Thursday, March 26, 2009

My NYC Android Presnetation

A couple of you have been asking me how my presentation at the March 24, 2009 meeting of the NYC Android Developer's Meetup went. Overall, not bad, but it did have its rocky moments.

The point of the presentation was to demo the mini eco-system I've been writing that uses Google's App Engine (GAE) and Google's Android phone. There's nothing really special about it (other than I wrote it ;-) but the group needed someone to present something and you know how much I like to stand in front of a technical audience.

For those of you in the audience that are new, you can read what my little eco-system does here.

The meetings are held at Fast Company's NYC headquarters, 29th floor of WTC 7. The meeting room has an awesome view of New York and the Hudson but this was the first time I had seen it in the light (due to Daylight Savings Time change). With the sun setting behind skyscrapers, it was even awesomer [sic].

I got there early and started setting up. Of course, the hardware didn't want to cooperate: the GPS on the phone wasn't kicking in; the Macbook display was doing weird things until one of the other members pointed out I had to put it into "mirror" mode; and Droidex, the application that displays the phone screen on the computer in real-time stopped working! Without Droidex, my presentation was worthless. Eventually, though, I got everything working (except the GPS).

There was a good turnout for the meeting, probably 25 to 30 people, over half of them new. We introduced ourselves and mentioned why we were interested in Android. When the last person finished speaking, Rana the Assistant Organizer looked at me like "Well? Go for it" so I did.

The presentation was called "Scratching an Itch". The phrase "scratching an itch" is used in programming to describe the act of a programmer writing a program ("scratching") for his need (an "itch") instead of someone else's need, like his client or boss.

So the first thing I had to do was explain my "itch". I did it by tellning the story in a Lessig-style presentation. The story revolved around me missing Banksy's NYC exhibit in October 2008 but first, I had to explain who Banksy was, so I showed several of his art works. Things were going well until I showed this one; about half the audience (mostly the older people) didn't appreciate it for some reason. :-)

Anyway, I got through the "describing the itch" part and started demoing my programs. That could have gone a lot better! I think I'll practice that some more before trying it out on some more audiences.

Afterwards, I got to talk to several cool people about how to do things in Android and even got into a discussion about AWS.
At that point, there was nothing left to do but head home.

I want to put up a screencast of my presentation and demo, so if anyone knows of some decent [fF]ree software to do that on a Macbook or Linux, let me know.

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