Open sign

Open for Business during COVID-19

There has been a lot of noise regarding the current coronavirus outbreak and I’ve been trying hard not to add to the volume.  That said, we’ve had a number of customers come to us this week asking what we were doing and what has changed so I wanted to address that…

Dogsbody Technology are open for business as usual. I could write paragraphs on how our business continuity plans swung into action but for now just know that: Our contact details remain the same and our services continue as normal.

We are all safe (thanks to everyone that has asked) and all working remotely without any issues.

Existing Customers

As above, you should see no difference in the service you get from us.  We are continuing to patch, secure and maintain your infrastructure.

Some of our customers will find themselves in a tough spot financially as a result of COVID-19. If you are having trouble keeping up with payments, please do get in contact with us, and our team will see what we can do to help. I urge you not to abuse this offer, please allow it to be used by those who need it most, who are otherwise unable to pay.

New Customers

We feel people need a bit of space right now. As such, we have shut down all our outbound marketing to try and reduce the noise.

If you need help then do get in touch. We’ve had some wonderful messages from existing customers saying that we are allowing them to get on with running their business while we ensure their infrastructure stays up and secure.

Be kind; stay safe

During these it’s important to know that we are all in this together. I feel that Martin Lewis has summed this up best talking about forebearance:

We’re all in this together.

Apprentice Guide: How to Impress IT Employers

This week (3-7 February) is National Apprenticeship Week 2020.  Dogsbody Technology have been hiring IT apprentices since 2013 and have seen A LOT of apprentice CV’s in that time!

It still surprises us that applicants don’t sell themselves well, and is one of the biggest reasons we still give telephone interviews to a vast majority of the CV’s we get sent.

Let us help you a little with our guide on how to impress an IT employer like ourselves…

Apprentices

Be more than just grades

Some people are academic and some people aren’t… apprenticeships are designed for people who can’t or don’t want to go to university (and let’s not even mention the minimum 27K debt for university graduates). At Dogsbody we are not just interested in a list of good grades; we want to see and hear about the things you are passionate about, what you have taught yourself, what you have done outside of education! It’s key to find things that keep you interested and just “play” with as much tech as you can 🙂

I set this company up to play with big servers and big infrastructure so why not get paid to do it … the best staff are the ones that just want to play with technology too. We come to work to play.
– Dan Benton, Director of Dogsbody Technology

Raspberry Pi & Arduino

There is so much affordable tech out there right now. Raspberry Pi and Arduino are at the forefront where you can get a fully working system for £15-45. With them you can learn everything from Linux internals, Python programming or Game design.

At Dogsbody HQ we are big fans of Raspberry Pi (we have 4-5 around the office doing a variety of jobs). It’s an awesome tool for people to learn as it’s cheap, powerful and, of course, open source.  There is a great index of projects that should be a great source of inspiration.

Arduino allows you to learn I/O based programming with ease. We designed a pizza order printer for one of our first customers using Arduino that is still in use to this day.  More examples can be found on their projects page.

Magazine, Blogs and news

Access to information has never been easier (back in my day we had a copy of Microsoft Encarta and were grateful 😉 ). Youtube, podcasts and free online courses mean you can learn anything you want for free off your own back.

We specifically recommend Raspberry Pi blog and their magazines, MagPi, Wireframe and HackSpace magazines which you can buy in the shops but are also totally free to download!

You’ll be amazed at what you can learn for free in your spare time.

Hacker Space / Maker Groups

A hackerspace (also referred to as a hacklab, hackspace, or makerspace) is a community-operated, often “not for profit” , workspace where people with common interests, such as computers, machining, technology, science, digital art, or electronic art, can meet, socialize and collaborate.

Check out your local maker spaces and any local after school or college clubs (they don’t usually have to be your school or college). A quick google should show you what is in your area but we particularly recommend checking out Code Club and CoderDojo. A great way to try new things, make friends with like minded people and find out what really interests you with little investment.

Of course if you want to go full geek – we highly recommend Glastonbury for Geeks – EMF Camp.

Fancy a career in Linux IT? Take a look at our our jobs page for our current openings.

Also check out our open letter to future apprentices to see more way to impress us or other employers.

Christmas Charity Giving 2019

Once again this Christmas, rather than buying corporate gifts, we are contributing that budget to two local charities.

This year we are once again donating to our local food bank and also adding a local homeless charity. Sadly, demand for both of their services are rising year on year.

Trussell Trust – Farnborough Foodbank

Update – We donated 69kg of food to our local Trussell Trust Farnborough Foodbank. Helping towards the Christmas Hampers and School Lunches they were packing.

For the third year running, Dogsbody Technology took part in the Reverse Advent Calendar #FoodbankAdvent. Donating essential items to our local Farnborough Trussell Trust Foodbank ,where demand still increases.

 

This year, to help end the need for food banks, the Trussell Trust commissioned a 3 year research project State of Hunger, the most authoritative piece of independent research into hunger in the UK to date.

We are proud to support this great local charity again although the increase for the service is sad to see year on year.

The Society of St James

Previous years we have donated to local charities. This year we decided to include The Society of St James an organisation that has been running for 45 years.

A homeslessness charity providing supported living services, drugs and alcohol recovery, specialist support accommodation and sports therapy.

Helping vulnerable people and the local community through social enterprises, such as cafe’s and a computer recycling and refurbishment service. These also provide valuable volunteering opportunities and work placements.

 

I hope you agree these are great charities to support at Christmas. Its never too late to make a donation yourself 🙂

We wish all our customers, suppliers and supporters a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2020.

 

Silver Shutdown Button

2019 Christmas Shutdown

Its that time of year again, when too many mince pies are eaten and elves have an unnatural affiliation with shelves. We are taking some well earned time off by closing our office for the festive period…

Our Christmas Shutdown hours are:

  • Fri 20 Dec 2019 – Office closed after 15:00.
  • Tue 24 Dec 2019 – Office closed after 13:00.
  • Wed 25 Dec 2019 – Public Holiday.
  • Thurs 26 Dec 2019 – Public Holiday.
  • Fri 27 Dec 2019 – Office Closed.
  • Mon 30 Dec 2019 – Office Closed.
  • Tue 31 Dec 2019 – Office Closed.
  • Wed 01 Jan 2020 – Public Holiday.

Support

During this time, response to emails maybe slower than usual and any issues will be dealt with on an emergency out of hours basis.

We will only be supporting customers who are experiencing a situation where business cannot function without a resolution such as:

  • Website / Server down.
  • Inability to trade online.

Emergency issue

Contact us as normal. All calls and support emails will be routed to our on call engineer.

Maintenance customers

Maintenance will be ‘business as usual’ for customers on our maintenance plans.

Hosting issues

Dogsbody’s status page will advise of any known internal and hosting server issues.

 

Normal service will resume on Thursday 02 January 2020.

We hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Stowmtropper in a christmas tree

Image by Duy Hoang on Unsplash

 

Welcome Ashley

Ashley is our latest apprentice to join us here at Dogsbody HQ.Ashley Holland

Having found the time to complete an Open University course achieving a CertHE (Certificate of higher education) in Natural Sciences – Physics (including mathematics), she shows a passion for learning we love in our apprentices.

Ashley said…

‘I watched the film The Theory of Everything and the next day signed up for my OU course.’

With a love of LEGO (she is in good company here), a passion for customer service and a fantastic planning schedule (she loves a highlighted plan), there is no stopping Ashley accomplishing her goals!. We can’t wait to see how Ashley grows.

Ashley will be working towards her IT Infrastructure Technician Level 3 qualification whilst helping the team with first line support and server maintenance. Do say hello should you talk to her.

Want to be our next Apprentice? We have just launched our 4 year Level 6 Qualification allowing you to get a degree without going to university as well as getting paid!

 

Feature image by James Pond licence free

Proud to be part of the FSB Apprenticeship Report

One of the great benefits of being a member of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is it gives you a chance to be heard. This has been especially true of their representation of business owners with apprentices such as ourselves.  I am proud to have been interviewed extensively for the latest FSB research into the new apprenticeship system.

The apprenticeship system has changed a lot in the last 7 years that we’ve been offering them.  Most have been good changes but implemented quite badly.  For example, the implementation of an independent end point assessment is a great initiative as it really helps stop both companies and training providers from abusing the apprenticeship system for cheap labour; however details of what the assessment should involve, who would provide it and how much it should cost weren’t available from the government when some people (one of our staff included) where already starting their apprenticeship.

The latest in depth study conducted by the FSB into the new apprenticeship system includes a 50 page “Fit for the future” report. A number of businesses were interviewed for this report including myself and other Dogsbody Technology staff.  You can find quotes from us on pages 26, 30 and 36 should you wish 😉

fsb apprenticeships report infographicSome of the results are pretty damning, such as over a quarter of businesses saying that the reforms have had a negative impact on their business and over a third of businesses not being aware of some of the funding that is available.  We shouldn’t be too quick to throw the baby out with the bathwater though.  The apprenticeship system is still fit for purpose, it just could be a better fit, especially for small businesses.

We have only scratched the surface of the report.  I would encourage you to read the full report if you have time.

On the off chance you don’t have time to read the full report I have summarised the conclusions here…

  1. Small businesses are crucial to driving productivity across the country and require skills that will enable them to prosper.
  2. Small businesses are heavily reliant on the Level 2 and 3 frameworks meaning that the number of apprenticeships offered by small businesses may further decrease in the next couple of years.
  3. The cost of delivering apprenticeships in small businesses has also increased, which has had an impact on the capacity of small businesses to hire apprentices.
  4. There has been a deterioration in the quality of training and assessment provision across England.
  5. There are legitimate concerns about the future of the apprenticeship funding system, given that standards are more expensive than frameworks.
  6. There are significant risks that the situation will worsen as the apprenticeship system evolves.

If you are a small tech business thinking of taking on apprentices then do get in touch, we would love help you get started.

#FoodbankAdvent 2018 – Reverse Advent Calendar

Dogsbody Technology have once again taken part in #FoodbankAdvent 2018 – The Reverse Advent Calendar, and this year we went bigger and better!

On the 5th December 2018 Dogsbody Technology donated over 150 items (over double of last year!) weighing over 76 kg of food and non food to our local Farnborough Trussell Trust Foodbank #FoodbankAdvent.

 

#FoodbankAdvent 2018

Director Dan Benton and the volunteers at Farnborough Foodbank #FoodbankAdvent 2018

Unfortunately demand over the last year has risen.

“December was the busiest month for foodbanks last year. During December 2017, The Trussell Trust’s network provided 159,388 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis; 65,622 of these went to children. This is a 49% increase on the monthly average for the 2017-18 financial year.

The figures reveal the year on year need for foodbanks in December is increasing steeply – the number of food supplies given to people mark a 10% rise from December 2016 when 144,677 were given out.”

Inspired to take part too? Its not to late to start!

  • Read Trussell’s Trust’s What goes in a food bank parcel and non food items to see the items they like to be donated.
  • Find your local Trussell Trust food bank or donate to others in your area. There are even collection points in supermarkets across the country so you can add an extra something to your weekly shop and pop it in the collection point as you leave.
  • Look at your local food bank’s website for the list of items they urgently need.
  • Donate long life items (tinned or dried) so as not to waste fresh food (which goes off quickly).
  • If you want to collect an item a day as per the advent calendar, then your donations will be just as welcome in January as winter sets in!.

 

#FoodbankAdvent 2018

#FoodbankAdvent 2018

 

Dogsbody Technology want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2019.

 

 

2018 Christmas Shutdown

After a busy 2018, Dogsbody Technology will be taking some time off to celebrate the festive season.

Our Christmas opening hours are:

  • Thu 13 Dec 2018 – Office Closed after 16:00.
  • Fri 21 Dec 2018 – Office Closed after 13:00.
  • Mon 24 Dec 2018 – Office Closed.
  • Tue 25 Dec 2018 – Public Holiday.
  • Wed 26 Dec 2018 – Public Holiday.
  • Thu 27 Dec 2018 – Office Closed.
  • Fri 28 Dec 2018 – Office Closed.
  • Mon 31 Dec 2018 – Office Closed.
  • Tue 1st Jan 2019 – Public Holiday.

During this time response to emails maybe slower than usual and any issues will be dealt with on an emergency out of hours basis. We will only be supporting customers who are experiencing a situation where business cannot function without a resolution such as:

  • Website / Server down.
  • Inability to trade online.

To raise an emergency issue please use our usual contact details as calls and support emails will be routed to the engineer on call.

For our maintenance customers we will continue monitoring and patch servers as usual over the Christmas period.

Also check our status page for any known internal and hosting server issues.

Thank you for your continued support throughout 2018. We hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Featured Image by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Introducing Dogsbody Internal Hackathons

hackathon
noun     informal     /ˈhakəθɒn/
An event, typically lasting several days, in which a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming.

Dogsbody Technology love to attend hackathons, whether they be online or the middle of a field near Wales.  In the past we have attended Over the Air, Hashcode and EMF camp with Mr Dogsbody attending ‘retro’ hackathons such as Campus Party, Hacked and many barcamp’s.

Hackathons take a lot of organisation, planning and of course sponsorship. Unfortunately, over the years the number of hackathon have depleted.

In 2018, at the request of our employees, Dogsbody Technology decided to introduce our own bimonthly Internal Hackathons to the Dogsbody calendar.

The Dogsbody Team take a Friday afternoon and evening break from their usual work schedule to work together on whatever exciting, ad hoc projects they want too  – new technology, internal improvement or that code that just won’t work!

In true hackathon style there is Junk food (pizza, fried chicken, burgers you get the idea) and drink.

We may in the future do a longer more traditional hackathon somewhere but for now Dogsbody HQ with fast internet and all our home comfort gadget works for us.

Projects we’ve worked on so far include:

  • 3D printing
  • A Tea Bot which integrate with Slack
  • Raspberry Pi wildlife camera
  • Raspberry Pi clocking in/out system
  • Getting data from our laptop into grafana (we do love a graph!)

Its a chance for our employees to play with the tech they want which may not come up in their day job and for us to add another great reason to work for Dogsbody Technology.

Don’t worry you will still see us attending events and hackathons when they arise 🙂

Vim tips

Welcome Chris Gray

Dogsbody Technology are passionate about Apprenticeships, providing a new career opportunity to people and promoting an alternative to University for those leaving college.

Chris Gray is Dogsbody Technology’s latest (and 6th) Linux Systems Apprentice to join our team.

Previously working in the service industry. Chris joins us having networked his entire house. He also helps out with the Scouts – just like our former apprentice Gary! Very handy when we go to events such as EMF Camp.

Chris will be working towards his City & Guilds Certificate in IT Systems and Principles and Level 3 Diploma in IT Professional Competence with a lot of hands on training, he has already built 3 Linux training servers as well as looking after first line support and taking on some fun projects to help him learn.

Want to be our 7th Apprentice? Joining a company with a proven record of providing excellent hands on Linux training with great career prospects and earning money whilst you do?!

APPLY TODAY