MongoDB Meetup

Tonight I went to the Chicago MongoDB Meetup group. I have used MongoDB, but not in production.

I met a few people who expressed interest in presenting at CJUG. Sometimes running a group feels like living paycheck to paycheck. It is rare that I have speakers lined up more that a month in advance.

Always be closing.

Anyway, I met a few more people who run small consulting firms here in Chicago. It seems like there is a startup scene developing in Chicago. On the other hand, maybe it’s been here for a while and I was not aware of it because I was at a huge corporation.

Image from Wikipedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use. It looks like the image has been changed on the Wikipedia page since 2011. I could not find this image on the Mongo DB site.

CJUG Meeting 2011-02-15

We have another CJUG Meeting on February 15, 2011. Ray Ploski of Red Hat will talk about Drools. You can find info on the CJUG site here. You can RSVP for it here.

The past few CJUG meetings have gone pretty well. We are now having them at CME. It has really helped our attendance. We used to be lucky to get a dozen people. Now we get about 30. The RSVP software we are using is called It was made by a few guys here in Chicago. It uses the “freemium” model, and free events are limited to 50 responses. A few times we hit that limit. If we keep hitting it consistently we might have to either find something else or convince the GathersUs developers to increase that limit. They have responded to some feedback from me and a few other people, so we will see what happens.

For future CJUG meetings, there are some plans in the works. I will probably give a presentation in March on Android. Jeff Palmer of the Chicago Groovy Users Group will give one in April about Grails. Someone from a local consulting firm might be able to give one about hooking mobile apps up to JEE servers.

I would also like to get some presentations about some trends in the software industry. I think that the current threading model of concurrency is being replaced by the Actor model. The Akka library in Scala can also be used in Java. I would like to have a presentation on that. Also, NoSQL is gaining some traction. I would like to have a presentation on MongoDB, showing how to use it and some examples with the Java API.

If anyone could do these (or point me to existing presentations that I could use), that would be great. Alternatively, I could collaborate on these with someone. We could set up a GitHub account and hash out a presentation deck and some code; I think using Maven would be the best bet. I do not have a Mac, so the deck would have to be in OpenOffice.

Image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use. Image from the Vatican Virgil, a 5th century manuscript of poems by Virgil. Note: Some images may contain spoilers.

Events of the past few weeks

A couple of weeks ago I went to a technology conference at CME Group, arranged by Chicago Java Users Group‘s CME Contact, @agilefugue. There were three tracks: JVM languages, handing big data (Hadoop, caching) and agile methodologies.

I attended one of the big data talks and two of the JVM language talks: Scala with Daniel Spiewak (website, twitter) and Clojure with Aaron Bedra (website, twitter). One of my goals is to learn a functional language. I was going to look at Scala, but now I am thinking about Clojure. There are a lot of braces, brackets, parentheses, arrows and other stuff in Scala. It looks like line noise to me. I am still getting used to the parentheses of Lisp.

I have been reading a few articles on Lisp (such as this one and Paul Graham’s articles), and I starting to go through Practical Common Lisp. So I will go through that and check out Clojure a bit more.

We had a meeting for the Chicago Java Users Group on the 16th. Michael Segel gave an intro to Hadoop. He is the co-founder of the Chicago Hadoop Users Group. Contact them to find out more about Hadoop. A lot of companies in Chicago are using it.

I attended a meeting for Chicago Android. I stayed for an hour, but they could not hook up one of the big screen tvs to the host’s laptop. I am starting to get serious about Android.  It has taken me a while to think of an app to make, but I am starting to get a few ideas. There seems to be a big push to make Chicago a big center for mobile and Android development.

I also attended a seminar put on by Morgan Stanley about private equity. The speaker was one of the founders of Hyde Park Angels. The venture capital/startup community in Chicago seems pretty big. He gave some interesting statistics about the amount of money invested in companies throughout the state of Illinois (with Chicago being about half):

  • 2008: $467 million
  • 2009: $184 million
  • 2010 (January 1-June 30): $432 million

So it looks like the economy is looking up. There is another indicator: The floor I am on at work is filling up.

 Image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use. Image from Bibliotheque Nationale, MS It. 81, around 1310.

Chicago Groovy Users Group

Last night I attended the Chicago Groovy Users Group meeting. The speaker was David Klein, author of Grails: A Quick-Start Guide. He talked about using REST web services in Grails. He said that people are moving away from using SOAP and that REST is the most common way people do web services. He also said many people are doing things that are REST-like. He said the guy who formulated REST gets upset when people call something REST when it is not. So I will start looking at REST.

He also said that Chicago is one of the big Groovy/Grails/Griffon cities in the USA. The Groovy/Grails developers work for SpringSource, the company behind the Spring Framework. So I will take a closer look at Groovy as well.

He also announced that the next SpringOne conference will be in Chicago in October. It was a pretty good meeting overall.

 Image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use. Image from the Roman Vergil, a 5th century manuscript of poems by Virgil.

2010-04-26 Update

We had a Chicago Java Users Group meeting on April 20th. Our speaker was Damodar Chetty, a consultant from Minneapolis. He talked about Tomcat configuration. There was a bit of a problem: We did not have a projector. Every room we have reserved at Loyola has had a projector, so I assumed we would have one this time. There was a very large projector screen, which was ironic. I put in a request for a projector, but it did not go through properly. Damodar did pretty well under the circumstances. If you need a speaker for your JUG, contact him at his site.

I posted to the JUG Leaders list for advice on how to handle this in the future. Someone said one thing to do is get the speaker’s notes ahead of time and be ready to print out copies or copy the file from a thumb drive. Another one of those brilliant and practical ideas that never occurs to you when you really need it.

I am still looking for a job. I talked with a recruiter a couple of weeks ago who gave me some good advice on my resume. I am reworking it, and I think it is a lot better. I am also getting more focused. I started learning Ruby, and I will continue with it, but I may pull back on that a bit. I will re-focus on Java and JVM languages and technologies: Java, Scala, and Android. There was an Android workshop put on by Chicago Android. I learned a lot, and I will get more into Android. Recently I got a free Droid phone. I will go to Verizon and see what it would cost to use a plan for Droid.

 Image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use. Image from the Roman Vergil, a 5th century manuscript of poems by Virgil.

2010-02-16 CJUG Meeting

There will be another meeting of the Chicago Java Users Group on February 16, 2010. The speaker will be Yair Goldfinger, a founder of ICQ. He will cover two topics: Building an instant messaging service, and using DSLs in Java.

NOTE: The location will not be at Loyola University, but at the offices of Dotomi at 168 North Clinton. People will need to be buzzed in and escorted up to the second floor, but we will either have someone stationed in the lobby, or have someone come down every few minutes to see if there is anyone waiting.

 Image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use. Image from the Roman Vergil, a 5th century manuscript of poems by Virgil.

Upcoming events 2009-12-02

Many consultants who are give speeches claim they are a “preeminent speaker.” I am not giving any speeches these days, but I plan on attending a few in the next few weeks. So I guess I could call myself a “preeminent attendee.” Here are some meetings I will be going to:

I know I said before that I did not like what little I saw of Scala at No Fluff Just Stuff. I did not like the lack of dots and parentheses. It seemed a bit hard to follow, and Groovy looked more like Java. Maybe after some study and talking about it with Scala people it will make more sense. (Like you’ve never made a snap judgement.) Plus I read a post at Cafe au Lait Java News and Resources that said: “Groovy got a little play for a couple of years, but the smart money is now betting on Scala. Name aside, Groovy just never caught a groove.”

I have been thinking about working with Swing, and both languages can do so. We shall see.

Image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use. Illustration from Alexandrian World Chronicle, 5th century Greek chronicle.

No Fluff, Just Great Stuff

About seven months ago I won free tickets to No Fluff Just Stuff at a raffle at CJUG. NFJS is like a Java One that comes to you. They have also provided speakers for Java User Groups, including CJUG. I went, and it was great.

I did not mingle as much as I wanted to or talk to as many people as I should have. For one thing: I have a few upcoming expenses and not much income, so I was really depressed about that. I was in a better mood on Saturday and Sunday that I was on Friday. Plus there were a lot of people from the same company who were there in groups. (The organizer said that not many companies can afford to send groups to Java One.) I really do not feel comfortable interrupting a group of people to introduce myself. But I did talk to a few people.

Plus: I went into software because I am not Senor Schmooze. Now I have to do all the stuff that I went into software to avoid. And schmoozing with a bunch of people who hate it as much as I do AND are as bad at it as I am is really difficult.

I was also depressed because I have been slacking off on studying Java and other technology. But now I am more excited. Also I got a tip from one of the speakers, Venkat Subramaniam. He said that studying consistently starts a virtuous cycle: the more he learns, the more he learns. He had a talk on testing with dependencies that I liked.

Ted Neward talked about collections and generics in Java and using them to write Java applications that incoroporate concepts from functional programming. He said Ruby people like to brag that they can print out the lines in a file in one line. In Java, you have to instantiate a few classes, put them in try/catch blocks, and close the fine in a finally block (since closing the file can throw exceptions and those have to be in a try/catch block too). He used generics and collections to put most of that in a class that did all that stuff. Then in his main Java class he instantiated the class, using the path as the constructor argument, and in the for loop printed out each line.

Granted, he earlier said that every time you write a for loop god kills a kitten.

But he made up for it by referring us to a few good websites: Functional Java and Apache Commons Functor.

Mark Richards talked about JMS. There are a lot of trading firms in Chicago that want people with JMS knowledge. He also talked about JMS and Spring. I asked him if he would be willing to come out to Chicago to speak at CJUG and he said he would. He also used some Scala and Groovy in one of his talks. I did not like the look of Scala. But I will look into Groovy, since I need to look into other languages.

Matthew McCullough gave a talk on Maven. I will definitely look into it.

First I go to a talk by Matthew McCullough, then Tim O’Brien hands out books: I encounter two guys with Irish names in one week who are connected to Maven. Coincidence? I think not.

I also saw a talk on Java concurrency by Brian Goetz. It would be a cliche to say, “This guy wrote the book on Java Concurrency in Practice,” but he did. You can get it at Amazon. Sun thought it was so good, they hired him.

So I will be more diligent about studying. If you have a chance to go to No Fluff Just Stuff, you should go.

 Image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use. Illustration of Zechariah from Alexandrian World Chronicle, 5th century Greek chronicle.

2009-10-05 Update

I have not posted in a while, so I will give an update on what has been going on.

A few weeks ago, one of my cousins got married, and my mom was in town for that. So I spent some time with her and a few other relatives.

The next week (last week), my desktop PC died on me. I turned it off one night, and the next morning it rebooted after 15 minutes, and kept rebooting during startup until I turned it off. If I leave it off for a day, it will stay on for 15 minutes, and then go into the reboot infinite loop. It is a Linux/Windows dual-boot, so I doubt there is something wrong with the registry. I cleaned out a lot of dust with some compressed air, so dust is not the issue. There is probably some component that is having problems.

I did not want to be short a PC for a few days, so I went out and bought a new system. I am only running Linux on it. My older system only had 1 GB of memory, and the new one has 8 GB. I was going to buy a new one soon anyway, but I am a bit depressed about spending money sooner than I intended.

I spent a few days getting some important stuff that I backed onto DVD, including some that I burned to DVD during the 15 minute window I had on my old system. I forgot to get the OpenCMS database, so I may have to recreate all the static content on this site from scratch. I will wait a few days and see if I can ftp some more stuff from Brigadoon.

There are also some Java updates, but I will post about those tomorrow. And I am still looking for a job.

 Image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use. Illustration of Macedonian Kings from Alexandrian World Chronicle, 5th century Greek chronicle.