Gamechangers – Women in Tech

a guest post by Innovate UK

When it comes to business there are inspirational figures, there are leaders, and then there are gamechangers. These gamechangers are those who alter the way that things are seen or done in their chosen industry, providing a positive, lasting effect for a number of years. One gamechanger who is really making a name for herself within the fashion industry is Jenny Griffiths, who found a unique way to use the benefits of technology to revolutionise the way we shop for new products.

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A basic guide to getting found on the web using Google Search Console

If you have a website, chances are that you want to be found, and with search engine optimisation being of utmost importance, sometimes we may need a little help with getting noticed. One of the tools I find simple and effective to use is the Google Search Console, (formerly known as Webmaster Tools).

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Making the most of WordPress – SEO for idiots

SEO is a big topic at the moment for anyone who manages their own website, and I’m sure that those of us who do are tired of the constant emails which begin;

“Dear Sir/Madam,

We are writing to you as the owner of as India’s leading SEO company……….

For me, these spam emails and constant chatter of new ways to improve your search rankings only serve to put me off wanting anything to do with SEO, but this shouldn’t be the case!

Search Engine Optimisation is something we should all be taking note of, and especially when using WordPress, it really doesn’t have to be such a daunting task.

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Making the most of WordPress – Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free service which can provide you with detailed analysis on the ABC’s of your website. The ABC’s consist of;

  • Audience/Acquisition – who is viewing your website and where did they come from
  • Behaviour – what are they doing when they get to your website
  • Conversion – tracking the achievement of your goals

Using Google Analytics in conjunction with your WordPress website can provide valuable insights, and it’s very easy to get set up.

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Google Opens Digital Garage in Manchester

On the 1st December, the Manchester Central Library became home for Manchester’s very own Digital Garage from Google.

If you’re looking for a digital tune-up, this could be the place for you.

The Digital Garage in Manchester will provide free, in-person digital skills training from the experts, delivered through regular masterclass seminars and 1:1 mentoring sessions.

It will also host bespoke training events for charities, computer science education sessions for local students and teachers, and a range of further events in partnership with local organisations.   

The Garage will be open in the Central Library, six days per week, from 1st December until the end of March 2016.  And the Digital Garage team will be available to visit the districts of Greater Manchester and conduct training and mentoring in local communities where there is a demand.

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How should we be addressing the issue of Women in Tech?

To be quite honest, in some ways, I’m getting a bit sick of this debate. I think that it’s about time we took a step back, and looked at the whole issue from a different perspective.

Women are currently under-represented in the tech sector, and this is seen as a problem that needs addressing. Why?

So what if there are less women in tech than men, did anyone ever stop to think that maybe less women want a career in tech? Do we actually think that every vocation can have an equal 50/50 split in terms of gender? Why are we even analysing sectors by gender?

At the end of the day we are all just people, and if we truly want a society in which gender is not an issue, perhaps we should take a step back, and stop making it one.

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Father.IO – The Latest Pervasive Game from Proxy 42

Father.IO looks to be the latest pervasive game, mixing augmented reality and the real world using a mobile app, it is a real-life massive multiplayer first-person shooter, and has been developed by Proxy 42, based in San Fransisco.

fatherio_homeYou can sign up now for priority beta access, fan updates and exclusive access, and be among the first to know when the game is launched.

Father.IO is a strategy game, and location based, and looks to be similar in concept to Ingress, with some added functionality. In addition to the mobile app, players can purchase a hardware device called the 363R Trigger, which allows players to enter a first person shooter mode where enemies up to 164 feet away can be blasted with a “laser”. Games can also be recorded in real time for sharing on YouTube, adding further social aspects to game play.

Set in the year 2040, players split into two teams, Humans, and Evolved. The Evolved are humans who have chosen to interface their biological brain with Etherus, the Artificial Intelligence that rules the planet. Because of Etherus, all conflicts now belong in the past, but then something goes wrong…..

FatherIO is a mysterious digital virus, which infects Etherus’ behavioural algorithms, and issues an order to exterminate all humans who have not yet become ‘Evolved’.

This presents us with our battle, and the real world is our battle ground. The world has been divided into hex-areas on a geo localised hex grid, with each area being controlled by either Humans or the Evolved. The app picks up other player’s smartphones within 15 metres, and from there, it’s war.

Want to get involved, sign up for priority beta access, fan updates and exclusive access here.

Django Girls Comes To Manchester

Django Girls is a non-profit organization that empowers and helps women to organize free, one-day programming workshops by providing tools, resources and support. It was born in July 2014 in Berlin and started by two Polish girls: Ola Sitarska and Ola Sundeck

After attending a Django Girls workshop at Pycon UK, a friend of mine, Leona So, was inspired to bring these workshops to Manchester, and asked if I would be interested in getting involved.

After just a few brief conversations, we’re already well on our way.

Join us on the 13th February 2016 at MadLab for our Django Girls Workshop. The workshop is completely free, and you’ll be spending the day working in small teams with a coach to create an application using HTML, CSS, Python and Django. You’ll be following the Django tutorial, which is open sourced and available free here.

In the next few months, we’ll be looking for coaches to help guide a small team through the tutorial, and sponsors to help us cover the cost of the event. If you would like to get involved in either capacity, please get in touch with us at

Anyone can organise a Django Girls Workshop, why not organise one in your city?




Review of Introduction to Arduino Course at MadLab

After completing the WordPress for Beginners course at MadLab, my next course to tackle was Introduction to Arduino. I was bought an Arduino starter kit last year, and never really managed to get going with it. I found the code very confusing, and found it difficult to learn the basics of the language enough to write anything myself.

One of the best things I learned from this course was that I need to be less bothered about understanding each bit of code, and instead, to just play around and have fun. The best way to learn is to take someone else’s code, and if you don’t understand what a part of that code does, change it/break it, and see how the output is affected/what stops working. There’s nothing wrong with hashing together bits of other people’s code to build the program you want.

One of the great things about using Arduino for beginners is that it’s very forgiving, and almost impossible to blow up. It provides an introduction to physical computing, which means that it can react to and sense the physical world.

First up, this course comes with an Arduino ARDX Starter Kit from Oomlout, worth £62.00! This is an amazing piece of kit, which comes with your own Arduino Uno, and tons of components to get started.


Another great thing about the Arduino IDE is that it comes with a stack of example programs built in. This makes it great for people who might not be great at programming, as you can find examples similar to what you want to do, and use that as a basis, while hashing in other bits of code or making tweaks until the program becomes what you want it to be.

IMG_20151024_103808Throughout the course we put together a number of different circuits to see how some of the example codes worked.

The first program we looked at was the example blink, which pretty much just makes the built in LED flash. Despite it’s simplicity, it’s a great program to learn the basics of circuit building and Arduino code. There’s also something quite satisfying about ‘making a thing’ and seeing it work.

This was followed with a variety of example circuits and programs, including examples using buttons, and the piezo element. (Play video below with sound enabled)

We also used Processing, to allow us to talk to the Arduino direct from the computer, and played around with the photo resistor, potentiometer & mini servo motor.

After getting to grips with the basics, there was time left to have a play around. In the end, I produced this Knightrider Theme with LEDs.

The MadLab Introduction to Arduino course is a great way for beginners to get into electronics, and feel more confident about playing around with circuits and programs. The fact that half the cost goes into the kit (you get to keep), AND you get lunch and refreshments, shows what great value for money this course is!

I would definitely recommend this course to anyone who wants to get started with Arduino, it’s a lot of fun, quick to get started, and you get to see results very quickly. I used to be scared of working with electronics as they seemed far too complicated, but now I cant wait to play around more!