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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

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Mandy Pennington teaches SEO at the May 2018 NEPA Tech meet up

Mandy Pennington presents at NEPA Tech

This last month’s NEPA Tech meet up was very well attended, produced, and an all-around great time – as per usual.

I’ve seen Mandy do several presentations over the last few years and so I knew going into this we were in for an informative and fun session. SEO could be a boring, drab topic but Mandy made it fun and practical. And it appeared the other attendees agreed based on the number of questions she got after her main presentation was over.

For me personally this topic was timely as I’ve recently taken over the marketing strategy for Jujama. I have no doubt I will be constantly reviewing all of the information Mandy presented.

If you’re reading this and you haven’t yet attended a NEPA Tech meet up – I urge you to consider it. It isn’t all code (in fact, the vast majority of our meet ups have been code-less, though code shouldn’t scare you). And it isn’t all a bunch of nerdy dudes (though there are plenty of us). We want to continue to grow this community in practical and rich ways; bringing in music, the arts, culture and much more into near future meet ups. These events should be engaging and hopefully spark both inspiration and collaboration in our area. After 17 meet ups we’re on our way.

Choosing without deciding

Seth Godin:

We can save a lot of time and effort by making our meaningless choices effortless. Pick the first one, or the one in alphabetical order or flip a coin. Merely have a rule and make the choice.

This point made by a recent post by the inimitable Seth Godin strikes the same chord as my SPARK Talk at this month’s NEPA Tech meet up.

I advise several companies and speak to dozens of entrepreneurs. Many of them make the same mistake – they give too much weight to some of their very early decisions and never getting started because they can’t decide.

I see it all the time. In many facets of business. Another way to phrase this situation is paralysis by analysis.

The example I used in my SPARk Talk was that of programmers that become dogmatic in their language or framework choice, or can’t decide at all which to use, or always want to jump to the latest buzz worthy trending language or framework for very early versions of their product. The result is that they never ship anything.

Choosing a language or framework is an important decision. But, not at the cost of starting. Just get started.

While we’re on this subject, let me be clear about how I would advise a company to make this choice. In many cases is doesn’t matter whatsoever what programming language or framework you decide to use for your app. At least not for the first few iterations of the product. In general, the customer will never know or care what you used to write the app. So, in this respect it doesn’t matter. However, if you’re going to maintain the code longterm, use a language or framework that makes you happy to type. If you’re going to hire a large team, use a language or framework that has the largest pool of talent to pull from. But please start!

SPARK Talks at the NEPA Tech meet up in December 2017

SPARK Talks are, by definition, Short, Provocative, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Knowledgeable talks that are loosely timed, on a specific topic (more or less), and allow many presentations to be given at an event. I had never heard of them prior to this month’s NEPA Tech meet up organized by John George.

SPARK Talks remind me of Lightning Talks or Ignite. I have been to a few Ignite events – some where very early like this one 10 years ago. The thing I appreciate most about this style of presentation is that many in attendance can be part of the program. In fact, at this particular meet up nearly every single attendee was able to take a few minutes and describe themselves, something they’re currently working on, or a topic of their choice.

Photo: Ted giving his presentation on Rust.

In all there were 15 presenters. I quickly jotted them down as they happened. I didn’t get full names or all of their web sites, but at least I captured something. Here are the presenters and their topics:

  1. John – spoke about becoming an independent developer
  2. Jared – discussed his ambitions of working in real estate
  3. George – described use IoT in industrial industries
  4. Ryan – talked of learning more about computers, the web, to better do his job
  5. Kevin – discussed some of the WhatNow! journey
  6. Beth – spoke of her passion for the environment
  7. Colin (me) – spoke about not getting hung up on decision making, just start
  8. Jason – discussed some of the projects Sho Technology Solutions is working on
  9. Ted – talked about the advantages of Rust
  10. Anthonyeducated us on the xAPI
  11. Chris – discussed some of the challenges and next-steps for NEPA Fiber
  12. Danny – showed us a video demo of Kraken Board Sports latest product
  13. Mark – rallied the attendees to contribute to NEPA Tech
  14. Den – discussed his self-taught history of becoming a front-end developer
  15. Gary – discussed eating odd things for his YouTube channel

As you can see the topics were all over the map which helped to keep the evening interesting and the shortness of the presentations moved the event along nicely. I believe NEPA Tech will do events like this again in the future. If so, be sure to contribute. Most of these were fairly unscripted talks so don’t be hesitant.

Thanks to John George for organizing this month’s event. Onto 2018.

Attending February’s NEPA.js meet up

NEPA.js is quickly becoming my favorite tech-related event to attend.

On Monday night at the Scranton Enterprise Center a solid group of attendees listened and shared in Jason Washo’s presentation on whether or not to handwrite or generate JavaScript through transpiling. Jason is a big believer in transpiling JavaScript but he kept his presentation balanced by providing both the pros and cons of doing so. He also opened the discussion up to the group several times for feedback throughout his presentation. His presentation was very good, but the discussion was even better.

Afterwards topics began to fly regarding next month’s topic, future topic ideas, and how everyone really enjoys these meet ups. If you’ve been watching from your chair and thinking about attending – please do. You won’t regret it.

Attending the NEPA.js meetup

NEPA.js

On Tuesday I attended the first monthly NEPA.js meetup at the Scranton Enterprise Center. Mark Keith, a JavaScript developer who somewhat recently moved into the area, was the organizer and TecBridge – who organizes the NEPA Tech meetup group – helped to coordinate, host, organize and provide pizza for this brand-new group.

The common refrain in our area is that those of us who build software products, enjoy a good bit of nerdery, or want to reach out and socialize with people who know what a npm package is… are somehow alone. That simply isn’t true and the first NEPA.js meetup proved that. Twenty-five or so people made it out to this first meetup even with the snow. There were young and not-so-young, men, women, and even those that didn’t know what JavaScript was but knew it was important for them to understand it.

After some introductions Mark did a great job of giving an overview of what JavaScript the language was and how it can be used. He kept it high-level and, though I’m sure some didn’t understand everything he said, surely they left knowing more about what JavaScript is then when they walked in. We also had those in the room that have been developing with JavaScript for years and years – and even one Mozilla team member.

The group meets again next month and will continue to do so the second Tuesday of each month. The group also has a Slack channel so if it you want in just ping me on Twitter.