Florida Meetups Programming What I’m Up To

I’m speaking at GDG Central Florida on Thursday, May 25!

One of the games that Joey will demo at the meetup: Attack on Walmart!
It’s a turn-based combat game featuring Florida Man vs. the world’s worst cow.

Next Thursday, May 25th, I’ll be speaking at the Google Developer Group Central Florida Meetup, giving a presentation titled The Beginner-Friendly Android Dev Tool You Didn’t Know About!

It’ll take place at Design Interactive, located at 3501 Quadrangle Blvd in Orlando, and it’ll take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

So what’s this beginner-friendly Android dev tool that we don’t know about?

The Ren’Py icon.

It’s Ren’Py, a “visual novel engine” that makes it easy to create visual novels — interactive stories featuring a combination of text, images, sound effects, and music — that run on computers and mobile devices.

There are a couple of ways to think of visual novels:

  1. As a “Choose Your Own Adventure”-style book, but in electronic form, and backed with visuals, sound effects, music, and interactivity, or
  2. As a story-driven, turn-based multimedia game, which can fit any number of genres, including adventures, simulations, or role-playing games.

What will Joey cover at the meetup?

In this meetup, Joey’s presentation will cover:

  • A quick intro to visual novels, including some delightfully ridiculous ones like Attack Helicopter Dating Simulator and I Love You, Colonel Sanders.
  • A tour of Ren’Py and its basic features.
  • A look at the code of a beginner-friendly project: a “Choose Your Own Adventure”-style game/novel.
  • A look at the code of a more advanced project: Attack on Walmart, a turn-based combat role-playing game.
  • Q&A, which in this case means Questions and Accordion!

Why is it called Ren’Py?

Ren’Py is a portmanteau of renai (恋愛), Japanese for “romantic love”…

…and Python, the programming language in which it’s implemented, and one of the languages you can use to create Ren’Py visual novels / games.

How much programming do I need to know to make visual novels or games in Ren’Py?

You’ve got options!

  • If you’re new to programming, Ren’py provides a scripting language that’s easy enough to let you get started writing visual novels after a couple of minutes’ worth of learning, but powerful enough to add a surprising amount of interactivity.
  • If you know Python or are an experienced programmer, you can harness the entire Python language and its libraries and geek out to your heart’s content.

And, yes, you can program using a mix of both Ren’Py’s programming language and Python.

What platforms can I use to develop Ren’Py visual novels and games?

You can run the Ren’Py development tool on Windows, macOS, and Linux…

…and with a little work, you can even do Ren’Py development on a Raspberry Pi!

What platforms do Ren’Py visual novels and games and run on?

The point of my presentation is that you can use Ren’Py to build visual novels and games for Android. Ren’Py can convert your scripts into an Android Studio project, which you can then deploy to your Android device or submit to the Play Store.

You can also deploy apps to:

  • Windows
  • macOS
  • Linux
  • iOS

And with more work (and the right amount of luck), you can deploy your Ren’Py-based works on Steam. Here’s a list of Steam’s Ren’Py-based games.

I have only two questions: “How much?” and “Give it to me!”

Ren’Py is open source and free as in beer — that’s right, it costs nothing to download, use, or to deploy your Ren’Py creations to the world! You can download Ren’Py from its site,

Once again, where and when is this fabulous meetup where I can learn about the beginner-friendly Android dev tool you didn’t know about?

Artificial Intelligence Current Events Video What I’m Up To

My interviews on artificial intelligence and ChatGPT on local news

Chris Cato and Joey deVilla on Fox 13 News Tampa. The “lower third” caption reads “Benefits and concerns of artificial intelligence.”

In case you missed it, here’s that interview I did for the 4:00 p.m. news on FOX 13 Tampa on Monday, April 10th with anchor Chris Cato:

It’s a follow-up to this piece that FOX 13 did back in March:

In that piece, I appeared along with:

  • Local realtor Chris Logan, who’s been using ChatGPT to speed up the (presumably tedious) process of writing up descriptions of houses for sale
  • University of South Florida associate director of the School of Information Systems and Management Triparna de Vreede, who talked about its possible malicious uses and what might be possible when AI meets quantum computing.
  • IP lawyer Thomas Stanton, who talked about how AI could affect jobs.

All of this is a good preamble for the first Tampa Artificial Intelligence Meetup session that I’ll be running — it’s happening on Wednesday, May 31st!

Conferences Programming What I’m Up To

How to work the room at PyCon US 2023

It’s been my experience that some of the most important things I’ve learned and all the connections I’ve made at conferences didn’t happen at the presentations. Instead, they happened between presentations — in the hallways, lounges, lunches, and social gatherings, where I had the chance to chat with the speakers, organizers, and the other attendees. This observation is so common that it’s given rise to “unconferences” like BarCamp, whose purpose is to invert the order of things so that the conference is more “hallway” than “lecture theatre”.

It’s especially important to talk to people you don’t know or who are outside your usual circle. Books like The Tipping Point classify acquaintances with such people as “weak ties”. Don’t let the word “weak” make you think they’re unimportant. As people outside your usual circle, they have access to a lot of information, people, and opportunities that you don’t. That’s why most people get jobs through someone they know, and of those cases, most of the references came from a weak tie. The sorts of opportunities that come about because of this sort of relationship led sociologist Mark Granovetter to coin the phrase “the strength of weak ties”.

The best way to make weak ties at a conference is to work the room. If the phrase sounds like sleazy marketing-speak and fills your head with images of popped collars and wearing too much body spray, relax. Working the room means being an active participant in a social event and contributing to it so that it’s better for both you and everyone else. Think of it as good social citizenship.

If you’re unsure of how to work the room, I’ve got some tips that you might find handy…

Have a one-line self-introduction

A one-line self-introduction is simply a single-sentence way of introducing yourself to people you meet at a conference. It’s more than likely that you won’t know more than a handful of attendees and introducing yourself over and over again, during the conference, as well as its post-session party events. It’s a trick that Susan RoAne, room-working expert and author of How to Work a Room: The Ultimate Guide to Making Lasting Connections In-Person and Online teaches, and it works. It’s pretty simple:

  • Keep it short — no longer than 10 seconds, and shorter if possible. It’s not your life story, but a pleasantry that also gives people just a little bit about who you are.
  • Make it fit. It should give people a hint of the cool stuff that you do (or, if you’re slogging it out in the hopes of doing cool stuff someday, the cool stuff that you intend to do.)
  • Show your benefits. Rather than simply give them your job title, tell them about a benefit that your work provides in a way that invites people to find out more. Susan RoAne likes to tell a story about someone she met whose one-liner was “I help rich people sleep at night”. That’s more interesting than “I’m a financial analyst”.

My intro these days is something along the lines of “I’m a rock and roll accordion player, but in my main side gig, I’m the guy at Okta who shows mobile developers how to secure their apps, and in my side side gig, I put together the Tampa Bay tech events list and run a couple of coder meetups in town.”

How to join a conversation

You’ll probably see a group of people already engaged in a conversation. If this is your nightmare…

Click the screenshot to read the Onion article.

…here’s how you handle it:

  1. Pick a lively group of people you’d like to join in conversation. As people who are already in a conversation, they’ve already done some of the work for you. They’re lively, which makes it more likely that they’re open to people joining in. They’ve also picked a topic, which saves you the effort of having to come up with one. It also lets you decide whether or not it interests you. If they’re lively and their topic of conversation interests you, proceed to step 2. If not, go find another group!
  2. Stand on the periphery and look interested. Just do it. This is a conference, and one of the attendees’ goals is to meet people. Smile. Pipe in if you have something to contribute; people here are pretty cool about that.
  3. When acknowledged, step into the group. You’re in like Flynn! Step in confidently and introduce yourself. If you’ve got that one-line summary of who you are that I talked about earlier, now’s the time to use it.
  4. Don’t force a change of subject. You’ve just joined the convo, and you’re not campaigning. Contribute, and let the subject changes come naturally.

Feel free to join me in at any conversational circle I’m in! I always keep an eye on the periphery for people who want to join in, and I’ll invite them.

More tips

Here’s more advice on how to work the room:

  1. Listen! Yes, you’re there to talk, but so is everyone else. Make sure you listen to other people in the circle as they speak, and ask questions, too! One of the reasons you go to PyCon is to get exposed to new ideas. As I said earlier, learning goes beyond the talks. Try to learn three new things at every event.
  2. Be more of a host and less of a guest. No, you don’t have to worry about scheduling or if the coffee urns are full. By “being a host”, I mean doing some of things that hosts do, such as introducing people, saying “hello” to wallflowers and generally making people feel more comfortable. Being graceful to everyone is not only good karma, but it’s a good way to promote yourself. It worked out really well for me; for example, I came to the first DemoCamp (a regular Toronto tech event back in the 2000s) as a guest, but by the third one, I was one of the people officially hosting the event.
  3. Beware of “rock piles”. Rock piles are groups of people huddled together in a closed formation. It sends the signal “go away”. If you find yourself in one, try to position yourself to open up the formation.
  4. Beware of “hotboxing”. I’ve heard this term used in counter-culture settings, but in this case “hotboxing” means to square your shoulders front-and-center to the person you’re talking to. It’s a one-on-one version of the rock pile, and it excludes others from joining in. Once again, the cure for hotboxing is to change where you’re standing to allow more people to join in.
  5. Put your stuff down. Carrying your bag or other stuff is a non-verbal cue that you’re about to leave. If you’re going to stay and chat, put them down. When you’re about to leave, take your stuff and start saying your goodbyes.
  6. Show and tell. Nothing attracts our eyes like shiny, whether it’s an interesting pieces of tech, a new book, a new t-shirt you’re fond of, or even some local knowledge, such a new restaurant, cafe, or bar that just opened. It’s why I carry my accordion around; I think of it as a device that converts curiosity into opportunity (and music as well). Got an interesting thing or idea? Got a neat project that you’ve been working on? Whatever it is, park yourself someplace comfortable in the hallway, show it off and start a conversation!
  7. Save the email, tweets and texts for later, unless they’re important.They’ll draw your attention away from the room and also send the message “go away”.
  8. Mentor. If you’ve got skills in a specific area, share your knowledge. Larry Chiang from GigaOm says that “It transitions nicely from the what-do-you-do-for-work question. It also adds some substance to party conversations and clearly brands you as a person.”
  9. Play “conversation bingo”. If there are certain topics that you’d like to learn about or people you’d like to have a conversation with, put them in a list (mental, electronic or paper) of “bingo” words. As you converse at the conference, cross off any of those topics that you cover off the list. This trick forces you to become a more active listener and will help you towards your learning goals. Yelling “BINGO!” when you’ve crossed the last item on the list can be done at your discretion.
Conferences Programming What I’m Up To

Coming soon to PyConUS 2023

Rasberry Pi 3 with attached 3.5" LCD screen displaying Thonny running and Badger 2040 electronic badge displaying “Auth0 by Okta - Joey @ PyConUS 2023 - Let’s connect @oktadev”
Pictured: My Raspberry Pi 3 (above), running Thonny, which I used to write the badge app running on the Badger 2040 e-badge (below) in MicroPython.

I’ll fly to Salt Lake City on Thursday to set up the booth for Auth0 by Okta at PyCon US 2023, and I’ll be doing demos, answering questions, and playing the accordion in the expo hall on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!

Drop by the Auth0 booth and check out what we’ve got, which includes the Badger 2040 e-badge, a nifty combination of Python (which we at Auth0 love) and identity (which is Auth0’s business)!

Mobile Podcasts Programming What I’m Up To

Talking about mobile development LIVE Thursday afternoon!

On Thursday, April 12 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern (11:00 a.m. Pacific / 6:00 p.m. UTC), Okta Developer is holding a Twitter Spaces chat titled Let’s Talk About Mobile Development featuring:

You can listen to the Twitter Space by following this link.

Join us! I’m ready to talk about all sorts of topics, including:

  • How I got started with mobile development, and how you can get started
  • The differences between native iOS, native Android, and cross-platform mobile development tools such as Flutter and React Native, and choosing among them
  • Opportunities for mobile developers
  • Resources for mobile developers

Join us! It’ll be a fun session.

Artificial Intelligence Meetups Tampa Bay What I’m Up To

Scenes from Tampa Devs’ AI meetup

I’m buried in work right now, but I didn’t want to let more time pass before posting these photos from Monday’s Tampa Devs meetup, where the topic was AI.

Be sure to scroll all the way to the end to see photos of Vince playing the accordion!

Artificial Intelligence Tampa Bay What I’m Up To

I’ll be talking about ChatGPT and AI on Monday, April 10 at 4 p.m. on FOX 13 Tampa!

Banner: “Talking about ChatGPT and AI” announcing my appearance on FOX 13 New Tampa, Monday, APril 10 at 4:10 p.m., with the ChatGPT logo and photo of Joey deVilla

The folks at the local news program FOX 13 Tampa Bay must’ve liked my appearance on their series on ChatGPT last month, because they’ve invited me to do a live interview tomorrow (Monday, April 10th) at 4:10 p.m .!

I’ll be talking about conversational artificial intelligence applications such as ChatGPT, their upsides and downsides, and what I and other people are doing to prepare for an age where AIs are commonplace.

If you can catch it on TV or via their live streaming site, give it a watch! I’ll also see about getting an online version that I can post here.