Aberdeen TechMeetup

19 March 2010

There were traumatic scenes of looting at Aberdeen’s 5th TechMeetup last Wednesday night as a group of geology students attending a university cheese and wine party spilt over into TechMeetup’s space in the foyer. Bravely standing their ground the TechMeetup attendees defended their pizza against the marauding geologists.

Well that’s a bit of an exaggeration and in the event there was plenty of beer and pizza to go round. This, followed by two excellent talks once again made for a most enjoyable evening.

    Pat McKay on Visualising Data

First up was Pat from Delta Software to give us an entertaining overview of the concepts behind their FlexReports.com software. Pat’s argument is that although there is a lot of data on the internet it is difficult to obtain information. Delta Software hope to change this with there new web-site which Pat describes as YouTube for data.

It being St. Patrick’s day and being a good Irishman, Pat illustrated his concept by combining two seemingly unrelated datasets, average monthly consumption of Guinness and average monthly admissions to A&E to demonstrate that Guinness might really not be that good for you (although the stats looked fixed and I personally remain to be convinced).

Pat’s team are currently looking for beta testers, so if you’re interested you should get in touch:

http://www.deltasoftwaresolutions.com/ pat.mckay@deltasoftwaresolutions.com

    Joe Wright on Coding Dojos

The idea behind a coding dojo is to improve your coding fu through deliberate practice. In Japanese martial arts, the idea of a kata is to improve your skill by repeating a set series of movements, either alone or as part of a pair. A code kata borrows this idea by taking a simple exercise such as representing a number as a roman numeral and repeating it, looking for a better solution each time. Joe explained how in a coding dojo a kata is solved by the whole group.

There are three fundamental rules which Joe follows in his dojos:

  1. Test Driven Development will be used.
  2. Everyone in the room should understand what is being done.
  3. Coding is done in pairs, with perhaps one person writing the tests and the other writing the implementation.

Joe runs coding dojos for his work at JP Morgan where they have been taken up as a part of the staff training programme. He advocates them as a great way to share knowledge and to improve developers team-working skills.