We pass a donation bag around at our meetings to help pay for the pizza and beverages. Want to contribute?
We are dedicated to providing an inclusive and harassment-free experience for everyone regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, or socioeconomic status.
Our Code of Conduct can be found at github.com/cville/conduct.
M E E T I N G L O C A T I O N
We usually meet every month. On Tuesdays, although it varies from time to time. We always meet from 6-8 pm.
Membership in the Neon Guild is free. No dues, no fees. No by-laws. No committees. Free pizza and beer and soft drinks at every meeting.
We offer a fantastic resource for the tech community. We have only one rule.
If you want to get the benefits of our community, you have to give something. That something is YOU. In person. It's all about connecting with others. To join, you need to physically show up to at least one meeting. That's how you get on our private mailing list where a lot of action happens. We request that you attend in person at least once per quarter to stay on the list.
Just to make things perfectly clear, please don't write the Guildmaster requesting to be added to the list. She will write back to you and invite you to come to a meeting!
Next meeting: Late August-Early September.
The Neon Guild takes a break during the summer. See you in late August-early September.
If you have a topic you'd like to hear about or one that you'd like to present, email Debra, the Guildmaster.
P A S T M E E T I N G S
Neon Guild Semi-Annual Cookout
Burgers, dogs, veggie options, all the sides, beer and soft drinks, all for free.
This one was a get-together to check out a new venue, Studio IX.
STUDIO IX is a coworking space in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia. They serve freelancers, entrepreneurs, and remote workers with a flexible shared office environment designed and managed to cultivate a collaborative community.
Co-founder Natalie Barton was our host, and we all had a great time.
Topic: Open Data
The state's register of corporations isn't public data—you've got to pay them to license it, and only six customers bother. But it turns out to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually to governments throughout Virginia. Waldo explained how he stumbled across this, and what he's doing to put that data into the hands of governments to close budget gaps.
Speaker: Waldo Jacquith
Waldo Jaquith is the director of U.S. Open Data, a non-profit organization building the capacity of open data and supporting government in that mission. In 2011, in acknowledgement of his open data work, Jaquith was named a 'Champion of Change' by the White House and, in 2012, an 'OpenGov Champion' by the Sunlight Foundation. He went on to work in open data with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He's been a Guild member since 1996.
Show and Tell!
The Neon Guild is all about sharing what we know and learn. If you are on the mailing list, it's hard not to be amazed at the breadth of know-how, creativity and pure brain power displayed in our group!
Folks came and did a show and tell about ONE website, book, app, widget or concept that enhances their life. We had a couple food demonstrations that were fun as well!
Topic: Captain Phone Gap and the Web Avengers: Saving Budgets and Kickin' Apps
Does building an app for your company cost ten times your annual salary? Do you want to build apps without re-learning all of technology? Want to do cool things with a device's capabilities, but only have web skills?
PhoneGap allows you to build near-native applications using your shiny web skills. We'll talk about what you can do with PhoneGap, its superpowers, its Kryptonite, and how it could save your neck from the mighty jaws of budget woes while still delivering a near-native experience on the platform of your choice.
Guilder John Rhea gave a really entertaining and enlightening presentation.
Topic: It's About Time
Speaker: John Feminella
Do you know what time it is? Well, you could ask a computer -- but you
may not get the right answer. Despite our ideas of the representations
of time in computers having been settled for a few decades now, we're
still making the same mistakes over and over in software.
Topic: The Privacy Fallacy
Speaker: Jack Smith
Internet privacy is an oxymoron. It doesn't exist and never did. But is that a bad thing? What do we lose and what do we gain by giving up
information about ourselves? Jack will take a short look back at the concept of
privacy (anyone remember telephone party lines?) and consider where we are
now. Does it matter that Google (or Yahoo or any number of businesses) read
our mail or scan our documents? Should we care that our cell phone or
From our speaker:
"The definition I like most is that DevOps is about empathy, and what I mean by that is that developers and system admins need to empathize with each other, realize they are both on the same team, and communicate with each other to effectively resolve IT operations issues. DevOps is also considered a trend in IT around adopting tools and techniques such as "Continuous Delivery", "Infrastructure as Code", "Platform as a Service", "Configuration Management" and "Automation" with the end goal of being more efficient at delivering software. In my opinion, I think both definitions are not wrong.
"At VividCortex we believe in DevOps. Once a developer ships their code to production they still own that code. If it's not functioning right it's still their responsibility and they must collaborate with operations to resolve the issue. On the operations side we are all about giving developers the tools they need to diagnose problems on their own. In the case they need help, we are willing and able. I can share real examples of how DevOps allows us to be a highly effective IT organization."
Speaker: Owen Zanzal
Owen Zanzal is a developer at VividCortex, where he is on the operations team putting the dev in DevOps. In his career he has worked on just about every aspect of the Stack and uses that experience to find the best solution for the job. At VividCortex he has defined the continuous delivery pipeline, automated server configuration using Ansible, and has redefined operations by introducing ChatOps. He is passionate about sharing his experiences and learning from others. He as recently started DevOpsCV--a regular DevOps meetup taking place in Charlottesville. When Owen's not hacking, he enjoys traveling, playing the guitar, and home brewing. He is a self-professed craft beer snob.
Neon Guild Cookout!
This was our semi-annual event. Burgers, dogs, brews, all the sides, all for free, always fun.
Title: Appropriate Software Communications: Email, SMS, Voice, and Push Notifications
Matt Makai covered the advantages and disadvantages of different communication methods and when to use them properly. Matt is a developer evangelist from Twilio and a graduate of UVa and JMU.
Arin Sime followed up Matt's presentation with a discussion of Pub/Sub messaging and WebRTC for real time audio/video communications in the browser. Arin is founder of design and development shop AgilityFeat, which is based in Charlottesville and Central America.
Title: Enabling Generational Wealth for Good / Roll your own open-source hedge fund
Speaker: Michael Blinn
Charitable giving is fundamentally broken. Though any donors give money episodically, and are immediately and forever petitioned for more. Many charities live hand-to-mouth, so in order to survive they must devote time and money chasing donors. The system is wasteful. giv2giv.org is a local open-source project devoted to the idea that there's a better way to make charitable donations. In this talk we'll detail the what, why and how behind the technology that lets donors donate, invest, and build endowments to fund their favorite charities, and why you should care.
Title: "A Fistful of Bitcoins: How Cryptocurrency Works"
Speaker: John Feminella
TOPIC: Crowd Funding. What is it? Can it work for you?
Speaker: Dale Strickler, MBA
From Dale Strickler, an entrepreneur and veteran of 4 crowd-funding campaigns we had a talk about the intricacies of starting and running a successful campaign.
After two semesters at Darden studying it, consulting on 4 campaigns, and preparing to launch his own, Dale ran through a presentation, data analysis and provided links pulled together from his time at Darden. Also he gave the Neon Guild a preview of his new gaming brand's campaign - launching soon! We had an engaging discussion about the topic and encourage questions.
Topic: Marketing Your Business - You're doing it wrong.
This month's topic is inspired from a recent article in the New York Times:
Riding the Hashtag in Social Media Marketing
It's about this guy named Gary Vaynerchuk. He's actually the "speaker" at our meeting. We will be watching one of his talks. He says a lot of things that will make you think about your own attitude regarding social media and what it takes to market a business, service, brand, and products in 2013.
We had a discussion after which was quite thought-provoking.
Topic: Treasure Trove at the Library?
Guilder Jackie Lichtman and staff from the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library amazed us with all the awesome FREE things you can get through the library. Stuff you don't have to visit a branch to get. Stuff that usually costs money--sometimes a lot of money.
Semi-Annual Neon Guild Cookout
Burgers, dogs, brews, all the sides, all for free, always fun.
TITLE: A gentle introduction to the Go programming language
"It seems that every time I tell someone we've chosen Go as our primary language at VividCortex, they respond with something like "I've heard about Go! Neat! What is it like? Why did you choose it? Are you happy with it?" The answer is that Go is a fascinating language that's working great for us. After many years of programming in everything from C to Java to C# to Perl to LISP to Shell, I'm pretty much in love with Go. There are particular reasons I chose it for our special use case, but beyond just niche considerations, it's working great as a general-purpose, high-performance, very productive systems language. I'll try to contain my enthusiasm and tell a story about evaluating it, learning it, and then learning it more deeply."
About our speaker:
Baron is CEO and co-founder of VividCortex, a Charlottesville systems monitoring and performance management startup. He wrote High Performance MySQL and lots of open-source software. He's previously worked at the Rimm-Kaufman Group and at Crutchfield, which makes him one degree of separation from everyone in town.
TITLE: The Timelessness of Lean Management Timeless? Lessons from the Field.
Agile development methods like Scrum, XP, and recently Kanban have achieved notable success in improving speed to value, reducing waste, and raising customer and team satisfaction. Successful practitioners worldwide have cut development times, improved product quality and reduced engineering cost. Notably, underlying the agile methods are timeless Lean principles, including: focus on customer value, respect for people and continuous improvement. Sanjiv Augustine describes how agile teams in various organizations are implementing Lean management. Learn the basics of Lean, including its origins in the Toyota Production System, and how to apply Lean to software development with the disciplined practices like automated build-and-test and test driven development.
Stop sketching on the whiteboard and start sketching in code! Doug Turnbull showed us how a prototype is a great way to communicate ideas--giving an invaluable window into what's possible, what ideas should be pursued, and what mistakes can be avoided early. Through sharing his experiences, Doug discussed the risks and benefits of prototyping, best practices for developing prototype software, and how to walk the careful path from prototype to product.
John Feminella examined several of the most common tricks people use to lie with statistics. He also explained how you can dissect statistical statements to get to the bottom of things. By the end of the talk we were armed to deal with and respond to the worst kinds of statistical shenanigans (or more nefariously, to mislead our own future audiences).
Bob Mead gave a fascinating presentation about one person's personal experience with organ transplantation, organ transplantation policy, its impact on transplantation and software development to support the transplant community, and the cultural change moving from phased software development methods to agile software development methods.
Debra Weiss gave a presentation on how to be less annoying to others when communicating via email and voice, as well as the disturbing statistics on texting and talking while driving.
June 2012 - Cookout!
Guilder Charles Knight came back to Cville (from Philly where he now lives) to show us the best of iPhone/iPad apps, many of which have Android counterparts. Projected on the screen they were really impressive and fun to see.
This topic generated a huge turnout! We listened to Peter Sevcik, John Rabasa and Diane and Larry Korte speak about their experiences being on and running remote teams. Lots of members piped in with their own stories. It was a very informative meeting!
We live in an age of shifting social norms about what is and isn't
private. But we also live in an age where third parties would love to get
deeper, richer access to the data we generate through our online
activities. The opposing interests generate a friction that is becoming
increasingly noticeable, and your online privacy is what is caught in the
When it comes to dealing with data, what's the most efficient way to
store it, use it, or make sense of it? Is it the spreadsheet or the
database? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
We have such a breadth of experience in our group it's always fascinating to hear what folks are working on. We asked the group: Is there something interesting you've learned lately? A new technique? A new approach? Have you come across some technology that's changing the way you think about or do something?
It can be something either professional or personal. Let's share! Everyone is encouraged to participate. If you'd like to do something a little more formal, like a 5-minute presentation, a projector and internet access will be available as well.
Burgers, dogs, veggie burgers, all the sides plus beer and beverages. Fun! And Free!
Topic: Consultant Slam
The Neon Guild is all about supporting each other. The breadth of knowledge and talent in our group is a source of constant amazement.
We opened the list up to asking specific question, and then folks who could answer put together 5-minute presentations. That was the premise. It didn't quite work out that way, but we had a fascinating discussion nonetheless.
Topic: A Wrench in the Machine
Our lives seem to be online now. We bank. We shop. We research things that interest us. We share our thoughts, photos and videos with the world. We manage it all pretty seamlessly with a myriad of accounts and passwords, many of which we use daily.
What happens to all that stuff when something happens to us?
This talk presented some solutions, but the goal was to get us thinking about our digital lives and what sharing really means. It was a real eye-opener and a fascinating conversation.
Our intuition is often strikingly wrong when we make
estimates, particularly about probabilities and other abstract mathematical
concepts. Decades of sub-par mathematics and science education are ruining
our ability to make critically important evaluations of the world around
us. This has potentially disastrous consequences on a range of topics,
whether it's about estimating our risk of being in a terrorist attack or
how long a trip will take.
Topic: Buying/Selling : Online / Offline
With the economy floundering, we're all looking for ways to increase income and save money. Selling or buying items at auction is a fun and easy way to get rid of your unwanted items or get things you want at a great price.
Neon Guild founder Jack Smith has been ridiculously successful buying/selling items at auction for decades. He spoke about both buying and selling techniques at estate sales, consignment houses, auctions and eBay.
To bring the subject to life, we made arrangements with the awesome folks at Harlowe-Powell Auction Gallery to come and help us with our own version of Antiques Roadshow!
Topic: The Art of Technical Presentation
Why is it that so many great technical visions don't get presented well? How can you effectively explain complex technical topics to a non-technical audience? John Peterson examined some common pitfalls, cool tools, and key ingredients that make for presentation power.
Get the handout (PDF)
Topic: Technical Debt
You have a piece of functionality that you need to add to your system. You see two ways to do it, one is quick to do but is messy - you are sure that it will make further changes harder in the future. The other results in a cleaner design, but will take longer to put in place.
Technical Debt is a wonderful metaphor developed by Ward Cunningham to help us think about this problem. Like a financial debt, the technical debt incurs interest payments, which come in the form of the extra effort that we have to do in future development because of the quick and dirty design choice.
We centered the discussion regarding this topic on software development issues, but it also has meaning with project management and other types of choices we make every day.
Topic: What? There's something other than Google? -
Alternative Search Engines
For the past three years, Charles Knight, Search Editor for The Next Web at http://thenextweb.com/search has been searching for every alternative (i.e. not Google) search engine in the world, resulting in over 4,000 blog posts. This presentation will display the most interesting, unusual, and innovative search engines that you've never seen. We will cover as many as time allows. For everyone who attends, Charles will share the link to his all-time Top 100 favorites which you can explore on your own.
This "straight from the battlefield" presentation provided case studies that describe in detail the most recent computer security incidents that Mandiant (Rob Lee is Director) has responded to on behalf of the organizations. The three or four anonymous in-depth case studies about the recent complex hacks against commercial and financial organizations were covered.
In carpool line the other day, Mark Cave counted seven out of ten cars with a Dad in it. What's going on here? This presentation took a fascinating look at the modern father/male, how he juggles parenting and career, how he integrates technology into his life, and how society views this bizarre phenomenon.
Back in February, Neon Guildmaster Debra Weiss was whining that she suspected she was paying too much for telephone, internet access and cable TV, and that there must be a better solution for communication, especially if home is also office. Many suggestions were offered at that meeting, and that set her off on what she's calling a Life Audit, where all expenses are looked at with a fresh eye. What she found surprised her. Debra revealed how she has saved more than $500 per month so far, and she's not finished!
Michael J. Prichard of WillowTree Consulting Group, Inc. talked about the mobile development market and the players in the next generation smartphone arena. He will take you through the ways to make applications for the iPhone and how to distribute them on the App Store. He also talked about the business of the iPhone and the realities and, more likely, the chances you will be the next millionaire app developer.
One of the reasons the Neon Guild is still going strong after over 15 years is that it succeeds as a community. Members share knowledge, information and conversation with others and in turn get value back. The same principles that made the Neon Guild community a success can be used with your own personal and professional communities, from getting (and keeping) clients to finding (or keeping) a job, to getting solid professional advice, or just having fun
Our presenter, Duane Gran, shared examples of tools that work (and some that don't) from his 10 years of experience doing web application development. Come prepared to share what tools you like best for invoicing, contact management, communication and the like.
Social Media tools like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook are changing the way people interact. But how do we use them to produce revenue building opportunities and relationships?
Greed and corruption on Wall Street were the exacerbating factors that of led to the necessity of the financial bailout earlier this month. Or so our politicians tell us. But what if (gasp!) software and the people who wrote it were partially to blame, too?
Topic: High Tech Cville
HighTechCville.com attempts aggregate existing information from
multiple place about people, organizations, events, and companies working
in the field of hi-tech in Cville.
Jack talked about his experience with Elance.com regarding hiring technology professionals from all over the world. He also be talked about what it's like to get work from places like this.
Links to resources mentioned during the meeting:
Riva FLV Encoder - Transcode your existing video files to the advanced Flash Video (FLV) format with this free Riva FLV Encoder.
SlideShowPro - A complete photo and video publishing solution.
JW FLV Media Player - Free player for audio, images and video.
Everyone seems to be looking for videoconferencing solutions, and there are a lot of options out there. Which one is best for your organization?
Links to resources mentioned:
Access Grid - www.accessgrid.org - Group to Group interactions across the grid - free software - full featured - not a quick install.
Agora - agora.lancs.ac.uk - part of Sakai (www.sakai.org) desktop and audio sharing - free - uses a Java Tomcat server as the "bridge" Will be installed and available at UVa Real Soon Now.
Polycom - AV conferencing - www.polycom.com - peer to peer and multicast conferencing - Full range of hardware and software products.
Aethra - AV conferencing - the Engineering School as a Vega X5 which does video and data "dual stream" transmissions.
Elluminate at www.ellumiinate.com - desktop and audio sharing - Very professional and full featured for live remote classroom sessions. UVA's SCPS has a site license.
Camtasia - Windows application that records a screen or a PPT presentation with audio. It has very good editing capability and can publish in AVI, WMV, MOV and Flash format. Publishing takes 2-3 times as long as the run time. You make a 30 minute movie in 70-90 minutes.
Skype - video and Voice Over IP - free live communications
The School of Continuing and Professional Studies is the main resource at UVa for AV topics. http://www.scps.virginia.edu/vdl/videoconferencing.php
If you thought your dusty old library card was good for just taking out books, you would have been delighted know there's A LOT more you can do with it, and much of it can done without ever leaving the hou8se! More info on jmrl.org.
A series of short presentations about some fun and useful geeky tech things that our members explored over the summer break.
Purely a social event, we provided burgers, dogs, veggie burgers, sides and beverages. Nearly 100 people showed up!
Scrum is an iterative, incremental process for developing any product or managing any work. It produces a potentially shippable set of functionality at the end of every iteration.
More info: www.controlchaos.com/
Whether you work in a group, or work by yourself with your clients, we all have our horror stories of projects that have gone terribly awry. Dave presented some his own, and everyone attended was welcome to contribute their stories. The real value here came from our interaction.
Presenter: Dave Portfield