,Good,Fair,Poor” scaleFontSize=”24″ scaleOverride=”true” scaleSteps=”6″ scaleStepWidth=”1″ scaleStartValue=”0″]

How much, if at all, would you be willing to pay to attend this event in future?

[wp_charts title=”pricechart” type=”bar” align=”aligncenter” width = “60%” datasets=”0,1,4,5,1,0″ labels=”It should be free,I assumed it was funded,¬£1-¬£3,¬£3-¬£5,¬£5-¬£10,¬£10+” scaleFontSize=”24″ scaleOverride=”true” scaleSteps=”6″ scaleStepWidth=”1″ scaleStartValue=”0″]

What did you like about the Dojos?

  • my son loves it, he is able to talk to people and ask questions that i can’t answer.
  • Great engagement between mentors and kids.
  • really well informed savvy help. , please take a sweetie from the tin.
  • Helpful mentors, creative learning.
  • Good range of topics and interested children
  • Nice friendly atmosphere with people actively offering their skills and knowledge
  • <My son> loved it, liked the support & small group.
  • The informality and enthusiasm.
  • Great location
  • The very young age group.

What did you dislike about the Dojos?

  • Inconsistency of delivery.
  • Disappointing range of mentors, lack of organisation
  • It can seem slightly disorganised at times
  • There is nothing that I dislike, and it is important that they continue. I am just more committed to the larger scale and structure of the BMC dojos.
  • We need a structured programme with lessons i.e. syllabus etc.

Would you like to say anything else about the Dojos? Good bad or ugly we want your feedback! Have the Dojo’s “changed”, if you went before, what stops you now? Anything, everything, we need your advice!

  • I think this is a great opportunity for young people to learn the language and skills associated with computer programming that can only help them in the future, although i fear some children under 14 will not be able to avil of this oppertunity because of the supervision rule, parents from areas of deprivation find it more difficult to take thier children to these places because of other family commitments etc
  • Seemed more controlled before the Summer.
  • I come in from the country. It would help to be able to pre-discuss and maybe book extra help time.
  • Would love to go back regularly but Friday PM is not a good time for us.
  • Small groups are great but have you thought about informing schools about it? You might be able to help more kids. Maybe also ni4kids? Very difficult for parents to find out about technology related clubs for kids, found out through a colleagues husband. Thought the mentors were lovely & understanding of my sons needs.
  • Just keep reminding me of events at Farset. I need to get more stuff into my calendar.
  • Instructors have become less helpful over time.
  • Some from of progression for the kids.

Your good deed for the week: Reablement Hacking Session

Farset has been one of the organisations working on this project for a while and it’s now time to open it up fully to our community – we’re all really looking forward to seeing what emerges from the hack night. The aim of the project is to develop a system to, among other things, capture and analyse user data. The system will be rolled out across many different charities in Belfast and will be the cornerstone of reablement provision in the city for the years to come, so this is a brilliant chance to get involved.

Reablement (a concept arising out of the DHSSPSNI Transforming your Care Strategy*) helps people to get back to normality after illness or an accident, providing support such as ensuring the person has access to transport, or working with them as they relearn skills lost while unwell. The University of Ulster, in association with a group of charities led by Bryson Charitable Group, is developing a system to allow charities to enhance their provision of reablement services in Belfast as well as streamline their record keeping.

Farset Labs is hosting an evening of hacking on Friday 27th September from 1700 until late – food and drinks will be provided. The purpose of the event is to develop ideas for the overall system, with a particular emphasis on how the information will be input and handled. We welcome all abilities – from those who only wish to produce wireframe layouts and flowcharts to those who are capable of coding a working mockup of a portion of the system within the timeframe. Members of the UU team will be on hand, as will several representatives from the charity.

There will be a companion event ONE WEEK EARLIER on Friday 20th September from 1830 to 1900 where we’ll hold a ‘briefing‘ session, taking care of any questions you might have, which should mean that, come the 27th, everyone will be able to get straight into the hackathon. If you can’t make it to the briefing, don’t worry – we’ll make a summary available online.

This is an excellent opportunity to help out the third sector in Belfast and get involved in the cutting edge of community healthcare, so please join in, whether you’re a coder, designer or just generally want to lend a hand!

Preparatory briefing session: Friday 20th September – 1830 to 1900
Hack-evening: Friday 27th September – 1700 to late – refreshments provided

Get free tickets for the hack-evening here: https://reablement-hack-night.eventbrite.co.uk/

* http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/tyc.htm

It’s Pi Approximation Day ‚Äď Anyone want to Launch a Raspberry Pi into Space with Us?

The date is 22/7, or Pi Approximation Day, so it‚Äôs a good day to announce Northern Ireland’s very own charitable space programme, and start work on sending a Raspberry Pi into space. We’ve picked this project deliberately because it will require people with a wide range of skills and interests to collaborate, hopefully uniting our technology community… and because SPACE.


The plan is to attach a Raspberry Pi to a weather balloon and track its progress as it travels into the stratosphere and, hopefully, returns safely to Earth. Photos, videos and measurements will be taken on the journey, and for the next few weeks it’s open season on any crazy stunts people want the craft to perform while it’s up there. “There” being SPACE.

This kind of thing has been done before, typically using a smartphone for GPS and GoPro for video, so we’re going to have to make use of the Pi’s computing power to do something unique. This might as well be a world-first, no point aiming lower.

The thinking behind this is that we have this community of geeks who are all keen to build things together, the trouble is choosing what projects to get stuck into. So we’ve proposed a challenge that needs the collaboration of loads of people from different backgrounds ‚Äď electronics, mechanics, software, communications, legal & admin, all sorts. It’s something everyone could contribute to.

We met yesterday to assign teams to cover each of the main disciplines that will be required (Mechanical,¬†Electrical,¬†Management, and¬†Marketing/PR). The teams are seeking help, not just from Farset Labs members but anyone who is keen to support the project. Details such as the launch date and the craft’s functions are open for discussion for the time-being and all ideas are welcome, within reason. Already some suggestions have been assigned to the bin, mostly because they’ve involved live animals or explosives ‚Äď or both.

Notes from the first meeting are in GDocs, here. More details soon. For the meantime, err, SPACE.

(image courtesy of Sweetie187 on Flickr)