Latest News

MDK in the News

While we don’t generally tout, too much,* of our own trumpet it is always nice when a Shadowcatter gets their name into a publication or site outside of our own domains.

Mark Keating, MD and avid site contributor, has made a little splash in February as he appears in local news sites, a local initiative blog and on a podcast.

Mark is the chair of the newly formed Digital Lancaster which we made some note of previously. Last week he was the host and a speaker at the Digital Lancaster launch event and made it onto sites because of this. Mark was featured in the Digital Lancashire blog and the In The Bay news site.

Mark is also a member of The Perl Foundation and Enlightened Perl marketing efforts and was at FOSDEM for the yearly conference. As is now a tradition he was on the table with Liz and in a repeat of last year was interviewed by Hacker Public Radio for their podcast.

As always you can contribute to the conversation below and follow Mark on Twitter by tweeting at @shadowcat_mdk


  • Though, if we are honest, the whole point of a news page is to tout just a little of our own brass instrument.

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Work Related Experience

This year at Shadowcat seems to be starting a theme concerning students. As mentioned in a previous news item we have two MSc students on a project placement from Lancaster University in the office until April. Next week they will be joined by two more students.

The local college, Lancaster and Morecambe, has a computer studies course and as part of our commitment to the local community we will have two students on a work placement at Shadowcat. Both of them will have a fortnight in a real development environment.

A lot of work placements are normally very light but we have decided to set our students with a small implementation challenge using Bootstrap (HTML/CSS Framework) and Angular.js as front end for real-world projects.

Both of these are controlled by senior developers at Shadowcat who will be on hand to help them and guide them. We don’t expect trouble-free implementations, this is a learning experience and we thought it should be challenging and rewarding, it is better to experience real world work problems.

For us at Shadowcat it will give our jaded developers a fresh face filled with enthusiasm[1] to shake up the working week and inject some variety. On a serious note it is a great opportunity for both the students on placement and us at Shadowcat and we are looking forward to the fortnight.


[1] To grouch at as well as is proper and expected.

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Interns Return

Today is a fun day for Shadowcat Systems. It is also a good day for a local community-focussed project that we have been a part of for some time.

The first fun part is that we have two MSc students starting at the offices this morning for a three months project as part of their studies. They are here to complete a strong practical project that we have devised and this nicely segues into the second piece of the opening paragraph.

As part of our relationship with Michael Hallam of Lancaster ESTA and the Small Green Consultancy; along with our association with Jack Knight of Independent Lancaster/@lancasterhour (#lancasterhour) and KnightTime Creations; and the recent discussions involving Ian Simpson of Knight Training we have been engaged with supporting local businesses. Some of this is through general support of the schemes these people are a part of with advice and work, but a large and essential component is a project that is loosely called the Local Loop system that we are helping to devise and build.[1]

This is the project that we are attempting to bring to market with the help of our two MSc students. We already have a working prototype, and a manual system that has been testing equations and data collection processes. We are moving to the next stage where we automate the system and start a broader trial before rolling it out to other local communities. The two students will be helping us to realise a working system from the simple prototype and adding a host of features to make it relevant to the end user.

It is still early days so there isn’t much more for me to share here at this time. However pretty soon we hope that there will be lots to say, so keep watching this space.


[1] The first part of this is the trial system called The Food Loop Game.

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Flying off to FOSDEM

Once again the Shadowcat crew will be flying down to (it is down from Lancaster) Brussels for the yearly FOSDEM event. This is the 3rd year in succession that the SC team have attended.

What is FOSDEM?

FOSDEM, for those not in the know, is probably the largest Open Source Developers conference in the Western World, if not the whole world, and is attended by upwards of eight thousand attendees, presenters and stalls. It is one of the most important events for any open source language, project or initiative.

What Will You Be Doing?

As always the Shadowcat team will not be slacking while they are there. Mark will once again be on the Perl booth where he will be tempting people with badges, stickers, books, toys and the other groovy giveaways along with Wendy (who organises the booth for the Perl6 community each year).

Perl also has a DevRoom on the Sunday in K4.201 where there will be a number of great talks on the schedule:

You can view the full schedule for the event by going here.

If you are going to FOSDEM then give us a shout or try to meet up at the event, we will likely be on the Perl booth, in the Perl Dev. room or supporting a bar to help it stand upright in the many hallway tracks.


[!] Sometimes there are just no notes.

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Digital Lancashire

This year a new initiative between local technical companies and local government was created in the North West called Digital Lancashire. The aim was for an open forum to promote Lancashire's growing digital presence and to help support and promote it.

Needless to say Shadowcat are founder members of this initiative. The title doesn't convey much more than our willingness to be a member of the local technical community and to help raise awareness. Something which we are happy to do.

The initiative has just started to really get into its stride, even though it is only a few months old it has been longer in the making, and is starting to be prominent in networking and digital events. We hope that we will have more time to be at future events and to meet with fellow local technical organisations.

Together we can grow a stronger local digital economy.

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