Daria Tan && Tricia Ball bio photo

Daria Tan && Tricia Ball

Born as interracial siamese twins and therefore do everything in pairs, including blogging. It's a problem, we know. We are the twinkie of the engineering team.

Our Mission Creek Innovation Awesomeness Adventures Part 1 of 1 (the Saga Begins (and Ends))

A brief peek into the lives of two female techno-adventurists and how we slayed the Clojure dragon and brought prosperity to the Tiger Team with knowledge from the Mission Creek Innovation conference

Good Morning Internet!

This is our really cool greeting

Thanks to Chef sponsoring tickets, we (Daria and Trish) were able to attend the Innovation section of the Mission Creek Festival in Iowa City, IA. Mission Creek is a community based event that is focused on inspiring people with music, film, food, and writing. Most recently, i.e. last year, a BizTech/TechEntre component was added (which was the section we attended bee-tee-dubs). Basically, the Mission Creek Festival is a celebration of all things in life worth having, which we were so lucky to be a part of this year.

The Mission Creek Festival was put on by some awesome staff, but most awesomest of all was Wes Beary of Heroku. Without him, the Innovation portion of the festival would not have existed. He organized and ran the Innovation event this year, and gathered all of the great speakers. One fantastical job, Wes!

The Innovation component focuses “[…] on how we can reach toward the future by building diversity, creating and maintaining communities. It highlights both hardships and successes that have made leaders successful.”
- http://www.missionfreak.com/innovation/

The above blurb makes this sound more like a Diversity/Leadership Con, but it is more about how we can recognize and increase these qualities within the BizTech world. (Because we all know the number of young, white males in Tech and Business Ownership here, but in case you didn’t know, it’s a very large percentage.) But Mission Creek shows us it is within our power to change this. In fact, this plan has already been put into motion (say the two female technologists writing this).

To help highlight the influence on community, many of the speakers at this event were from the Iowa Creative Corridor. They spoke of their successes in business and technology, and how they got there. Some memorable talks included that by Howard Butler of HOBU regarding Open Source Software, how to create a product and how it can be profitable. Jeff Nock of the University of Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC), showed us how a desire to help the clubfoot epidemic in Africa can inspire a successful non-profit solution for this issue.

However, Mission Creek also brought some national keynote speakers including Johanna Blakley, PHD who presented her discoveries on marketing recommendation strategies and how both accurate and inaccurate ones are currently being used in various technologies for businesses such as Netflix, Youtube, and commercial programming. They also had Jeff Casimir of Turing School. He spoke on non-profit technology education and the proper mentoring strategies to make successful professional developers in a short turnaround.

Not to be missed, we also had our very own (non-evil/non-rapper) Ben Oakes.

Ben Oakes != Ben Oakes

He was a part of an Ask Me Anything technology panel also including Janet Davis, Professor of Computer Science at Grinnell College, and Zach Sanderson, Program coordinator for Dev/Iowa. They discussed topics including approaches to greater diversity in the tech industry as well as the hiring of non-traditional technologists (i.e. bootcamp grads or second career technologists).

Although the whole event was fantastic, the most exciting part of our sponsored tickets was the Friday Clojure workshop led by Uday Verma of Mazira. This part was super cool, because it was the only hands-on portion of the event. We got to be exposed to the functional programming paradigm of Clojure. He started the day by presenting the concepts of Clojure and functional programming, as well as cool interactive tools for it like LightTable and Nightcode. Basically, a whole year of Clojure 101 crammed into one small morning. It was pretty intense, but really cool.

We learned things such as:

  • The One True Loop of Functional Earth is the recursive kind. All others pale in comparison.
  • Prefix notation is the grammar of choice.
  • There are no Variables, only Functions
  • Everything is immutable (can never change a value, only make a new one)
  • And, just like us, it’s lazy

The second half of the workshop was awesome. We got to play with our new skillz. With vim, wemux, and Clojure we wrote a small app that interfaces with the openweathermap.org API to capture the current weather, using a leiningen project. For RoR devs, leiningen allows you to create projects and manage libraries with Clojure much like what Rails does for Ruby.

A few things we learned from this section were:

  • Iowa City does not exist properly for openweathermap.org’s API
  • We got Lost in Prefix Math Translation
  • When you don’t know how to do it, find someone who already has a library for it
  • Google is your friend

The Mission Creek Innovation Conference as well as its workshop was a great opportunity for us not only to gain new ideas and learn new skills, but also gave us the chance to interact with more people in our industry and in our community. We are very appreciative that Chef sponsored our tickets so we could attend this event. I also want to shout out Mazira for connecting us with Chef for the tickets.

Daria && Trish

Bye Bye Bye