Serving Toronto Developers

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Presenting Craig Hawco: Senior Software Engineer at Kontagent


Join us Tuesday May 7th for the next edition of TechTalksTO. Craig Hawco will talk about how to leverage various technologies for data processing and analysis.

Craig Hawco is a senior software engineer on the data processing team at Kontagent, a startup that helps companies make the most of their data. Craig was previously Director of Engineering at Toronto app developer Polar Mobile. 

We hear a lot about the importance of data in driving a business, but we don’t often hear about what that actually entails. We’ll discuss the trials and tribulations of sourcing and cleaning your data, a brief introduction to some analytic techniques, and ways to actually implement these techniques with large volumes of data, leveraging technologies like Hive and Cascading within the Hadoop ecosystem.

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Robin Ward presenting: Discourse, Ember.JS and client side MVC


Robin “Evil Trout” Ward is the co-founder of Discourse, an open source application that hopes to evolve web forums into the future. Previously he worked on the popular web game Forumwarz. He’s been building web applications for over a decade and has a lot of ideas about them.

Client Side MVC frameworks are everywhere these days. It seems you can’t read the front page of Hacker News without seeing an article about Ember.JS, Backbone or Angular. Still, when they launched Discourse, our open source forum product, the #1 question people asked was “Why are you using Ember.JS?” 

Many are not aware of the many advantages a framework like Ember.JS provides. Robin will be demonstrating what he thinks are huge wins for developers in client side MVC, as well as responding to common pitfalls and arguments against it. Don’t worry if you’ve never used a client side MVC framework before, Robin will be starting with the basics and going from there.

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Ash Furrow presenting: Accessibility and Unit Testing, Vitamins for a Growing iOS Ecosystem

Ash Furrow

Ash Furrow is an iOS Developer who worked at 500px, architecting and delivering their universal iOS app. He has co-authored a book on Objective-C and writes frequently on his blog about iOS development.

iOS is a young, growing ecosystem, and as responsible developers, we need to make sure it gets its recommended intake of Accessibility and Unit Tests to make sure it grows up to be a stable, mature platform. I’ll take you through the basics of testing in Objective-C and explore Test-Driven Development using OCMock and Behaviour-Driven Development using Kiwi.

But testing is not enough — a mature platform should be accessible to everyone. I’ll also guide you through the stages of accessibility to make sure that your apps grow up to be big and strong.

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Presenting Owen Lawson, Lead Engineer at Uken Games

Owen Lawson

Owen Lawson is a Lead Engineer at Uken Games and helped grow the company from a 4 person start up with a couple Facebook games to one of Canada’s most promising new digital companies. He’s worked with every part of Uken’s technology stack, from backend web services to mobile clients, and currently is leading development on Uken’s biggest game. Before games, Owen worked on rich web app clients for enterprise clients and holds Bachelor of Computing from the University of Guelph. 

Uken Games is one of the truly cross platform gaming companies around, with 8 games playable simultaneously across 5 platforms that are enjoyed by millions of users.  The use of HTML5 for client interfaces has allowed Uken to easily add and maintain new platforms, minimizing platform specific code.  Owen will share some of the lessons Uken’s learned for developing mobile apps using HTML5, with an emphasis on practical solutions and real world examples.

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Presenting Simon Wistow, Director of Engineering at Fastly

Join us Tuesday September 4th for the next edition of TechTalksTO featuring Simon Wistow from Fastly. Before helping found Fastly Simon was Senior Search Engineer at Yahoo! Europe, LiveJournal, SixApart, Scribd and then at social help desk company Zendesk. In a past life he worked on R&D for a leading VFX Company doing films like the Harry Potter series, Troy, Kingdom of Heaven, Sunshine and Wallace and Gromit. At one point he worked as a cowboy in Australia. Mostly because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Fastly is a next generation CDN which caches dynamic content as well as the more traditional static assets and does everything, from purges and config changes to stats and logging, in real time. But the company’s secret sauce is really in its ability to understand every part of the stack and concentrate on making the right things fast. 

From running a modified kernel and writing your own filesystem to understanding why /etc/hosts can ruin your performance and the pros and cons of message queues and MySQL cluster all the way up to image maps and the best way to organize your Javascript files we’ll take a meander through how to have a holistic view on speeding up your site.

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Introducing Joël Perras, Senior Architect at Unata

UPDATE: You can get the slides from here: Untangling the social web

We are excited to have Joël Perras at TechTalksTO.  Joel is an ex-physicist turned big data geek. In his day-to-day life, he’s the senior architect for a company called Unata. Unata builds predictive models of consumer behaviour using machine learning to better help retailers understand the needs and desires of their customers.

Joël will present “Graphs, Edges & Nodes: Untangling the Social Web”.

Facebook figures out people that you might already know, LinkedIn tells you how many degrees of separation there are between you and the CEO of Nokia, and LastFM suggests music based on your current listening habits. We’ll take a look at the basic theory behind how some of these features work (no comp. sci. degree required!), and show how you can implement some of these features in your application.

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Introducing Aaron Quint, Creator of sammy.js and CTO of Paperless Post

We’re super excited to introduce the final, seventh, speaker at TechTalksTO: Aaron Quint!  Aaron is the creator and maintainer Sammy.js, a tiny javascript framework built on top of jQuery.  After freelancing and working as a consultant he’s now very proud to be the CTO of Paperless Post – getting to work with awesome people and pushing cutting edge software.

Aaron will present “The Best Framework is a Myth”: 

In the post-github era, developers are prone to jump from one framework to the next proclaiming this week’s Model[ViewController] as the best. This leads to constant re-writes, abandoned projects, and generally a lack of real progress for the web. As the creator and maintainer of one of these frameworks (Sammy.js) I’d like to warn you before you choose any framework for your next project. Sammy, or any other framework, might not be the answer. We’ll see the whats and whys of client side frameworks and Sammy.js. Let’s examine the good and bad of framework-based development and try to refocus on why we wanted frameworks in the first place. Let’s move past Fashion Driven Development and back to defining our work by the products we create, not the tools we use.

TechTalksTO: Underground is a conference for everyone, from Javascript developers to API developers to engineers who work in dev-ops.   With just over a week left until the conference, why haven’t you bought tickets yet?

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Introducing Ben Vinegar, Software Engineer at Disqus, FreshBooks Alumni

We’re incredibly excited to have Ben Vinegar, a FershBooks alumni, speak on third-party scripting at TechTalksTO: Underground.

Ben Vinegar is a Software Engineer at Disqus, a third-party commenting platform served on over 500,000 blogs, online publications, and other web properties.  Before joining Disqus in San Francisco, Ben enjoyed many a wintery day in Toronto, where he worked with the talented FreshBooks team.

Ben will cover what third-party scripting entails, how it can find a home in your development projects, how new technology is making it more accessible, and some techniques to use at home.

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Presenting Aaron Peterson, Technical Evangelist for Opscode, seasoned systems and networking engineer

If you’re a system administrator, or a software developer interested in DevOps, then you shouldn’t miss this talk.

We’re proud to present Aaron Peterson, a seasoned engineer and Technical evangelist from OpsCode, the creators of Chef.  Aaron has wielded real-time command-line kung fu to tens of thousands of servers at once and automated global production infrastructure at and now he’s coming to Toronto to speak on Chef.

Chef is an open source systems configuration that helps developers take care of the muck so they can focus on writing great applications and gives system administrators the flexibility to integrate all aspects of their infrastructure such as monitoring and trending tools with applications.  Aaron will cover the operations and development methodology that inspired the tool, introduce Chef at a high level, and show the steps to stand up a fully automated n-tier Web stack using some of Chef’s powerful features.

With just over two weeks left, you should buy your tickets today.