The Freelancers' Show 098 - Users Groups

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The freelancers discuss the many benefits of attending users groups.

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[Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at BlueBox.net.]  [You're fantastic at coding, but do you have an action plan to take it to the next level? The upcoming book, Next Level Freelance will help you optimize your freelance business for happiness. The book is packed with actionable steps to make more money, case studies, tips to find more clients and exercises for you to establish your desired lifestyle. Extras include nine interviews of freelancers who make great money while enjoying great work-life balance, videos on strategies to find quality subcontractors, and videos on making more free time by outsourcing your daily tasks. Check it out today, nextlevelfreelance.com.] [This episode is sponsored by Planscope. Planscope is a project management and collaboration app built for freelancers and the way they work with clients. It makes it easy to price up new estimates, and once you're underway, helps answer the question, “Will this get done on time and under budget?” I've been using Planscope to do my estimates and manage my projects, and I really, really like it. It makes it really easy to keep things in order and understand when things will get done. You can go check it out at planscope.io. ] CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 98 of the Freelancers’ Show. This week on our panel we have Curtis McHale. CURTIS: Good day! CHUCK: Reuven Lerner. REUVEN: Hey everyone! CHUCK: I'm Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv and this week we’re gonna be talking about Users Groups. So do you have a local Users Group where you guys are at? CURTIS: Yes, we do. REUVEN: Yes, there are a few different groups and yeah, a few groups of different topics. CURTIS: Out around me – I went to Vancouver which is like, say, an hour and a half in traffic, in good traffic. Then there's tons of groups for whatever you want, but the only one kind of on my way is Rails Brigade which runs in the next town over. It’s more of a – we always call it ‘Nerd Night,’ because it’s supposed to be Rails, but lots of different things happen. A little bit of photography with friends and everything. REUVEN: Yeah, yeah, so like locally, where I live, there's nothing or almost nothing, but I take the train to Tel Aviv – we drive there, you spend half an hour, then there's a ton of stuff. CHUCK: Yeah, and I have – it’s kind of interesting because there are Users Groups and some of them, they meet –. I live in Utah Valley which is just south of Salt Lake Valley, and Provo and Salt Lake City are 45 minutes away from each other and I live right in the middle. So there's usually one in Provo and one in south Salt Lake, and so I usually only have to drive 15 minutes to get to any of them now, so it’s usually pretty convenient for me and I can usually go to two Users Groups for each group that I attend. Sometimes three, if I wanna go downtown. REUVEN: I'm curious, when do your Users Group meetings meet, because it’s hard for me to get to them because they're typically around 6pm, which is perfect  if you're coming home from work, which I think is the idea, but I find it totally comes into my family time and dinner time and putting the kids to bed. So I'm wondering [inaudible], CURTIS: Ours is 7:30 at night, although people show up often at the coffee shop even at like 6 or 5, sometimes they will show up and work for a while before the group –. Yeah, 7:30 is the official start time. CHUCK: Yeah, between all the ones that I attended it’s usually 6:30 or 7. CURTIS: We actually meet weekly in that group, because you're just supposed to – you're supposed to just bring a project and hack on it, right? So I get to sit next to Dan Kubb who did DataMapper – I know the name had changed but I forget it now – and. CHUCK: [Inaudible] CURTIS: Yeah, so he’s in the local club and a bunch of other smart guys from Engineer art as well. We’d just end up sitting around and talking [inaudible] with their WordPress blogs, what they need stuff done, typically. CHUCK: Yes, is Miles Forrest still in that group? CURTIS: He’s the organizer; I haven't seen him in a bit because our paths hadn’t crossed, because I'm not headed out there right now with a baby on the way. But he actually said he lives in town, so he runs it for us and we get – he’s got books. And I think his biggest organizational item is the books – we have books, hundreds of books I think, from sponsors like O’Reilly and you can just borrow one. CURTIS: Oh that’s a great idea. CHUCK: Yeah, in fact a lot of the O’Reilly and some of the other publishers, if you go in, you can actually register your Users Group and they’ll send you a couple of books every month that you can give away or keep in the Users Group library or whatever. CURTIS: I think we may have a Safari Online account too that we can use. CHUCK: Yeah, so just great stuff there. And that’s always nice in that sense, it’s just you have shared resources. I've actually borrowed books from people in the Users Groups and then given them back when I'm done. CURTIS: Yeah, a bunch of the books that I've read and don’t necessarily need I actually just give to the Users Group to keep because I don’t need them all the time; I don’t need my Bash book all the time. [crosstalk] REUVEN: Where do you store them? CURTIS: He stores them all in rubber-made bins and if you want a book, you just let him know beforehand and he’ll bring out the book for you. REUVEN: Oh, I see. So it’s not like he brings all the books with him to each Users Group meeting? CURTIS: Oh no, he’d need a truck. When I say hundreds, I'm not joking. There's probably getting close to 200 books that we have from, say, O’Reilly or people who said “I donated.” I probably donated 10 books, so he just brings them out for you or if he’s not going I’ll swing by his house because he’s on the way for me and I’ll take them in. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. So your group meets in a coffee shop every week? CURTIS: Yeah, we used to meet in a co-working space. Actually when we were in the co-working space, all the books lived in the co-working space so that anyone could use it. [Inaudible] the co-working space and group members could borrow them still. You just had to show up to the co-working space and it’s a small enough group and the people who ran it knew everyone too, so they could just verify that, “Yes, you're Curtis. Take a book,” whatever, and they just let Miles know. CHUCK: I'm just curious – did you move out of the co-working space for any particular reason, or did they close up, or what? CURTIS: They closed up; it’s just not – our local market way out here was not good. Lots of people said, “Hey this is awesome! Co-working? And very few people plunked down money.” For me it was a half-hour away too, so for me to wrangle half-hour away didn’t always work, so I just bought like a package of passes because that’s the only thing that made financial sense. When they moved, we tried a few different ones and the old coffee shop where I used to be at has like an old folk’s sing along night, so you can’t use that anymore. We’re at a Starbucks now; I just take over a table and bring extension cords – take over a whole table. They have a long, 8-foot table. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. REUVEN: And they don’t mind you taking over like that? CURTIS: I don’t know; when you go and drop $50 with coffee for two hours, between the people that show up, right? Probably not. CHUCK: Yeah, I found that most places really don’t care as long as you're not disrupting things for other customers. I don’t see how an extension cord, maybe a power strip or two, and then you guys sitting or chatting is gonna bother anybody. CURTIS: No, I know at that one we’d double the people that were in it most of the time. At the old coffee shop we were at, we brought enough business for them that they offered to stay open an hour later till 10:00, because they're only open till 9 on Wednesdays. CHUCK: Oh, wow! CURTIS: Because we brought in – sometimes we’d be 15 or 20 people there. Sometimes there's only two, but more often there’s a 6 to 10 range. CHUCK: Right. So the Users Groups that I attend, they're either hosted by a company, so the Ruby Brigade in Utah County is actually hosted at Money Desktop, and if you’ve gone to RubyConf or RailsConf, they're usually one of the big sponsors, and they're constantly looking to hire people and that’s part of their deal. Anyway, so we kinda go and sit in their common area and have the meeting there. The Salt Lake Brigade actually meets at the Miller Business Resource Center, so we actually have a room with desks and a projector and stuff. Money Desktop has a projector as well, but you're sitting on couches and stuff and it’s nice but it’s not always great. If you wanna put your laptop out in front of you because you have to hold it on your lap and type on it there, but the Miller Resource Center is really nice for that and they're always looking to bring in different groups, different entrepreneurial groups and things like that and be a resource for that, so they're really a great place to do it. Before they were doing it at Miller Business Resource Center, they were actually doing it at Neumont University, which is they basically have two floors of an office building, that they taught computer science and design in and they just let the Users Groups use it for free and that worked out pretty well as well. So I mean, there are a lot of different places to do it, and then when we have those meetings, usually the organizers will find somebody to sponsor pizza or some other meal. The JavaScript group – Jamison Dance, who’s on the JavaScript Jabber podcast, he actually organizes the Utah Valley Brigade for JavaScript and they meet at the Stevens-Henager College, in one of their big rooms. It’s kind of like University of Phoenix, [inaudible] everywhere and they have buildings all over the place, so we just meet in their building in Orem, Utah and same thing, you get a projector and desks and then –. He doesn’t like the pizza thing – he’ll tell anybody who will listen that he’s eaten more sponsored pizza than anyone should eat in a lifetime already, and he’s not that old. Anyway, so what he usually does is he’ll work things out so that most of the time we’re having Jimmy Johns, or – Jimmy Johns is a sandwich chain, and so you get the boxed lunch with a sandwich and an apple and chips in them or he’ll figure something else out so that it’s not pizza every time, which is kinda nice. There's also a group that goes together for an iOS or ‘It’s NSCoders Night’ and they meet up at a little coffee and cupcake shop over in Provo. I mean, there are a lot of options of places to meet, but those are just a few of them and some of the things that they do to get people to come out, and sponsored food usually gets a bigger turnout. CURTIS: I know with ours, we have like a barbecue sponsored every year around Christmas time. I don’t know, say, Engr. [inaudible] - I'm not sure who does – but one of these sponsors does it. CHUCK: Oh very nice. I'm also looking at pulling together a hack night, so it’d be a “Hey, come. We’re gonna work on this programming problem and you can solve it in whatever language you want. And then we encourage people to kind of cross-pollinate a little bit, so if you're a Ruby person, you now go work with a Python or Smalltalk or iOS or PHP or somebody and do it in their language, and help somebody else do it in yours. CURTIS: SaturHack, one out here that’s every month as well in the last half of the month and it goes – I go to Vancouver for that one. It’s in multiple different spaces, depending on what's available on a weekend. And they don’t sponsor food, so Brian, when I reference this, I want food next time. But yeah, it’s more of a kinda, like whatever you do, people just come and talk about their latest projects and do it. There are some presentations there; there's a new CMS last time I was there before Christmas that some of us were showing off, but I don’t remember who it was. CHUCK: Yeah, that’s the other thing [inaudible] Users Groups is typically there are people that are talking about some library for coders or some product out there that people can use to make their lives a little bit easier and things like that, and that’s always nice. CURTIS: I know Miles tried that a few times and he found that it just didn’t work until he started doing the – just bring a project you wanna hack on. We have done presentations occasionally when someone has – they're gonna go speak and say at MountainWest, and so someone will do the presentation to the group first just to kinda get some feedback or to practice at once. We’ve done that a few times with different people, but no presentations normally at the local Ruby Brigade. CHUCK: [Crosstalk] Go ahead. REUVEN: It’s just the way you guys are describing Users Group meetings, it’s 100% different or 180 degrees from what the Ruby Group in Tel Aviv has been doing for the last few years. Now I only get there once every few months. It’s really an inconvenient time; either I'm usually with my family or in a different place, but when I go there it’s almost always two different talks. Some of the people get together, mingling a little bit and networking, but basically they have someone get up and say, or people from different companies would get up and say, “We also are looking for Ruby people” and so three or four companies basically get up and compete to sound as desperate as possible. And then you have usually two talks, each of which are about an hour or so long. But there's no – or it’s rare to have sort of everyone just come and hack. There is a group called the Ruby Newbies, and my impression is that they don’t get a lot of people, but they get some people and the idea is come in and just sort of mingle and talk to us. CURTIS: Ok. REUVEN: All these are done in company offices. CURTIS: We had a company come and do the desperate thing because we need people once, and after that, the whole group said, “Never again, don’t do that.” We’ve had other companies come that are [inaudible] people that, again, bring their laptops and work on stuff and just talk and hang out, and they say, “We’re looking for people if you wanna guys see what it’s about,” [inaudible]  just take them. [Inaudible] come out, meet new people. CHUCK: Yeah usually with our groups, as far as that goes, because we've had some people actually say, I wanna come and I wanna see if I can find some people to hire – typically what we tell them to do is show up, sponsor the food, and then we’ll give you a minute or two and you can say your piece. But we’re also pretty quick to cut them off if it’s gonna be a long pitch, because nobody wants to hear it. You get up, you say you're hiring, you tell a few things about your company that are gonna make people wanna work there, and then – I mean, that’s all you need anyway. But it’s nice because we get the sponsorships, they get a little bit of exposure, which is good for them and everybody’s aware, “Okay, this company is out there if I need a job.” CURTIS: Yeah. Our group is actually really beginner-friendly as well. When I showed up, they were like, “Hey, so what do you do with Ruby?” and I said, “I have no idea; I think it’s something on the web,” and that’s – I had no idea and I was doing WordPress work and another guy showed up because he liked computers and his wife told him he needed to be out of the house one night a week so he’d make friends. CHUCK: Nice! CURTIS: So people have no idea, like, “We’ll teach you how to install Ruby, we’ll teach you how to do this,” right? That’s how I learned to get [inaudible] get your SVM. I said, “No one here can teach you SVM.” [inaudible] I installed Ruby the first time there and everything, so, we’re very beginner-friendly and there's a huge – say, from people who are really solid like Dan, a couple of the guys at [inaudible] are down to –. Right now there's a guy who paints scenery for big movies, and he’s like, “I hate it; I want to be out.” And so we’re helping him work through his app and helping him with issues in it. REUVEN: Wow. I didn’t mean to say that it was a whole soap opera with people getting up and being desperate, but basically, after three companies where everyone gets up and says, the first one says, “We’re really looking to hire, the second one says, “We’re also looking to hire,” and then the third one says, “Oh yeah, we’re also looking to hire.” And so basically they have to compete with [inaudible] which they were presenting. But there's not really, as far as I remember and I've seen, there’s never really any real food there. There's always a lot of sort of cake and fruit and coffee. [Inaudible] company, but I never really thought about suggesting, or I don’t know if anyone would go for company sponsorship for food. But it’s a nice idea, absolutely. CHUCK: Yeah, it’s pretty nice for us at our groups; it makes the whole experience a little bit nicer. You show up, you get food. The issue that I usually have is that I'm diabetic, and they don’t get diet soda, so I have to run up to the drinking fountain [inaudible], but yeah, it’s a good way to go. Then, like I said, they can get up and they can say their piece, “We’re hiring,” or sometimes they wanna get coders’ attention, so whatever. CURTIS: I really like the format of ours, it started more around Ruby – it’s kind of anything, like we can also get together and do photo walks or whatever. We did do Laser Tag for one of the guys’ birthday, or anything like that. It’s a good way to meet tech people even, at least way out here in the valley where there's very few people. CHUCK: So I have a question for you guys. Do you go to any business meetups? CURTIS: I went to one in town, I spoke at it, and that was the last one they did. He wasn’t sure who was gonna continue it after, and he never did anyway, so no, not really. I just found a lot of the local business people have not necessarily been my target market in my area. If I was in Vancouver, they probably would be but I am not near Vancouver, so. REUVEN: Yeah, I was once went, it was probably two or three years ago at least. I went to one of these networking meetings where people from different businesses get together. Someone very uncharitably described it as, “it’s a bunch of people all desperate for clients – all these self-employed people desperate for clients, trying to sort of feed off each other.” And that was certainly the feeling that I got being in that room – it was like, “Well I do x, so if you're looking for x, I'm the guy for you.” I thought, “Oh my God, get me out of here.” But more recently I saw that there was, and obviously this doesn’t quite apply to me, but there's a group of women who are running businesses in my city, in Modi’in, who were looking to sort of get-together and they said that they were looking for speakers. I thought, “Well, I can maybe speak to them.” Obviously I don’t quite fit the profile of a woman business-owner, but if they're local, it might be interesting to talk to them and see what they have in mind. So I sent an email, and I got a note back a few days ago saying, “Well, we don’t have that many people show up but sure, let’s see what we can do”. If there were a real chamber of commerce sort of thing in my city, I think that would be a great place to try to hook up, but if that happens, it’s gonna take a while, or I'm just totally unaware of it. CURTIS: Yeah, I know there's a chamber of commerce group that does breakfast every other Tuesday or something like that, but I've just never made it a point to get to that. CHUCK: Yeah, I've gone to a few. There have been – so there was one person that started one up that was kind of supposed to be a mix of Ruby on Rails and business, and so I went to that one. That was pretty interesting; I met some people who wanted to learn Ruby or Rails, I met some people who were interested in getting a business started, I met a bunch of Rails devs that I either knew or didn’t know. It was kind of an interesting mix, and I have to say that I've actually kept in touch with some of those folks and I've been able to – I haven't gotten any work out of them yet, but a few of them are in serious talks with me about how to get things started and basically they wanna hire me when they're ready, which may or may not count for anything, but it definitely helps. And then I've been getting involved lately with the local groups surrounding Lean startup, and it’s been really interesting to see where that goes. And a lot of those folks really do need technical guidance from somebody who really understands technology, and it really pays off for me because I like to help those folks, and it pays off for them because they're getting what they need and I have a few leads from that too that are pretty close to coming through and actually hiring me. I think overall, it really just depends on what you wanna get out of it and who you thing you can help, and I would say that even though it hasn’t come out as paid work yet, it’s still been worth it just from the relationships that I've built and the people that I've gotten to know. REUVEN: Yeah, I would say – I know it’s not quite a User Group, although –. I guess every time I'm giving a talk at a User Group meeting, or at a conference for that matter, it’s always led to work of some sort. It might take six months, but someone will call me up and say, “You know, I saw that talk of yours, let’s talk” and it usually leads to something. Maybe it’s just a one-day gig, but it can be something. I also have this email list that I run in my city. We have 2700 subscribers and I'm like 60 messages a day, and so I'm pretty well-known on that. It’s not quite a business group or a User Group, but simply through that, people sort of –. Just last month, two people have contacted me about maybe doing work with them. I have to say that in many ways, it’s more appealing to me to find people with general business problems that I can use Rails or other technologies to solve, than people who are just looking for Rails help. And so I'm not rushing so much, even though technically it’s super exciting and fun to be with the other Rubyists, I'm thinking more and more that I should spend some time with the business folks, because as you said, Chuck, it might lead to all sorts of things that I otherwise won’t be exposed to. CURTIS: Yeah, going out to my local Ruby club got me on this show eventually. I never would have met, say, Eric. I never would have met anyone in the Rails community, probably, because I was just stuck doing WordPress stuff and it got me doing stuff for RVM at one point. CHUCK: Yeah, well, and I knew who you were because you did the Coderpath podcast with Miles –. CURTIS: That’s how I met Miles at the thing, so, [inaudible] Coderpath. No, I don’t live close to Eric – unless Portland is close. It’s on the West Coast, Reuven. REUVEN: Right, I mean, closer to me. I was just surprised to hear that you met Eric in a User Group meeting. CURTIS: I met him through Miles until I got involved in Rails Bridge I think, for a while, and then I met Eric through that. But I wouldn’t have known about Rails Bridge unless I had met Miles, unless I had met all the other people, the guys [inaudible]. I was down at MountainWest one year, and got to meet Wayne Seguin and a bunch of other people that got some [inaudible] out some things and got to meet more people. So, I wouldn’t be on this show if I hadn’t gotten into that group. CHUCK: Alright, well now I can say that Curtis and I have been in the same room because I can almost guarantee you that I visit that MountainWest Ruby Conference as well. CURTIS: That was like, two or three years ago? CHUCK: Yup, I would’ve been there. Yeah, you should come back down. CURTIS: A little harder [inaudible] business-wise now that I'm not doing much of Ruby stuff but it was a fun conference. CHUCK: You should come to MountainWest JavaScript. CURTIS: Well, we will see. CHUCK: [Laughs] Anyway, so have you guys had much success then from – you guys mentioned that you had some success from speaking at the Users Groups. I have to say my experience is generally the same – people at least know that I know stuff about whatever I talk about and [inaudible] ask questions and they're like, “Oh, you're a freelancer too?” By the way, just as a side note, if you ever speak at a Users Group, make sure that you mention that you're a freelancer. Because a lot of times somebody will be there that need your help. They don’t know there is an employee somewhere [inaudible] there will actually talk to them about what they need and solve their problem for a price. REUVEN: I'm gonna double down on what Chuck said and then add to it, because I always start every talk I do with “I'm a freelancer; I do these sorts of projects” and I've realized over time that people never remember that. So I always mention it again at the end. I started doing that in the last few months, and I see people going, “Oh! Ha! That’s what [inaudible]” meaning, “We couldn’t have cared less about what he said in his first few minutes.” CURTIS: The last time I spoke in Vancouver, at the end, I found out that the local college was showing up to check me out because I've been recommended as an instructor. So based on that talk, they said, “Yes, we would like to talk to him about being an instructor for us.” REUVEN: Wow. CURTIS: Plus I got to meet a few other people that I hadn’t met before and started working more heavily with an agency out in Vancouver on some of the more special stuff that I do. So yeah, if we’re talking financial return, my one trip has easily made me $10,000+, easy. CHUCK: Prof. McHale – who knew, right? CURTIS: Yeah, that’s right! For a couple of weeks. Education discounts – that’s the awesome part. CHUCK: Oh, there you go. REUVEN: Right. I would say there are two different benefits, at least, of speaking at User Group meetings. There's a short term and long term. The short term, and I mean like a relatively short term like, a few months, it definitely can lead to some work. It definitely can lead to people coming up and saying, as I've said before, “Hey, I heard you speak; you seem to know your stuff. I could do with help in this way or that way.” But I think there is also a long term benefit that you become known as an authority in the community, and so when someone wants help, when someone is curious to hear, or get in touch with an expert on the subject, they will maybe not remember what you talked about, but they’ll remember the general subject. They’ll remember, “Hey! That person spoke at the Ruby Group, the JavaScript6 Group, whatever group it is,” and [inaudible] contact you. And really, that happened to me multiple times. CURTIS: Yeah, I've had after my first talk and talking with some of the other people that were there like, “Hey I know you can’t come out to Vancouver all the time” – there's one going on pretty soon actually and they wanted me to come out, but I couldn’t. But I helped the guy set up his presentation with some questions so there's still – I’ll get [inaudible] Curtis’ help with this, you should check out his stuff over here, but I can’t actually make it just for family reasons. CHUCK:  Well you have something coming up. CURTIS: Well any second now, there’ll be a new baby, so yes. I cannot go and hour and a half in good traffic to Vancouver right now. CHUCK: You can’t go an hour and a half in bad traffic either, can you? CURTIS: No, I'm pretty much [inaudible], it’s like a three-kilometer radius from the house, unless the wife is with me. REUVEN: I'm sure she’d love to go to a User Group meeting now! CURTIS: I've actually taken my daughter. I took my daughter out to a SaturHack hack day and brought some coloring books and let her color, and hang out on her own. I got to talk to a lot of people about stuff that I don’t get to see very often. It was a great time and I colored a bit, and did a bit of coding, and let her hang out, and she had a blast hanging out with me for the day. A bunch of my friends were happy to see her and they played with her too. It was actually really great; I would certainly – I wouldn’t take her every time, but I’d take her again. She’s three now, so – she had a blast. CHUCK: So as far as organizing a Users Group, have you guys done much of that? CURTIS: Not outside of what I've helped [inaudible] a little bit with Miles. We just have a meetup and it’s scheduled out and show up on Wednesdays – that’s really it. His organization is the books; as far as I know of, he does some sponsorship stuff as well. CHUCK: Nice. I've helped organize some of the meetings and some of the other local events I'm not super involved with, but I've had some involvement in MountainWest Ruby Conference this year. Anyway, basically all you really need though is a venue and then just get the word out; let people know that you're getting together. It helps if you have food; people really like that. It doesn’t seem to matter as much if you're getting together somewhere where people can buy food, versus having it sponsored. I mean, people get excited when they get free food, but you know, you show up, grab a coffee or grab a soda, grab dinner, I mean, heck, whatever, right and just sit and chat. People dig that stuff, and so it doesn’t really matter. You can reach out to local companies, and I found that a lot of local companies are willing to host it. But typically what you need to do is find somebody who works there so that they can let you in. And if you can manage that, then you have a place to go, you have a conference room, and then you just see if you can get either a company that’s hosting you, or another company who’s gonna send some employees over to sponsor the food. And then the other trick is sometimes you can get them to sponsor the food because their employees are gonna be talking about some cool thing that they did at their employer, and so that works out pretty nicely too, sometimes. You're like, “Look, can you sponsor it and we’ll let your guy talk about your queuing system?” or whatever and then people get a good presentation, they get the food; the company gets the exposure they want because obviously you can now go work with said awesome programmer who gave his presentation, and it works out pretty well. Any other pointers you guys want to throw out on that? REUVEN: We’ve occasionally – and these are the meetings that I go to – we occasionally have people come in from abroad to talk and having guest speakers is always really interesting and exciting, because typically it’s gonna be a sort of more high-powered person than you would get in a regular meeting, and that’s gets everyone excited, and more people come. They tend to also have sort of interesting, [inaudible] things to say – whether it’s sort of how things are in their country or in their company. I don’t know how it works in terms of sponsorships; I'm assuming that most of these people come because their companies are sending them to Israel and not because – or maybe they're on vacation – not because they're just coming to a User Group meeting. But if you can get guest speakers, I think it’s definitely a good way to sort of draw up support for the group. CURTIS: I know our local WordPress one in Vancouver has a guy coming out from Portland pretty soon, and I don’t think his company is sending him or anything. I think he is just coming up; I might have to double check on that. Take him up and talk about backbone in WordPress. He’ll get to talk about a really cool backbone theme, he did kind of a first one once WordPress had backbone in it. So that will help the theme shop that he works for now. I'm not sure – I'm not sure if there's sending him or he’s just coming because it’d be cool to talk. CHUCK: Yeah, I remember we had James Buck from 37signals come and talk to the Utah Ruby Brigade, and it just so happened – I think he had family down here that he was visiting. Anyway, some of the guys in the Users Group knew him because he actually started the Utah Ruby Users Group when he moved to Idaho. CURTIS: Yeah, we had Wayne Seguin Skype in once and do a presentation on RVM when he was just doing it. I know, I think we actually used to have Jeff Schoolcraft even Skype in, just to hang out in the User Group because he didn’t have many around him as well. He’d hang out and talk, and chat; we have an IRC channel that goes all the time now, actually. REUVEN: That’s a great idea. CHUCK: Yeah, I actually did one for the Ontario Ruby Users Group and I just Skyped in. Yeah, it’s a good way to go, and it’s a good way to get some exposure and it’s kind of a cool thing because I actually did get to talk for a minute with a few folks that were willing to walk up to the camera and say hello. And so just meet people and make contacts, and that’s really what I enjoy about this stuff anyway – just meeting people who would have interesting problems or wanna talk about interesting things. CURTIS: For a while I think Miles even webcast the whole thing. He set a camera up kinda over the shoulder of the table and webcast the whole thing, so if you were in the webcast, you could talk and see kind of what was going on and hear people as well; there was a mic in the middle of the table for a while as he was trying things out. CHUCK: Nice. Yeah, there are all kinds of telepresent setups that you can get. Anyway, any other thoughts or ideas? REUVEN: We’ve been talking a lot about technical User Groups: Ruby, WordPress, JavaScript, and touch a little bit on business groups – do you guys have any sort of freelancer groups or consulting groups that you go to? Do these things exist? CURTIS: I think the closest I have is my Mastermind group that I do, but there aren’t – say, I'm far enough out from Vancouver; I don’t even look a lot of what goes on there because I'm not going in there every night to do something, right? CHUCK: Yeah, I'm kind of the same way. I have an online Mastermind group that I'm part of. I think it’d be interesting to try and start a freelancer’s group right here, but I haven't. [Crosstalk] REUVEN: No, neither am I. I mean, the closest thing I guess is between my Mastermind and Brennan’s Freelancer’s Guild, which I found to be sort of a good support group. But every so often I thought, “Gee, it’d be nice to actually get together with other people who are sort of in my boat and trade ideas, especially if they're local, and so they're dealing with the same legal and financial issues as I am. CURTIS: I think the main thing around here is there are a lot of people who actually do technical stuff like at the Ruby Brigade, we've had tons of people to show up, and they show up for one or two nights and then never come again. I know they live in town here with me, but they just never come out. There are tons of people like that, say, in Vancouver, in a big city, but there's so many more people in general that you get, the people that come out more regularly. There's just so few people that it’s hard to draw on that, say, 10%-15% that are actually going to come out when there's only five people. That means one person comes out, and it’s me. CHUCK: Yeah. And one thing that’s interesting is that if you go on Meetup.com, a lot of times you can find something that sort of matches, or you can find something that’s close enough. CURTIS: Yeah, and that’s how I ended up at the Ruby Brigade; it was close enough to being something online. So hey, let’s go. CHUCK: Yeah, you know, I got on and there's a Lean startup dinner – in fact, I think I planned this one. REUVEN: [Chuckles] CURTIS: You may have planned it, but you're not sure if you planned it? CHUCK: Yeah, I planned it. I'm the one that recommended it; it was just a while ago. I have this bad habit – I’ll mention this because it’s something that you can use – I have this bad habit of getting on to Meetup.com and I’ll find groups that I think are interesting. I’ll go and look and see when their next meetup is, and for about half of them – yeah, Reuven put in bad habit of organizing events that you don’t forget – yeah, that’s basically what I had done. So I got in and I organized this one. I got in and I actually organized this group; looks like there are five people who are coming, I really have to show up to it then. But I did another one the next week – and neither of these groups had met in a while so I just suggested a meeting. And then I went and I found people in the group and I bugged them until they backed me up because you have to have three people support it or one of the group organizers endorse it. So I got three people to agree to come, and then the group manager endorsed it. It looks like there are five people that said that they'd be coming, but anyway, we’re gonna get together and we’re gonna talk about the Lean startup. And this is for the Ruby on Rails SLC, which is the weird Rails business hybrid thing that I mentioned before. But I actually went on Lean startup circle and I did the same thing, and that’s one’s set for next week and I actually found out later that I couldn’t go to that one. There are a whole bunch in here; there’s the Salt Lake [inaudible], there's Utah Software Craftsmanship, there's a book club, Utah Small Business Owners’ Network – and their next meetup is January 30th – maybe that’s the one I’d hijack. Nope. Anyways, you can see all of these different meetups; you can find people that are near you that do stuff, so there's Utah JS Startup –. So it’s really interesting – Meetup.com is a terrific resource for that, and you don’t have to pay for it, so you can just go [inaudible]. CURTIS: I must be an organizer, right? REUVEN: Right, the organizer has to pay for it. CHUCK: Yeah, that may be true. CURTIS: I know it’s something that [inaudible] or O’Reilly pays for for our group. At one point, we were all chipping in every year, the [inaudible] account like five bucks per person for people that showed up that night, so that they could be paid for for the year. CHUCK: Yeah. But one other thing that I'm also looking at doing is starting a co-working space. That way, a lot of these groups will have a place to meet, and I'm kind of interested in that, but that’s off-topic for this – I'm not gonna go into too much detail there. There's a lot of stuff going on and Meetup.com is something that I kinda use to go to figure out what is out there. Pretty much all of the Users Groups that I attend have an account on here. REUVEN: I must say Meetup does a very good job of getting a lot of people to register with their system. You can set it, and I try to turn this off, but I get updates of “You might also be interested in this group! And you might get interested in this group!” and it’s just a flurry of groups that meetup about things I’d be interested in. And truth be told, if I had infinite time, I would be interested in many of them. CHUCK: Yeah, so the Links Startup Circle, one that I put together actually it turns out that only two people have said that they are gonna go, and so it hasn’t been announced yet. So I need to go and bug people to see if I can get it announced or get on the organizers’ list. But I know some of the organizers, so I might be able to just make it happen. Anyway, it’s just an interesting way to go about finding this, and you can even start a meetup group, so I wonder how much it does cost. REUVEN: Meetup – I don’t wanna guess. I seem to remember it being enough that when they started charging, people got really, really angry, but not enough that it’s really worth getting that upset about. CHUCK: Yeah. CURTIS: Organizer dues are $19 per month, at the max. REUVEN: Yeah, so not so terrible, but given that they're doing calendaring registration – I don’t know. CHUCK: Yeah. Anyway, so it’s all interesting stuff and it’s kinda cool that they give you so much stuff that you can use to pull it together. But even if you don’t do that – I mean the other thing that I want to bring up with Users Groups is we have a mailing list. Sounds like Curtis’ group has an IRC channel, and ours does as well, but I'm not in there as often as I should be. Having those other media that you can use to communicate with each other is also a really cool thing. REUVEN: Yeah, we used to have a mailing list. I think the mailing list still uses [inaudible], but it’s largely been obviated by a Facebook group, which I think it’s more traffic than the mailing list used to, but that’s not a very high threshold. It’s like ten messages a week, maybe 15 messages a week. I think actually the idea of an IRC channel is a very smart one, because then whoever’s around can just sort of be online and have it around while they're working, even. CURTIS: Yeah, I leave mine open all day and if people ping me I’ll get in. Sometimes I get into my own chat, but there's 15 people in there right now as I flipped over to it, and there's been activity; there's activity every day of some fashion. Sometimes it’s only three or four messages, but it’s – from anything, “Hey, did you guys see this cool new thing” to “Hey, here’s a funny cat today.” CHUCK: Alright, well, I'm not sure if there's anything else to share. CURTIS: Our picks? CHUCK: Alright, let’s do picks. Curtis, do you wanna start us with picks? CURTIS: Sure, I have two today. One is a book my friend just released called The New Rules of Entrepreneurship. I got to read the first draft, so I'm excited to see the whole thing. He did kind of the group editing part, but how entrepreneurship should be run now. The second thing is an article I found today from BackBlaze, and they did a – they have so many backup drives for all their backup clusters, and they did their here’s our hard drive reliability test and what we see. So it’s really interesting to see what hard drives last the longest for them and cost the cheapest. So it’s cool. I’ll know what hard drives I will buy now if I can. CHUCK: Awesome. Reuven what are your picks? REUVEN: I've just got one pick this week. It’s this library from Mozilla that’s called TogetherJS, and it was announced I think about six months ago or so. The idea is that it’s this JavaScript – basically you put in two lines of JavaScript into a site, and it provides for some real-time collaboration. And I started playing with it a little bit, and I'm starting looking [inaudible] that you can use also to connect to it, but it seems like if you have some sort of community site like you might want people to work on together at the same time, this is gonna provide an interesting, nice and what seems to be so far the pretty robust way to do it. So again, it’s still – they claim it’s alpha; it’s still in the early stages; I'm still in the early stage of playing with it, but I've so far been impressed. CHUCK: Very nice. Alright, I'm gonna share a few: the first one is Hover.com – they're my domain registrar. And I picked him before on the show, but the thing is that I moved stuff over from godaddy a bit at a time, and the problem is that if you have to move it over yourself, you have to setup all of the  DNS, it’s the same as it is in godaddy, and then you make the switch, and hopefully it’s all happy, right? So I finally called them up and I was like, I've heard rumors that you will just do this for me.” And they go, “Oh yeah, we have a valet service that will do that. So they're moving the rest of my domains off from godaddy this week, and I just can’t tell you how happy that makes me. So anyway, all I have to do was go in and change my password on godaddy so they can do log in and basically be me. And then, you know, they just move it all over. So I was like, “So are there gonna be glitches and everything?” And they're like, “Nope because we’ll set it all up in our DNS servers, and then we will basically flip the switch and it’ll all come over to you.: The thing that’s interesting about some of it is just, they just solve all of these issues, it’s just so nice. Anyway, I forgot what I was gonna say; I'm gonna stop. CURTIS: They're awesome? [Crosstalk] switch, and extended every domain by a year or two or something, for whatever fee you pay; it was great. CHUCK: That’s what I was gonna say. So you pay $10 per domain when you switch it, and then basically you get the same expiration date plus one year on all of your domains, so. They're [inaudible] company too, out of Toronto? CHUCK: Oh is that [crosstalk]. CURTIS: That’s Tucows, so I've talked to them and I forget we had but ended up talingk about the same place that we have both lived in actually very similar years, so I may even know the guy. REUVEN: [Chuckles] CHUCK: Very nice. I called him up, and “Awesome! I'm so happy.” REUVEN: That’s the way. I mean, I’ll agree here with your pick. I mean, Hover’s been amazing. What's amazing to me is that DNS has existed for so darn long, and it took so long or someone to come up with a really nice interface and really good customer support. But yeah, they’ve done it, and I'm [inaudible] punched too. CHUCK: Yeah, well they don’t have tacky super bowl commercials where they're trying to promote women who are like half-naked and stuff like that. I mean, between that and the user interface, it’s like, okay, you got a crappy UI – godaddy does – crappy UI and then godaddy has these tacky commercials. I'm just like, “There is nothing to like about your company.” Anyway, yeah. There I am being real nice on the show. So I've got that that I'm gonna pick and that’s all I got this week. We’ll wrap up the show, thanks for coming guys! We’ll catch you all next week! REUVEN: Bye! CURTIS: Catch you later!

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