StackOverflow Meetup and Side Projects

Last night, I went to the StackOverflow Meetup down by Irvine (~1 hour away) from where I live but I was planning to going to UCI next year so I wanted to meet a few hackers, programmers, and designers in the area and also learn a few things about the industry.

Meeting Up at Irvine

My mom drove me to Irvine and it was different from Torrance. The first noticeable difference was the insurmountable, undeveloped landscape of grassy hills. There was a lot of grass and next to it, was Irvine, a lot of new buildings. The second noticeable difference was the parking space counter. It counted the number of open parking spaces; I wish we had that at Torrance.

I was only a little late. Maybe 15 minutes but the most of the party was already there. I sat down with a bunch of older men and it was awkward but better than I expected since I described a possible outcome to my friend William earlier:

I would be the little asian kid that walks in to a table full of older men and say “Hey guys, this is my mom.” then get on to discussing geek topics.

Introductions and Breaking the Ice

In Barnes & Noble, everyone was either drinking beer or Starbucks coffee and I started off by introducing a little about myself and what I do: a high school student pursuing Computer Science. I only recognized two other people there by name. First, I recognized Alexander Farennikov because he had his picture available on the Meetup site (and also the Russian name/accent). Second, I recognized Evgeny Fadeev because he arrived last and introduced himself.

There was also the other guy from Torrance, a game developer with 21 years of experience, a friend of Alex, and some guy looking for help with his side projects. If anyone could clarify who they were, it would be awesome.

All of these people had amazing experience that I couldn’t compare to.

Discussions and the Topic Recursion

There were many side topics that were iterated through such as body-type disclosure, python as a programming language, and IMAP parsing but they all looped back to the same topic: side projects. Everyone had their own side project going (not surprising since engineers have that ability to innovate and create simultaneously).

Side Projects

These side projects are a little different from what I’m used to. First, a lot of these side projects were aimed to be potentially profitable. Second, there was a lot of discussion about how difficult it is to get started, get progress, or get help for some of these ideas.

At MetaZaku, the collaboration zone for my development team, I haven’t had any difficulty with getting help for my projects but we also don’t pursue profit. Our objective is a social mission to promote interest in young adults that hope to pursue higher level education or work in computer-related industries.

Alex put it in simpler terms: “free work”. Although I’ve only done one paid project, getting involved in this industry at young age seems nearly impossible but I really hope to indulge myself in programming (that’s why I’m out here anyway).

A Challenge and Expectations for the Next Meetup

One fundamental obstacle that kept these men from pursuing side projects was time. We set up a little challenge such that the next time we meet, someone should be pursuing or have completed a side project of theirs. I have a slight advantage here as a future college student with an abundance of time.

I have a goal set ahead of me to finish a project before the next meetup. I should, however, pursue a project that is potentially profitable.

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  • Mirko

    Hi Gio, it was nice meeting you there – I’m the “other guy from Torrance.” :)

    The interesting thing about side-projects is that everyone has a dream to make it big, and the belief that by working just a little harder, a little longer on these side projects you can get there. In reality, having a working prototype (80% of work) is a far cry from a finished product, and it takes a *lot* of work to go the extra 20%. Also, a lot of us “older men” (hehe) do run short on free time as you said, so we are going to pick potential money-making projects over simply hobby projects (although I tried to distance myself away from that mentality by dabbling in the arduino/hardware world).

    Anyway, good luck on all your projects and at UCI – as someone who went through ICS in UCI, I can tell you already have a really good head start on all the people just starting out.

    • Gio Carlo Cielo

      Mark? I’m still not sure what your name is but I was thinking that it was either Mark or Matt.

      I really like to meetup with various people both IRL and internet to see all the different ideas and side projects that people come up with. I have my own from time to time but I’m really just latching on to other projects since the probability of success would rise just by having another person there (assuming that we don’t fall prey to the mythical man-month).

      There are so many people I know of that are willing to work on side projects but most of the people I work with are young adults, college graduates, and non-college graduates so most of them are just having difficulty networking with the right people. Only very few actually have potential to contribute to projects and I take a lot of time to filter them out and invite them into my own developer team (which the site for is down now; need to contact the sysadmin) where we work on various side projects all day. My strategy so far is under construction and Pareto’s law may be difficult to riposte but with a trained team of rag-tag developers from across the internet on a distributed workflow, completing a few large side projects might be possible. Also, hardware interfacing with Arduino seemed like a lot of fun but it would burn my wallet so I never really got into it.

      Thanks for the support, I was really hoping to find like-minded individuals with high-ambitions at UCI more than the education. I found many at the Meetup so it’s exciting to see what I’ll find at UCI.

  • Filmy za darmo

    The very crux of your writing whilst appearing reasonable initially, did not work perfectly with me after some time. Somewhere within the sentences you managed to make me a believer but just for a very short while. I however have a problem with your jumps in logic and you would do well to help fill in those gaps. When you actually can accomplish that, I will certainly be impressed.

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  • About Gio

    I am a torrent of ingenuity (or insanity) with a myriad of innovations (sometimes fallacies) and a wealth of inspiration (possibly naiveté). My name is Gio Carlo Cielo Borje and I like puffer fish because they're just cooltalkin', highwalkin' and fastlivin'.

    I'm also twenty and a current student at UC Irvine for Computer Science.