I'm off to Spain next week, for some sun, sightseeing and Debian, but before I left, I decided to attend the NHS Hack Day over this weekend (14th and 15th of May 2016).

The day started with presentations, and at first I was interested by many of them. The spreadsheet is still online, but I put the following projects on my shortlist:

  • Better blood results
  • British english medical spelling dictionary
  • CAMHS Inpatient Bed Finder
  • Daily pollute
  • Rota Manager
  • Dockerised integration engine

After doing some walking and talking to different people in the room, I ended up sitting with Mike and Tony who work in the NHS at King's College Hospital as developers and were behind the "Dockerised intergration engine" project, and Piete who has some experience with system architecture and Docker in particular.

After a bit of discussion, it turned out that the main problems that Mike and Tony had, was that they were using tools, both for a framework, and deployment processes that they did not have much experience with, and this manifested in having one large "monolith", which required restarting when changes to any component were required.

At this point, I left Piete, Mike and Tony to work on just setting up a smaller isolated service, using Docker and NodeJS, which Tony already knew a bit about, but was interested in getting more experience in.

Now it was lunchtime, and I ended up sitting with Calum (who I have met before at Many to Many) and Devon, who had proposed the "British English medical spelling dictionary" project earlier in the morning.

We decided to have a go at this project, and set about working out the goals, and what work would be required to achieve them. I ended up doing some research in to generating a wordlist (which we ended up not doing), the initial tweaks to the website style, and attempting to create a extension for LibreOffice which would install a dictionary (which was not finished).

The website and corresponding Git repository for the website and project can give a detailed information about the actual work that was done.

As is the case sometimes with these events, the real value is found in the conversations had both on the topic, as was the case when I was discussing the problems that Mike and Tony face day to day, and the discussions I had with Devon, Calum and others, both at the even, and on Saturday evening in the pub on diverse topics of software (including free software, Guix and Debian) and Matt about some of his work and background.

All in all, I'm glad I took the time to attend.