Chicago Startup Weekend (June 2012)

So my job ended on June 1, 2012, and the next phase of my life was about to begin.  I spent the last weekend at Startup Weekend Chicago. In case you've never heard about a Startup Weekend, head over to the site and learn more about it.  Basically Startup weekend is an amazing entrepreneural experiement where you put 100 people in a room from different backgrounds, and over 1/2 of them pitch business ideas. Then everyone gets a chance to vote on the best pitches, and teams rally and are formed around the best 10 ideas.

The goal over the next 54 hours is to create a viable business and present a minimum viable product moving forward.  Sounds crazy? After attending my first Startup Weekend, I see this idea as amazingly simple and productive.

I was fortunate to work with a 10 person team, made up of some of the smartest and most dedicated minds I've come across randomly in a long while. We trashed out our project idea on Friday night, split into departments and assigned the work within the group.  We followed a wicked Agile development paradigm, and fed off each other's energy. It was awesome.  By Saturday, I had written out a minimum viable algorithm for our application, and we sketched out a system design that we could build by Sunday evening.  Everyone on the team pulled their weight, and by Sunday night we were taking home the Innovation and Performics award which would give our team and project a lot of exposure in the coming weeks.

Is this the start of a company? I hope so. Whatever dreams may come though, this weekend was an awesome laboratory of a learning experiment.  The mentorship and coaching was invaluable, and the opportunities for interdisciplinary learning were unmatched.

If nothing, I now have an excuse to learn Ruby!

Thank you Parity

Yesterday was my last day of work at Parity Systems Limited. I worked there for 6 years and 3 months as a software engineer. Now it's all over, the company is now just the founder, and all my colleagues have been forced to move on to different pastures.

I look back at my time at Parity with fondness. There were some difficult times, some great times, some really tough days and some really light ones. All in all, I've become a better software engineer for the men and women that I worked with for those many years. I sure will miss seeing them everyday.

On the bright side, I know I still continue to see the engineers I worked with at RTSG in Trinidad whenever I'm back there. So I know that I'll still get to see Yuhong and his wife from time to time as well. I think of most I'll miss sharing an office with an amazing developer, who also shared my love for football (the European kind).

I'll miss going into One Rotary Center, and just knowing my way around. I'll miss my chair... oh wait, nope, I took my chair with me. Forget that, I love my Herman Miller chair.

I'll miss the amazing family who ran this awesome company. They were pillars of integrity as far as I learned and there model in how to treat a customer, regardless of how a customer treats us, is something I will take with me forever.

Thanks for the memories Parity. One door closes, another one opens.

Reset Android Development on Eclipse

So March is officially prototyping month. It's been an early spring for us in Chicago, actually today's weather at 82 degrees qualifies it as an early summer. But there still aren't any leaves on the trees. As new life begins outside, new life is also beginning inside. I've been prototyping my user interface idea, and actually spent the last 2 weeks devouring some books on usability and user experience strategy that will go a long way to making me a better developer.

My next project is a web application which integrates with an Android application. The big why? Last Thursday a friend commented over dinner that there weren't many Android apps with African proverbs. If there were such an app my friend said, he'd be happy to use it. Now I know there's a disconnect between what people say they will do, and what they will actually do. But it gave me a quick idea to prototype a web app in the cloud with a companion Android app.

I'll be sure to come back and document this, but after getting the cloud based app working last week, I turned to the mobile platform this week. I digested the new Android design patterns which were just recently released, and then wrote up a short design document for my application. I then drew out each screen on paper and used Fireworks CS5.1 to mockup exactly how all the screens in the app will look. Today, I fired up Eclipse and started programming again.

Well I guess it's been over a year now since I've been doing Android development for fun. As I encountered an error telling me my Debug Certificate Expired. Okay, I admit it, I didn't even know I had a debug certificate. It seems that the ADT plugin in Eclipse used to (up until Google I/O 2011) would create a debug certificate in ~/.android/debug.keystore which was valid for 1 year. If you tried to deploy an app to your phone or the emulator after that, you'd get the bizarre error. Fortunately, the fix is as easy as the problem. Simply deleting that file will allow your updated plugin to create a new instance with a longer expiration date will allow you to continue doing Android development... until it expires again.

Anyway, I'm back on my Android horse, and should have this app ready in a few days. Yay!