What I’ve been up to this week

by Joey deVilla on March 19, 2020

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Hello, Global Nerdy readers! I hope you’re staying safe, and perhaps even productive, as much of the world socially distances themselves in order to help slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

I normally do my work in the Lilypad office, and while we do have one of the bedrooms in our house set up as a home office, it’s Anitra’s office these days, as most of her work is done from there. She‘s a ScrumMaster, which means that a lot of her work involves teleconferencing and requires her to have the office to herself.

I decided that with Tampa being quite temperate in late winter — it’s 87° F / 31° C as I write this at 2 in the afternoon — I should set up my temporary home office on our screened-in front porch. Here’s the wide view of my setup:

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Here’s a closer look:

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Many parts of the working world may be grinding to a halt, but that’s not the case where I am. Here’s what’s keeping me busy…

First, there’s my day job: Lilypad. It’s a CRM for brewers, distillers, and other makers of beverage alcohol, which allows their salespeople and their managers to manage their sales activities, track who they’ve talked to, and maintain relationships with their customers — namely, the bars, restaurants, hotels, and stores that sell their booze. The app has both web and mobile components, and I work on the mobile app. For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on making some fixes to the Android version of the app.

I’m also working on a revision of iOS Apprentice, a beginner-friendly book that teaches you how to write apps for the iPhone. I’m one of the authors, along with Eli Ganem, and the book is published by raywenderlich.com, the premier site for tutorials on developing mobile apps. We’re updating the book to cover some changes in iOS and Xcode, the developer tool for building iOS apps.

I’ve got a couple of extra mobile projects currently under wraps, but I’m sure I’ll write about them soon enough.

As long as we’re practicing social distancing to slow down the spread of COVID-19, I won’t be holding any in-person meetups. However, thanks to modern technology, we might still be able to have Coders, Creatives, and Craft Beer as well as the return of Tampa iOS Meetup — at least in online videoconference form! Watch this space — I’m looking to get these started next week.

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If you’re following the recommended practice of social distancing as part of a civic-minded attempt to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and buy some much-needed time for our healthcare system, I salute you with a filet mignon on a flaming sword!

However, you may find yourself jonesing for a meetup. You might want to check out the webinars put on by the online coding school Thinkful, who have several webinars on current software development topics every week. If you want a session on JavaScript or Python fundamentals, want to know more about data science, or are thinking about getting into product management or UI/UX design, these might be what you’re looking for. I’ve losted this week’s webinars below.

These webinars are all free, and they’re there to help entice you into enrolling in one of Thinkful’s full courses. They generally place well in “best coding bootcamp” lists, but you might want to take those with a grain of salt.

I’ll probably check out the Intro to JavaScript: Build a Virtual Pet webinar on Thursday evening; I’d like to see what approach they take. Let me know if you’re checking out any of their webinars!

Monday, March 16

Tuesday, March 17

Wednesday, March 18

Thursday, March 19

Saturday, March 21

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Welcome to the March 16, 2020 installment of the What’s happening in the Tampa Bay tech/entrepreneur/nerd scene list! I’ve been putting together this list since 2017 (next week is its third anniversary). My goal was simple: to give the Tampa Bay technology community a useful, convenient resource for finding tech, entrepreneur, and nerd events. I watched as regular techie get-togethers helped grow the scenes in my former homes of Toronto and Silicon Valley, and I believe that bringing together the bright lights of Tampa Bay will do the same here.

Three years ago, I put together my first “What’s happening in the Tampa Bay tech scene” post here on Global Nerdy. What started as a little project to give me an additional edge over other people looking for work has turned into a community service for the Tampa Bay tech, entrepreneur, and nerd communities that I’m only too happy to perform. I’d like to thank all of you for your support and for making me feel welcome here, and I plan to keep this list up for as long as people find it useful.

As far as any of the events on this list are concerned, I have a two-word bit of advice for you: Expect cancellations. If you’re planning on attending any of the events listed below, check with the organizers, as they might no longer be happening.

As for me, I’m following the advice of my sister, Dr. Eileen deVilla, who’s the Medical Officer of Health for my old home town, Toronto (community service runs in our family!). As the head of the public health agency in Canada’s largest city and economic capital, and as someone who’s been working in public health since the SARS outbreak, she’s forgotten more about dealing with the spread of viral diseases than most of us will learn. Along with just about public health official and a number of scientists and mathematicians, she’s advising that we all take up the practice of social distancing in the short term to prevent much worse things happening in the long term. Hence the postponement or cancellation of many gatherings from meetups of a couple dozen people all the ways to large events including South by Southwest and the rest of the NBA and NHL seasons.

For this reason, I’m putting the Coders, Creatives, and Craft Beer meetup on hold this month, and holding off on re-starting the in-person Tampa iOS Meetup until I get the word from public health officials — my sister included — that it’s safe to resume regular socializing. I’m an extrovert and don’t relish the idea of clearing out my social calendar, but I’ll deal with it.

In the meantime, stay safe, don’t touch your face or your 401(k), and keep an eye on Global Nerdy for tips on how techies can make the most of the current situation.

Monday, March 16

Tuesday, March 17

Wednesday, March 18

Thursday, March 19

Friday, March 20

Saturday, March 21

Sunday, March 22

Do you have any events or announcements that you’d like to see on this list?

Let me know at joey@joeydevilla.com!

Join the mailing list!

If you’d like to get this list in your email inbox every week, enter your email address below. You’ll only be emailed once a week, and the email will contain this list, plus links to any interesting news, upcoming events, and tech articles.

Join the Tampa Bay Tech Events list and always be informed of what’s coming up in Tampa Bay!


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The only thing worse is when you complete those additional tickets and all management does is exclaim “That little droid did it!”

Here’s the relevant clip from The Phantom Menace for context:

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Another week, another events list!

Welcome to the March 9, 2020 installment of the What’s happening in the Tampa Bay tech/entrepreneur/nerd scene list! I’ve been putting together this list since 2017 (next week is its third anniversary). My goal was simple: to give the Tampa Bay technology community a useful, convenient resource for finding tech, entrepreneur, and nerd events. I watched as regular techie get-togethers helped grow the scenes in my former homes of Toronto and Silicon Valley, and I believe that bringing together the bright lights of Tampa Bay will do the same here.

Upcoming events

Tampa Bay Innovation Center’s Entrepreneur & Investment Challenge is a 12-week cohort-based high-impact accelerator for pre-seed startups in the Tampa Bay area. You’ll have to put in some time and effort, but it’s free, and it could really pay off. If you want to take part, you’ll need to apply by March 22.

The next LinkedIn Local happens on Thursday, March 26 at Cask Social Kitchen, and proceeds from the $10 – 15 registration fee will go to The Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women.

The next Tential Tuesday happens on March 31st at Zydeco Brew Works in Ybor City, and the topic will be Digital Transformation in Tampa Bay. Register now, so they can plan accordingly.

Ignite Tampa Bay is just over five weeks away! If you’d like to speak, follow this link; if you’d like to sponsor, this link is yours. There are volunteer opportunities here, and if you’d rather just watch, tickets are here. Save the date: Thursday, April 16th at the Palladium Theater in St. Pete!

This week’s events

Monday, March 9

Tuesday, March 10

Wednesday, March 11

Thursday, March 12

Friday, March 13

Saturday, March 14

Sunday, March 15

Join the mailing list!

If you’d like to get this list in your email inbox every week, enter your email address below. You’ll only be emailed once a week, and the email will contain this list, plus links to any interesting news, upcoming events, and tech articles.

Join the Tampa Bay Tech Events list and always be informed of what’s coming up in Tampa Bay!


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Sure things, maybes, and longshots

Back in November, in an article promoting the Tampa Bay Full Stack Meetup, I wrote about the concept of balancing my skills in the same way some financial people balance their stock portfolio: 70 percent “sure thing” programming languages and technologies, and 30 percent gambles — 20% “maybes” and 10% “longshots”.

Here’s what I wrote about my portfolio:

  • I invest the majority — about 70% — in “sure thing” skills, such as mainstream platforms, programming languages, and technologies. In my case, this is…
    • C#,
    • JavaScript,
    • Kotlin,
    • Mobile operating systems, namely Android and iOS,
    • Python, and
    • Swift.
  • I spent about 20% on “maybe” technologies, and one of these is Flutter, which also involves the Dart programming language.
  • The remaining 10% of my time on sharpening my skills is spent on longshots. For me, this is blockchain technology.

For the most part, with the notable exception of Flutter and Dart, my portfolio’s been pretty stable for the past few years. I’m probably due for a review.

A 70-30 technology skills map for Tampa Bay techies

Here’s a 70-30 tech skills map, which takes a bunch of technologies that Tampa Bay companies are currently hiring for, and divides them into two categories:

  • The 70% category, which consists of things for which local companies are generally hiring for at the moment, and
  • the 30% category, which comprises things for which local companies might hire for in the future, or which might qualify you for an interesting remote job.

Here are the languages and technologies represented by the logos in the 70% category, listed in alphabetical order…

  • Angular
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Java
  • JavaScript/ECMAScript
  • .NET/.NET Core
  • Node.js
  • PHP
  • React / React Native
  • Ruby on Rails
  • SQL
  • Vue.js

…and here are the languages and technologies represented by the logos in the 30% category, listed in alphabetical order, with some notes for each:

  • Artificial intelligence / machine learning / whatever else you want to call it: The buzzwords of the moment, and the answer to the question “What if we made algorithms that came up with algorithms?”
  • Assembly language and C: Both appear to be making a comeback in the age of IoT devices, where you’re trying to squeeze big performance out of tiny systems.
  • Augmented reality / virtual reality / glasses: Once upon a time, “multimedia” was a specialized subject, now it’s just part of everyday computer interfaces. AR, VR, and glasses may eventually be like this.
  • Dart / Flutter: Dart is an object-oriented, class-based, garbage-collected language with C-style syntax, and Flutter is a cross-platform mobile app development framework.
  • Elixir / Phoenix: Elixir is a functional, concurrent, general-purpose programming language that run on the Erlang virtual machine, and Phoenix is an Elixir-based web development framework.
  • Fuschia: Google’s multi-platform operating system for computing devices of all sizes, from embedded systems, smartphones, tablets, and desktops/laptops.
  • Go: A C-like object-oriented language for systems-level programming
  • “Internet of Things”: Including small systems like the Arduino and Raspberry Pi.
  • Kotlin: An early paper on the language said “Don’t call it ‘Swift for Android’, but that’s pretty much what it is, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s Swift for Android.
  • Python: First eclipsed by Perl in the ’90s and then Ruby in the ’00s, it’s now coming into its own thanks to its math, scientific, and data science libraries and the rise of machine learning, I’m glad to see Python finally being recognized. Out of all the languages in this category, this is the only one I’ve ever been paid to code in.
  • R: A language and environment for statistics. Like Python, it’s become popular because of its applicability to data science and machine learning.
  • Rust: A multiple-paradigm programming language with an emphasis on concurrency. The consistent winner of Stack Overflow’s “Most Loved Programming Language” for the past four years.
  • Scala: The answer to the question “What if Java didn’t suck and had better support for functional programming?”
  • Serverless tech: A refinement of cloud computing that lets you run applications and services on the cloud without thinking about the servers they run on. Amazon’s AWS Lambda, Google’s Cloud Functions, and Microsoft’s Azure Functions are examples of serverless offerings.
  • Smart watches: These are a fantastic platform for what I can “nano-tasks”: little tasks that take ten seconds or less.
  • Swift: Objective-C was getting long in the tooth, so Apple created Swift. It’s a pretty nice language, and pretty much necessary if you’re developing for anything Apple.

This is by no means a complete list — think of it as a starter, and I’m writing it only from a developer point of view.

After viewing this list, you may be asking yourself “So which do I choose?” That’s what I’m doing right now.

Would you like to meet up to discuss your 70/30 plan?

Let me know if you’d like to talk about this at the next Coders, Creatives, and Craft Beer meetup, which I’m looking to schedule for near the end of the month. It’ll still follow the same informal “we’re just here to chat” format, but it might be something to discuss.

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The EFF is looking for a Technical Projects Director

by Joey deVilla on March 4, 2020

The EFF — Electronic Frontier Foundation — are always on the front lines in the battle to preserve digital freedom. From their first case, when the Secret Service thought that a Steve Jackson cyberpunk role-playing game manual was a how-to handbook for cybercrimes to the present-day challenges of privacy and security, we are lucky to have them fighting on our side. (I myself owe them for a couple of times when they’ve helped me personally.)

They have an opening for a senior position — Technology Projects Director, who will lead a 16-person team whose goal is to work on projects to create a more secure, private, and censorship-resistant internet. The Technology Projects Director will be a member of the senior leadership team, and help the EFF figure out what their next moves are: what positions to take, what projects to invest resources in, and the strategic direction of the organization.

Some of the projects the Director will oversee are:

  • Privacy Badger, EFF’s wildly popular tracker blocker
  • HTTPS Everywhere, used by millions to make their web browsing more secure
  • Certbot, a Let’s Encrypt client helping website owners globally receive and install SSL certificates to secure their sites
  • Panopticlick, a research and education project that sheds light on the seedy underbelly of browser fingerprinting
  • STARTTLS Everywhere, a project to foster STARTTLS adoption and make email delivery more secure
  • EFF’s Threat Lab, which has published blockbuster investigations into abusive practices by technology companies, leading to major policy changes

More details about the position are available here.

The EFF wants to encourage lots of different people to apply for this role, but they won’t achieve that without the help of the community. Please help them by sending a note about this role to folks that you believe might be a good fit, and sharing this announcement on social media.

If you’re thinking of potentially applying but have a few questions, email rainey@eff.org, and someone will get back to you.

I may have to send them an application.

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