Malmö.rb October meetup: Ruby and Linux Signals explained, modular synthesizers explored

This is an after-action report about a meetup with the Malmö Ruby Brigade.

Malmo.rb meetup sign.

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of introducing my friends, new and old, of Malmö.rb to the presenters of the day. We convened, as always, at FooCafe, which is a “conference which is on every day”.

I had been stressing about logistics, trains were running late, and people were filtering in, finding the room. People were giddy, and did not seem to mind the event starting later; they were ogling the amazing boxes which were on the tables at the front. After the flood of text messages to make this happen, this was now… happening.

Modular synthesizers in their cases, and operators smiling
Three operators & builders of modular synthesizers showed up with their cumbersome gear. Thanks, co-organizer Lars, who drove them there and back again!

First, as I had requested, Stephen from Copenhagen.rb ran a clear and wonderful set of code examples of using UNIX signals in Ruby programs. It was a strong introduction to the topic.

Ruby code in vim, on a screen in a dark room
“Can you please make the window smaller, there are synthesizers in the way.”

There were at least two new faces at the meetup, and I had been given a hint by Morgan about the article Breaking Cliques at Events. In it, a method for reminding people that the longer they’ve been in a group, the more responsibility they have to welcome newcomers to it: “Take the number of years you’ve been in the group. That number is how many new people you say hello to at a meetup.”

When the tech talk was done, I asked Niklas, Christian and Philip to talk about the synthesizer hobby/life-style. “Do you want me to explain the 60s?” And I said: “I don’t care about what happened in the 60s, I’m curious about how you came to begin with this!”

Personal anecdotes, and good perspectives on being an explorer of sound were followed by a pretty intense diagramming of a so-called “patch”. A patch is a set of configuration of modules, and Philip used the whiteboard wall to draw while explaining. (“Wait, is that a whiteboard pen? – Uh, yes. Is this a whiteboard?”)

Lars is exploring the diagram, which features waveforms, ADSR envelopes, inputs and outputs.

The connections on the synths is done using cables. The cables connect inputs and outputs on modules. The voltages on the cables control.. things. Each connection does something. Without names for the connections – in programming, in contrast, most everything is named – it’s possible to do things, and not recall afterwards how a configuration came to be. A cognitive ceiling.

Modular synthesizer being photographed.
The operators were kind and helpful and full of pedagogy when explaining what was going on with the signals being sent through the cables. The voltages.

When the presentation of concept was finished, we had a pizza break – thanks, FooCafe! – and then went on to turn knobs and move cables on our own. The operators explained what was going on at all times, which gave me a lot of respect for their craft: modeling the signal at all times, what it “does now”, is a big task.

Well, if you took any pictures of this event, I’d be happy to add them to this place.

Resources

Wikipedia’s entry on Modular Synth has pictures, histories, links, etc. All the things about the Sixties that I wanted to keep out of this more hands-on workshop.

Malmö.rb homepage has contact information for the group.

I usually tag content with the #malmorb hashtag.

Upcoming meetup poster: active redesigning and customizing

Prettify your web apps

Indulge me. I allowed myself to make a little poster.

Öresund JavaScript Meetup #10 on June 14, in Malmö, at Hypergene’s offices.

I guess there are a couple of things wrong with it. The date and time are lacking. Monday June 14. At 19.00. The URL says those things. (But people looking at a poster can’t click it.)

These guys would disapprove.

Update: Now, I went and added that stuff.

Still, the workshop will be great.

7th Öresund JavaScript Meetup (and the next)

So that was the 7th meetup about JavaScript. We learnt stuff about extending Chrome, that WebKit browser. Mark Wubben taught us.

Thanks, Mark! You provided much more than a glorified walkthrough of the extant documentation, you gave us insight into how the workflow feels, and how a finished product can look.

That went well.

When one participant muttered “Anyone interested in… pizza?” we trudged throught the snow to Drottningtorget, around ten Open Source enthusiasts had gathered for the bi-weekly MOSIG social event. Yep, that’s short for Malmö Open Source Interest Group. Affectionately known as “Linux pizza”.

Next meetup date, in Copenhagen, is at 23’s headquarters in Vesterbro.

4th Øresund JavaScript Meetup report

The 4th Øresund JavaScript Meetup was just held at Hypergene‘s Malmö offices, yesterday night. Eight brave souls made the journey to Malmö C and came to Hypergene’s quite fancy offices. After a little pizza snack and introductory conversation, we repaired to a meeting room. Networking was in full swing, in at least three languages, when Jacob announced that he’d run his introductory JSpec presentation.

It turns out that JSpec is a BDD specification tool, which uses some Ruby to run its specs. The syntax was a mix of Ruby and JavaScript in the same file.

Mats Bryntse had quit his job to make an ExtJS web app, and he’ll be on his way to San Francisco in a few months. The app he made, Ext.ux.Scheduler is impressive.

Later, I got fiddly. Programming languages had come up in conversation. Scala! Clojure! Erlang! OCaml! So, I installed a few of them. We deciphered a bit of Scala, and tried it out. Quite entrancing, getting it to run, when four people stand around and shout suggestions. The Erlang Eclipse extension Erlide was hastily installed, but we ran out of time before we got anything done with it. And the title of the meetup is “Öresund JavaScript Meetup”. The irony was not lost on us.

“It’s dead easy to make Erlang web backends!”, I later exclaimed. “Can I quote you on that?” David retorted.

So, there’s my challenge. Using ErlyWeb, MochiWeb, and others, and perhaps Mnesia (the database), I’ll have to work hard until the next meetup to get an environment running – and make a web application.

Speaking of the next meetup, David, who’s working for streaming outfit XStream in Copenhagen, will try and convince his people that a JavaScript Meetup is just what they need to host, so we’ll probably be in Copenhagen next time.

What’s more? There were shoutouts to the Copenhagen PHP Meetup, and talk about coding dojos.