Boston Barcamp 6, Day Two

Finally got this post out after having a bit of a busy week.  

Location based networking, anurag wakhlu (coloci inc) http://goo.gl/mxAtd * location based apps: where are you now? or where will you be? * where are you now: foursquare, gowalla, loopt, etc * where will you be: coloci, fyesa, tripit, plancast * interest based networking: the reason to talk to someone who is near you. tie an interest: sending someone a coupon when they are near starbucks. if they arent near starbucks, what good is a coupon? * proactive coupons: dont wait for a check-in. if someone is 2 blocks from starbucks, send them a notification for coupon. ex// minority report. walk by a billboard, recognizes you, tailors ad specifically to you. 52% of US consumers willing to share location for retail perks. * foursquare background checkin? automatically check you in when you are in a close enough vicinity to a location * Do privacy concerns have a potential impact on services becoming more popular? ex// European privacy laws about broadcasting who you are, where you are, etc. * Have to trust your device that when you disallow authority to know your location, it actually does not broadcast where you are. * Trade off of convenience versus privacy. Debit card is a lot more convenient than cash, people are more than likely to give up privacy. * If you really want to not be tracked, you really need to disconnect yourself from the computer. Go cash only. Re-education might help. “You might already be sharing this info somewhere else, so what difference is it now that you do it via your phone?” * Tracking someone’s history via CSS visited tag. Firefox supposedly has fixed this issue where websites cannot do this anymore. * Using EZpass, who is responsible for giving a ticket if you did 60 miles in faster than 60 minutes? Using your location to know your broke the law. At the start, Anurag gave a wonderfully succint history of location based networking, highighting the current giants like Foursquare and Facebook Places. We talked about how the potential is there to enable your phone to alert you about consumer deals in your vicinity, having more of a ‘push’ aspect to networking, or your phone could alert you to friends being near as well. Eventually though, the attendants turned the talk into a big privacy discussion. Not necessarily as flame-worthy as it could have been, but still talking about how much of our information we want to broadcast and allow to advertisers. Broadcasting location and private information. Could the situation eventually get to the point like Minority Report where your phone is overtly/covertly broadcasting who you are to potential advertisers or other potentially nefarious people.

Economics of open source * reputation is a kind of currency. ancillary benefits of ‘being known.’ ex// popular github repo, can get you a book deal, flown to conferences, etc. * are we cheapening what we do by giving it away? software produces so much cash for people. not everything is oss. still need people to customize it and apply. * discussion: can donations kill a project? the comptroller decides who gets money, and those who donate time but dont get paid feel slighted, and the project can take a nose dive. Content of presentation was a bit bland/dry, but the discussion was involved. War story: giving training away for free when a company charges for it. you are hurting the ecosystem by giving it away rather than someone paying for it. This was fairly interesting, delving past the common topic of software being ‘free as in beer.’

Interviewing well as a coder round table * feel okay sitting there for a couple minutes thinking. Dont feel stressed to start writing code right away. * some questions to ask you to regurgitate syntax. what happens if you get confused between languages. * design issues “show us where you would add X feature.” stylistics versus code syntax. * code portfolios: employers look at your github profile. see the code you’ve written. if your code is ‘too good’, employer wants you to find bugs in their code. * how to practice your whiteboarding skills? codekata: short programming problems. * asking questions that there is no solution to. can you be an asshole interviewing? * be prepared for personal questions because employers will google you and find your personal interests * spin negative questions as positive: what do you see improving in your work environment? * questions back to employee: what do you hope to improve for our company? * if you list a skill in your skills list, be ready to whiteboard the code.

Can the internet make you healthier? jason jacobs, runkeeper founder * convergence of health/athletic data and IT * virtual coaching: ahead/behind pace, in-app reminders to go faster or slower on their iOS app. The more data you have over what you’re doing physically, can help you react. How am I doing against my peers? This was interesting, since Jason sees his company’s first product ‘Run Keeper’ as the jumping off point to more athletic-body sensing applications. The point was raised about what point does the app which suggests a certain pace while running, dance the line of being medical advice. I think it is a good point, that the app needs more information about your health before suggesting a certain distance or pace for exercise. I’ll be curious myself as I use the app more, how I am improving athletically.

Overall, I found the signal-to-noise ratio of the unconference to be very high. For my first Barcamp, I would suggest it to all technically-inclined folks who just want to let their interests and imaginations plot the course of which talks they attend. I know I will be a repeat attendee.