Monday, 3 June 2013

IT Megameet

Yes MegaMeet may have a slightly cheesey ring to it, but the Bristol IT MegaMeet was a lot of fun, and a great idea for a regional software community event. So unlike most conferences this one is not for a particular company, language, platform or area of software expertise. Instead it brings together all the voluntary community software and technology groups within the region of Bristol, UK.

There are quite a number as it turns out, and so squeezing the conference into a single day resulted in 5 tracks. For a conference organised for the first time last year by a student to save his course - thanks Lyle Hopkins, it rather put our local University's official efforts in software community engagement to shame - however perhaps it might encourage them to rise to the challenge. (Lyle is a student at one, and I work at the other.)

So of the perhaps 30-40 software groups that are based in and around Bristol, over 20 were represented, a good turnout partly due to the efforts of one of Lyle's fellow volunteers, Indu Kaila, to do the leg work of attending all the local events and getting various members (like myself) to volunteer to represent their group at the event. So I am one of the hundred odd members of Bristol and Bath's Django User Group (DBBUG), started by Dan Fairs, and did a presentation about Python, Django, our group, and the process of contributing to open source - so rather a lot to pack into 40 minutes, but it seemed to go down OK.

There was the full range of enthusiast groups present, so I started the day finding out how the four colour theorem from map making applies to optimisation algorithms used in compilers, from the ACCU, who have been around for a very long time, starting out as a C programming community group. Then near the finish saw a good talk from Bristol Web folk reminding me about the core important issues to remember concerning front end web development - as more of a back end developer  it can be easy to label this stuff somebody else's job, but with an ever increasing slice of the stack being client side in web development, these days, that is clearly a bad attitude.

There was more than a smattering of javascript related talks going on, from big data CouchDB and node.js back end use, through to more client side, and a very popular session, flying helicopters via javascript code.

The talks were rounded off with some talks about the charity cause that the day was helping to raise funds for, a cross atlantic row in aid of cervical cancer charity (plus an appeal for graphic design work for another member of the volunteer team from the Ukraine, who is in need of health care).

I then found myself in the rather comical position of receiving two awards from the extensive award ceremony for community involvement, etc. Both really on behalf of other people, but it was fun and lead on to the free bar and barbecue, always a popular way to round off a conference.

So thanks to the Megameet team, if nobody else comes forward, I can always represent DBBUG, South West Big Data or perhaps another new local group, again next year!