Kind Acts of Randomness

Barcamp Gold Coast This Sunday

Just a quick reminder that Barcamp Gold Coast is on again this weekend. A few people couldn’t make Saturday so we are trialling running it on a Sunday this time. The day will take place at the Gold Coast TechSpace again which is at 3b/51 Johnston St, Southport just behind the Johnston St Cafe (map here)

To RSVP please go here

Our sponsors are again:

Half of the space will be set aside for short presentations as usual and the other half will be show-and-tell. We have a number of TechSpace projects and technology that we can show people, but feel free to bring along any other appropriate things to show off. Some projects we have are:

  • 3D Printers. Reprap (our printer is now working pretty well) and the new Printrbot. We might also even have the Ultimaker here.
  • Various Arduino electronics projects. Door openers, DMD displays, RFID.
  • Raspberry PI - the $25 PC. We have a couple of these - one will be a setup as Media centre the other a general purpose PC
  • One Laptop Per Child - I might do a demo of how to do basic repairs or just have a general mess around with them
  • Lego Mindstorms. We have a Rubik’s cube solver and ball sorter that the kids built a few weeks ago at our workshop. Feel free to play… probably won’t have space to build anything on the day though.

Everyone welcome, whatever your skill level. Please try and present something if you can…. your talk can be anything from a 1 minute lightning talk up to a 20 minute presentation. If you don’t want to talk, then please be an active participant by asking questions or just help us out with the logistics on the day. This is a grassroots, participant-led event and not your traditional conference.

Happy Geek Pride Day!

Happy Geek Pride Day everyone! Today is a perfect day to:

  1. Tell people all about Gold Coast Tech Space…. spread the word, point them at http://gctechspace.org or better still get them to join our meetup group http://meetup.com/gctechspace
  2. Join Gold Coast TechSpace - all the info you need is at http://gctechspace.org/membership/ - membership is just $40/month or $20/month for Students/Concessions
  3. Support our crowdsourced shelving project at http://ipledg.com/projects/gc-techspace-storage1/347, we are now half way through our funding application and every little bit helps. Shelving is going to make a big difference to our space as we gain more and more equipment and have more projects on the go.

Other updates from me - We are now sistered with Xinchejian hackerspace in Shanghai. We will be shortly starting some interesting projects here on the Gold Coast that they are currently working on over there, the first will probably be the swarm robots project. Join the gctechspace meetup group if you want to be part of this!

Lots more to tell you about but don’t want to overload this post, so please consider doing any of the steps above (preferably all of them!).

To find out more about Geek Pride day have a look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geek_Pride_Day - being on the 25th has nothing to do with my birthday - it was the day that the first Star War film “A new Hope” was released in 1977 which makes it 35 years old! Today is also Towel Day for all the Douglas Adams/HHGTG fans out there http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Towel_Day

Podcasting at Conferences

For podcast hosts out there that attend conferences, especially those that only do Face-to-Face interviews like us, I’d so recommend making the most of these moments.

You get to speak to people you wouldn’t normally come in contact with, plus you get to ride on the coat-tails of the buzz that the conference creates. 

Craig and I have experienced this recently attending Open Source Developers Conference and YOW, recording for our podcast Coding By Numbers. We recorded 3 at OSDC and 2 at YOW, and so far they are own highest downloaded episodes. 

The 3 from OSDC are:

Just a few tips from me:

  1. Get the organiser’s permission. You probably don’t need it, but it’s always polite to do so. It also helps with number 2
  2. Ask the organisers if there is a quiet room you can use, they usually have a breakout rooms or unused conference rooms that you can loan for an hour
  3. Make contact with your interviewees early in the conference and try and do the interview after their talk so they are in that euphoric post talk mood!
  4. Make sure your interviewees understand when the podcast will go out and what the licence on it is. Also tell them if you are going to edit or not (we don’t)
  5. Most importantly - use social media and buzz to your advantage. If people are raving about a particular speaker that you are going to interview (in our case this was Mike Lee at Yow) then make sure people know about it and give them the link. When you finally post the show, make sure you use the conference hashtag and follow up with the people that you originally talked about. They will be your evangelists.

Gr8confau Call for Presentations Now Open

We are pleased to announce that the CFP for gr8confau is now open. Gr8 Conference Australia will be held on 15th November 2011 at ANU (Australian National University), Canberra

As this is our first time running the conference in Australia, it will be run as a mini-conf of Open Source Developers Conference (OSDC) 2011 which runs for the entire week from 14th -18th November. To attend the gr8 conference you will need to have a ticket for OSDC (which is very reasonably priced) or pay a small fee (expected to be around $50) for a miniconf ticket. We’d strongly encourage you to buy a full ticket for OSDC though - it’s a great conference and very good value.

We’ll have a proper landing page on the gr8conf website soon, but for the moment this blog post should suffice to get things rolling.

So, if you have a presentation you would like to make on Groovy, Grails, Griffon, Gradle, GaelykGpars or any other technology based on Groovy - please forward your submission to:

[email protected]

This part is very important, please include in your email:

  • Your Name
  • Bio (a bit about yourself)
  • Twitter name (if you have one)
  • Title of Talk
  • Talk Abstract
  • Length of talk: 20min + 5 min Q&A, 45min + 10min Q&A or feel free to suggest another format (eg. longer tutorial)

Look forward to hearing from you. 

Your gr8confau organisers,

  • Craig Aspinall
  • Glen Smith
  • Paul King
  • Steve Dalton

The Lean Lego Game at Exite

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking at the E.X.I.T.E camp for girls at Bond University. Exite is a programme organised by IBM and has the aim of encouraging girls to pursue careers in engineering and technology. Our local event is organised by Carol Woodhouse at the Gold Coast IBM Lab.

I was going to do a programming exercise, but in the end I chose something more hands on a did ”The Lean Lego Game” which is a practical game for learning about Agile/Lean developed by Danilo Sato & Francisco Trindade at Thoughtworks.

I was a little apprehensive about running for the game for an audience so junior with no Agile experience - but the activity brought many surprises for me.

After a short intro where I explained a bit about Agile and how it helps us to deliver software (whilst also having a lot of fun), the girls got straight into the first “push” exercise. Very quickly all the usual things happened ie, panic, inventory build up, over production. The line kept producing red houses and I refused to buy them as I said it was an angry colour and very out of fashion in the lego house market!

I was fairly hands-off when asked questions - referring them to the written process, this allowed me to demonstrate some key points about the production line during the retrospective (ie. the need for process, orchestration, managers, timekeepers etc in the traditional production line). 

On the first retrospective I half expected stunned silence but the feedback from the girls was excellent and they picked up pretty much all the points I had expected them to.

The 2nd exercise “Pull” was very interesting. As expected there was a lot less chaos, particularly in the later teams, but team 1 completely lost the point about slack and sorted all the lego pieces into 4 big piles (they were getting good at it by now). This then started to ripple through to team 2 so half way through I reminded them about inventory and that maybe slack was ok, so they eased off and I think a few of them even went outside and mucked about for a while. The group size was quite large (6 or 7 in each team - too big probably) so this probably had something to do with this tendency.

Team 4 showed some interesting behavior, for similar reasons to above some of them were slack one of the team members started making a white house “on the side” as this was the colour I had asked for and she was hedging her bets. It was almost finished when she saw that I had seen it and hid it under her jumper. I didn’t say anything - just cruelly never called white again! That led to a discussion point about kanban and how to utilize slack in the retrospective. At the end of the exercise the Pull system produced 1 more house that Push with a lot less effort and panic so the point was demonstrated.

Again in the retro all the main points about the exercise were picked up by the girls, we talked about unevenness and slack and I suggested some ways that a real team might utilize their slack time or ways to level the system.

The third “work cell” exercise was a little different and I was quite nervous about how it would go. As it was just before lunch, I didn’t give them a lot of instructions - I just told them to go for it and build some houses - any colour they liked.

I didn’t mix the teams so as expected team 4 did very well - they started off individually, but eventually formed their own little self organised mini-line within their team. In one iteration they produced 11 house - more than the whole room produced in any of the previous exercises.

Team 3 complained a bit about the instructions and didn’t know how to build the house, but eventually they got into it and ramped up quickly to be reasonably productive. I think the fact they had seen “the set” did help a bit.

Team 1 messed about a fair bit, but did produce some houses in the end - I think they were pretty bored by the previous exercises so were ready for lunch. They also did a bit of what team 2 did.

Team 2 got straight into things - but decided they weren’t going to build houses. They seemed to love the Lego (I noticed a couple of people in their group continued to build stuff right through the retros) and built all sorts of things, including stairs, towers, puppies! and one of them spelt out her name in Lego

I didn’t think there would be much new in this retro, but again it was an interesting one. We talked about team 4’s stellar job and their experience paid off - they also managed to do Kaisan without me really telling them about it - a good self organising team emerged. We discussed how team 3 quickly ramped up once they got over the initial hump, the members of team 1 that built houses also experienced this. Team 2 led us to talk about creativity, fun, 20% time and I used the examples of Google and 3M here.

My conclusion was a little weak I tried to bring it back to software and wrap up but unfortuately it was lunch time and the experience of the work cell exercise had got them all into lego in a big way and they just wanted to build and not listen. I think if it wasn’t for the organisers dragging them away they would have been quite happy to stay there all day and play Lego!

I like the Lego game a lot and hope to do it a bit more with different types of people. It will be interesting to see how people with more industry experience go with it - maybe this will help, or maybe will even be a hinderence. From my experience at Exite - the girls seemed to easily grasp the core concepts of Agile and Lean and this encourages me to think that “different” does not equate to “difficult” it’s just a bit of a paradigm shift for some that have been doing things the other way for too long.

Thanks to Danilo and Francisco for the game - great job, and well done to IBM and Bond University for a very well run event.

Single Parenting - It Ain’t Easy!

This week I completely take my hat off to single parents, especially those with more than one kid. It certainly isn’t easy juggling parenting, work and general day to day stuff when there is only one of you.

My wife’s been away for the last 3 days and I’ve discovered this first hand - it’s certainly doable, but you end up with no…zero….zilch time to yourself and this can’t be good for your state of mind. I only have to sustain it for 3 days, I would certainly go mad doing it all the time.

So, to single parents that manage to do this all the time…. you rock!

First CodingByNumbers Meetup on Golang

@aspinall and I have finally got around to arranging our own meetup. It’s based around a lot of the things we talk about on the podcast, but we are trying to focus on all the topics that none of the other meetups cover (we’ll leave the Java stuff to QLDJVM).

We are holding the meetings at Brisbane Square (Suncorp, L28) on the 2nd Monday of each month and the first meetup (March 14th) is on #golang. Please come along and join us, hopefully we will expand your horizons a little. The first meetup is here