Fresh, fast, and slightly messy ideas on technology and innovation.

Engineering in practice 2

Robot Wars Hackathon: Final Showdown

James Birchall
James Birchall 4 Nov 2021
Operational Engineering People and Culture

The low down from our Robot Wars Showdown finale.

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Killer Robot

The Rowden Robot Wars Hackathon

James Birchall
James Birchall 25 Oct 2021
Operational Engineering

This year's weekly hackathon at Rowden is Robot Wars. Who doesn't love a brutal engineering competition?

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Doug Fitzmaurice
Doug Fitzmaurice 6 Oct 2021
Operational Engineering Software Development

Every new project needs a name.

At Rowden, we happen to use CrossFit workout names. Project Loredo, Burt, Annie, and even Zeus, a new favourite.

To make the naming process easier for the project managers, I created a Rowden Project Name Generator. Generator is perhaps a bit cheeky as all it does it stick the word "project" in front of a workout name, but at least it does it with style.

The hardest part was getting a simple list of enough workout names. There are lots of sites with a few here and there, or with names and a lot of information spread out over hundreds of pages, but eventually I found a blog with 200 or so "Hero" workouts on one page. I extracted the names with a query run in the F12 Developer Console:

Array.from(document.querySelectorAll("div#content strong")).map(el => el.innerHTML).join(",")

After a bit of manual filtering to remove invalid entries and sort things nicely I had a list like this


The page is a basic HTML page with a single heading, then a snippet of Javascript to update the name with a random entry from the list:

const field = document.getElementById("name");
field.innerHTML = names[Math.floor((Math.random()*names.length))].toUpperCase();

And we're done. As it's a single self-contained page it's hosted on Azure Storage which provides the simplest way to get a publicly accessible page. A CDN in front of it provides the Rowden domain and SSL certificate.

As a finishing touch I added an easter egg to the page when a particular name comes up....

Project moon

The Origins of the 'Software Factory'

Hannah Croft
Hannah Croft 5 Oct 2021
Software Development

Today I came across a NATO report dated 1968. Turns out this was from the world's first software engineering conference, of which NATO sponsored, and, as it turns out, this was where the term 'software factory' first emerged.

There's always a lot of talk about how Defence is adopting the parlance and practices of commercial tech industry and trying to drive cultural change. Terms like user-focused, agile, and iterate are fused with contemporary Sillicon Valley or Gen X popular culture aesthetics (think Kessel Run, Kobayashi Maru...).

As it turns out, though, maybe Defence was the one driving a lot of this in the first place. Stay cool!

Read the report here.