Category Archives: General

Sheffield kids learn how to code at Plusnet

plusnet_codeclub_1On the 28th October 2015, 24 children attended a Code Club at Plusnet to learn how to create computer games. While Code Clubs are normally run at schools and community venues such as libraries, we were very excited to launch our very first Code Club at our Sheffield office, giving kids an opportunity to come over and learn about coding. They were supported by Plusnet volunteers and got first hand advice from Plusnet software engineers!
All tickets were sold out within a week and we were sad to see not everybody could join us on the day.
plusnet_codeclub_4I have lead this 3 hour workshop and still think that running a Code Club is such an amazing experience. I am really happy that along with Plusnet we can give children an opportunity to learn about coding and help them become more confident with technology. Being able to inspire the young generation and show them that computers can be fun to work with is very rewarding.
During the break, the children had an opportunity to learn how Plusnet works and were given a tour around our offices where they had the opportunity to talk to some of our engineers. We also had a short visit to one of our data centres where the young coders learnt about how the internet works and what ‘providing broadband’ means.

“I was so pleased that we were able to host what is the first Code Club event in what I hope will now become a regular fixture here at Plusnet, and it was a testament to the hard work of Seb, Aoife and the wider team in that it went so smoothly. It was truly amazing to hear how much the kids knew about technology during the q&a session, not to mention seeing what they created when they got their heads down to the coding. Ensuring they got a look around the building and the chance to wave at people was also important to illustrate the connection between the fun side of coding and how fundamental computing is to our everyday lives and they were all so well behaved on the day. Another great example of how Plusnet takes its’ role in the community seriously and I’m very much looking forward to the next event.”

Participants at Plusnet Code Club were children aged 8 – 12 and it was great to see that over 30% of the children were girls. All of them enjoyed the club and they created some amazing games despite the fact that this was the first time that some of them had ever done any coding activities. It was clearly a success as almost everybody said afterwards that they would consider becoming a coder in the future.
plusnet_codeclub_2Not only were the children inspired – some of the volunteers, that have not done coding before said, this is something that they would like to try and learn as well!
Aoife Gilroy said: “I was extremely excited about the opportunity to be involved in Plusnet’s first code club as coding is one of the skills children will need for the future. After the session with the children it made me want to find out more and will be part-taking in future events alongside some sneaky practice at home.”
Plusnet plans to organise another half term code club in February 2016 and will hopefully start running a regular Code Club in the near future.

A year of CodeClubbing at Malin Bridge Primary School

CodeClub logoI have just recently realised that I have been leading my CodeClub at Malin Bridge Primary School for a year now! How the time flies! I have seen kids coming and going, some of them returning back and a few of them keep attending our sessions week by week, hardly missing any of it! Right now I have a real mixture of kids with different experience, abilities and age. And all of them have a real passion when it comes to do codeclub projects – some of them continue to work and experiment with what they have done during our sessions afterwards at home!

I am gonna use this opportunity to show some of the brilliant piece of work they have created. I have spent quite a lot of time playing and trying to figure out what they have done and enjoyed it thoroughly. While some of them might seem to be not complicated at all, please remember they were created by kids 8-11 year old!

The best of Malin Bridge CodeClub 2013-2014

Dom Gun Game

A shooter game. Use your mouse to shoot. You have got 50 seconds to score as many points as possible.

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Back To The Future style

This is an animation of a scene from Back To The Future Movie. Only mentioning it, because I am a huge fan of Back to The Future Trilogy and it made me laugh so much!

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Hover Robot

These 2 games were created by Jack. A brilliant usage of a fluent hovering of a sprite. I was astonished with the end result!

Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to try and keep the robot flying on the screen.

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Donut Game

Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to place the small donut inside the big one. What I love about this game is the fact that Jack have tried to add some instructions at the start to hint how you are supposed to play the game.

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Fish Chomp

Use your mouse to control the big fish and eat as many prey as possible within 30 seconds. Score as many points as possible! This is one of the games we have in CodeClub curriculum. What is special about it is the fact that Jacob went an extra mile and added so many more prey and made all of them look differently.

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This game is brilliant. I actually had to ask the author how am I suppose to play it, cause it wasn’t that obvious at first. There are 3 objects hidden behind the balls: a laptop, a bowl of chips and a monster. Click on them to score the points. The bouncing balls will not make it easy though and you only have 30 seconds to do that. A hint… the laptop is a decoy and there are actually 2 bowls of chips. Chips are worth 1 point, monster – 5 points.

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Whack a Witch

Another game from CodeClub curriculum. Featured here because of the fact that Oliver have put so many witches in the game and customised them. Use your mouse to click on the witches and score points.You have 30 seconds to do that. Faster and smaller witches score more points so look out for them!

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Cheesy Paint Brush

Yet another project from CodeClub curriculum. This time an application. Be afraid Microsoft Paint, the Cheesy Paint Brush is coming! Use your mouse to select options in the toolbar below the board. You have a choice of a pencil, stamp and a rubber. You can draw in 13 different colours, including a rainbow pencil. How cool is that! You can also use a rubber to clean a part of your picture and control the thickness of your pencil.

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Cheese Monster

Meet the Cheese Monster. But do not be afraid. You can control him using the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard. Press space to make the monster talk… or click the ‘press to talk’ button in the top right corner to say something to the monster. If you say something nice to him, he will be nice to you – try “Are you my friend?”. But if you are nasty and tell him “You smell!” – well you do that at your own risk. He is watching you… watch his eyes as you move you mouse around him…

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Angry Birds

This was a big surprise to me. Apparently the kids use Scratch now in the IT curriculum. And they have created this game. Click the green flag to start the game. Specify the angle you want the red bird to fly and hit the green pig.

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What the future holds

After Easter, we are gonna start the Web and CSS curriculum with the most experienced kids. And to make it even more fun we are gonna do that using the Raspberry Pis we have received. So watch this space!!! I am sure the kids are gonna get even more creative!

The first rule of Code Club is ALWAYS talk about Code Club!



So I do! The first time I have heard about Code Club was about 2 months ago at PHP UK Conference in London. Aral Balkan has mentioned it in his talk and immediately got my attention. We’d had a lengthy discussion about it as I thought it’s a brilliant idea, and decided that I want to get involved and support it.

In short, Code Club is a nationwide network of free volunteer-led after-school coding clubs for children aged 9-11. It is an amazing project co-founded by Clare Sutcliffe and Linda Sandvik in April 2012. I believe it is a brilliant idea and a perfect way to promote programming and software engineering amongst young people. Otherwise how are we going to get more people involved into development?! You can read a bit more what the Code Club is all about at their website – We are using Scratch – a programming language that makes it easy to create interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art.

As I have my 2 kids at a local primary school – Malin Bridge Primary School in Sheffield, what would we be a better place then to start there. So I got in touch with the Head Teacher – Stephen Betts, during a PTA meeting, explained what a Code Club is and that I wanted to start one. He loved the idea and with a lot of help from Steve Green, a school teacher and extended earning coordinator, we have set up the first Code Club session to happen on Wed, 17th April – which is today!

Malin Bridge Primary School

Despite the fact that I already have a bit of experience in public speaking, I was quite nervous and stressed. Wasn’t quite sure how I am gonna handle a group of children in front of computer screens and make them listen to me and follow the instructions. But I got a lovely group of 11 students from year 5 and 6, who I believe have had a lot of fun and were very excited about the prospect of being able to create a computer game. I must admit, this first session, got a little bit out of hand, as everybody was trying to make their work unique and therefor the kids needed a lot of my attention when something was going the wrong way, but the end result is astonishing. You can see what the kids have created so far at the Scratch website – I was amazed with the amount of imagination that went into that work, and to be honest I am really curious how the game is going to look like at the very end.

So, please, if you are a developer, why don’t you start a Code Club at your local school? It’s very easy – all you have to do is:

Code Club provides all the materials that you will need to run the Club – you will get access to them once you register your club. You don’t need a lot of time to do that – a few hours initially to go through the process of setting it up, and after that, an hour a week to lead the club and probably about an hour just to prepare to your next session. Well… there is one thing they don’t tell you. Make sure you have a bottle of water with you. Today, I could hardly speak after the session 😀

Finally, I’d like to say a big thank you to my employer – EMIS. I can work in such hours, that I can easily come to school and lead the after school club. I wouldn’t be able to do that without their support.

Synergy config

Create a text file named synergy.conf with the following:

section: screens
section: links
right = screen2
left = screen1

In the above example, screen2 is to the right of screen1 and screen1 is to the left of screen2.

To run a server type the command below in a shell. If synergys is not in your PATH then use the full pathname.

synergys -f --config synergy.conf

To start a client enter the following:

synergyc -f server-host-name

Running ntp manually

If you want to synchronize your clock manually with NTP server just run:

/usr/sbin/ntpdate -v

List of public NTP servers you can find here