Monthly Archives: July 2008

Tech events in and around Ann Arbor

The end of the month is sort of light on tech events in Ann Arbor, but STILL there are things to do within driving distance!

PyOhio is going on in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday July 26.  It's a free event, and includes talks, open spaces, lightning talks, and poster sessions. If you're planning to attend and want to carpool, check with other Python developers on the MichiPUG Google group.

The Ann Arbor Java User Group canceled their meeting for next week (would have been on Tuesday July 29), but look for their meeting next month.  Rumor has it that the August talk will be on JavaFX, which is getting some air time at OSCON this week.  

Next week, Wednesday and Thursday (July 30-31) is the Michigan Flex Camp in Lansing.  The price is only $40 ($25 if you only want to attend the first day).  This hands-on interactive camp looks really interesting.  Registration is limited to 150 people, so sign up now if you're planning to attend:

Lightning Talk Fridays, hosted by SRT Solutions, continue on Friday, August 1 from 3:30-5 pm.

And one non-technical event will be held next week as well.  The WXW Business group is holding a networking event for businesswomen at the Ann Arbor Art Center.  Cost is $10, and registration is limited to 120 people.  Wine and appetizers will be served. Registration is available at

If you have any interest in traveling to North Carolina in next week or the week after, TrizPugBootCampArama is being held there, with 3 consecutive camps: PyCamp and 2 on Plone.

Oh, and of course, the first week in August will be busy event-wise, with both the Ann Arbor Computer Society meeting on August 6 (topic: Ruby for Domain Specific Languages) and the Michigan Python User Group on August 7.  More details on those meetings to come.


It’s the weekend; do you know where your programmers are?

Today is the start of the weekend ICFP (International Conference on Functional Programming) contest.  Jay Wren, Charlie Sears, and Chris Marinos are teaming up to participate. 

Across town, Mike Woelmer is participating in the Ann Arbor Give Camp, where developers "give back" by implementing a requested application or website for charities over the weekend.

Have fun guys (and many kudos to the spouses who support the effort on a weekend).

SRT Lightning talks during Art Fair!

The Ann Arbor Art Fairs (the "s" is critical because there are several running concurrently) bring a half million visitors to our town.  Parking is difficult, and driving can be challengine.  All of that means that some people avoid downtown that week, unless they are actually spectators, while others try to get in and out using alternate forms of transporation.  I'll be riding my bike in (or taking the bus if the weather is bad).

What does that mean about the SRT-hosted Lightning Talks scheduled for Friday (7/18)?  We're still planning to hold them.  We're also planning to invite customers and friends into our offices for a break from baking in the hot sun. So, if you attend the Art Fairs, or if you're just downtown, please stop by on Friday between 3:30 and 5.  We'll be here.  And for those attending the Art Fairs, we'll be hoping that the ONLY lightning is in the talks.

Event for Businesswomen in Ann Arbor on July 31

Earlier this year, I was invited to join a group of women who were organizing a new group for busineswomen in Washtenaw County.  The participants on the steering committee covered a wide variety of businesses, but the unifying characteristic was that everyone was committed to improving the business climate in our region, specifically for women-owned businesses.  To do so, it was first important to figure out who was here!   What busineses are owned or run by women?  Who are the prominent women in our community?  And who are the businesswomen who would enjoy getting together to exchange ideas, suggestions, business cards?

So, the first Women's Exchange of Washtenaw (WXW) event was organized. This involved quite a bit of planning, the securing of sponsors, and a lot of promotion.  In response, over 200 women attended the first event, which was a learning/sharing event held at Kensington Court.  Complete with prominent speakers from our community (Michelle Crumm, Marcie Brogan, Carol Goss, and Eileen Spring) as well as roundtable discussions, the event offered the opportunity to share ideas as well as business cards. If you would like to see a great promo video made from the event, you can view it on YouTube at  

The second WXW event is scheduled for July 31 at the Ann Arbor Art Center, from 5-7 pm.  Unlike the learning/sharing sessions of the first event, this is a pure networking event, but the exhibition titled "A PLACE AT THE TABLE" may provoke discussions between women business leaders.  The difficulty that many women artists have had in a traditionally male-dominated art world may parallel the experience of many businesswomen.

If you would like to attend, sign up early, because attendance will be limited to 120 registrants.  The cost of the event is $10/person and proceeds go to the Art Center.  Wine and appetizers will be served.

Podcasts I’ve listened to recently …

Here are some podcasts that I've listened to in the last week or so, and what I've learned:

  • Hanselminutes: Tom and Mary Poppendieck discuss Lean Software Development.  One topic discussed is "Using Success as a Metric", imploring us to consider that perhaps the metrics that we use to measure success (on time, on budget, in scope) may be inappropriate.  It's always a pleasure to listen to the dynamic duo of lean software development.  I learn something every time I listen to them (or revisit one of their books).  This episode really drives home the importance of determining if a product is a business success.  What good is it to have met cost, schedule and scope if quality and customer satisfaction aren't met?  And how do you determine which measures are important?  So her MEASURE UP chooses a single higher level measurement (e.g., business success, profitable Profit/Loss statement) and balances those against other lower level measurements.  My first exposure to Mary's simple measurement technique was at CodeMash '07 when she suggested that rather than asking a series of survey questions about talks, ask the simple question, "Would you recommend this talk to a colleague?".  Simple. Interesting.
  • Hanselminutes:  Determining the meaning of "done", with Ken Schwaber.  I was really interested in his discussion of what happens when schedules are tight and how software developers are encouraged to minimize tasks and cut corners, and change the meaning of "done" but leaving behind a lot of technical debt with things that still need to be accomplished but aren't in the definition of done.  And so we all feel stressed and incompetent.  Scott drew an interesting analogy to David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD), where if we could only get things into a list (backlog in scrum/agile), then we wouldn't feel so stressed about having to keep those things in our head or not recognizing them as contributing to "done".
  • .NET Rocks: Mark Miller on the Science of Good UI. Mark has a lot of good points about UI design.
  • .NET Rocks: Dan Appleman and Kathleen Dollard on Kids in Computing.  This is an interesting discussion by technologists who also happen to be parents, both about kids USING computers and their interest, or lack thereof, in programming them. 
  • Java Posse Newscast (Episode # 194): As always, the Posse point out interesting things going on in the development community.  Most notable from this week is the discussion of the Fan language, which targets both the Java VM and the .NET CLR.  Regardless of whether or not the language has traction, it's always interesting to "hear these guys think".  They frequently brainstorm on the podcast, and this discussion is a good example of how fun those discussions are, and why they continue to put so much time into this podcast.  Having spent time with them at the Java Posse Roundup, I can say that they really do just sit around and talk about stuff just as they do on the podcast.  I'm very glad to see that they keep the podcast "real" by being as genuine in their discussions on the "air" as they do when they're not recording.

Technology events in Ann Arbor this week and next …

Even though it's summertime, there are still a lot of meetings in Ann Arbor this week, and next.   

On Wednesday, July 2, Chris Sellers will be talking about Amazon EC2 at the Ann Arbor Computer Society meeting.  That meeting will be held at SRT Solutions, 206 S. Fifth Ave, Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI.  The meeting starts at 6 pm and is free and open to the public.  AACS supplies pizza for all.  Supporting members ($20/year annual dues) qualify for door prizes.

On Thursday, July 3, the Michigan Python User Group will meet, also at SRT Solutions.  Kevin Dangoor will talk about ZODB, the Python Zope Object Database. MichiPUG meetings are free and open to all.

The following week, on Wednesday, July 9, the Ann Arbor Dot Net Developer Group will host Jonathan Zuck, from ACT Online.  Jonathan is a software developer turned lobbyist.  His cause is innovation, and his company ensures that our elected officials are informed about technology matters.  Jonathan's making the user group rounds, visiting Ann Arbor, Lansing, and Grand Rapids .NET user groups with his message about why we, as technologists, need lobbyists.  DotNetRocks listeners may be familiar with Zuck, since he's made several appearances on that podcast, including his most recent visit to discuss OOXML.  AADND meetings are also held at SRT Solutions and are also free and open to all.

If you want to participate in a developer-oriented charity event, check out Ann Arbor Give Camp, July 11-13 at Washtenaw Community College.  

Just outside of the Ann Arbor area, is the Michigan!/usr/group at the Farmington Hills Library.  The topic of their meeting on July 9 is "MythTV".

Oh, and if you were wondering about SRT lightning talks for this week, we've cancelled them because Friday IS the Fourth.  The next scheduled lightning talks are on July 18, which happen to be Art Fair week.  Hmm, we may need to rethink that date.  It seems unlikely that even the half million or so visitors to the art fairs will draw much foot traffic for technical topics!