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2014: A Year in Review

It is the start of the year show starring all the things that happened in 2014

Thu Jan 1 21:41:00 2015

Once again it is my pleasure to compose a post detailing the events that have happened here at Castle Shadowcat in the previous year. 2014 was a year of great changes and some upheavals for Shadowcat and we have had both smooth sailings and a bit of a stormy passage along with an expansion of our range of services.

There will be more of this in 2015 and in the initial weeks we will be making some super announcements so it isn't the place for me to dwell too much on what the expansion of range is. Instead I will give you a snapshot of our year with the appropriate links to the news items that give more details.

Talks, Cats and Staff

We started the year in fine fettle by giving the first of two local Engineering society talks. We visited the chaps at the Kendal Engineering society with Tom, Ian and myself. Ian and I both gave presentations and a fun evening was had despite the flutterings of snow and biting Lake District weather.

In March we visited FLOSS UK's Springtime Conference. In previous years we have been content to send Matt along to speak on a Systems Administration Topic, this year we diverged a lot. I gave two talks on Perl, an introduction to how Perl has changed and a Lightning Talk in the style of a poem. Matt spoke on Dev Ops Logique and gave a fast lightning talk on development environments, while Ian and Tom did a whole workshop on Beginning Perl.

We were also honoured to receive the prize for best Lightning Talk and a special award for notable presentation for both of my talks.

We were not done with conferences in March as Matt also attended the German Perl Workshop and presented there.

March proved to be a popular month for new images as our, almost in-house and very well-trained and talented, artist Jack Knight of Knight Time Creations completed two new cats who we have called Moggles and Evil Cat.

We also had a student team run an assessment of a product we had developed as a demonstration of technological process in March and they completed a market research assessment.

In March we took on our newest full time member of the Lancaster Shadowcat team when Kimball Johnson joined us to help with a major client project

Hacks, Workshops and Growth

April came rushing along and brought with it even more workshops. We parcelled Matt up and sent him to present at the Dutch Perl Workshop. Shadowcat was also a major part of the first ever DBIx::Class Hackathon. We were sponsors, we helped to organise and we attended this world first event. Ian, Tom, Ribasushi and I all attended along with Jess Robinson.

The magnificent Jess 'Castaway' Robinson was, in fact, the chief organiser and force of creation and the event went really well, we are hoping she repeats this in 2015.

In May we took the bold decision to employ another intern after the very successful employment of Tom. This time we decided to use the University of Huddersfield's 'year in industry' programme to employ Errietta Kostala for a year at the Castle. She has been with us for a third of a year and has made a stunning addition to the team, breathing new life into the workflow and reminding us all that we are getting old.

May also saw us apply for and begin the Growth Accelerator Programme to help give some additional help during the expansion of Shadowcat.

Well Engineered Keynotes

In June Matt and I were proud to attend the Yet Another Perl Conference::North America where they both gave keynote presentations. For the second year in a row I opened the event on the first day with a talk about the Death and Life of Perl. Matt gave a talk on the present of Perl and also presented about Devops.

In August Matt travelled to Sophia for the Yet Another Perl Conference: Europe. Once again Matt presented a keynote to the premier European Perl Conference on the State of the Velociraptor. In September Ian and I both keynoted at the Lancaster Engineering Society giving an updated version of our Kendal keynotes.

The Lancaster Social

In 2014 the Shadowcat staff were a familiar face at the newly created Lancaster Social. This thrice yearly event is organised by a group of local business and community members to further promote integration between business and community. However the Shadowcat team were not just attendees. I was one of the original creators of the event and did the first presentation at the very first meeting. Ian, Claire and Tom have helped to organise and staff the event from its inception and along with the White Cross Industrial Estate have acted as hosts.

It doesn't end there as Shadowcat has sponsored the Social on several occasions and provides technical help and hosting for the online activities. We will continue our close association with the social in 2015.

Mozfest and Google Summer of Code

In October we saw Shadowcat staffers attend two very different events on almost opposite sides of the globe. Errietta was an attendee, speaker and programming participant at the annual Mozfest held in London. Errietta presented a paper that she co-authored on the importance of online community building using tools such as Instant Relay Communication. Meanwhile at the same time I attended the 10th annual mentors conference for the Google Summer of Code in San Jose as part of my role with the 2014 GSoC on behalf of the Perl Foundation.

The London Perl Workshop

The London Perl Workshop has become a staple event and a pearl in the Shadowcat oyster for many years. This was the eighth time that I was the chief overseer of the event and this year also saw the highest attendance of Shadowcat staff with eight of us making an appearance. The event was titled Perl and the Internet of Things and was once again the largest Perl workshop in the world (unconfirmed but based on over two hundred and fifty attendees).

As always the whole of the staff helped to make the event a reality, we organised, marshalled, attended, presented and ran a whole host of small tasks from promotion to website to sponsor negotiation. It is a great day but one that always sees us working from circa five in the morning until past eight in the evening. 2015 will see some changes as we hope to evolve the event, but more of that will be revealed during this year.

There was a huge bonus to the efforts of the team and and a personal recognition for me at this year's event. the local (UK) Perl mongers awarded me with the first, and currently, only Silver Camel for all my work in the Perl community, especially the UK community, without committing a single line of code. I felt truly speechless and am still awed by the gesture (even if I slope off to polish my shiny camel every now and again while muttering 'my precious'). the Future

The future's in the air
I can feel it everywhere
Blowing with the wind of change
(Scorpions, Winds of Change)

2014 was a very busy year at Castle Shadowcat and we have learned a great deal and adapted to a number of changes. We will start 2015 at a fast pace as we make some decisive steps and as with 2014 engage with a broad range of community events both local and global. We at the Castle are excited and maybe even a little nervous of the changes that the future inevitably holds, but as always we will face it with the verve that accompanies so much of what we do.

On behalf of the entire Shadowcat team I would like to extend a huge thanks to all of our staff and alumni, to our friends, community and mostly to our partners for such an eventful and rewarding year.