So, what is this DevOps thing, anyway?

Craig Watson lifts the lid on one of technology’s most misunderstood buzzwords; a brave new world of cross-discipline collaboration and automation that is helping to break down walls between traditional development and operations silos, ushering in a plethora of new tools such as Docker, Terraform, CloudFormation, Fabric and Puppet and processes like stand-up meetings, retrospectives and a seismic shift into the public cloud, with Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud leading the way. Servers become cattle, networks become programmable, Chaos Monkeys reign supreme, developers deploy straight to production from their laptops, and everything JustWorks™ – no really!

BCS Mid-Wales Branch and the Department of Computer Science are pleased to invite Craig to Aberystwyth for this talk. The talk will begin at 6.30pm and there will be refreshments available from 6pm. The talk is in Physics B lecture theatre, in the Physics Building, Aberystwyth University. See location on Open Street Map.

The event is free and open to everyone – please book to ensure your place by visiting Eventbrite.


Craig Watson is an Aberystwyth University alumnus (Computer Science, 2010) currently a Senior Site Reliability Engineer at Bashton Ltd in Bristol, with experience spanning both large enterprises and smaller start-ups in central London. He has a keen interest in up-and-coming technologies, and has specific experience in the worlds of Agile, Cloud and DevOps practices and cultures, in particular Amazon Web Services and Puppet. Craig made his presenting début in November 2015 at PuppetCamp Stockholm, and attended PuppetConf and the Puppet Contributor Summit in San Francisco in 2014 and San Diego in 2016.

Robotics at Aberystwyth University and Cameras for ExoMars mission (including AGM)

We are pleased to invite three speakers from Aberystwyth University to talk about different aspects of Robotics and to talk about the Cameras to be used on the ExoMars mission. This will be on Monday 31st October at 6.30pm. The event will be in Physics Lecture Theatre A in the Physical Sciences Building, Aberystwyth University. View on Map.

  • Dr Mark Neal – Designing Control Systems for Sailing Robots

  • Dr Colin Sauze – Microtransat Challenge, the transatlantic race for autonomous boats

  • Dr Matt Gunn – Cameras for the ExoMars Rover mission.

The meeting will begin with a short Annual General Meeting for BCS Mid-Wales. That normally lasts up to 10 minutes. The talks will start immediately after that. We expect the event to run until 8pm.

There will be light refreshments available from 6pm in the Foyer of the Physical Sciences Building.

The event is free and everyone is welcome. Please share this event information with anyone who you think will be interested.

Mark Neal

Mark will describe some previous approaches we have taken to designing control systems for sailing robots that we have built, and discuss their relative merits and problems before going on to describe a new approach that exploits low power radio and low cost components to potentially result in a robust, low cost, low power distributed control system. None of the ideas are new, but the ease with which they can now be put into practice and low cost of the components makes the approach both viable and attractive.

Mark is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science, Aberystwyth University.

Colin Sauze

The Microtransat Challenge is a Transatlantic race for autonomous boats, now entering its 7th year and 18th (unsuccessful) attempt. I will talk about some of these attempts and why crossing the Atlantic with a small autonomous boat is harder than it first appears.

Colin studied for a PhD on power management in autonomous sailing robots at Aberystwyth between 2006 and 2011 and ended up taking on the running of the Microtransat during this time. Since then I have worked as a Postdoc on autonomous vehicle power management, as an Academic Liaison Officer for Software Alliance Wales and most recently as Data Manager at the National Plant Phenomics Centre in IBERS.

Matt Gunn

ExoMars is a 2 part mission consisting of the 2016 Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli Entry Decent and landing Demonstrator and the 2020 ExoMars Rover. The talk will include a general overview of the mission including the events of last week and discussion of Aberystwyth University’s involvement in the remote sensing instruments including PanCam on the 2020 Rover mission.

Matt Gunn began working in the department of Physics in Aberystwyth University as a research technician in 2006 specialising in the development of completed of scientific instruments. He completed a PhD titled “Spectral imaging for Mars Exploration” under the supervision of Prof Dave Barnes at Aberystwyth University in 2013. He is now a lecturer in the department of Physics at Aberystwyth University, working in the pre-flight and inflight calibration of the remote sensing instruments on the ExoMars 2020 Rover mission.

Show & Tell – September 2016

The next event will be a Show & Tell, held with the Aberystwyth Computer Science Department. This will be on Friday 30th September, from 6.15pm. These have been very popular and offer short talks and the opportunity to see some exhibits of technical projects or interesting technical ideas.

The event is free and open to all. There will be some drinks and pizza at the break.

If you have something that you would like to show or tell us about at the event, please complete the form to give us some info. We can then make a selection from the different items we receive and plan the order.

If you would like to just come along and watch, please tell us using the eventbrite form at

Computers, Logic and Datacoms in the Broadcast Transmission Environment

We are pleased to invite Mark Edwards to talk to BCS Mid-Wales next Thursday, June 2nd. The event will start at 6pm, with light refreshments available from 5.30pm. The event will be held at Aberystwyth University. This will be in A14 in the Hugh Owen building. This is close to the entrance to the main campus.

This event is free and open to all.

We do ask that you reserve your free ticket by registering at:

Mark will be covering the use of early solid state logic for transmitter control, controlling multiple transmitters and the Radio Data System. He will cover early PCM programme distribution, through to the current NICAM system and the basic make up of modern DAB and DTV broadcasting and the delights of COFDM. He will also look at basic RF principles and the use of computer controlled test gear.

Mark works in transmitter engineering, working on a wide range of kit from 0.5W to 500KW and from LF to SHF. He is specialised in antennas and is now manager of a team of 11 people maintaining a wide portfolio of antennas across the south of the UK.

Video link to Karen Spärck Jones Lecture for 2016

Prof. Sasse, picture from BCS website, see link below.

BCS Mid-Wales Branch and the Department of Computer Science, Aberystwyth University, are providing a video link to the Karen Spärck Jones Lecture for 2016.

This year’s talk has the title “Mind the many skills gaps: why we keep creating unworkable security.” 

The event is held in London and we will be taking a live link to the session.

This is the 6th Karen Spärck Jones Lecture. It will be given by Prof. Sasse, who is the Professor of Human-Centred Technology at UCL and Director of the UK Research Institute in Science of Cyber Security (RISCS).

The session starts at 17.30 with light refreshements outside A14. The video link and talk starts at 18.00 and we expect the talk to continue until about 19.30.

This video link is free to attend. We do ask that you book your free place on EventbriteFor the avoidance of doubt - booking using the link to Eventbrite page is only for the video link event at Aberystwyth. It does not book you a place at the talk in London.

See the BCS Academy of Computing website for details of the talk.

Projects and Innovation: Science Fiction or Fantasy?

We are pleased to invite Prof. Tim Brady from the Centre for Research in Innovation Management at Brighton Business School, University of Brighton to talk about a future where we finally achieve better project management. This is on Monday April 25th.  This will be at Aberystwyth University from 6pm. This is in A14 in the Hugh Owen building.


Projects are used extensively in both the private and public sector for a wide range of outcomes; to achieve organisational change; to develop new products and services; to improve processes; and to implement technological change. Projects can be a flexible way of managing one-off activities on a temporary basis being particularly useful as vehicles for innovation and learning.

Within academia, recent research has suggested that projects are growing in quantity, complexity and variety reflecting the increased recognition of projects as an important but under-appreciated organisational form. Project management therefore represents a significant proportion of business activity across a range of sectors. However, from IT and software to construction, financial services to defence, we find high-profile examples of cost and budget overruns, delayed schedules and failure to deliver expected benefits.

This lecture will examine this seeming paradox. Projects are all about imagining a future state and we are never short of ideas about how things might be but actually achieving that state is a far trickier endeavour full of uncertainty and unpredictability. Professor Brady imagines a future where projects and programs are managed better and takes a backwards look into the history of project management to get some clues as to how this might be achieved.


Professor Tim Brady

Tim Brady is Professor of Innovation in the Centre for Research in Innovation Management at Brighton Business School, University of Brighton and Visiting Professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering Management at the University of Oulu in Finland. His current research interests include the development of new business models for infrastructure, the management of complex projects and programmes, and learning and capability development in project-based business.

He was a member of the EPSRC-funded Rethinking Project Management network, and Deputy Director of the ESRC-funded Complex Product Systems Innovation Centre. Prior to joining CENTRIM, Tim was a Research Fellow at the School of Management at Bath University investigating strategic information systems and before that a Research Fellow at SPRU, University of Sussex, where he worked on studies of the implications of technical change for skills and training, later focusing specifically on information technology and software. His doctoral thesis examined business software make or buy decisions.

He has published in management journals such as Sloan Management Review, Organization Studies, Industrial and Corporate Change, Research Policy, R&D Management, and Industrial Marketing Management; in IS journals such the Journal of Strategic Information Systems and the European Journal of Information Systems; and in the main project management journals, the International Journal of Project Management, the Project Management Journal and the International Journal of Managing Projects in Business.

The Codebreakers. Enigma, Bletchley Park and the Battle of the Atlantic


We are pleased to welcome Dr Mark Baldwin to Aberystwyth to give an illustrated presentation of the fascinating story of “The Codebreakers – Enigma, Bletchley Park & The Battle Of The Atlantic”. This is from 6pm to about 8.30pm on Wednesday 2nd March in Physics Main lecture theatre at Aberystwyth University.

As part of the session, you will have the opportunity to take part in a practical demonstration of one of the few remaining U-Boat Enigma machines; this machine appears in the recent film ‘The Imitation Game’.

There will be some refreshments after the presentation part of the session. To help us plan the evening, we ask that you register for the event on eventbrite.

This event is free and open to all.

One of the Second World War’s most fascinating stories is that of the Enigma machine, a portable encryption device widely used by the Germans, whose ciphers they believed to be totally secure. Nevertheless, by mathematical analysis and modern technology, the Allies devised techniques for ‘breaking’ Enigma ciphers, and thus read several million German messages, providing a wealth of reliable Intelligence. The attack on Enigma, initiated by the Poles in the early 1930s, was later perfected by the British at Bletchley Park, today open to the public as a museum site.

The Intelligence gained was of immense value to the Allies in virtually every theatre of war, but nowhere more so than in the Battle of the Atlantic, that fierce conflict which lasted nearly six years and cost over 60,000 lives. Dr Baldwin uses the Battle of the Atlantic to exemplify the importance of code breaking in winning the war.

After the presentation, the audience are invited to take part in a hands-on practical demonstration of one of the few surviving Enigma machines. Only about 300 are known to survive worldwide; of these, only about a dozen are in public collections in Britain. As these machines are so rare, Dr Baldwin is providing a unusual opportunity for the audience not just to view, but also to operate, an original U-Boat Enigma machine – the actual machine which appears in the recent film, ‘The Imitation Game’*.

Dr Baldwin is one of Britain’s most experienced speakers on the Enigma machine and the work of the WW2 code breakers. He has travelled widely throughout Britain addressing a variety of audiences – professional, educational, commercial and the general public – and has also been invited to speak in Germany, Belgium and Poland.

* The Enigma machine shown in the picture is one at Bletchly park. It is a different model to the one that Mark Baldwin will bring with him.  The machine at this session will be a more typical model of the Enigma machine.

The Death of Digital Literacy?

We are pleased to invite Andrew Whitworth, from Manchester Institute of Education, to speak on the topic of “The Death of Digital Literacy” on Monday February 15th, at 6pm. This will be in room A14 in the Hugh Owen building at Aberystwyth University. A map of the location is available.

The event is co-hosted with the Department of Computer Science at Aberystwyth University.

There will be refreshments available from 6pm and the talk will start at 6.30pm.


In 2012 the Royal Society published Shutdown or Restart?, a report on the teaching of computing in schools which called for a renewed emphasis on coding, a change then pushed through into the National Curriculum by Michael Gove. The notion of ‘digital literacy’, though presented by the Royal Society as something fundamental to the effective application of computing in education, business, civic and private life, has been largely removed from the picture in UK schools, at least formally.

While a healthy community of ‘digital makers’ does exist, centred around micro-scale technologies like the Raspberry Pi and Arduino, the way coding is now being taught in schools is not engaging those who might want or need to develop good digital literacy skills but do not want to become programmers or other ICT professionals. In essence, Gove’s ‘reform’ of the computing curriculum has turned UK computing back to the 1980s, the time of the first emergence of micro-computers onto the educational scene. There were many positive outcomes from this time, but to simply replicate the model now, in an era where so much more of life is mediated through the digital, is doing large numbers of children a disservice and storing up educational problems for the future.


Andrew Whitworth is Senior Lecturer at the Manchester Institute of Education, and Programme Director of the MA: Digital Technologies, Communication and Education. He is the author of two books on digital, media and information literacy: Information Obesity (2009) and Radical Information Literacy (2014).


This event is free and open to everyone.

To help us plan for the catering, please register using the online form.

BCSWomen call on women in tech to celebrate Ada Lovelace’s 200th birthday

On Thursday 10th December 2015, Ada Lovelace, the first programmer, would be 200 years old.

If 2, 3, 4 or more women, who work on or with computers, could get together, for say a morning coffee for a few minutes, or after work, to raise their cups or glasses to Ada, please do take a photo, and Tweet it to #BCSWomenAda

These will be collected by BCSWomen, part of the professional body, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. BCSWomen would like to collect 200, or better still 2,000 photos of groups of women, who work on or use computers, from all parts of the world, all saying “Happy Birthday Ada”.

There will be a group of West Wales women in computing gathering at Aberystwyth Arts Centre Bar on the afternoon of the 10th – we’ll be there from 3.30, come along, and join in – get yourself a cup of tea or a festive glass, tweet a photo or two, and have a chat.

Making Use of Technology in NHS Wales

The South Wales Branch is hosting a series of talks looking at Making Use of Technology in NHS Wales. The events will be held in Cardiff and live-broadcast to a few sites around Wales. The Mid-Wales branch has arranged to make a room available for the live broadcasts.

The second session is on Tuesday December 8th. We will be showing the video link in the Computer Science department, Aberystwyth University. The event starts at 18:00 and finishes at 19:30. The details of the this series can be found below.

If you would like to attend this event, please contact Neil Taylor ( or Fred Long (

A series of sessions on Making Use of technology in NHS Wales

NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) is the national organisation providing the information and technology services used by NHS Wales to support high quality patient care. In this short programme we are attempting to showcase how the use of technology is supporting better and more efficient care for patients and the citizens of Wales; how we are setting the standards for Health Informatics professional development and provide the opportunity to discuss technology in NHS Wales

November 10th

Overview of NWIS, the patients journey using technology and the case for professionalism of the Informatics staff.

December 8th

Dealing with the management issues of large volumes of sensitive data – data protection, information sharing, persuading the public, cross border issues, training staff, Caldicott.  Intended to be non-technical.

January 12th

Deep dive on a couple of national systems:

  • Imaging (X Rays to you & me) - The gee-whiz of moving data around, combining it and presenting it for clinicians and patients.
  • Laboratory system exploring the amount and time span of data a consultant has to make that decision across Wales.