Monthly Archives: July 2007

We’re moving our blogs

Hang in there with us

I'm hoping that no dust is apparent as we move to a new Community Server-based website, but I wanted to warn people anyhow that we're in the process of moving over our website, including our blogs.  If we go away for a day or so, rest assured, we'll reappear when we get all of the gremlins sorted out.

We're also completely redoing our website so instead of recreating this look and content on the new Community Server based site, we're slapping up a pretty simple site for the time being and only transitioning over the things that we think people use.  I'm sure people will complain if we remove a "feature" that they have come to depend upon!

Our calendar should remain accessible no matter what the dust, so watch that (and in particular August 7 for the Google AAJUG talk).

This may be my last blog post until the blogs have been moved over (we're copying over the old content and at some point, I'm going to need to stop posting new stuff!).

See you on the other side!

SRT Event Calendar

AACS/MichiPUG Google Tech Talk Full!

Registration is now closed

Google closed registration for the joint meeting of the AACS and MichiPUG after registrations maxed out around 90.  We're going to have a full house for Russell Whitaker's talk on Python Test Driven Development.  I'm thrilled at the turnout and I sincerely hope that this means that the Google Ann Arbor office will host many more tech talks.  I think that we've shown that we're interested!

If you didn't get registered, don't despair.  Google is bringing in a speaker on the following Tuesday, August 7 for the Ann Arbor Java User Group meeting.  Once that registration link is released, I'll post it here (even if I don't have confirmation on the speaker yet).  Watch the AAJUG website as well:

Ann Arbor Computer Socieity

Michigan Python Users Group

Ann Arbor Java Users Group

Python Test Driven Development: A Quick-Start Approach

Google Tech Talk in Ann Arbor, August 2

Google has confirmed the speaker and topic for the Tech Talk in Ann Arbor on Thursday that will be a joint meeting between the Ann Arbor Computer Society and the Michigan Python User Group.  Russell Whitaker, Google Software Engineer, will be our speaker.  The gathering will be at the Google offices in Ann Arbor, 201 S. Division, 5th Floor, and will start at 6 pm.

If you do want to attend, you must register ahead of time, as seats are limited.  The registration link is:

I sure hope that Jason Pellerin can make it too.  Jason wrote Nose, an automated test framework for Python.

Looking forward to an interesting discussion, "heavy" appetizers, and paid parking!

Events Worth the Travel

Upcoming Events Outside of Michigan

Anyone who has read this blog knows that I am a huge fan of Open Spaces events.  In particular, I've really enjoyed the Open Spaces events that Bruce Eckel has offered, in Crested Butte, Colorado.

In about a week, you could travel to Crested Butte (about a 5 hr drive from Denver), and combine the Flex & AIR Jam and the Rich Internet Application Summit all in one.  Since Adobe is giving away a $499 license for FlexBuilder with the Flex & AIR Jam registration, that conference is an amazing value.  James Ward, Adobe Flex Evangelist, will be there too, of course. James is a great guy and also a great contributor to Open Spaces events.  He has a really great knack at distilling a problem into manageable chunks and showing you how to use Flex to solve it.

Immediately following the Flex & AIR Jam is the Rich Internet Application Summit.  Bruce is even offering a discount if you attend both events.  Sounds like a good deal to me.

If your employer is wincing at the expense, it's way less expensive than attending a traditional conference like Java One and, in my experience, more useful. And, you can always get a room at the International Hostel to save money on lodging. It's a great place!

I wish that I were going.  If things shake out just right around here, I may end up out there yet.  It's hard to stay home when I know that there is a really great learning experience going on. And the hiking and mountain biking are great out there this time of year as well!

Bruce Eckel's Open Spaces Events

Google Tech Talks in Ann Arbor

Details still coming

Google has announced 2 different Tech Talks to be held in the Ann Arbor area in the next few weeks.  Both meetings will be held at the Google offices in Ann Arbor and registration is required because seating is limited, but both events will be free and open to the public.  Google is sending swag, providing (heavy) appetizers, beer, wine, and it even sounds like dessert!

The first tech talk is in coordination with the Ann Arbor Computer Society and Michigan Python User Group, and will be held on Thursday August 2 at 6 pm.  Registration for that event is at:

The second tech talk will be in coordination with the Ann Arbor Java User Group, and will be held on Tuesday, August 7. I don't know what time that will start, but I suspect at 6 as well.  As far as I know, a registration link is not yet available.

We're waiting on the Google folls to tell us who they are sending and what the topics will be.  I'm sure that both will be great events, and I'll post here as soon as we hear!

And a P.S. on "heavy appetizers".  Is this a new term?  Should I know what this means? I went to a wedding reception last week, and called my friend to see if they were having dinner, appetizers, or what.  He said "heavy appetizers" and that if we didn't eat beforehand, we certainly wouldn't go hungry. And he was right.  I laughed, though, because the Google folk described sending "heavy appetizers" as well.  I figure I'm just not in the know.

Ann Arbor Computer Society

Michigan Python User Group

Ann Arbor Java User Group

Event: Unusual Entrepreneurs Panel

New Enterprise Forum, July 27 (tonight!) at 5 pm

I haven't been to an NEF event in a long time, but this is certainly one that I would like to attend.  For the 4th year in a row, the NEF will present a panel, "Unusual Entrepreneurs Share Wild Success Stories".  This is more than just marketing genius in a title; these are really cool stories.


Brad Morgan (The "Doo Man").  Brad turned unwanted cow manure into compost, transforming his former dairy farm into a compost farm!

Doug Chapan ("Hyperfit").  Doug is a former Navy command fitness leader who is now training mere mortals to be strong in everyday situations and beyond.

Janet Brown-Smith ("Chase-It" Pet Toys).  Janet sells her product on QVC, and I have to say is the least interesting story to ME of the three panelists, on paper at least.

Also, Ron Suarez and Tom Meloche will be pitching new business ideas.

I hope to be there (looks bleak: need babysitter!), but I sure hope to hear all about it if I miss it.

For more info, go to

New Enterprise Forum

New Office for SRT!

Big exciting changes for us

For nearly 8 years, Bill and I (and our consultants) have worked in a "virtual" office.  We've worked at client sites and in our home offices, and made extensive use of Skype and IM.  We've used space in coffee shops and at the Ann Arbor ITZone to meet one another and to meet with clients (or just to work in between meetings).  But, that is all coming to an end very soon.  We've leased space in downtown Ann Arbor, enough room for all of us to work.

We have actually been working on this project for a few months, since the ITZone/SPARK merger and new direction was announced (around May).  SPARK's focus is more on startups and venture funded companies.  That leaves small businesses who have a steady growth plan (and no interest in any sort of outside investment) sort of without a home.  It also left the area user groups looking for a new place to meet.  We had also been talking about more face-to-face time and searching for a way to make that happen, for a while meeting at the ITZone.

In a very cool convergence of minds, Bill and I realized simultaneously that we thought an office would be a good idea.  In the past, we have dismissed this idea.  Would either of us REALLY want to go to the office every day?  We're both pretty comfortable in our home offices.  But yes, we decided that we DID want that. We do want to spend time with other developers. We want that interaction and benefit that being able to bounce ideas off of one another can bring.

For years, we had hoped that the ITZone would offer this sort of workplace for small companies like ours.  We talked about how the space at the ITZone could be used as a "Developer Center", a way for people to come and work, maintain focus, pair program, and share insights and ideas. We talked about how this might help us to become "unstuck" when programming problems are vexing.

So, our motivation in getting office space was toward this goal of having this sort of interaction. We're thrilled with the caliber of people we have working with us.  These are people we learn from as well as them learning from us. Providing a space where that interaction can occur naturally and more frequently is really compelling.

And, of course, we strongly support the local user groups. We wanted a space that would provide a place that they could use for meeting space as well. We didn't tour available office space that didn't include a large, open area that could be used for this purpose as well as for our own public events.

Our new location at 206 S. Fifth, Suite 200 (that's just above the Linux Box, for Ann Arbor folks) met all of our needs. We signed the lease yesterday and we hope to move in sometime over the next month or so.  We'll let you know how our plans develop and we look forward to seeing you there!

Julie Lerman tonight in Lansing

In case you missed her in Southfield …

INETA Speaker Julie Lerman is still in the area, speaking on ADO.NET Entity Framework at GLUGNet tonight in Lansing.

Bill went out to Southfield to hear her talk last night, and I am still hoping to make it to Lansing tonight.  Since I don't think my 2 and 4 year old would get much out of the meeting (or earn me any good will), my presence is uncertain and totally dependent on the other working spouse in the family finishing up his work on time today.  Crossing fingers!


Tips on Writing Relevant Website Content

Inner Circle Media's blog offers good perspective

Carrie Hensel and others at Inner Circle Media have done a series of great blog posts on writing website content.  Their focus is on increasing RELEVANT (targeted) traffic, not just any old traffic.  I think "How to Write Relevant Website Content" is worth a read, as is Meredith Lovelace's entry on increasing traffic.

Alaine Karoleff wrote a good piece on how to write website content.  And I loved Carrie's experiment with using words like "trees with purple flowers" and "Spanish port" because those were what was hot as reported by HotTrends in early June. Her objective was to see if traffic increased and to make an analysis of whether or not that traffic was relevant to their business.  And it mainly was not.  The geek in me truly enjoys experiments like that.  She later went on to post about how she could use HotTrends to find RELEVANT terms to blog about that would drive real customers to their site, rather than just people looking for random search terms which were hot right now.

The only search term that I saw that was even marginally relevant to our business today (July 18) was Ooma.  Since listening to the Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders podcast that Andrew Frame and Warren Packard did, I've been keeping an eye out for Ooma news.  Oddly, their website hasn't been updated, but I can see links to articles referencing interviews with Andrew Frame about their new hub and internet calling service.  I currently use Skype for most of my calls, but the Ooma offering looks interesting.  I'll definitely check it out as more information becomes available.

Boy, I got sidetracked there.  Back to the Inner Circle Media blog.

Carrie's prior posts are great too.  I really enjoyed her post on Starting a Creative Company.  Our company has followed much the same path, and so I definitely concur.

Anyhow, this is definitely a blog that I read and I definitely recommend reading.  Oh, and check out their geeky Scope Creep t-shirt too (I've already ordered one).

Inner Circle Media

Fun Geek Wear

Google Tech Talk in Ann Arbor

August 2, 2007 at 6 pm

Registration is now live for the Google Tech Talk in Ann Arbor to be held on Thursday, August 2 in a joint meeting between the Ann Arbor Computer Society and Michigan Python Users Group.

I don't have any information on who the speaker will be (other than a Google engineer) and I don't yet know what the topic is, but register if you're going because the event is limited to 75 people.

Details that I do have: Event starts at 6 at the Google offices in Ann Arbor (Division between Liberty and Washington).  They will be serving appetizers, beer, and wine.  And validating parking.


Michigan Python User Group