Report from Limerick Coder Dojo – the start of something big

September 3, 2011



Photo by Bill Liao (more here)


I went along to the first Limerick Coder Dojo today (see previous post) at Limerick Institute of Technology and was as blown away as the organizers by the turnout and interest. I counted 24 kids, the youngest of whom was 9 (and had already built his own PC!!).

The space was a bit packed due to the unexpected numbers but that issue is already solved with a move to a more spacious city center facility in the offing. Despite being packed in, elbow to elbow, or probably because of it, there was a great buzz and air of excitement.

Adrian, Mark and James took turns at delivering short and to the point tutorials on website design, HTML coding, mindmapping, game design and project brainstorming among other things. There was no lecturing or talking down and the kids were encouraged to collaborate throughout. There were plenty of parents to help and I didn't spot a single participant losing interest or getting left behind.

This is no ordinary computer club either – a lot of thought has gone into creating something quite unique. Ideas like belt rankings and (potentially commerical) group projects hint at the strong emphasis on entrepreneurship.

Well done to all who had something to do with getting this off the ground. I've a strong feeling Coder Dojo is going to get bigger and bigger and will produce a number of James Wheltons*along the way.

James is the 19 year old founder of Coder Dojo.

Coder DoJo coming to Limerick – looking for mentors

August 26, 2011

image from Coder Dojo is a not-for-profit programme founded by James Whelton and Bill Liao in Cork, and now being brought to Limerick by Mark Cahill. It's basically a computer coding club for kids, but in their own words –

Coder Dojo was started to provide several things. Firstly an environment where interested youths can meet similar minded peers, learn new skills, participate in various activities and learn about all the areas of IT. In addition to this, Coder Dojo provides a syllabus of various areas of programming (iPhone dev, Web dev, etc.) to be completed and rewarded with various levels of ability. The syllabus is accompanied by relevant documentation so kids can learn outside of the sessions and reference it. Coder Dojo also provides competitions and events that recognises talent and allow youths to meet and see developers in action and learn more about careers in IT. Finally Coder Dojo provides the structure in which students can setup their own Dojo’s in school easily

I think it's a brilliant initiative and am delighted to see Mark bringing it to Limerick. Despite my complete lack of developer skills I hope I can help them out in some way. And you can too – they're looking for developers, designers, media people, photographers and entrepreneurs. Just contact Mark.

Arduino Fest at miLKlabs Limerick – register now

August 24, 2011

When: Saturday 27th August, from 10am to 5pm

Where: miLKLabs, Franciscan friary, Lower Henry Street, Limerick

Hosted by: Members of miLKLabsCost: €10 (for non-members)Limited to 20 participants (Pre-booking mandatory)

What is Arduino? Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments. ( ) Ardunio makes it easy to learn how to read sensors, control electronic devices, and communicate between various hardware and your computer. 


– Laptop (Mac OS X, Windows or Linux) with a USB port

– Software installed (Optional):

– Arduino IDE (

– Processing (

Good to bring (optional):

– Some experience with a programming language. If you know what if statements and loops are, you’ll be in great shape.

– Some basic knowledge of electric circuits

– Wire cutters / strippers

Aimed at students, artists, and designers or anyone who wants to learn the basics of Arduino, simple electronics and building interactive projects.  The workshop covers the basis of Physical Computing using Arduino and Processing.  Participants will be able to control media (graphics, video & sound) in Processing using a variety of Sensors (distance sensor, light sensor, temperature sensor, potentiometer, etc..).  This initial session will be followed by groups or individual follow-up sessions to help participants complete a personal project or expand their knowledge in specific areas.

Session 1 (10am-12)

We will begin with a brief introduction to some basic electrical principles (no math, just how things get hooked up and how lights and switches do their thing). We’ll talk about the role of a microcontroller (such as an Arduino board) in an electronic circuit. Once everyone has the Arduino development software up and running we’ll start controlling LEDs or tiny motors by writing some simple code.

Lunch (12 -1pm)

Session 2 (1pm-3pm)

We’ll get information from sensors, and see how to make some sense from that information by filtering it. We’ll send that data to a program running on your laptop, and then use that program to control some devices connected to the Arduino.

Session 3 (3pm-5pm)

Once everyone has mastered what we’ve covered, we will look at examples of projects that use the Arduino.  Participants will then be offered the opportunity to create a small project on their own or with a group.  Finally we will spend a little time talking about slightly more advanced concepts to give you a starting point for your next steps.

Register for the miLK Labs Arduino Fest

Gosh I do… love Goshido

August 3, 2011

Disclosure: I've known Goshido founder Ger Hartnett for a few years now, mostly through meeting him at Limerick OpenCoffee Club (#LOCC, a free networking event for entrepreneurs).

Ger went on the Paddys Valley tour of Silicon Valley when his startup was still known as CoClarity and I remember brainstorming more suitable names for his fledgling company on the Limerick to Dublin train journey sometime after that. I don't know if Ger still has the book on which he jotted down my clangers but I do know it felt like the shortest train trip I've ever enjoyed.

Winning Innovation awards and University spin-out awards along the way Goshido has had a pretty meteoric rise and now counts hundreds of teams worldwide, including global multinationals, among its customers. An unfortuante indication of this success has been Ger's disappearance from #LOCC but it was great to catch up with him recently when he delivered a terrific presentation as part of the Endeavour Programme.

So what is Goshido? Cloud-based project management software is the simple answer but one that doesn't do it justice. Like lots of unique services its one that you really can't grasp its power until you start using it. With a team.

Which is what I started doing when we launched MissionV a few months ago. As much as Gmail conversation view has changed my attitude to email it still doesn't cut the mustard for keeping track of who is doing what. In fact it's a nightmare. The beauty of Goshido is the elegance with which it solves the problem of multi-way dialogues forking multiple action items. And assigning ownership.

There is so much of typical project management software that is just bloatware. And often makes the task more difficult instead of easier. But Goshido strips out all the unnecessary stuff and gives you the tools to keep track of who's doing what, and when. And when it comes down to it that's all we need.

Put simply we couldn't manage our not-for-profit startup without Goshido, so I'm hugely grateful to Ger for giving free accounts to all the team at MissionV.

[By the way, it's not actually pronounced 'Gosh I do'…. more like 'Go shee doh' in fact]

Fumbally Exchange, Dublin 8. Recovery starts here?

July 8, 2011

I really admire what they've achieved at Fumbally Exchange, a cluster of 40 small businesses in the creative sector and an interseting spin on coworking. Founder George Boyle wrote an inspiring article about the Exchange recently –

"At its simplest, the Exchange is an open, creative place where people can come to work, to share ideas, to test a new business or breathe life into a struggling one in a sympathetic, flexible and – critically – affordable environment….

But FEx set out to reach beyond this simple concept of a desk in a space. To become a more inspiring vehicle for change, reinvention and revolution. To build on the evidence of tested theories, practice and precedent – and inject a real, reckonable stimulus into a flagging economy….

 If every person took their dream, the bravest thing they ever wanted to do – start their own business, write that story, open a school, make computers from papier maché – and acted on it, we would make this country a quick and sure contender for respect, investment and potential debt forgiveness. Or debt abolition through economic growth."

See the launch video below –

The Small Business Show podcast

July 6, 2011

Conn Ó Muíneacháin is founder of Edgecast Media and Kehlan Kirwan is founder of FocuSME Magazine. Entrepreneurs in their own right the two have teamed up to produce and host The Small Business Show podcast.

Episode 1 got off to a nice start with good interplay between the hosts, nice dialogue and great interviews. I particularly enjoyed the on-site interview with the coffee roaster. Hearing the machinery in the background, I could almost smell the coffee. ‘Theatre of the mind’ is what good podcasting thrives on so I'd certainly like to hear more of this kind of thing than studio-bound stuff.  And yes, I’d imagine live events like Limerick and Ennis OpenCoffee Clubs would have suitably great atmosphere.

Well done to Conn and Kehlan, I'm looking forward to episode 2.

Thursday’s Limerick OpenCoffee Club will talk about SXSW

July 5, 2011

At Thursday's Limerick OpenCoffee Club session Mark Cahill will talk about his SXSW (South by South West) experience. SXSW is an annual conference & festival which takes place in Austin, Texas. It consists of Music, Film and interactive. Mark attended the interactive part of the event which took place over 5 days. He will talk about his experience of the event, who spoke at it, what he learned there and who he met.

miLKlabs finds a new space in Limerick

June 14, 2011

We – miLKlabs – have signed the contract with the Bonaventure Trust and taken possession of the keys to our home in the friary of the old Franciscan Church at the corner of Henry St. and Bedford Row.


Up there on the second floor


During yesterday's information session we met some of our new neighbours: two ladies who are painters, and two lads who are starting a recording studio on the second floor. There are two more artists on our floor that we haven't met so all in all it's turning into a really exciting space.

See Gabriela's Facebook album for more photos. We think this calls for a little celebration!  We're planning to meet in our "old" space after 7. So come along and we'll pay a visit to our new place!

Oscar nominees, robotics DIY-ers and more for Limerick unconference

May 31, 2011
LIMERICK – MAY 30, 2011: 3Dcamp returns to the University of Limerick for its fourth year on Saturday June 11th. Based on the informal Silicon Valley style ‘barcamp’ format, 3Dcamp is a one day event dedicated to the exploration of Internet interfaces beyond Web 2.0.

“We were tired of the obsession with Web 2.0 a few years ago among the software development and research community, and decided to bring something different to the events calendar”, explains organizer Gabriela Avram. “3Dcamp considers the wider ecosystem of media and interconnected devices”.

The barcamp format invites delegates to propose talks and workshops. Those registered so far this year include ‘How I built a sheep herding robot’, ‘A geo-referenced 3D reconstruction of an ancient environment on a smartphone’ and ‘Physical keys to digital memories: the Reminisce project at Bunratty Folk Park’. Hands-on workshops dedicated to topics such as working with Arduino, Kinect and developing applications for smartphones are also on the agenda.

“It’s an eclectic mix with speakers drawn from many disciplines”, admits co-organizer James Corbett. “Our keynote speaker is Paul Giancarlo from Brown Bag Films, who will talk about how the Oscar nominated studio is dealing with the demand for 3D stereo shows.”

3Dcamp is free to attend and will be hosted in the Computer Science and Information Systems building of the University of Limerick campus.

The Ubuntu Ireland community is planning a geeknic (a picnic for geeks) during the lunch break, and a Girl Geek Dinner is planned in Limerick for the evening before.

The organisation of the event is supported by miLKlabs (the Limerick maker-space) and by the local chapter of IxDA(the Interaction Design Association) and sponsored by the Computer Science and Information Systems Department at the University of Limerick.

For more information see


James Corbett & Gabriela Avram

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Bootcamp, with Dragons (video)

May 11, 2011

We didn't make it to the final stage of the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland process this year but Bootcamp day will live long in the memory as a one of great inspiration – from colleagues in the SEI network and from Dragon's Den panelists Gavin Duffy, Bobby Kerr and Sean Gallagher.