Second Tech Meetup - another success...

09 November 2008

It seems the Tech Meetup has caught the attention of the techie folk around Edinburgh, and the second meetup on 8th October was also a big success. We had about 70 people attending, which was a lot more than we expected. Consequently we also ran out of pizza and beer. So as the self-designated official blogger for the event, I’ll try and relate the happenings of the night…

 

Like last time, we started around 7 o’clock with people filtering in till 7:30. This, lets call it ‘group chat time’, was useful as it is a good way for people to chat with acquaintances and meet with people they already know. On the other hand, it also takes up a lot of initial time. So for the coming meetup in November we are going to start earlier at 6:30 instead of 7:00, so that we can do the introductions earlier, which means people can start meeting new people earlier.  <h2>Introductions</h2> After pizzas had arrived and everyone had had a slice or two, we started with the public introductions like last time. Going through all 70 people did take time, but we think it was pretty useful as it helped break the ice. Even though this might not scale as the number of attendees grows, we still want to carry this on for as long as possible. The main objective of the meetup is to get people meeting and chatting to people they don’t already know. A public introduction helps this because even though people don’t remember each and every person’s name, they can still remember their faces and then come and chat to them afterward.

 

We are looking for ways this can scale in the future. We are trying to avoid name-badges, etc as that would make the Tech Meetup feel like yet another formal conference or a networking event. Having peoples’ profiles and interests on a website beforehand might be a way, but people will still not know who the person is that they want to meet in the crowd (unless we have clear photos on the website, or use name-badges… ).  <h2>Demos</h2> We had two demos again like last time. We had more lined up but sadly had to cut short as we ran out of time, and it was getting late. So, this time starting earlier would help…  <h3>Wii Loop Machine</h3> In the first demo, Yann Seznec gave a great demo of his Wii Loop Machine software. Yann’s application allows users to create new electronic music using a Wii remote.

 

A big part of producing electronic music is to do with looping music samples and mixing them in a good rhythm. Yann’s software allows you to control, mix and match these loops, just like a DJ would, using a Wii remote. It also looks fun because you start dancing with the Wii remote, while producing music.

 </embed>  Wii Loop Machine 2.0 :: an intro from The Amazing Rolo on Vimeo.

Technically, Yann mentioned that he is using aka.objects library for accessing Wii remote developed by Masayuki Akamatsu. Yann also has plans of porting the Loop Machine to the windows platform soon. All in all, it was a fun demo.  <h3>Erlang</h3> Gordon Guthrie of Hypernumbers gave a high level yet interesting talk on Erlang. He focussed on the philosophy behind Erlang which was designed from ground up to be a concurrent & distribution-oriented programming language.

  Even though Erlang syntax is similar to many other functional programming languages, it provides native concurrency and multiprocessing capabilities. So an application written in Erlang can scale easily to a large network of computers. Here are the slides for Gordon’s talk:

 </embed>

As scalability is one of the biggest concerns for any successful and growing software application, having this functionality inherent in the design since the beginning is a big plus.  <h2>Future Plans</h2> Many have also proposed a “corners idea”, which we are going to try out this time. Basically the idea is to designate certain corners of the room to certain topics where people who want to talk about that can gather. I think it is a good idea. Coming up with a general and yet interesting set of topics for the corners is the hard part. We would love to hear more feedback on this… • Dates: The next meetup is fixed for 12th of November which is a Wednesday again. We have also decided to hold meetups in the future on the 2nd Wednesday of every month, so that it doesn’t conflict with most of the other events. • Website: We have a plan for a getting a full-fledged community website up for the Tech Meetup. It will have videos of demos, photos, member profiles and facilities to contact each other, forums, Job listings and Event registration. This looks like a lot of work, but we hope to roll it out in phases soon… All suggestions are welcome… • Venue: If we continue to grow, 8th Floor of Appleton tower will soon be too small. Bigger halls in the new Informatics Forums are an option. We have decided to stay with Appleton tower for the coming meetup, and see if we do actually outgrow it…

 

Thanks to Adam Yates, we have some great photos of the meetup. Here are some of them (all throughout this post). I have also uploaded them to the Facebook group.

All in all, it was another great meetup with lots of new people coming this time. Can’t wait for the next one…