Logo of the Mauritius Software Craftsmanship CommunityLast weekend the Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community (MSCC) had been organising their latest monthly meetup. Once again, we met at the Ebene Accelerator, Orange Tower, Ebene.

"Thank You to Ebene Accelerator for offering us the use of their conference rooms. It's really helpful and we like to be here."

In this article I would like to take the chance to quickly summarize the topics we covered and the ideas we worked out for upcoming meetings. And it was also pleasant to welcome more 'first-timers' this month.

Reactions from other craftsmen

Funnily, it seems that there is kind of gentleman's agreement active at the moment which says that this month's community activities should be blogged in French language. Frankly speaking I leave that exercise to my native craftsmen. It would be more than horrible writing this entry in French language - both, for me to write and for you to read. ;-)

"Comme cela faisait parti des topiques d’aujourd’hui on s’est partagé les photos de nos desks (bureau). On a ainsi eu une longue discussion sur les bonnes pratiques de “Clean Desk Policy” … Quand à moi je me suis défendu pourquoi j’aime mon “messy desk” :)" --  Ish on MSCC – L’interopérabilité :)

Looking forward to add more links as soon as they'll be available online...

Latest MSCC updates

Since founding this community back in May 2013 it has been a great journey so far. Our weekly and of course our monthly meetups have been great fun and serious exchange of experience. This month we are going to pass the 6-month mark... And yes it's on the one hand quite remarkable to see what has been achieved during this short period and on the other hand I'm very happy to say that the #MSCC is hopefully not following all those unfortunate user groups that have been alive in Mauritius. Touching wood, the #MSCC is currently the most active IT community and we are working towards more members on our official website over at Meetup.com, and we are looking forward to encourage others to either re-animate their activities or to join us willingly.

Based on an initiative of Yann, we started to organise small meetings with local IT companies in order to create more awareness about the MSCC in general but also to see whether there might be common interest and synergy effects. Up till now, we already had a conversation with representatives of Ceridian and Talents. Both companies seem to like our concept, ideas and mid-term plans about enforcing the IT landscape in Mauritius. Very positive for us is also that they both generously offered their facilities and eventually guest sessions for next meetups.

It would be awesome to have the ability to introduce our community to more software developers, system administrators or DevOps during the next couple of month. Actually, we are very ambitious to reach 100+ craftsmen before the end of 2013. Dear reader, did you already join the MSCC? No, it's for free and anyone is welcome on our official site. Thanks!

A typical setup and relaxed environment during our monthly MSCC meetups
Typical setup: Relaxed and non-formal environment during our monthly MSCC meetups.

Clean Code Developer

Although announced as topic for this month, we simply skipped it. And I think it was completely okay to do so. Anyway, it's only post-poned and it's going to be a more practical session next time. As we already spoke about Red and Orange Grades, I would like to provide a number of source code snippets that we can analyse, discuss and refactor together. So, hold the line... we'll back in a moment.

Your workspace (desk, OS, apps, tools, etc)

Working in IT usually means that you are sitting most of your time in front of your work desk. I mean, that's your profession day in, day out - something between 6 and 12 hours per day, 5 or even 6 days week, and so on. Having a proper working environment is crucial for your productivity and efficiency after all.

"If you're a developer, you need to spend money on a great computer, an awesome monitor, a fantastic chair and a good bed" -- Scott Hanselman

In those matters, I would like to refer to the 4 B's - Brain, Bytes, Back, Buns - The Programmer's Priorities - written by Scott Hanselman two years back, as well as a more recent article here on this blog: Essentials for Software Developer or any computer job.

Due to my work as a IT consultant and working with a number of IT companies here in Mauritius, I clearly tell that the ergonomically aspects of a proper work environment are non-existent. Software developers, database administrators, system integrators, you name it are quite commonly sitting on the cheapest piece of furniture a company might be able to purchase here on the island. The major problem in most cases is the number of employees or ,frankly speaking, the lack of budget in order to provide comfort for the powerhouse workers. And same usually applies to the hardware equipment given to employees. Usually, just the cheapest stuff available and absolutely no chance for anyone to ask for replacement. Unfortunately, in some cases I also discovered that a developer brought her own hardware, like a high-quality keyboard and high-resolution optical mouse from home to her office work desk.

Well, prior to the meetup I already requested our craftsmen to submit their pictures and we talked about bits and pieces. One really positive effect that we discovered is clearly that having at least two monitors at your workspace automatically increases ones productivity. No need to switch between apps via hot-keys or fiddling around with resizing and positioning of application windows. And, adding a second monitor is absolutely affordable for anyone, even here in Mauritius. I pulled my portable USB monitor from the laptop bag and passed it around. The overall reaction was very positive and some were even impressed by the light-weight of the screen. Eventually, I should get in touch VEngineers about commission :)

Following an incomplete set of work desks we had a look at and talked about.

Work space of Yann

Work space of Nirvan

Work space of Nadim

My work space

More pictures of our craftsmen's workspaces and in general of our recent meetup are available in the photo gallery. Most interestingly, there is a repetitive pattern in the hardware: multiple screens, high quality peripherals and head-phones or head-set.

Oh, and don't worry about hardware limitations... Using a software KVM like Synergy gives you the ability to share and use one set of peripherals across multiple machines independent of the operating system you're using. So, grab the old rusty PC or your previous laptop from the shelf and hook them up.


What are the upcoming events here in Mauritius? So far, we have the following ones (incomplete list as usual) in chronological order:

Hopefully, there will be more announcements during the next couple of weeks and months. One of the hottest candidates that I would like to have here in Mauritius would be Microsoft BootCamp and Windows 8.1 and/or Windows Phone 8 development.

Networking and job/project opportunities

 Having a group of like-minded people with a sense of passion and proud in their work is always a good igniter for interesting conversation. And so this time again, we spoke about the importance of knowing multiple programming languages. The ones that you might have learned during your years at the university, like C++ or Java, aren't necessarily the ones you are going to earn your money and fame with. Dan had some good arguments that even though he used to learn C/C++ in his youth, he is mainly working in Ruby (on Rails) and other web-related technologies. On my side, I have to say that I 'outed' myself - even so in a funny way (carefully: written in German language). I mentioned that it is pretty interesting to observe the trends during the last 2-3 years on JavaScript. Before I started to develop data-driven desktop applications in Visual FoxPro, I used to hack down dynamic web sites in HTML 3.x, Perl, mSQL/MySQL and JavaScript. Some MSCC youngsters seem to be surprised about the fact that JavaScript is almost 20 years old - A Short History of JavaScript. And I used to code back in those early days...

Anyway, the important information is: You have to know more than 2 or even more than 3 programming languages nowadays. And JavaScript should be part of that.

My resume of the day

Digging in the past... Oh yes, it was great fun to take a deep dive into Web development during the last millennium. For one of our future meetups, I really looking forward to have someone talking about either jQuery, AngularJS, node.js, or any other JavaScript library that is commonly used in modern web and app development. Volunteers are highly welcome...