Monthly Archives: September 2007

CodeMash Soliciting Speakers for 2008

The CodeMash conference inaugural event, in January of 2007 attracted a lot of great speakers and exceeded our expectations in terms of educational value.  Speakers included nationally known experts Bruce Eckel, Neal Ford, Scott Guthrie, Mary Poppendieck, Scott Ambler and Jay Pipes.  Regional experts participated as well, and all of the talks were awesome.

From screaming down the water slides to watching geeks try to surf the wave to organizing a floating geek party on the lazy river, CodeMash was definitely fun in addition to educational.  Staying for an extra night with my family and hanging out in the water park (and indoor playground) with my kids was definitely fun too.

So it's time for CodeMash version (groan; I can't take credit for that).  It's January 9-11, again at the Kalahari Resort and Indoor Water Park in Sandusky, OH.  Again, we're putting together a phenomenal mix of nationally known and regional speakers (wish I could leak some names, but I won't).  We're expecting a larger crowd this time, since CodeMash got a lot of press outside of the Midwest region.  Registration will open soon, and I'll certainly blog about that once it's up.  Tidbit: CodeMash is rewarding "alumni".  Anyone who was at CodeMash last year will get a discount code for 2008 registration.

If you would like to speak, please submit a topic at   We've had a lot of great submissions already, but the deadline isn't until October 15 and new submissions are coming in every day.  Please consider making yours one of them.

Hype and Action …

Tom Meloche wrote an insightful blog post about the hype surrounding Google and the people who "poo poo" their impact on Michigan (and yes, Tom, I think that "poo poo" is the right term there).  I agree with him that Google could save Michigan.  Not only can using tools like Google Analytics and Google AdWords help Michigan business, but using Google's apparent interest in setting up shop here to attract more companies is also a good tactic.  The "Google effect" is strong. When Google goes somewhere, others do pay attention (including other companies).

Google chose Ann Arbor for its AdWords headquarters.  As one of the speakers mentioned at a Tech Talk earlier this year, Google is an engineering-driven company.  Where marketing and sales go, engineering is sure to follow, but WE have to show Google that we have the talent to support such an endeavor. We do; we just need to demonstrate it.  Google is well known to be "all about the data", not just in their applications, but in their business decisions as well.  Show them the data and they will come.  Notice I said "WE" have to do this. Not the governor.  Not SPARK.  Not any other business group.  Developers. That's who needs to make a strong showing to Google. 

What Google needs to see in order to even CONSIDER starting an engineering office here is hard and fast numbers of high quality developers.  Where will these developers come from?  They will nab those who WANT to stay in Michigan after college graduation but leave to work on one of the coasts, because that's where the "jobs are".  They will nab those who want to come BACK to Michigan after spending some time on the coasts and realizing that both cost and family ARE important. And they will nab those who ride on the coattails of the Michiganders keen to return as well as the other companies who see Google setting up shop in a midwestern town that is still incredibly affordable when compared to the coasts. And yes, they will nab some of the talent that currently works for local companies, like mine, but those employees will be replaced by others coming into the area.

So, as I suggested in my blog post about this back in August, after the Tech talks, I think that area developers, alums, and interested parties should send resumes to Google.  Let them know what talent is here.

SRT in the media

On Tuesday night, we had an open house for customers and friends at our new office, 206 S. Fifth Ave, Suite 200, in Ann Arbor (across from the Blue Nile, just above the Linux Box).  It was great to see people we haven't seen in a while, and we had a lot of fun.

The media seems interested when you open an office.  Perhaps they're starved for a little good news with a (thankfully short-lived automotive strike) and a state government that's threatening to shut down due to a budget impasse.  But SRT opening an office is a nice little story.  We are growing and we are having a lot of fun deciding what interesting things we can do with our new space.  I'm pretty sure that Bill is tired of answering the phone to hear, "Hey!  I had an idea …".  But he's made as many of those calls to me as I have to him, so it's OK.

In our interview with Kelli Kavanaugh of MetroMode Magazine which appeared online today, we mentioned the lightning talks (starting October 12).  We mentioned the user group meetings (AACS and Python User Group here next week). And yeah, the open house too.  But what she really seemed to pick up on in the article was that the stereotypical view of a programmer who sits in a cube all day, bangs out code without talking to anyone, and slides it under the door around midnight after consuming a pizza and a case of Coke is really not all that accurate. Hurrah!  Seriously, I swear I'm sick of hearing, "But you don't LOOK like a computer programmer".  OK, so we all know what those people are talking about because that's mainly what you see on tv and movies (and yes, a few in "real life" too).  But I still maintain (here and in the interview) that good communication skills are essential for computer scientists, especially those who are consultants.  Yes, writing code is fun, but there's SO much more to the job than that.

And yes, most of the attendees at user group meetings are male.  I can certainly understand why some of the moms (especially) don't make it regularly. Now that I have family commitments, it's harder to make it to a lot of user group meetings in the evenings, but it's important for me to be able to attend when I can.  The first week of the month, especially, requires a lot of negotiation around our house, and I suspect it does in some of the guys' houses who have small children as well!

So anyhow, I think it's fun to be around developers who like to talk about what they do and listen to what other people do, and I know I'm not alone in that.  Ed Vielmetti's a2b3 group is quite popular (Thursday lunches; I missed it today while I wrote this blog post). The user groups are popular.  I hope that we're able to snag some younger participants into groups like the Ann Arbor Computer Society, because we have a lot to learn from them as well.  Zattoo guys and everyone else, hope to see you there sometime!

SRT Solutions announces Lightning Talk Fridays

Once we decided to rent the new office (instead of working out of homes, coffee shops, and borrowed conference rooms), we started to think about all of the cool things that we could do once we had our own space.  One idea, of course, was to host user group meetings.  Some of the area user groups were facing finding new space, since their previous host (the Ann Arbor ITZone) had changed focus and was now going to start charging for the use of the space.  We think that the user groups are worth supporting, and so one of the biggest criteria as we looked for space was room for events like user group meetings.

But then, as I mentioned, we started thinking about other things that we could do.  One idea was Lightning Talks. We decided to start Lightning Talk Fridays, from 3-5 twice a month. They're free, open to the public, and the topics will be chosen by the people who attend, and we've added an SRT Solutions forum to manage the schedule, and allow people to get more information about them.

Just yesterday, we decided on the Lightning Talk schedule through the end of the year.  I published it on our public events calendar.  A few hours later, one of our readers pinged me and asked where the schedule was, and how to sign up (gotta love RSS).  Turns out that she's going to be in town that day (from Ohio) and wants to do a lightning talk!  Cool!

Anyhow, so I pointed her ar the SRT Solutions Lightning Talks forum, and I'll point all of you there as well.  Please join us, starting on October 12 at 3 pm.  We'll start the first lightning talk (10 mins in duration) at 3:15, and we'll schedule them every 15 minutes until 4:45 if we have enough topics.  If you're interested in talking, please sign up.  If you're interested in attending, please come!  But either way, feel free to join the forum (you need to create an account, but it's free).

Lightning Talks Friday Forum:

Schedule for October 12:



Bill Wagner in Lansing tonight for GLUGnet

Bill is headed to Lansing to speak for the Greater Lansing Area .NET User Group (GLUGNet).  You may recall that Jay Wren spoke for them a week or so ago, but that talk was in Flint. Yes, GLUGnet has a Flint and a Lansing meeting now.  Anyhow, Bill's on his way there, so if you are in Lansing, looking for a talk on C# 3.0 (Think More, Type Less), check out


“Estimating Cost of FPGA Floating Point Performance” tonight at AACS

If you've heard about FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays) or perhaps just have an interest in high performance computing, tonight's Ann Arbor Computer Society meeting is where you want to be.  I'm going, because I have an interest in such things, but also because I've known Dave Strenski, the speaker, since 1985 or so, and he always has something interesting to say.  AACS members/attendees may recall that Dave did a talk for AACS a while back about Solar Voltaic Power at the Ypsilanti Food Coop.  Dave's wide areas of interest always amaze me.  His academic history should be a good clue that Dave is one of those guys that loves to learn.  He has degrees in Civil Engineering, Land Surveying, and Mechanical Engineering (but a patent in high performance computing).  What you probably don't know about Dave is that while in college, he helped to make the Bocce Ball Club one of the largest organizations on Michigan Tech's campus (with regular meetings at the B&B Bar, where pickled eggs are a specialty), and he grows wheat in his yard in Ypsilanti.  He and his family are active with the Ypsi Food Coop.

So tonight the topic is technical.  But I think that the breadth of knowledge that Dave brings to any discussion is worth noting, and what makes hanging out with Dave (or attending his talks) fun and interesting.  Dave's one of those guys that you can just sit down and have a conversation with, about pretty much anything.

See you tonight!  All AACS meetings are free and open to the public.  AACS memberships are $20 annually and qualify you for door prizes.

Tonight's AACS meeting will be Ann Arbor SPARK, 330 E. Liberty (lower level).  6:00.  Pizza will be served.  Remember, this is the last meeting for AACS at SPARK.


September Ann Arbor Tech Events

Ah, a new month and more tech events in Ann Arbor. All meetings are free and open to the public.  SRT is happy to say that we will be hosting several of these meetings in our new office, at 206 S. Fifth, Suite 200.  That's at the corner of Fifth and Washington, directly above the Linux Box.  Entrance is on Fifth; take the elevator to floor 2R (or you can take the stairs, but then you have to wind around on the 2nd floor to find our office).

Tomorrow, Wednesday September 5, Dave Strenski of Cray Inc., will be presenting a talk for the Ann Arbor Computer Society, entitled "Estimating FPGA 64-bit Floating Point Performance".  For a brief summary on FPGA (Field Gate Programmable Arrays), go to  Dave will talk about the architecture of the Xilinx Virtec-4 and Virtex-5 FPGA chips, and demonstrate how to estimate their performance.  This meeting will be held at SPARK Central, 330 E. Liberty (lower level) for the last time.  Starting in October, SRT will be hosting the AACS meetings.

On Thursday, September 6, the Michigan Python User Group will talk about "Python 3.0: What's up with that?".  The group will meet at SRT's offices, at 206 S. Fifth Ave, Suite 200 (see directions above).

On Monday, September 10, at UM's North Campus (EECS 1200), the Ruby MI group will meet.  In addition to open discussion, the meeting will include:

  1. User Group Challenge – Boggle
  2. Ruby/Rails Editors lightening talks
  3. RubyConf*MI

The Ann Arbor Java User group, which usually meets the first Tuesday of the month, has moved its meeting to next Tuesday,September 11, because of the holiday.  Raj Rajen will be presenting Janeeva's experiences with Flex.  The AAJUG meeting will be held at its longtime location at Washtenaw Community College, Room WCC BE250

And finally, the Ann Arbor Dot Net Developer Group (AADND) meets on Wednesday, September 12 for a talk on Windows Workflow (WF) and "Following the Rules", by Michael Wood. AADND will also be meeting at SRT's office, at 206 S. Fifth Ave, Suite 200 (see directions above).