Experian Sponsors Tech Nottingham


Experian Sponsors Tech Nottingham


We are excited to announce that Experian are the newest sponsor of Tech Nottingham!

One of Nottingham's largest employers, Experian is the world’s leading global information services company. During life’s big moments – from buying a home or a car, to sending a child to college, to growing a business by connecting with new customers – they empower consumers and their clients to manage their data with confidence. They help individuals to take financial control and access financial services, businesses to make smarter decisions and thrive, lenders to lend more responsibly, and organisations to prevent identity fraud and crime.

Experian also recognises that its people’s talents and business resources go beyond the workplace. Staff are encouraged to use their skills to benefit society: many volunteer their time and skills to support their communities and improve financial education.

We're delighted to welcome Experian to the Tech Nottingham sponsors family and look forward to working with them on a number of ventures.

Experian are proud and excited to be sponsoring Tech Nottingham and lending our support towards the vibrant tech community in Nottingham. Experian are a well-known, local employer and have a large technology organisation utilising the latest tools and techniques to deliver products direct to consumers and business customers alike. This sponsorship allows Experian to get more involved with the local community offering our resources and expertise to the Tech Nottingham Student Outreach Programme, as well as increasing exposure of our mission, culture and technical journey.


Guest Blog - Matt Brunt


Guest Blog - Matt Brunt

Bullet Journaling

Just before March, I learned about bullet journaling from "That podcast" with Beau and Dave - then I saw David McKay mention he had been doing it for a while. I decided to take a look at it, after hearing Beau say:

"I've been doing the paper notebook thing for a couple of years now, but I was never very consistent with it"

It sounded like the sort of thing I was looking for, as I agreed with Beau on his statement. It's been a few months now, and I've mentioned it a few times in the Tech Nottingham slack team and it's been something that seems to have piqued the interest of a number of people.

I've had a few questions about my bullet journal in those discussions, and I've also asked for a few for this post after Emma Seward asked me if I'd write it for the Tech Nottingham blog on the subject of my journal.

“Just had a thought, would you like to write a guest blog for TN?”

Absolutely I would! (but I imagine you guessed that as here you are, reading this...)

So, let's jump into the questions!

Emma Seward: Do you just use it for work, or is it a life-wide bullet journal?

My bullet journal is a day-to-day tracker for the things I have on my plate. For me, it's purely functional (I don't decorate pages, or add artistic flourishes etc) so my main use is work. Though certain important events will be added, things such as talks I'm giving, events I'm going to - but it doesn't replace my calendar or my trello board for personal planning, it's in addition to them and is more like a "working list" of the things that matter to me in the present.

With my main use being work, I use it to track tasks I'm going to be tackling on that day, time estimates from planning poker sessions, and items that I want to bring up in the retrospective at the end of the sprint.

I use the key I've created to categorise the items in there, it makes looking back over the past few days work and retrieving information very quick, because only the key / important things go in there. I keep the notes short as a prompt.

While I don't use it for much personal stuff, I'll use it to list out tasks I have to get done at the weekend if I have important things I need to get done.

I'll also use it for planning talks I'm writing, or exploring ideas that I'm working on. Separately to that I have some pages at the back I've set aside to list out things in a few categories that I want to look at in the future, things like code projects I want to work on, blog post ideas, talk & workshop ideas and things I want to learn more.

Jess White: How long does one of your bullets remain before you decide it’s not a priority and therefore will probably never get done?

I review the bullets I have left over at the end of the week, if it's a work item that's not yet complete. At the end of every month, I'll look back over my higher-level tasks I wanted to get done that month (both personal and work-related) and work out what to do based on the 4 D's of time management: do, defer, delegate, or delete.

Do: ideally this is already done, but if we're getting to the end of a period of work and it's still not done, me and the team will work out what it'll take to ensure this task is complete. If it's complete, I'll mark it with an X

Defer: it might be that the task still needs to be done, but can be deferred to the next day, next week etc. If this is the case, I'll mark it as migrated with a > to signify that it's scheduled in at another time.

Delegate: if I have a bit too much on, or if someone else wants to pick up a task I was going to work on, I'll mark it as delegated with a >> so I know that it's not necessarily complete yet, but that someone else is handling it.

Delete: for a task that's been deleted, we've likely decided at that point that the task just doesn't matter. This is rare for us as we're more likely to defer it to another time to explore further and reconsider the approach / scope of the task. If this is the case, I'll mark it with a |.

William Ellwood: Do you bullet journal everyday?

Monday to Friday: yes. As I'm at work I'll be relying on it day-to-day to manage the tasks I've got on my plate. I'll use it to take notes in meetings and for a really quick reference when someone wants to catch up on what I'm working on.

Weekends: sometimes. Unless I have specific things I want to ensure get done etc (such as this blog post) I often won't use it at the weekend to track what I'm doing, but I'll still quickly review the week and (as per the above question) review the things on the list.

Martyn Rushton: How granular do you go with bullets? Do you use them when writing code on a task/commit/feature level?

I generally won't go down to a commit level. I'll stick to a task level, or if a task seems a little big, I'll break that down into some sub-tasks as the most granular level. That's not a set rule, it's more personal preference and what I find works for me. I find that going any lower means I'm focusing too much on the really small stuff that probably doesn't matter.

A sub task is a known thing, I can check that item off the list when it's done, whereas for a commit, I don't always know exactly how many commits, or what commits I'll need in order to get a task done, so I don't feel tracking them would help me. They'd distract me from the problem I'm solving.

Martyn Rushton: Did it take you long to get used to using it? I know that I would have to really push to not use it for a couple of days then forget about it.

This question follows on nicely from the "Do you bullet journal everyday?" question earlier!

At the start, I tried to do it every day to build the habit of doing it. After 4-6 weeks I started relaxing what I was using it for and made it work for me. But I felt I could only do that once I'd stuck to something rigid to get me into the swing of it.

After a couple of weeks, it didn't feel like I had to put in effort to use it. It became just part of what I was doing and it was easier to take a break from it for a couple of days at the weekend and get back into it on Monday.

Recently, I was at a conference for 4 days, I thought I'd really suffer from not using it for that period as I was going to be incredibly busy. In reality, I still used it, in the downtime between talks I'd take a few minutes to write some notes about the talk while it was still fresh in my mind. I think this works as I tend to keep my tasks / notes as short as possible so it doesn't take any significant amount of time to quickly scribble something down.

This also then led to some people coming up and asking about it, so we'd take time in between talks to chat and discuss how it works, what it can do. A couple of other attendees who also use a bullet journal also sat around and we discussed and compared notes. It's surprising how many people have been picking it up recently (myself included, I've only been doing it since March) and everyone does it slightly differently, so everyone has a different idea to bring to the table.

Final thoughts

Bullet journals are personal things. Each one is unique to the individual. Some people use them to track habits and goals. Others use them in an artistic way to give them a regular place to not only jot down their thoughts, but decorate and put an artistic spin on them. Each one is different and there is no wrong way to do it.. If something in the documented / suggested ways of doing it isn't working for you, change it, find what works for you.

I found my groove with it after a few weeks and realised that it was making me mindful of what I've got on my plate. Because of that, I was able to more easily focus on what mattered, and not take on more than I could handle.

I also write differently in my journal, I write in caps, and make it fit within the dotted notebook that I have, this is because I want clear, concise and well-structured items within it.

You're much more likely to continue with it if you make it fit what you need it to be, rather than someone else telling you that you must do it this way or you're wrong.

I wrote a post about my first month with bullet journalling which will give you some information on how I started with it. You can find it on my website here.

Today I've been sat in my favourite coffee shop using my bullet journal to explore ideas on questions asked about my bullet journal in order to write a blog post about my bullet journal.

If this has piqued your interest and you'd like to chat with Matt about his bullet journal, he's @Brunty on Twitter and brunty in the Tech Nottingham Slack group.


Guest Blog - Jonathan Relf


Guest Blog - Jonathan Relf

Last month Jonathan Relf spoke at Tech on Toast, our morning event, and we asked if he'd write a few words about his experience. He kindly obliged and threw in some gifs for good measure. Enjoy!


To be asked to speak at Tech On Toast in June was a great opportunity.

To have so many bright-eyed, keen and hungry people attend was a thrill.

Thankfully the sponsors, Rebel Recruitment, had the hunger covered with a selection of breakfast items and Accelerate Places provided the comfortable surroundings and drinks to satiate the differing needs of a morning talk event.


To some, the idea of attending an event at 7:30 am is an affront to their sleeping souls. For those who maybe find attending an evening event more difficult to fit in their schedule it really is a great time to pose questions and get people thinking. 

When I was asked to talk I offered a couple of suggestions on topics and in true Tech Nottingham style, the solution to this problem was "why don't we have both?"

My first talk was about Elasticsearch & proposing a view that there's a line that can be walked between pure metrics and pure logs. It's a technology stack that I've been getting a lot of satisfaction from learning, using and supporting. 

In the Q&A section after that, I had several attentive questions from the audience. There was no 'free beer & pizza' sluggishness about it and it was great to explore a few additional lines of enquiry. 

I then gave a whistle-stop tour of how the episodes of Twine Radio, a podcast about the meetup scene in Nottingham, are created. 

We heard a brief snippet of Episode 4 featuring Andrew and Emma talking about Tech Nottingham and I shared some of the tools that I use to bring it all together.

There's an energy and a buzz about Tech On Toast that's unlike other events. The fact you can cram in some knowledge sharing and networking before you've even got to work is a great plus. The were some reports that this was the busiest event so far and this momentum is set to continue as its a great format. 

As a speaker, I appreciated the challenge of having to condense my talk into a shorter time slot. It made me concentrate on the heart of the message I wanted to get across. If you're presenting a talk I encourage you to see if you could deliver a shorter version; a 15 minute version; an elevator pitch even. 

As Andrew often says these talks can simply be sharing experiences of something rather than having to wait to become expert in. You should get in touch with them about speaking at a future event because it really was a great experience. The quality and level of questioning I got back was more than I'd expected. 

Go try Tech On Toast if you've not done so yet and you'll feel mentally invigorated for the rest of the day. 

Thank you to Emma & Andrew for giving me the opportunity to speak at Tech On Toast and for those that attended for giving me great feedback and for spending your time with us sharing your energy, stories and experiences. 

Now it's had its debut at Tech On Toast I've already got three other events interested in hearing the Elasticsearch talk. Get involved - share something amazing. 

Thank you Jonathan! If this has whet your appetite, you can read more of Jonathan's words here.

Fancy writing a guest blog post yourself? Get in touch, we'd love to hear from you!


Why though?


Why though?

Why though?

I’ve been asked this question in various guises quite a bit of late, usually in response to the news that Tech Nottingham is expanding its repertoire of meetups and events.

“Why do you do it [run Tech Nottingham]?”

“What’s in it for you?”

The level of incredulity varies from person to person, and truth be told my instinctive response will also vary depending on when in the month (no I’m not talking about lady time) you ask me, and even the time of day if it’s an event day (ask me right before the start of an event and my inner voice starts asking ME why we do it and right at that moment when we’re running just a minute late or there are technical hitches I yell at my inner voice, “I don’t flippin’ well know, it seemed like a good idea at the time…”).

But 99% of the time, in a nutshell, my responses will boil down to the following:

1. It’s fun.

No, really. It’s SO much fun. Sure, there can be occasional stressful elements, but the stress is worth it when you look around at an event that you helped organise and you see people smiling, laughing and chatting with each other. And I get to do that too! Win.

2. It’s not completely altruistic…

It mostly is. But truth be told, if we weren’t running Tech Nottingham and its associated events we’d hope that someone else would be as we’d want to attend! I always say that I’m not a ‘Woman in Tech’ but more of a woman around tech, having no tech experience whatsoever bar arranging tech events, but boy have I learned a lot over the time that I've been organising and attending our (and other) events. We have some incredible people in the local tech community who are truly passionate about their work and interests and they have been generous enough to share these passions with us all over the years. So as well as facilitating learning and sharing, we get to learn too.

3. The community.

This can be a bit of a cliche, but I truly believe that we have something special in Nottingham. Its tech community is cohesive and welcoming, both in person and online, and we’ve been fortunate to be a part of that and help create and nurture it. And we’ve made loads of friends in the process, which always a bonus. They’re a good bunch.


4. Nottingham is a great city.

Neither Andrew, Dianna or myself were born here; Andrew and I moved to the area a few years ago when Andrew was offered a job in Nottingham and we fell in love with the city. It has two fantastic universities, a brilliant cultural offering, and (now) a thriving tech scene. Along with other organisations we’ve started advocating for Nottingham as a destination for both employers and employees, and our student outreach programme works to keep students in Nottingham long after they’ve graduated. We get to enjoy the fruits of Nottingham, it’s only fair that other people can too and getting the word out is part of that.

And finally,

“How do you find the time?!”

Good question. I’ll be sure to let you know when I have the answer to that one.

About Emma: Emma is an international award winning wildlife photographer, owner of Emma’s Garden and Director at Tech Nottingham. She keeps bees and is a big fan of gifs and donuts. She's mrsemma on Slack and @mrsemma on Twitter.

Our events:


Announcing Rebel Recruiters as a Tech on Toast sponsor!


Announcing Rebel Recruiters as a Tech on Toast sponsor!

We are delighted to welcome the Rebel Recruiters team as a sponsor of Tech on Toast!

Rebel HQ

They heard about the coffee and fab breakfast we serve at Accelerate Places and the snappy talks presented by Nottingham’s early-to-bed-early-to-rise (possibly) technologists and creatives, and had to get involved!

Rebel are a bunch of friendly, Nottingham based tech recruiters who put people at the heart of what they do. They are a young company with ethical values at their core; from donating at least 1% of their income to charity, through to working in a non-salesy, more sensitive way with their customers.  They are committed to supporting the local tech scene by attending and sponsoring many meetups (including NottsJS, NottsTest and PHPMiNDS, and one of their Rebels even runs her own!), and they get their kicks from breaking traditional recruiter stereotypes.

Two of team Rebel!

Tech Nottingham events are funded solely by the kind sponsorship and support from companies like Rebel, and we’re super excited to welcome Rebel to the Tech Nottingham family.

And don't forget, the fun continues online: sign up to the Tech Nottingham Slack group to join in the conversation!



MHR sponsor the #NottTechParty for the second time!

Based in Nottingham with a team of over 550 people, MHR is an award-winning, independent business continuously working to deliver business improvement by understanding what their customers want, engaging with customers and delivering the very best solution to deliver maximum value.

For over 30 years, MHR has provided technology-driven talent management, HR and payroll software and services for over 600 organisations, equating to over 10% of the total UK workforce. They work in partnership with businesses to streamline processes and create a strategic HR function, allowing them to realise bottom line benefits.

The MHR team are active in the Nottingham community, both as attendees and sponsors. Loyal supporters of both Tech Nottingham and Hack24, this is the second year that they have sponsored the #NottTechParty.

Thanks so much MHR!



JH sponsors the #NottTechParty!

Founded by Jamie Huskisson, and working unlike any other agency, JH is an award winning ecommerce agency based in the heart of Nottingham’s Creative Quarter. JH only have a few clients at any one time, ensuring they deliver excellent results each time they form a working relationship. They work with clients who have the same mindset and wish to build long term relationships, and together successfully develop roadmaps that ensure clients meet their objectives and goals.

The JH team are active members of Nottingham’s tech and creative communities: they sponsor and host a number of tech events including Nott Tuesday, NottsJS and PHPMiNDS, and the #NottTechParty 2015 saw them announce Design Exchange Nottingham (DXN), a monthly meetup for web designers.

If you haven't been along to DXN yet, it’s at the awesome Antenna every second Wednesday of the month, is open and free to all, and is particularly useful for those working in design or with aspirations to do so. The event attracts a wide range of great speakers from around the East Midlands and further afield, and there are free drinks!

JH continue to be very busy and are on the lookout for developers and designers wanting a new and fantastic challenge - check out their jobs page for more details.

We’re super happy that JH are sponsoring the #NottTechParty - looking forward to seeing you there!



Cordius sponsors the #NottTechParty for the 2nd year running!

A long time supporter of Tech Nottingham and the wider tech community, Cordius is a Derby based, independent recruitment company, which specialises in providing Expert IT, Engineering, and Supply Chain & Distribution recruitment services to businesses throughout the East Midlands.

Cordius has built up a fantastic reputation based on excellent working relationships with its clients and industry professionals. Justian Blount and his team are familiar and friendly faces at various tech meetups around Nottingham and the East Midlands - sponsoring and attending these events ensures that they are fully immersed in the sector and truly understand what their clients need. They were one of the first companies to start sponsoring local meetups, and have been supporting Tech Nottingham, for example, since 2013!

This will be the second year that Cordius has sponsored the #NottTechParty - the team clearly had a fab time last year! We think the Cordius team are great and we’re very happy that they’re supporting the party again this year - cheers guys!