We're a North London software consultancy specialising in Ruby, Go, mission-critical software architecture and refactoring. Whilst we do not undertake Rails development projects we can provide practical advice on structuring and refactoring your existing monolithic Rails application into a component-based Service Oriented Architecture.

Games With Brains was founded in 1998 by Eleanor McHugh to provide specialist knowledge in Java and Microsoft technologies for real-time environments.

In 2005 we switched our focus to Ruby, a language we'd been using for personal and in-house projects since 2001. We have a deep knowledge of Ruby and Ellie has been giving extensive presentations on its use as a systems programming language since 2006.

In 2009 we added Google Go to our repertoire and have become one of the longest established advocates of this technology outside Google. See our open-source repositories and slide decks for further details.

As a result of our Go advocacy an increasing amount of our activity is with companies looking to either learn the rudiments of the language or deepen their understanding. We have a particular interest in bridging the gap for Ruby teams looking to move performance-sensitive components of their application to this new technology.

At Games With Brains we're passionate about software and computers. Everything we do flows from this passion and we explore many technologies outside our core specialisations to ensure that we can offer you genuinely innovative solutions. We also have a strong dislike for wasting resources so we invest the effort up-front to really understand the problems we tackle and use an iterative, empirical approach to solve them elegantly.

We offer training in Ruby, Go, data security and software engineering.

training course with lectures, workshops and tutorials £400 per day per person
mentoring and tutorials for groups of up to three people £250 per half day per person
conference presentation, workshop or other public appearance £150 per hour

At Games With Brains we believe in the principles of iterative development:

However we also know from our own experience that methodolgy is much less important to elegant software design than understanding the problem domain being addressed. Unlike other consultancies focused on iterative development we won't push a particular methodology or insist on changing the way you work, instead we'll look for ways you can introduce iterative principles that make sense to you.

We can help you bring Agile values into your development processes without getting hung up on prescriptive methodologies.

product price
training course with lectures, workshops and tutorials £400 per day per person
mentoring and tutorials for groups of up to three people £250 per half day per person
consultancy on software architecture, implementation and improvement £75 per hour
£100 per 1000 words
implementing software according to established brief £600 per day
on-site visit £75 per visit
support for work on one of our open-source projects suggested donation £10
  1. Payments via paypal incur a 3% processing charge.
  2. All expenses incur a 10% handling charge.
  3. Travel outside the Greater London area is payable in advance.

Go is a deceptively simple systems programming language developed in house at Google by Rob Pike, Ken Thompson and Robert Griesemer. It's use of garbage collection, type inference, object composition and concurrency in the CSP style give it the feel of popular dynamic languages but with the performance and correctness guarantees provided by static compilation.

We've been working with Go since November 2009 and have run workshops at a number of high-profile events in the UK and USA.

implementing software according to established brief £600 per day
on-site attendance £75 per visit
mentoring and tutorials for groups of up to three people £250 per half day per person
support for work on one of our open-source projects suggested donation £10

See training for further details of our mentoring and tutorial options.

Ruby's been one of our favourite languages since 2001 however it wasn't until 2005 that Rails gave it sufficient recognition to be a viable choice for commercial projects. At Games With Brains we specialise in backend server components and lightweight distributed systems using Sinatra and HTTP. We also offer advice and support refactoring existing Rails applications.

implementing software according to established brief £600 per day
on-site attendance £75 per visit
mentoring and tutorials for groups of up to three people £250 per half day per person
support for work on one of our open-source projects suggested donation £10

See training for further details of our mentoring and tutorial options.

The majority of our work is closed-source but Ellie has presented at a number of international conferences where she's covered the use of Ruby for traditional systems programming tasks: networking; concurrency; cryptography; DNS; and UNIX integration.

If you have a difficult Ruby problem which needs a fresh perspective or a legacy Rails project in need of refactoring and rearchitecting then we can help.

Back in 2006 Ellie built the software prototypes for dotTel, a global domain hierarchy with unique characteristics. Subsequently we've worked on a number of innovative DNS projects involving content publishing, parametric resolution and encrypted hierarchies using NAPTR resources.

implementing software according to established brief £600 per day
on-site attendance £75 per visit
mentoring and tutorials for groups of up to three people £250 per half day per person
support for work on one of our open-source projects suggested donation £10

If you need to secure a network-based application we can design your database, communications protocols and application APIs to ensure the privacy of your users' details both at rest and in transit..

implementing software according to established brief £600 per day
on-site attendance £75 per visit
mentoring and tutorials for groups of up to three people £250 per half day per person
support for work on one of our open-source projects suggested donation £10

DNS

For static DNS provision we recommend DNSimple. The Eden brothers can provide for all your delegation needs, and they're one of the few DNS providers who get the possibilities of NAPTR technology.

Dynamic DNS for this server has been provided by FreeDNS since around 2006. FreeDNS is a reliable no-frills freemium service which has never let us down.

Games

We're big fans of Battlemaster, a free browser game which has kept us entertained since 2007, and its planned commercial successor Might & Fealty which is an open world sandbox game currently in alpha test.

The rest of our computer gaming is split across Steam and iOS. A special mention goes to Warhammer Quest which is the prefect way to kill twenty minutes on the move, most things published by Paradox Interactive and the entire corpus of work by the Black Isle Studios team including successors Obsidian Entertainment and Troika Games. We're particularly excited by InXile's Wasteland 2.

Ellie was heavily involved in Role-playing Games for many years and still follows developments in the Traveller and Maelstrom communities.

Software

If you're looking for an interesting cross-platform programming language to play with, check out either Icon or its derivative Unicon. This family of languages combine an Algol-like syntax with generators and goal-directed evaluation, making for very powerful and elegant solutions to otherwise complex problems.

Our prefered choice of editors includes nano and TextMate. If you've never played with emacs then you owe it to yourself to give it a spin, though it's often overkill for simple editing tasks.

And if you're an iOS user you should check out Readdle Documents, Parallels Access and iSSH.

Hardware

We used be big fans of IBM Thinkpads and until summer 2013 were still using an aging X31 running OpenBSD as our main web and email server. It's now been mothballed but as they're tough little machines it could well see use again.

These days we mostly use Apple Macs as the build quality is excellent and MacOS X is a nice mix of UNIX foundations with user-friendly features. However as Apple still resolutely refuse to release a netbook we also keep a foot in the Hackintosh scene and recommend the Dell Mini 9 as a reliable portable development system, though you'll want to swap the stock SSD and wi-fi card.