February Meetings

NOTE: I haven’t finished working on the laptop mentioned in my last post, so that article will be posted later.

This month has provided several opportunities for some real professional growth. The first was the monthly GTALUG meeting. Since I was in Toronto early enough, I was able to attend the informal pre-meeting dinner at Pho Hung. It was a really interesting window in to the minds of the various members of the group. It really gave me a chance to get to know some of the movers and shakers within the group in a less formal setting (not that the meetings are necessarily all that formal).

The meeting this month was on a programming language called SmallTalk. I’m not much of a programmer, but I understand enough to know that the language has a ton of potential, but like any powerful tool, requires discipline to use it effectively. As well, I do see how it could be misapplied to projects which need more structure. Essentially, SmallTalk will allow you to change everything, including constants; you can change the nature of the number 3 to mean something completely different. This is, as far as I’m concerned, the essence of Object Oriented Programming as a concept – everything is an object, which means that everything can be changed and maniuplated, affecting the “reality” within your application.

The second meeting of interest was Third Tuesday. I wasn’t able to get in to the city in time to hear the whole talk, but the bit I did catch was quite intriguing. While I’m not in PR, I am interested in the social implications of technology, which made tonight’s speaker particular interesting. He’s just released a book called Wikinomics, which my Fiancée and I now have a copy of. It seems to be quite interesting, though I haven’t had much time yet to review it. Perhaps in a later post…

The Third Tuesday meeting was an interesting opportunity to network beyond the technical field. All too often, technical people can get so caught up in their own world that they sometimes forget that the social implications of what they are doing are having an effect on a broader segment of the population. A good example of this is Firefox; when I started using it, back when it was version 0.6, it was an interesting tool for the technical population, but seemed to hold little interest for the general public. Now, as we are at version 2.0, the social impact of Firefox is really starting to hit – this is one of the first Open Source applications to get widespread acceptance by the general populace of the Internet. Eventually, it could help other Open Source appliactions, such as Open Office, to move in to the mainstream of applications, as well as improve awareness about things like the various Open Source licenses like the GPL.

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