Hanging up the Code Club hat

As many people know one of my favourite things to do on a Saturday morning for the last (almost) 3 years was to head into town of an early morning and put in a couple hours worth of work in the office before heading over to Derby Central Library where I would teach a class of children all about coding through the nationwide CodeClub organisation.

It is something that many who know me will recognise as being something I am incredibly passionate about – teaching children and helping shape the next generation of programmers and developers.

In recent months not only did our Code Club receive “Star Club” status, but I was also named as the “East Midlands Code Club Champion” – most likely because I never stopped talking about how valuable activities like Code Club is to young children.

It is with a heavy heart that I must (for now at least) hang up the Code Club hat and walk away from running the weekend classes in Derby – for now the arrival of my son and other personal matters mean that I need to take stock and re-evaluate where my time is being spent.

I’ve enjoyed every moment of running the club and all the children that have come through the various cohorts. I look forward to one day being involved once again but for now – I’m logging off.

Twentisphere Podcast

Article reproduced from source.

You’re a successful entrepreneur. You work 90 hours a week. 7 days a week. You suffer with depression. You find out that you’re going to be a Dad.

This week, Carl talks to self-confessed ‘recovering entrepreneur’ Sean Price, about his recent life-work choices, made at a time of suddenly shifting personal and professional priorities.

Having made a courageous decision to step away from the digital agency he founded as an 18 year old, Sean has successfully pivoted his career – and is now a Director of a multi-million pound IT company.

Recommended Books:

The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz

The 4 Hour Work Week – Tim Ferris

Only the Paranoid Survive – Andrew Grove

Getting Things Done – David Allen

Recommended Apps:

Basecamp – Project Management

Omnifocus – Location Sensitive Task Management

Startup Weekend Derby

So you’ve come across this event called Startup Weekend but aren’t entirely sure what it is. This is the post for you!

What is a Startup Weekend ?

A Startup Weekend is a get together of people who want to work together and build something. They may have an idea, a dream or just a desire to help build something new. Over the weekend ideas are pitched, selected, validated, prototyped and presented. All with the help of each other and some battle hardened industry experts acting as mentors for the weekend. Finally on Sunday evening people present their business to a panel of Judges, a winner is selected and everyone celebrates to a great weekend.

Does it have to be an online business ?

NO! Lots of people do online sites etc but teams work on physical products such as food and drinks or even services. I’ve even seen a cheap water filtration system for the 3rd world being built as a social enterprise business.

Sounds interesting right! So how does the weekend actually work?

Friday: Everyone gets together for some food and networking. A wise entrepreneur will tell a tales of toil and plight that ends in ultimate triumph. This leads onto a fun idea pitching warm up that prepares people for the main event the “Pitchfire”. If you have an idea this is your chance to pitch the room and hopefully get selected to form a team. You only 60 seconds per pitch so keep it concise and let people know what you need help with.

Once everyone who wants to pitch has had their 60 seconds worth its time to network, talk and cast votes on your favourite ideas. Then the topmost ideas get to form teams where ideally you want a selection of skills such as a designer, developer, marketer to help bring the idea to life. Even if you idea did not get through you can still form a team if you can get at least three people to agree to join forces.

With a team formed its time to go home and try and calm your over excited brain down and to try and coax it to sleep ready for Saturday.

Team forming, can I go with a pre existing team? Yes, you can but the rule is you must not have worked on the idea before. Most people go as an individual though or with friends but without a set idea.

Saturday : You have and idea and a team now what. The mantra for the weekend is ”No talk, all action” so its time to get out and validate your idea. Although you do need to talk we want to make sure your idea solves a problem that people have, so you need to know what problem is that your idea solves. Who is it that experiences this problem and where would you come across them on the weekend? Its time to get out and speak to the public about the problem NOT the solution. Note down the stories and then get back together as a team to share your research.

Do people have this problem your idea solves? If not maybe the research highlights something similar that you can “PIVOT” too? If they do its time to start doing some prototyping, research on possible rivals, research, etc.

Sunday : Time to carry on where you left off, if you have some product prototypes show them off. If you have no prototypes now is the time to build them. Try and find some people from your target market again and get some feedback. Would people actually hand over some hard earned cash for this? You get some google Adwords credits and a free domain in your pack for the weekend, use them to create a marketing site and see what kind of engagement you get.

Remember you have a presentation looming at the end of the day so you also need to start laying down some slides about the problem, your solution, the market research and how the business would work.

Try and rehearse your presentation and get some feedback before you do it for real.

Sunday evening : time for everyone to get together and marvel at what each other has achieved. Each team puts on a short presentation followed by a Q&A session with the judges. After every teams presented, the judges go off to confer and you get to eat and wait. The winners are announced and its time to relax, chat and celebrate an amazing weekend with your new friends.

Did I mention that Derby is having its first ever startup weekend this March ? We have an awesome team of mentors and judges lined up, you can buy a ticket here

Yet another data breach!

Another day another data breach, only this time its a big firm once again that gets reported on – Three – the mobile phone operator. 

Police have arrested three men in connection with a recent data breach at Three, two men from Manchester and one from Kent were picked up by the National Crime Agency (NCA) as part of the investigation. 

Arrested for suspicion of computer misuse offences the men had unlawfully intercepted upgrade devices that they had obtained details for through accessing a database of customers who were eligible for upgrade.

Three have stated that an increased level of handset fraud and retail store burglaries has occurred in recent weeks as a result with over 400 high value devices stolen.

This comes only a month or so after the TalkTalk breach which had 160,000+ customers personal data being accessed and an ICO fine of £400,000 to the company. 

The ICO has stated that a large number of bank account details including sort code and account numbers were accessed as a result. 

With more and more high profile cases (including the recent Sage case) and the data protection act & GDPR becoming more front page news – smaller firms need to pay attention to what is happening in their own businesses. 

In Derby alone in the last 3 months we have seen dozens of cases of cyber security and data breaches occur – most commonly customers of the business will find out before the proprietors themselves. 

It is time that SMEs, professional service companies and manufacturers in particular wise up to the very real threat of data breaches and cyber security attacks.

3 Essential steps to cyber security

Cyber crime can be both complex and costly to recover from particularly if you do not know where to start. Here are our 5 essential steps to cyber security and ensuring you have the basics in place to keep your company safe from the cyber threats.

Step 1 – What data do you hold and how do you classify it?

Understanding what knowledge and value you hold within the organisation through different pieces of data you store as a business is key to a good cyber security plan. Not all data is classified equally, your employees personal data doesn’t have the same value as email content nor the same value as your Sage accounts backup file.

Consider the various amounts of data your company works with on a day to day basis, how are those machines configured, secured and who has access to them, does the PA really need access to the entire file server or a HR person need access to the Sage accounts package?

Classify and categorise your data into how important it is to your business, who needs access and what the backup process is for each piece of data.

Step 2 – Protect, detect and secure

Protecting the information your business needs to run must be key to day to day operations. Encrypting your systems, restricting access on a ‘least privilege’ basis and ensuring that employees must only have access if specifically required and not by default.

You should be monitoring network activities, checking firewall configurations and ensuring proactive anti-malware protection is in place should be the minimum your business should have in place to control your networks incoming traffic and identify potential threats before they become a problem.

Step 3 – Stay ahead of the curve

Technology moves quickly, but cyber threats move quicker still – with new versions of malware appearing every day – now more than ever its crucial that systems are maintained, advanced threat detection in place and patches for all software on the network are kept up to date.

You don’t need to use the software on a daily basis for a vulnerability to be exploited, that piece of software on your desktop that hasn’t been run for a few weeks may already be out of date, exploited and waiting to infect the network.

Keep devices, both mobile and office based up to date and ensure policies and processes around these are controlled.

Review documents and information laid out by government around cyber security this gives you a good perspective of what needs to be the minimum your business should adhere to.

Cyber Essentials is the certification and audit process RDS Global can support your business with, taking your company and its key members of staff through a training and auditing process to ensure that hardware, software, policies and procedures are all brought in line with GDPR and Cyber Essentials.

With over 2,000 small businesses in the UK already Cyber Essentials accredited – now is the time for you to demonstrate to customers and suppliers that you take cyber security seriously.