Monthly Archives: August 2008

Lightning talks at SRT on Friday 8/29 from 3:30-5:00 pm

Once again, SRT is hosting lightning talks from 3:30 to 5 on Friday, August 29.  Come to listen, or come to talk at this series of 5 minute talks.  Everyone is welcome to attend, anyone is welcome to speak.  We believe that the entire Ann Arbor community benefits from knowing what others in the area are working on, and what they're learning about.

Hope to see you there!

Ann Arbor Java User Group meeting tonight (8/26)

The Ann Arbor Java User Group is meeting tonight, at Washtenaw Community College, BE 270.  The topic is Java FX, and speaker is Jim Weaver.  The meeting starts around 6:30, with some informal networking.

I was really hoping to attend.  Looks like a great talk!  Unfortunately, I have a conflict tonight.  I'm hoping someone blogs the talk!

Lightning Talks at SRT from August 15

We do lightning talks at SRT every other week, from 3:30-5.  The idea was borne out of my very positive experience with lightning talks at the Java Posse Roundup and in others who are here who have had similarly positive experiences.  We realized that there was a lot of benefit in knowing what people are looking at, and having 5 minute talks is ideal, since that gives you enough of a flavor for a topic to determine if you want to spend more time researching it.  So here are the topics that were discussed today.

  • Drizzle, by Rick Harding

Drizzle is a fork of MySQL.  Objective is to return MySQL to its roots by stripping out the garbage it doesn't need.  Unlike MySQL, this has no connection to Sun.  There are no procedures, views, grants, triggers, and there is no Windows support.  Can also use Drizzle as a view of a larger backend database store (like Oracle).  Goal is to serve data fast, and to provide a front end for a database.  Want charding across nodes, real working proxing, no internal ACLS.  UTF-8 only.  Linux only.  Idea is to be very fast microkernel and support a flexible plugin architecture.  Hosted on Launchpad.   Targeted toward web and cloud applications.

  • Windows Media Center, by Charle Sears

Bill Heitzeg wanted a repository for his music and TV.  Charlie built a Windows Media Center PC with components from NewEgg.  It uses Vista's Media Center.  The computer was 2 gig of RAM, a terabyte of disk, Intel 2.53 GB processor, wireless.  Cost: $850 including shipping. 

  • Altova Tools, by Bill Heitzeg

Microsoft's product, XSD, didn't handle the nesting of an XML file that Bill needed to view, so he went looking for a tool.  Having had experience with XMLSpy, he decided to look at Altova's offerings.  Altova has a set of tools for XML editing, data management, UML, and web services. 

UModel is UML modeling which works with Eclipse and Visual Studio.

DatabaseSpy is a query and design tool for databases.

Authentic is an XML Authoring Tool.

And they have several other tools as well.

  • Tale of Two Tests, by Phil Huhn

Phil described some situations in inherited software.  First case, on a Unix platform where he found a bunch of core files.  Team had been ignoring them.  Phil debugged the core files and found errors in application and needed to be able to test.  He found that a second application could replicate the problem and debug/test.  Second case, a scientific application was built with a data acquisition card, etc. (real hardware, not simulated).  A second application was available to simulate the hardware.  He was able to get a hardware person to create a simulation environment in hardware for testing.

  • Adhoc Iterators, by Jay Wren

Inspired by observing the use of a tree data structure in the past week.  Left out of the framework was a way to do an adhoc iterator.  Inspired by "cons" in F#, Jay demonstrated how to add it to C#.


And on the non-technical side, we had ice cream from Washtenaw Dairy.  My favorite is the lemon custard, which I have a hard time finding anywhere else.  Oh, and Bill's letting me take home his Windows Media Center PC for the weekend so that I can check it out, and

Lightning Talks this afternoon

Just a quick reminder that SRT is hosting lightning talks at 3:30 pm today (until about 5).  Anyone is welcome to attend, to give a 5 minute presentation on anything remotely technology-related, and/or to simply observe. 

SRT hosts lightning talks every other Friday, and these are always open to anyone in the community.  We feel that this is a great way to wind down the work week, while piquing interest in a variety of topics.

Join us!

Upcoming technical events

In addition to a user group meeting this week, there are some weekend conferences/camps going on.  

Ann Arbor .NET developer group (Wednesday August 13 at 6 pm) features Jeff McWherter who will be speaking on applying automated testing to an existing application. AADND meets at SRT Solutions (206 S. Fifth Ave, Suite 200, Ann Arbor). Visit for more information.

eRubyCon is a conference geared toward the use of the Ruby programming language in the enterprise. The conference will be held August 15, 16, 17th in Polaris (near Columbus). The conference boasts speakers who have had success getting Ruby into some of the largest organizations, speaking on data warehousing, JRuby, testing legacy JEE code with JRuby, Ruby code generation, enterprise workflows and more. For more information, see

BarCamp Grand Rapids is being held on Friday August 15 through Saturday August 16. BarCamp is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from attendees, usually centered around technology topics. For more information, see

 And, of course, don't forget about SRT's hosted Lightning Talks on Friday August 15, from 3:30-5 pm.  Last time (on August 1), we had topics like Subversion 1.5 (Rick Harding). Phone Calling over Twitter (Ed Vielmetti), Selenium (Charlie Sears),  Cube Permissions (Phil Huhn), Generic Functions with Python (Mark Ramm), Subsonic (Phil Huhn), Blogging to Community Server from Microsoft Word (Charlie Sears), Musical Topology (Ed Vielmetti), and Blogging with Microsoft LiveWriter (Bill Wagner).

Plan ahead for next week too!  The Detroit Java User Group doesn't meet every month, but they're meeting on Wednesday, August 20, and the topic is Java Scripting Languages, with Kirsten Henderson.  And while it's called the Detroit Java User Group, it's really in Farmington Hills, so quite driveable from Ann Arbor.

[DMM: correction … there was an error in the post on the Detroit JUG.  Kirsten emailed me that they made a mistake in the year of the post and that was the talk she did LAST August.  Sigh, too bad.  I'm sorry I missed it last year and was looking forward to an update!]

I also thought that I would mention the Agile Summer Camp, coming up September 5-7 at Brighton Recreation Area. This is an interactive, participants-driven open spaces event that will be held over a weekend, and will attract professionals interested in improving software development through agile techniques. Some people will be camping (there are 2 cabins available, and a separate campground), while others will commute from their homes. 

Monthly user group meetings this week!

It's the first full week of the month.  Hoping I'm able to get away for some user group meetings.

On Wednesday August 6, AACS (Ann Arbor Computer Society) has Eric Inancich discussing Ruby and Domain Specific Languages.  The meeting starts at 6.  Pizza will be provided by AACS, free of charge.  The meeting's free too, but door prizes only go to paid-up members (note to self: remember to take $20 for annual membership).  AACS usually gives out gift certificates.  

On Thursday August 7, the Michigan Python User Group (MichiPUG) will be discussing the state of Turbo Gears 2.  Created in Ann Arbor by local Kevin Dangoor, another local (Mark Ramm) has taken over maintenance of the TG2 project.  Both are very knowledgeable and it's always interesting to hear where the project is, and where it's going.  MichiPUG starts at 7.

Both meetings are at SRT Solutions, 206 S. Fifth Ave., Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI 48104 and are free and open to the public. Hope to see you at a meeting or two.