List of Front Range Software Networking Events and Conferences

Updated March 21: crossed out ‘conferences’ because I don’t do a good job of listing those.
Boulder, Colorado, has a great tech scene, that I’ve been a peripheral member of for a while now.  I thought I’d share a few of the places I go to network.  And by “network”, I mean learn about cool new technologies, get a feel for the state of the scene (are companies hiring?  Firing?  What technologies are in high demand?) and chat with interesting people.  All of the events below focus on software, except where noted.

NB: I have not found work through any of these events.  But if I needed work, these communities are the second place I’d look.  (The first place would be my personal network.)

Boulder Denver New Tech Meetup

  • 5 minute presentions.  Two times a month.  Audience varies wildly from hard core developers to marketing folks to graphic designers to upper level execs.  Focus is on new technologies and companies.  Arrive early, because once the presentations start, it’s hard to talk to people.
  • Good for: energy, free food, broad overviews, regular meetings, reminding you of the glory days in 1999.
  • Bad for: diving deep into a subject, expanding your technical knowledge

User groups: Boulder Java Users Group, Boulder Linux Users Group, Rocky Mountain Adobe Users Group, Denver/Boulder Drupal Users Group, Denver Java Users Group others updated 11/12 8:51: added Denver JUG

  • Typically one or two presentations each meeting, for an hour or two.  Tend to focus on a specific technology, as indicated by the names.  Sometimes food is provided.
  • Good for: diving deep into a technology, networking amongst fellow nerds, regular meetings
  • Bad for: anyone not interested in what they’re presenting that night, non technical folks

Meetups (of which BDNT, covered above, is one)

  • There’s a meetup for everything under the sun.  Well, almost.  If you’re looking to focus on a particular subject, consider starting one (not free) or joining one–typically free.
  • Good for: breadth of possibility–you want to talk about Google?  How about SecondLife?
  • Bad for: many are kind of small

Startup Drinks

  • Get together in a bar and mingle. Talk about your startups dreams or realities.
  • Good: have a beer, talk tech–what’s not to like?, takes place after working hours, casual
  • Bad: hard to target who to talk to, intermittent, takes place after working hours.

BarCamp

  • Originally started, I believe, in response to FooCamp, this is an unconference. On Friday attendees get together and assemble an interim conference schedule.  On Saturday, they present, in about an hour or so.  Some slots are group activities (“let’s talk about technology X”) rather than presentations.  Very free form.
  • Good: for meeting people interested in technologies, can be relatively deep introduction to a technology
  • Bad: if you need lots of structure, if you want a goodie bag from a conference, presentations can be uneven in quality, hasn’t been one in a while around here (that I know of)

Ignite

  • Presentations on a variety of topics, some geeky, some not.  Presentations determined by vote.  Presentations are 20 slide and 5 minutes total.  Costs something (~$10).
  • Good: happens in several cities (Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins) so gives you chance to meet folks in your community, presentations tend to be funny, wide range of audience
  • Bad: skim surface of topic, presentation quality can vary significantly, not a lot of time to talk to people as you’re mostly watching presentations

CU Computer Science colloquia

  • Run by the CU CS department, these are technical presentations.  Usually given by a visiting PhD.
  • Good: Good to see what is coming down the pike, deep exposure to topics you might never think about (“Effective and Ubiquitous Access for Blind People”, “Optimal-Rate Routing in Adversarial Networks”)
  • Bad: The ones I’ve been to had no professionals there that I could see, happen during the middle of the work day, deep exposure to topics you might not care about

Jelly

  • Cooperative work environments, hosted at a coffee shop or location.
  • Good: informal, could be plenty of time to talk to peers
  • Bad: not sure I’ve ever heard of one happening on the front range, not that different from going to your local coffee shop

Boulder Open Coffee Club

  • From the website: it “encourage entrepreneurs, developers and investors to organize real-world informal meetups”.  I don’t have enough data to give you good/bad points.

Startup Weekend

  • BarCamp with a focus–build a startup company.  With whoever shows up.
  • Good: focus, interesting people, you know they’re entrepeneurial to give a up a weekend to attend, broad cross section of skills
  • Bad: you give up a weekend to attend

Refresh Denver

  • Another group that leverages meetup.com, these folks are in Denver.  Focus on web developers and designers.  Again, I don’t have enough to give good/bad points.

Except for Ignite, everything above is free or donation-based.  The paid conferences around Colorado that I know about, I’ll cover in a future post.

What am I missing?  I know the list is skewed towards Boulder–I haven’t really been to conferences more than an hours drive from Boulder.

Do you use these events as a chance to network?  Catch up with friends?  Learn about new technologies, processes and companies?


Denver BDNT Sep 2009

I helped Brian Timoney, of the Timoney Group present last night at the Boulder Denver New Tech Meetup.  It was my second experience presenting at BDNT.  (I presented in Jan of 2008 on GWT.)  But it was my first time at BDNT Denver–down at the Tivoli.

Co-presenting is always different than presenting alone.  I actually had a pretty small role in the presentation–I mostly just drove the demo (underwater navigation with Google Earth to visualize sonar coverage data–it’s very cool, but I don’t feel comfortable putting the demo login up–contact me if you want to see it).  I worked with Brian on the presentation format.  Brian has deep knowledge of GIS concepts (he recently ran a workshop at GIS In the Rockies), but he’s used to having more time to cover concepts, and 5 minutes just enforces a certain brevity.

We had a mentor–Josh Fraser of EventVue took some time to run through our presentation with us.  It was really great to have a third party, especially one in tune with the BDNT, give us feedback.  As I told Robert Reich last night, we went into the mentoring session with one presentation, and left with an entirely different one.  If you’re thinking about presenting at BDNT, please get a mentor (and you might have to ping the organizers a few times to get one–we did).

If I ever present at BDNT again, I’ll follow the format we arrived at:

  • 15 sec intro
  • 1 min talking about problem
  • 2-3 min demoing software solving problem
  • wrap up
  • contact info on screen during questions

However, one of the difficulties in presenting for 5 minutes to a varied audience is that it is hard to know what knowledge to assume (about, say, GIS).  I talked to some people after the presentation, and it seemed like we assumed our exposition of the problem was better than it actually was.  I guess one way to address that would be to have a 30 sec intro spiel that you could deliver or not deliver based on a show of hands.  Not sure if there are other ways to deal with this issue.

Finally, we were the only formal presentation last night.  It sounds like BDNT Denver isn’t as supported by the community as BDNT Boulder, in terms of participation.  I hope it doesn’t end–so, if you’re in Denver, consider attending this meetup–it’s a great place to network and get excited about tech.  Here’s the calendar of meetups.

Instead of other presentations, we went unconference style, a la BarCamp.  People broke into 5 groups and discussed a tech issue (personalization, structured data, real time web) in detail for 10-15 minutes.  Then someone from each group presented 1-3 minutes.  The twitter feedback seemed pretty favorable.  I like BarCamp formats, and enjoyed the change.  I found that everyone in my group had lots to say about personalization, including some pretty creepy personal storied about advertising on the net.  I believe someone was going to write up the resulting presentations–will link to it when I find it.

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Announcement: FRUGOS GeoSummit 2007

One of my clients is helping out with this unconference. If you’re into GIS, it seems like it’d be worth going. I certainly had fun at the last unconference I went to.  I am planning to attend; hope I see you there.
———————–

FRUGOS (Front Range Users of Geospatial Open Source) is holding its
first GeoSummit on Saturday, June 16th at Churchill Navigation–100
Arapahoe–in Boulder.

This will be a unique gathering of a variety of folks interested in
Place–geo-types, hackers, academics, artists, amateur enthusiasts,
etc. While there certainly will be representation from the GIS and open
source worlds, we encourage all who are fascinated about the
intersections of technology and engagement with the world around us to
participate.

Also, we’ll be structuring the day around the “un-conference” model (see
http://www.barcamp.org), so, for starters, you
can expect:
No Pitches
No PowerPoint
No Passivity (unless you’re a little sleepy after lunch)

Bring your laptop (we’ll have wireless), and a project or enthusiasm
you’d like to talk about with the group, get feedback, and collaborate
on fresh solutions: the agenda of the day will be structured during
the morning registration/sign-up/socializing period.

If interested–
1) RSVP by joining the Google Groups set up for this event–

http://groups.google.com/group/geosummit

2) Bring a laptop (and cellphone/GPS if your enthusiasms tilt that
way), your idea/project, and willingness to collaborate

3) Spread the word

Tentative Schedule

9:30-10:30AM Registration, refreshment, socializing
10:30-12ish Sessions
12ish-2 Lunch (there’s a grill, beverages, and hiking trails)
2-? Sessions

This promises to be a great combination of creativity, intellectual
engagement, eating and drinking, and socializing.

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Boulder BarCamp notes

I just went to BarCampBoulder, and had a blast. Basically, it’s a self organized conference. Free, no set schedule (there’s a white board with a tenative schedule) and anyone can give a talk about anything. Very cool. Here’s a random link fest covering topics I chose to make note of.

  • Microformats, especially hCal. Feasibility of machine aggregation of Boulder free events, and complexities inherent in such an effort.
  • An understanding of how slippery the concept of “The Semantic Web” is.
  • An excellent post about handling credit card transactions.
  • To clean up user generated content, and avoid XSS attacks, use UBB or some other markup language. Another option is to validate any user generated content against an XHTML Mobile DTD, which should screen out any nastiness.
  • CA-Cert, a way to generate SSL certificates for free, that is slightly better than self signed certs.
  • CardSpace and OpenID,and the differences and benefits of using each.
  • A post about the Laws of Identity
  • ColourLovers, for all you palette hounds out there.
  • A fascinating discussion of the amount of data running through Digital Globe’s systems.
  • An overview of CMSes worth looking at: Typo3, TextPattern, Radiant
  • A discussion of how open communities work (and don’t), including Wikipedia.

It was a fascinating day. There seemed to be a business track and a technical track, and there ended up being about 30ish folks there. Well worth it, if for no other reason than the intellectual ferment.



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