After 6 Meetups in 6 days (then a 1 day break before a 7th), I was encourage by some workmates to write about my experience.
- Saturday: Melbourne Code Mentoring - Web Development and Design
- Sunday: Workshops, Learn and Hackathons in Computer Science - LiveCode and IoT (double presentation)
- Monday: Melbourne Serverless Meetup Group - Jeff Hollan - Azure Functions Program Lead
- Tuesday: Infracoders
- Wednesday: DevOps Melbourne - Ken Mugrage - Thoughtworks
- Thursday: Melbourne PHP Users Group - GitLab for PHP Developers
Why 6 in 6?
Early last week I had no idea how busy this week was going to be. I'd planned to go to Melbourne Code Mentoring - Web Development and Design as I am a co-organiser and I try to go every second week. I'd planned to go to Infracoders on Tuesday and DevOps Melbourne as I'd wanted to go to these for a long time and my previous role never seemed to allow me to get there.
About this time I realised my week was starting to get busy, three meetups in a row. For an introvert like me this was going to be a big effort, but thoroughly worth it based on the topics and my interests.
On Friday night a friend contacted me about a meetup they were organising and thought I'd be interested in it. Not long after, I had put my name down for Workshops, Learn and Hackathons in Computer Science on Sunday.
It wasn't until Tuesday this week that I thought I could do a week of meetups. I jumped back on Meetup.com and saw a presentation at Melbourne PHP Users Group about GitLab. It's been a number of years since I last used GitLab and the description of the meetup made me think my knowledge was very dated; so down went my name.
Thankfully there are very few meetups on a Friday night, and I'm off to Melbourne Code Mentoring - Web Development and Design on Saturday as we're about to start at a new venue, so rather than going to a random meetup on Friday I decided 6 in 6 was more than enough.
Thankfully all the meetups I chose were completely worth attending and I gained something from all of them.
Melbourne Code Mentoring - Web Development and Design
At Code Mentoring it was the founder's last day before moving overseas; we were in the final stages of finding a new venue; and we had close to record attendance with around 40 people turning up. During the meetup we also decided to establish a project for attendees to work on to get some skills at coding with a process similar to a commercial environment.
Workshops, Learn and Hackathons in Computer Science
Initially I didn't know what to expect from this meetup. Not many people had signed up and I have a working knowledge of IoT, but I hadn't even heard of LiveCode.
The meetup started with an overview of LiveCode which immediately piqued my interest. As a backend developer with minimal design skills, LiveCode looks like it could enable me to create proof of concept interfaces rapidly and effectively and with a skilled front-end developer it could be extended to become a production ready web, mobile or desktop app.
The IoT aspect of this meetup was aimed at more junior techies and although I was actively involved in the discussion, I mainly benefited from confirming my understanding of some aspects of IoT.
Melbourne Serverless Meetup Group
This meetup provided some unexpected surprises for me that can be broadly grouped into two:
The first was having a great discussion with a recruiter (this in itself is surprising to me). My initial surprise was that I managed to strike up a conversation with a stranger, that was quickly followed by not feeling like the odd one out when another person joined the conversation. The conversation turned out to be really informative and by the time the main section of the meetup was ready to start I'd asked for the recruiter's details to pass on to a friend who is struggling to find the right role.
The second surprise was Jeff Hollan. I've had no exposure to Azure, Azure Functions or Jeff Hollan before. Jeff ran the meetup as an AMA (Ask Me Anything); he started by spending 5 minutes collecting questions and then spent the remaining time answering all the questions he could. I was pleasantly surprised with how much Jeff talked up competitors and gave them credit for their achievements whilst not detracting from Azure's achievements. A lot of Australian companies could learn from this collaborative approach. Through the AMA, I gained a great appreciation for how Microsoft has changed since my early days in the industry, as well as the service offering from Azure and the differences in how they run their cloud offering compared to AWS.
Infracoders was my least successful of the meetups. Having kept up with my regime of walking to and from work every day, keeping the same hours of sleep and not giving myself time to rejuvenate, I was starting to feel a bit anti-social and tired.
The first presentation was about securing secrets in CI/CD pipelines and applications. Although this was really interesting I couldn't see an application for the particular methods proposed in either my work or my personal projects.
The second presentation was about NAB's use of AWS technologies in the implementation of OpenBanking. I ended up leaving part way through this presentation as I recieved a phone call from my previous manager who happened to be in the city and we caught up for a coffee and a chat.
Having left the Infracoders meetup early and relaxed talking to my previous manager, I had had a small chance to regenerate some energy and I was feeling much more positive about this meetup.
The presentation by Ken Mugrage was full of information, both theoretical and practical; there was some great discussion about the difference between "DevOps" and "DevOps Engineers"; about the implementation (both successful and unsucessful) of DevOps, and also about the transformation process. If you have any interest in DevOps I highly recommend checking out his slides as posted on the event page.
Melbourne PHP Users Group
The final meetup of my 6 in 6 seemed like a bit of a relief. It was held on Valentine's day so the turn-out was quite low, but this didn't stop us from having an excellent presentation about the free features of GitLab.
This meetup (unlike the others) seemed more aimed at smaller businesses and hobbyists. Some of the information I would have loved to hear about related to the paid GitLab plans. Even though that wasn't covered, information about the free plans gave me enough of a taste to know that I am going to spend more time investigating GitLab and its built-in CI/CD functionality.
What I Learnt
Apart from learning a huge amount about the various topics that were presented, I learnt a few things about attending meetups.
If you aren't feeling sociable, don't go
You may learn about a specific topic that's being presented, but you won't gain any of the networking benefits.
Be willing to make adjustments
As an introvert I need time to regroup, rejuvenate and regenerate. If I were to undertake another 6 in 6, I'd make sure I allow time for myself. An extrovert may experience the opposite and find they can go a bit harder because they're having so much social interaction.
Make sure it's worth it
Make sure you do this for the right reasons. If you aren't really interested in the meetup and the topics, you won't get any benefit from it and it will detract from the next meetup.
Your cat will be confused
My final learning was about my cat. When I walked in the door after the 6th meetup my cat looked over the arm of the couch with a look that said "who are you and why are you in my apartment?" As I write this she's curled up on the couch arm next to me; I'm thinking she might almost have missed me this week.
Would I do it Again
I honestly can't answer this question. At the moment I'd think "never again", but I'm sure if the right set of meetups came up next month I'd do it again without a second thought.
I look forward to seeing you at a future meetup, and if you see me there always feel free to approach me.
This article has been written for my employer MessageMedia. This publication is exactly as I wrote the article; the article published on the MessageMedia site may contain differences due to editorial style.
The original article can be found at the MessageMedia Developers' Blog.