Monthly Archives: October 2010

4 More Weeks of Six Weeks of Scala

There are still 4 weeks left of our Six Weeks of Scala series.  There’s still plenty of time to join in, particularly since this has been organized as independent sessions to allow people to come and go, as it fits their schedules.

We will meet at SRT Solutions on Monday evenings (11/1, 11/8, 11/15, and 11/22), sometime after 5 pm (most people seem to be arriving at around 6), and work on Scala for about 2-2.5 hrs.  The first few weeks, we worked on a variety of things, getting used to the language.  We played around with collections in the first week, and pattern matching & functional decomposition of problems last week.

On Monday, November 1, we are going to start working with the Scala Koans, modeled after the Ruby Koans.  We’ll be working with Dick Wall’s fork of the Koans, and hopefully contributing to them.  Please join us.

SRT Solutions is at 206 S. Fifth Ave., Suite 200 in Ann Arbor.  This is at the intersection of Washington and Fifth Avenue.  The entrance is from Fifth Avenue.  Metered parking is free in Ann Arbor after 6 pm, so if you can find a space, feed the meter til 6.   Alternatively, the closest parking structure is at Fourth Avenue and Washington.

Get your Scala on …

Is Scala too hard for the average developer, or just right?  Make your own assessment over the next 6 weeks, at Six Weeks of Scala or attend my talk at 1DevDay on Saturday where this will be the topic of discussion.

Tonight, we’re kicking off the “Six Weeks of Scala” at SRT.  Starting at 5 pm, we’ll be gathering to do some coding on Scala.  Everyone is welcome.  If you’re a newbie (or not yet committed to Scala development), the Scala interpreter is a simple way to get started with the language.  If you want to do some test-driven development, you might prefer to come with an IDE and plugin installed.  We’ll self-organize into groups based on goals for our six weeks.  You don’t need to commit to all six weeks.  Just come when you can (free and open to all).

On Saturday, the organizers of 1DevDay have invited me to talk about Scala.  Here’s the abstract for my talk:

Scala: Too Hard for the Average Developer?

Scala has gotten a lot of press in the past few years.  Some people love it for its support of functional programming.  Others think it’s a completely awesome replacement for Java.  But others think it’s way too complex for the average developer.  Let’s put it all out there.  In this talk, we’ll look at the syntax together and decide what there is to love and what there is to hate.

By the end of this talk, you will have enough exposure to the language to make up your own mind about Scala. We’ll leave it up to you to decide if you’re an average developer or not!

I’m scheduled to speak from 10:15-11:15. Dennis Burton, also from SRT Solutions, is speaking on MongoDB at the same time.  I’m also looking forward to finally meeting Matt Stine, of the Memphis Java User Group and No Fluff Just Stuff, who is speaking on Polyglot OSGi and Grails/YUI.  Nilanjan Raychaudhuri is speaking on Play, a Scala/Java Web Framework, Gordon Dickens is talking about Spring Roo and Joel Hawkins is talking about Hadoop.  If that’s not enough to interest you, Chris Judd of the Cleveland Java User Group is talking about Beginning iOS development, and Nayan Hajratwala is running a full day Code Retreat.  Saturday should be a fun day indeed!

Six Weeks of Scala delayed start until Monday, October 18

Our family has been sick this week, and I’m the latest to come down with a fever.  So, we’ll get started with “Six Weeks of Scala” next Monday, October 18.  I’m sorry for any inconvenience!

We will hold the informal “Six Weeks of Scala” at SRT Solutions, 206 S. Fifth Ave., Suite 200, Ann Arbor. We’ll get started at around 5 pm and go until around 7 pm.  Everyone who wants to learn or share what they’ve learned about Scala is welcome.  Please join us whether you can make it only 1 week or all 6.

Free and open to the public.

The Business Case for Flexible Workplaces

Sunday’s includes a followup-article on workplace flexibility.  This article discusses what businesses have to gain by providing a more open company culture.  Conversations were started about workplace flexibility at TEDxDetroit.  Keep that conversation going here on SRT’s site.  Please offer your suggestions and experiences.  We would love to hear them!

More information on Six Weeks of Scala

I mentioned earlier this week that SRT will be hosting “Six Weeks of Scala”, starting on Monday, October 11, from 5-7 pm.  This will be a loosely structured event, designed so that people who want to write some code in Scala have a supportive, collaborative environment.  Come once or come weekly: we’ll be here, and you are welcome.  This event is free and open to the public.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what to install prior to the first session.  My comments about coming with an IDE were targeted toward those who want to write Scala in a test-driven way.  But one of the great things about Scala is that you can learn a lot in a low-friction way, by working in the interactive shell.  So, particularly if you are new to Scala, this is a great way to start.  Simply install Scala 2.8 (sometime BEFORE Monday at SRT so that you don’t take down our internet) and get started.

If you want to use an IDE, you have several choices: NetBeans, IntelliJ’s IDEA, and Eclipse.  Each of these have Scala plugins.  I’ve been using NetBeans lately, but a lot of people who came to the Scala Code Retreat a few weeks ago were happily using Eclipse.  One guy had IDEA.  Choose your favorite, or wait to see what others are using and why they like them.

We haven’t identified a single goal of what we want to build.  Certainly, groups may form who would like to do that.  Others may just want to experiment.  Please don’t feel that you have to commit to the entire 6 weeks in order to participate.  This is not a structured class that makes that necessary.

Six Weeks of Scala: Join us starting next Monday

The Scala Code Retreat, held at SRT Solutions on September 25 was a lot of fun and quite interesting.  So I decided to extend the invitation over the next 6 weeks to see if people would be interested in stopping by after work on Mondays, from 5-7 to write some Scala code.  We’ll probably spend some time on the Scala Koans, perhaps do some more exploring with the Game Of Life (as we did in the Code Retreat), and mainly just get used to the language.

Folks can work independently, but it may be fun to pair.   Given the short amount of time available, please come with an IDE installed on your laptop.  While you may get some help with configuration, the plan is for this to be mainly a coding get-together.

So, join us starting next Monday, October 11 from 5-7 pm.  We’ll continue to get together for 6 consecutive Mondays.  This won’t be a training session, nor is anyone required to show up every week.  This is about enjoying our time with this language, and with one another.  Join us when you can.

SRT’s address is 206 S. Fifth Avenue, Suite 200 in Ann Arbor.  That’s at the corner of Fifth Avenue, and Washington, half a block north of Liberty.  Entrance is from Fifth Avenue.

TEDxDetroit: Making us Laugh, Making us Cry

If you’re not in the know about TED talks, you’re really missing out.  I got hooked on the topics and the high quality of speakers a few years ago.  I listen to the audio on iTunes.

TED stand for Technology, Entertainment, Design.  While the TED talks are national, the TEDx talks are locally, independently, organized around the principles of TED.   Michigan is quite active in TEDx talks, with events held in Lansing, Flint, Grand Rapids, and Ann Arbor (UofM) in addition to Detroit.

But this week TEDx in Michigan totally belonged to Detroit.  Hosted in the beautiful Detroit Institute of Arts, TEDxDetroit attracted 1000 folks to the city for this one-day event. The energy around revitalizing the city was everywhere at TEDx.  From Chazz Miller’s mission to beautify the city one mural at a time through Public Art Workz to the thought-provoking and energetic poet Jessica Care Moore , there was no sign of giving up on this city. Dancing, singing, and poetry were mixed in with a wide variety of talks.  There was definitely something for everyone.

The organizers asked the speakers to connect with the audience’s emotions.  We definitely laughed.  And there were 2 stories that made me cry, for different reasons.  I saw a lot of other people dabbing their eyes too when Steve Kahn talked about his kids in the Math Corps.  He talked about believing in the greatness of all children and how that makes him do crazy things.  Well, he may be crazy but his kids are improving their test scores from 30% to 90%.  When he speaks, his faith in these kids is evident.  He won’t give up on them.  Ever.  And yes, he brought me to tears when he described how one child didn’t want to move away from his family (the Math Corps) to live with his relatives.  Powerful stuff.

The other story that made me cry was Victor Green’s story about completing an Olympic distance triathlon.  Before his mother died, he promised her that he would make some changes to get into shape, and that he would do a triathlon.  He faced incredible diversity including horrific water conditions in the 1 mile swim that saw many people pulled out of the water.  He nearly gave up on the 25 mile bike, until he saw one of his teammates cheering him on.  His description of cramping and wanting to stop on the 6.2 mile run is all too familiar to anyone who has done a distance race.  But with his teammates cheering him on and running the last mile of the race alongside him, from the sidewalk, long after their finish, I was incredibly moved by his determination and strength.  Yes, Victor, you are a triathlete.  And an inspiration to us all.

And that’s what TED and TEDx are all about.  Surprising you.  Moving you.  Inspiring you.

TEDxFlint is on October 23.  TEDxGrandRapids is still in the planning stages.

TEDxUofM was in April.  TEDxLansing was in May.   I suspect they’ll be back in 2011, along with another wonderful TEDxDetroit.

Do You Have a Flexible Workplace?

Between my article in and my talk at TEDxDetroit, it’s been a busy few weeks, talking and writing about flexible workplaces.  And then, today, I had to follow some of my own advice to stay home with a sick kid.  While he was entertained by Netflix movies on the iPad and books to read, I was able to get about half of my work done today.  I’ll finish it up over the weekend!