We pass a donation bag around at our meetings to help pay for the pizza and beverages. Want to contribute?
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 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: June 2013 | 6-8pm
Neon Guild Semi-Annual Cookout!
This is a fun social get-together with burgers, dogs, veggie burgers, all the sides and cold beverages. All for free.
We usually do this in one of the shelters at McIntire Park. Date and details are forthcoming.
Bring a little something to share if you want. Bring the kids if you must.
The Guild takes a break in July, and we'll be back in August.
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
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
Everyone's looking for affordable health insurance solutions for themselves, their families and their employees.
There have been some new developments lately with the advent of hybrid plans -- group rates, but individually underwritten-- as well as health savings accounts (HSA) and health reimbursement accounts (HRA).
If you couldn't make it and/or are interested in getting info or quotes, contact: