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An Astonishing Year

The Year in Review

Tue Jan 8 11:11:00 2013

MDK in SteamPunk visage

As the last carol collection CD is pulled from the shelves and the sales start to fade from memory, as chocolates and lovers gifts begin to fill the seasonal sections of supermarket shelves I have the pleasure of writing a review of the year for Shadowcat Systems.

2012 with its failed apocalypse and continuing rise of social networks was an interesting year for Shadowcat. We expanded our staff, attended many events, involved ourselves even further in the community and also suffered some unusual mishaps and one great loss.

I could do this as a chronological account, but you could also just use the news archives on this site to the same effect, I therefore would love to just write within themed sections on events that had similar characteristics, let us begin with presentations.


We attended a large number of events in 2012 both as guest speakers, attendees and regular speakers. In regards to the workshops Matt presented talks at Perl Oasis, Libre Planet, Open Source Days, French Perl Workshop, Italian Perl Workshop, and the London Perl Workshop.

Both Matt and I were also guest speakers at Meetings in 2012. Matt was one of two guest speakers for the first ever Spring meeting in 2012 and I was the guest speaker at the Summer meeting in August where I presented two new presentations and a lightning talk.

The flyer for the Summer meeting

The flyer for the Summer meeting

Matt was a guest speaker at the French, Italian and Cluj events where his travel and accommodation was sponsored by the organising team. I also was sponsored for Cluj and spoke at the Perl Oasis.

Of the larger events Matt was a speaker at the Floss UK spring Convention in Edinburgh during March. Both Matt and I flew to Madison, Wisconsin for the very well organised YAPC::NA where we also gave talks. In August we attended the Perl Reunification Summit before moving on to the YAPC::EU in Frankfurt where once again we gave presentations.

The YAPC NA Team

The YAPC NA Team

mst presents the Lightning Talk 'The End'

mst presents the Lightning Talk 'The End'

During September and October our newest staff member at the time, Ian Norton, prepared and presented workshops for the London Perl Workshop.

We sponsored a number of projects and events in 2012. But this year also saw us give some support and sponsorship to projects outside of the immediate Perl community that we normally support.

As always we sponsored Perl conferences such as the Perl Oasis, QA hackathon, YAPC::NA and the London Perl Workshop. By sending staff to attend, making time to help organise and speaking at various other events we lent our assistance.

We sponsored a number of community projects. Once again we supported the Send-A-Newbie initiative, and as part of our continuing support of new people in the Perl world we sponsored attendance for two people (travel for one, accommodation for the other) at the London Perl Workshop.

This year we also started a campaign to get regular payments to CPAN testers and to start that effort we set up a regular payment ourselves to the cause.

Through a friend in the Small Traders Association Emma Maudsley of the Sock Monkey Emporium, we learned of the Twins Appeal, which is a local Lancaster Charity. A local Brownie group were seeking items for an auction/raffle to help raise money for this charity. Shadowcat Systems donated a Kindle, charger, case and book vouchers to be the first prize in the raffle.

Logo for the Undershaw Preservation Trust

This year we also supported the Undershaw Preservation Trust to help save Undershaw House by sponsoring the translation of The Empty House book on Kickstarter. In 2013 Shadowcat will have helped sponsor two language versions for this work, in German and Spanish.

Sponsored Development

As always we continued to work with some of our clients in sponsoring development for CPAN modules to further the overall quality of the Perl language and libraries. This year saw us work with Suretec Systems to add Oauth2 to Catalyst as part of an agreed need for the project.

We also provisioned some additional server services for the community and powered up a new server to manage those which took a great deal of effort from our System Admin team to maintain a smooth migration and evolution of services.

We also had the great pleasure of working on an Academic Project with Leuven University which concerned the translation of Medieval texts.


Shadowcat Systems has a long, and proud, history of hosting real world events alongside, and complementary, to our virtual existence. In 2012 we were glad to host the physical locations for the North West England virtual Hackdays (all three of them) along with the physical hackday in November.

An NWE Hackday

An NWE Hackday

In 2013 we are hoping to host even more events and will be the location for the first LuneLab (my term for the Lancaster Lab, Lancaster HackSpace/MakerSpace).


The organisation of an event is a time consuming task, often made more complex the larger the event. the ability to run one is part inspiration, part experience and a lot of determination to see the event succeed. The facilitation of this is helped when you have the backing of your company, Shadowcat Systems is a proud member of the Perl community and part of its commitment to the community is in enabling staff to have some time towards the organisation, attendance and cost of events.

In 2012 we helped to organise, or organised in full, the London Perl Workshop, the QA Hackathon, the Send-A-Newbie Initiative. In 2013 we hope to be a part of these events again and have the pleasure of supporting Ian and Mark (with no doubt more of the staff at the time) when they host the Perl Quality Assurance Hackathon.


A number of projects and libraries are under continuous development at Shadowcat. We are also members of many project communities and support new modules and initiatives with our clients. In 2012 we also had some specific focus on the development of Tak, Web::Simple and Moo.

At the same time we have been undertaking a gradual refresh and re-launch of the SC website with new code base, design and implementation.


Shadowcat's staff continued to spread their influence and participation in 2012 to a number of new areas (all gratefully received we hope). Our Managing Director, Mark Keating, joined the Community Advocacy Group, the YAPC Europe Foundation and became an active member of the Lancaster Ethical Small Traders Association.

Ian Norton and Jess Robinson joined the Perl Foundation marketing committee. Ian also became a board member for the FLOSS/UK organisation. Jess continued her research with a grant from the Perl Foundation and the commission for a book on DBIx::Class.


We had the pleasure of welcoming some new staff members in 2012 both internally, as outside, part-time, consultants and as new members at our Shadowcat offices. So we would like to present Jess Robinson, Rob Kinyon Tyler Riddle Ash Berlin and Ian Norton as members of the Shadowcat team.


The arrival of visitors to the Shadowcat offices is always a welcome event in our lives. Sometimes they are remote staff who want or need to come to the main Shadowcat office and other times they are firends who have made the effort to come to the frozen north of England, brave the wind and the rain to sit and enjoy our warm beer, local cuisine and to generally chew the fat with like-minded chums.

In 2012 it was our pleasure to host Kieren Diemet, co-author of the Catalyst book; Jess Robinson and James Mastros, who are community luminaries and innovative technologists; Torsten 'Getty' Raudssus, well known member of the Perl community, free software advocate and member of the DuckDuckGo development team.

KD in the SC Offices

KD in the SC Offices

Castaway in the SC Offices

Castaway in the SC Offices

Getty visits Castle Shadowcat

Getty visits Castle Shadowcat

Throughout 2012 we had a regular visitor to the office, Claire Jackson came to see us frequently to undertake a variety of community projects most notably doing administration work for the Enlightened Perl Organisation.

Claire at Work

Claire hard at work


There were a few other events that are worthy of note that happened during 2012.

The Olympic Torch passed directly outside our offices and we were able to hide from the rather stormy weather and watch the event from the comfort of the office windows, a few staff' family members came inside to join us for the event.

We created some interesting sponsorship items in 2012, there was a new Beer Mat for our own Beery Matt, a series of limited edition t-shirts including the very popular fund-raising Raptor shirts that raised two thousand dollars at YAPC::NA.

Beer Mat of Beery Matt

Beer Mat of Beery Matt

As part of our re-design and a need to make a new series of images to help promote and enhance the Shadowcat image we began the commission of some images from Jack at Knight Time Creations in 2012. The first of these were Steampunk versions of Mark Keating, Matt S. Trout and the Shadowcat Cat(Bots) and Logo Cat.

Just before summer we were stunned when Matt S. Trout broke his hip in a minor fall. This freak incident promoted the usual mix of sympathy and gallows-humour from friends and family in the wider community. Matt has recovered well from the incident though has not yet regained his full capacity, we are hoping that he will see a one hundred percent recovery in 2013.

A Great Sadness

The year was overshadowed for the staff at Shadowcat by the loss of a great friend in 2012. We will all miss the warmth, friendship and support of Sandra Trout, the influence she had on the creation, nature and direction of Shadowcat is impossible to gauge.

We will all miss you Sandra.

End Point

So that, for the most part, was 2012 for Shadowcat Systems. We move into 2013 with a high expectation of how we can perform and a history of great expectation to match.