Reading Geek Night 13 roundup

By: Andy


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  • rdggeek

This months Reading Geek Night went from the importance of scalability, photos of space taken from a weather balloon, to 2 electronic boffins coding to their hearts content to show it is possible to get hardware and software to play nicely in 20mins!

Nick Telford: NoSQL? NoBrainer!

10,000 TweetMeme retweet buttons are clicked every second: 25 billion every month. That's a problem when you are storing all those tweets in the database.  Nick Telford described how moving the data store from a traditional relational database to a NoSQL solution solved the problem.  Using Apache's distributed database Cassandra, a solution normally used for massive queuing systems, TweetMeme are able to sustain scalability by:

  • reading the data the way it is stored, so it comes straight out of the single data model;
  • peer-to-peer distribution;
  • configurable scaling;
  • no master nodes, so no single point of failure: every piece of data is replicated to 3 nodes;
  • consistant latency as they scaled up.


  • Movember is a month long event for those real men who get to spend the month looking like Tom Selleck, Borat or maybe Charlie Chaplin by growing something on their upper lip all in the name of charity.  Members of globaldev are taking part: why not donate?
  • Cowcoop gives freelancers, startups etc the chance to chat and bounce index off similar minded individuals.
  • Rdgtweetup gets local Reading Twitter users together, to network and have fun without the barrier of 140 characters.

Jim Anning: 3 awesome things

Jim Anning introduced himself as the next speaker and gave a very interesting talk on things and people that have inspired him. He specifically pointed to 3 things:

  • Minecraft is a java-based open source game, that costs £9 to buy, and has had some 575,124 purchases. This means that the creator, Markus Persson, has made £5.2 million from an open source project, and a massive community has grown to support his project!
  • Space Balloon. No longer do you need to be a massive organisation (NASA) to get pictures of space: all you need is a little time and a few hundred pounds and you can launch a GPS-tracked weather balloon into the sky, with a camera attached.  While the balloon floats up above the earth it takes photos; when it bursts, it falls to earth and using the GPS you can retrieve your prize (hopefully its not landed in the middle of a lake or the top of a tree). The results can be amazing.
  • is a free desktop 3D printer, that prints plastic objects, that also happens to be self-replicating - therefore once you have built a machine, you can print another RepRap for a friend, who can then do the same. Google's Chris DiBona described this as similar to having "China on your desktop."

The conclusion of Jim's talk was to make something really cool and revolutionary: you used to have to big, now you can be small!

Josh Homerston & Sam Delaney: Hardware meets software

Is it possible to get hardware and software working nicely together? That was the task Josh Homerston and Sam Delaney attempted in 20 minutes.  The end goal was to build a light sensor - an on screen progress bar, would move depending on how much light was shined on a sensor - and after 20 "developer" minutes of live coding, debugging and refactoring: that's extactilty what they built.  Not sure my review does it justice, but it was all very clever!

Next time

The next Reading Geek Night will be on Tuesday, 14th December 2010, downstairs in Copa as usual.

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