Truly Excellent People and Coding Inspiration…

.NET Fringe took place this last week. It’s been a rather long time since my last actual conference that I actually got to really attend, meet people, and talk to people about all the different projects, aspirations, goals, and ideas about what’s next for the future. This conference was perfect to jump into, first and foremost, I knew it was an effort in being inclusive of the existing community and newcomers. We’d reached out to many brave souls to come and attend this conference about pushing technology into the future.

I met some truly excellent people. Smart, focused, intent, and a whole lot of great conversations followed meeting these people. Here’s a few people you’ll want to keep an eye on based on the technology they’re working on. I got to sit down and talk to every one of these coders and they’re in top form, smart, inventive, witty and full of great humor to boot!

Maria Naggaga @Twitter

I met Maria and one of the first things I saw was her crafty and most excellent art sketches around lifestyles, heroes, and more. I love art like this, and was really impressed with what Maria had done with her’s.

Maria giving us the info.

Maria giving us the info.

I was able to hang out with Maria a bit more and had some good conversation time talking about evangelism, tech fun and nonsense all around. I also was able to attend her talk on “Legacy… What?” which was excellent. The question she posed in the description states a common question posed, “When students think about .Net they think: legacy , enterprise , retired, and what is that?” which I too find to be a valid thought. Is .NET purely legacy these days? For many getting into the field it generally isn’ the landscape of greenfield applications and is far more commonly associated with legacy applications. Hearing her vantage point on this as an evangelist was eye opening. I gained more ideas, thoughts, and was pushed to really get that question answered for students in a different way…  which I’ll add to sometime in the future in another blog entry.

Kathleen Dollard @Twitter && @Github

I spoke to Kathleen while we took a break across the street from the conference at Grendal’s Coffee Shop. We talked a lot about education and what is effective training, diving heavily into what works around video, samples, and related things. You see, we’re both authors at Pluralsight too and spend a lot of time thinking about these things. It was great to be able to sit down and really discuss these topics face to face.

We also dived into a discussion about city livability and how Portland’s transit system works, what is and isn’t working in the city and what it’s like to live here. I was, of course, more than happy to provide as much information as I could.

We also discussed her interest in taking legacy shops (i.e. pre-C# even, maybe Delphi or whatever might exist) and helping them modernize their shop. I found this interesting, as it could be a lot of fun figuring out large gaps in technology like that and helping a company to step forward into the future.

Kathleen gave two presentations at the conference – excellent presentations. One was the “Your Code, Your Brain” presentation, talking about exactly the topic of legacy shops moving forward without disruption.

If you’re interested in Kathleen’s courses, give a look here.

Amy Palamountain @Twitter && @Github

Amy had a wicked great slides and samples that were probably the most flawless I’ve seen in a while. Matter of fact, a short while after the conference Amy put together a blog entry about those great slides and samples “Super Smooth Technical Demoes“.

An intent and listening audience.

An intent and listening audience.

An intent and listening audience.Amy’s talked at the conference was titled “Space, Time, and State“. It almost sounds like we could just turn that into an acronym. The talk was great, touched on the aspects of reactiveness and the battle of state that we developers fight every day while building solutions.

We also got to talk a little after the presentation, the horror of times zones, and a slew of good conversation.

Tomasz Janczuk @Twitter && @Github

AAAAAaggghhhhhh! I missed half of Tomasz’s talk! It always happens at every conference right! You get to talking to people, excited about this topic or that topic and BOOM, you’ve missed half of a talk that you fully intended to attend. But hey, the good part is I still got to see half the talk!

If you’re not familiar with Tomasz’ work and you do anything with Node.js you should pay close attention. Tomasz has been largely responsible for the great work behind Edge.js and influencing the effort to get Node.js running (and running damn well might I add) on Windows. For more on Edge.js check out Act I and Act II and the Github repository.

The Big Hit for Me, Distributed Systems

First some context. About 4 years ago I left the .NET Community almost entirely. Even though I was still doing a little work with C# I primarily switched stacks to other things to push forward with Riak, distributed systems usage, devops deployment of client apps, and a whole host of other things. At the time I basically had gotten real burned out on where the .NET Community had ended up worldwide, while some pushed onward with the technologies I loved to work with, I was tired of waiting and dived into some esoteric stuff and learned strange programming techniques in JavaScript, Ruby, Erlang and dived deeper into distributed technologies for use in application construction.

However some in the community didn’t stop moving the ball forward, and at this conference I got a great view into some of that progress! I’m stoked to see this technology and where it is now, because there is a LOT of potential for a number of things. Here’s the two talks and two more great people I got to see speak. One I knew already (great to see you again and hang out Aaron!) and one I had the privilege & honor to meet (it was most excellent hanging out and seeing your presentation Lena).

Aaron Stonnard @Twitter && @Github

Aaron I’d met back when Troy & I put together the first Node PDX. Aaron had swung into Portland to present on “Building Node.js Applications on Windows Azure“. At .NET Fringe however Aaron was diving into a topic that was super exciting to me. The first line of the description from the topic really says it all “Distributed computing in .NET isn’t something you often hear about, but it’s becoming an increasingly important area for growing .NET businesses around the globe. And frankly it’s an area where .NET has lagged behind other runtimes and platforms for years – but this is changing!“. Yup, that’s my exact pain point, it’s awesome to know Aaron & Petabridge are kicking ass in this space now.

Aaron’s presentation was solid, as to be expected. We also had some good conversations after and before the presentation about the state of distributed compute and systems within the Microsoft and Windows ecosystem. To check out more about Akka .NET that Aaron & Andrew Skotzko …  follow @AkkaDotNet, @aaronontheweb, @petabridge, and @askotzko.

Akka .NET

Alena Dzenisenka @Twitter && @Github

...

…Lena traveled all the way from Kiev in the Ukraine to provide the .NET Fringe crowd with some serious F# distributed and parallel compute knowledge in “Embracing the Cloud“!  (Slides here)

Here’s a short dive into F# here if you’re unfamiliar, which you can install on OS-X, Windows or whatever. So don’t use the “well, I don’t use windows” excuse to not give it a try! Here’s info about MBrace that  Lena also used in her demo. Also dive into brisk from elastacloud…

In addition to the excellent talk that Lena gave I also got to hang out with her, Phil Haack, Ryan Riley, and others over food at Biwa on the last day of the conference. After speaking with Lena about the Ukraine, computing, coding and other topics around hacking and the OSS Community she really inspired me to take a dive into these tools for some of the work that I’m working on now and what I’ll be doing in the near future.

All The Things

Now of course, there were a ton of other people I got to meet, people I got to catch up with I haven’t seen in ages and others I didn’t get to write about. It was a really great conference with great content. I’m looking forward to round 2 and spending more time with everybody in the future!

The whole bunch of us at the end of the conference!

The whole bunch of us at the end of the conference!

Cheers everybody!   \m/

An Aside of Blog Entries on .NET Fringe

Here are some additional blog entries that others wrote about the event. In addition to these blog entries I’ll be updating this entry with any additional entries that I see pop up – so if you post one let me know, and I’ll also update these talks above that I’ve discussed with videos when they’re posted live.

__2 “Starting a Basic Loopback API & Continuous Integration”

In this article Keartida is going to dive into setting up a basic Loopback API project and get a build of that project running on a continuous integration service. In this example she’s going to get the project setup with Codeship.

Prerequisites:

  • Be sure, whichever system you are using, to have a C++ compiler installed. For Windows that usually means installing Visual Studio or something, on OS-X install XCode and the Developer Tools. On Ubuntu the GCC compiler and other options exist. For instructions on OS-X and Linux check out installing compiler tools.
  • Ubuntu
  • OS-X
  • For windows, I’d highly suggest setting up a VM of Ubuntu to do any work with Loopback, Node.js, or follow along with this material. It’s possible on Windows, but there are a number of things that are lacking. If you still want to make a go of using Windows, here are some initial setup steps here.

Nice to Haves:

  • git-flow – works on any bash, handles the branching and merging. Very nice scripts to have.
  • bashit – Adding more information to the bash prompt (works on OS-X, not Ubuntu or Windows Bash)

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__1 “Getting Started, Kanban & First Steps for a Sharing App”

This is the first (of course the precursor to this entry was the zero day team introduction article) of an ongoing series I’m going to put together. I’m going to write this series from the context of a team building a product. I’ll have code samples and more as I work along through the material.

The first step included Oi Elffaw having a discussion with the team to setup the first week’s working effort. Oi decided to call it a sprint and the rest of the team decided that was cool too. This was week one after all and there wasn’t going to be much else besides testing, research, and setup that took place.

Prerequisites

Before starting everything I went ahead and created a project repository on github for Oi to use waffle.io with. Waffle.io is an online service that works with github issues to provide a kanban style inferface to the issues. This provides an easier view, especially for leads and management, to get insight into where things are and what’s on the plate for the team for the week. I included the default node.js .gitignore file and an Apache 2.0 license when I created the repository. Github then seeds the project with a .gitignore, README.md and the license files.

After setting up the repository in github I pinged Oi and he set to work after the team’s initial meet to discuss what week one would include. Continue reading

__0 “Introducing the Thrashing Code Team & Projects”

In the coming months as I put together technical training material, I’ve created a fictitious team that is made up of the following members. I’ve detailed their roles and provided photos of these individuals, that act as NPCs in creating projects for the training material. To add character to the narrative I’ll be discussing these roles as if from the perspective of these NPCs that are filling the particular roles.

Meet…

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AWS Elastic Beanstalk

AWS Beanstalk Worker with Node.js and SQS

First I created a project for the node.js worker. The first steps for this are identical to that of creating the Hapi.js site that publishes messages to the queue. Go through these three steps for the worker and then I’ll continue from there.

  1. First create the web application which will act as our worker service. I gave mine the name of testing-aws-sqs-worker, the site publishing to the queue I called testing-aws-sqs-site.
  2. Next add dependencies needed, like mocha.
  3. Finally make sure the AWS environment variables are set appropriately.

…and now on to the security, configuration and worker specific parts of this series…

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AWS SQS

Setting up a Hapi.js App that sends work to a Node.js AWS Worker via SQS


First I created a project for the node.js web application.

$ npm init
This utility will walk you through creating a package.json file.
It only covers the most common items, and tries to guess sane defaults.

See `npm help json` for definitive documentation on these fields
and exactly what they do.

Use `npm install &pkg& --save` afterwards to install a package and
save it as a dependency in the package.json file.

Press ^C at any time to quit.
name: (testing-aws-sqs-site)
version: (0.0.0) 0.0.1
description: This project that will feed data to the queue for the AWS SQS sample.
entry point: (index.js) server.js
test command: mocha
git repository: (https://github.com/Adron/testing-aws-sqs-site.git)
keywords: aws, sqs, elastic, elastic beanstalk, queue, worker
author: Adron Hall
license: (ISC) Apache 2.0

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AWS Cloud

Setting up an AWS SQS Queue for Use With Node.js Beanstalk Worker Instances

Before diving straight in, I’m going to outline the specific goals and what I am using to accomplish these goals. The goal is to have a simple web application, that will get some element of data posted to a queue. The queue will then have data that a worker service needs to then process. As I step through each of these requirements I’ll determine the actual push and pull mechanisms that will get the job done.

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