Next meeting: September 16th at MIT (32G-882)

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Ravi Nanavati

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Sep 3, 2009, 3:51:41 PM9/3/09
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I'm pleased to announce the September meeting of the Boston Area
Haskell Users' Group.

Based on the feedback from the meeting polls and the constraints of
our speaker, the September meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday,
September 16th from 7pm - 9pm. I've decided to move the meeting time
back half an hour since that seems closer to what we've ended up doing
in practice. Like the past three meetings, it will be held in the MIT
CSAIL Reading Room (32-G882, i.e. a room on the 8th floor of the Gates
Tower of the MIT's Stata Center at 32 Vassar St in Cambridge, MA).

Based on the topic poll, our featured speaker will be Edward Kmett,
who will be presenting the second part of his monoids and parsing
presentation: "A Parallel Parsing Trifecta: Iteratees, Parsec, and
Monoids".

Edward's slides from August are here:
http://comonad.com/reader/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/IntroductionToMonoids.pdf

I'd recommend looking at them if you weren't at the August meeting (or
want a refresher on the material) since the two parts of his
presentation were originally designed to go concurrently. There's also
a preview of the September presentation as part of this post on
Edward's blog: http://comonad.com/reader/2009/iteratees-parsec-and-monoid/

We don't have any other presenters for September, so there are still
openings for Lightning Talks or other relevant announcements /
advertisements. If you're interested in one of those openings or in
presenting something (large or small) at a future meeting, please let
me know as we're still very hungry for content overall.

The September attendance poll is at: http://doodle.com/gew97steggwhrnue

As always, responding to this poll will help with two things:
1. Getting an idea of what fraction of the Boston-area Haskell
community can and can't attend this meeting (to help with future
scheduling).
2. Giving me an estimated count of attendees, so my wife can scale her
baking of goodies appropriately. Sponsorship of or other assistance
with refreshments is still being eagerly solicited.

I'm also still having trouble embedding this poll in a page on our
Google Group, so if anyone has any ideas about that, please feel free
to try (any group member can edit pages) and/or offer other assistance
or suggestions.

If you have any questions about the meeting please send them to the
BostonHaskell mailing list: boston...@googlegroups.com or contact
me directly.

I look forward to seeing many Boston-area Haskellers at the September meeting!

Thank you,

- Ravi Nanavati

Chris Ball

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Sep 3, 2009, 3:58:34 PM9/3/09
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Hi all,

> We don't have any other presenters for September, so there are
> still openings for Lightning Talks or other relevant
> announcements / advertisements. If you're interested in one of
> those openings or in presenting something (large or small) at a
> future meeting, please let me know as we're still very hungry for
> content overall.

I have a partial suggestion -- perhaps we could pick some small amount
of code to write, and then write it together during the meeting and
talk about how it could be improved? I'm new enough to Haskell that
this would be much more accessible to me than the expert talks;
perhaps this is true for other people too.

I don't have anything queued up to write myself, but if the folks on
the list have an idea of something to work on and think this is a good
idea, I'd be happy to lead the session.

Thanks!

- Chris.
--
Chris Ball <c...@laptop.org>
One Laptop Per Child

Ravi Nanavati

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Sep 3, 2009, 4:06:53 PM9/3/09
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That's an excellent idea. I'd love to see more beginner-targeted
material at each meeting (since I think an important point of having a
BostonHaskell community is for beginners and experts to interact). To
date, the major reason we've had more expert-focused material is
that's what people have volunteered to present. Does anyone have
suggestions about what might be an interesting thing to discuss?

Thanks,

- Ravi

Michael Stone

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Sep 3, 2009, 10:18:39 PM9/3/09
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I'd like us to talk about programs that I like, so I'll start off by
proposing that we look at pandoc and gitit, which are two of my
favorite Haskell programs.

http://johnmacfarlane.net/pandoc/
http://github.com/jgm/gitit/tree/master/

For eye candy, see http://gitit.johnmacfarlane.net/

Are there parts of these programs that folks are particularly
interested in learning about?

Regards,

Michael

sam griffin

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Sep 4, 2009, 10:17:47 AM9/4/09
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On the topic of Haskell beginners, I think a Haskell mentorship program would be a neat idea.  I'm not sure really what that would entail, but I think a one-on-one relationship is the best for learning.  Does this sound like a good idea to anyone else?

This also brings to mind something else I've been thinking about: we don't really have a clear idea of the level of Haskell aptitude of the group, do we?  Well, someone else may, since I've only been to two meetings.  Is there any use in trying to evaluate this?  Maybe an anonymous questionnaire could be made about topics (based on Real World Haskell? I'm not sure what could be used as reference for more advanced topics).

Brian Sniffen

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Sep 4, 2009, 3:17:47 PM9/4/09
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RWH branches very broadly, but does not go so deeply. It teaches a
great deal about the most commonly wanted Haskell libraries, but very
little about deeper Haskell itself. I think the 2005 GHC survey
(http://www.haskell.org/ghc/survey2005/) worked reasonably well for
assessing the depth of a much larger community.
--
Brian Sniffen
http://evenmere.org/~bts/
<b...@evenmere.org>

Ravi Nanavati

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Sep 4, 2009, 7:34:12 PM9/4/09
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On Fri, Sep 4, 2009 at 10:17 AM, sam griffin<sam.g...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On the topic of Haskell beginners, I think a Haskell mentorship program
> would be a neat idea.  I'm not sure really what that would entail, but I
> think a one-on-one relationship is the best for learning.  Does this sound
> like a good idea to anyone else?

It sounds like a good idea to me. How do you think we should run it?
My initial guess would be to have a sign-up sheet (or a Doodle poll?)
where potential mentors and mentees can indicate their interest and
then let people use that to match themselves up during the break. Does
that sound like the right approach or does someone else have an
alternative suggestion?

> This also brings to mind something else I've been thinking about: we don't
> really have a clear idea of the level of Haskell aptitude of the group, do
> we?  Well, someone else may, since I've only been to two meetings.  Is there
> any use in trying to evaluate this?  Maybe an anonymous questionnaire could
> be made about topics (based on Real World Haskell? I'm not sure what could
> be used as reference for more advanced topics).

My personal vision is that one of the exciting about BostonHaskell is
the mixture of people it brings together: beginner and expert,
academic and commercial and so on. Since we're just getting started,
my focus is on growing that mixture (in both quantity and variety) by
trying to have a variety of material to help bring that mixture
together and establish a self-sustaining community. At the moment, I'm
pretty comfortable with using things like Doodle polls to supplement
my discussions and observations at meetings. As BostonHaskell grows,
I'm sure we'll reach a point where we want something more formal and
structured, but I think we're just not there yet.

Anyhow, it is probably time to climb down off my soapbox and ask the
community the following: What do you think of the vision as I've
articulated it?

Thanks,

- Ravi

Mike Burns

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Sep 6, 2009, 12:10:00 PM9/6/09
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On 2009-09-04 10.17.47 -0400, sam griffin wrote:
> On the topic of Haskell beginners, I think a Haskell mentorship program
> would be a neat idea. I'm not sure really what that would entail, but I
> think a one-on-one relationship is the best for learning. Does this sound
> like a good idea to anyone else?

The Boston Ruby group has a history of hackfests that may be of interest:

The first Boston Ruby hackfest was a group of maybe 10 of us with a single
goal. No one of us knew exactly how to write the program. We divided up into
teams of two or three and did research, together, in the same room,
announcing what we've found as we've found it. We had a common repo that we
checked into. Some of us knew Ruby better than others, but it didn't matter
much for this problem.

The subsequent Boston Ruby hackfests saw a split into multiple groups, each
of which brought their own problem to solve/program to write. One group
attracted a small following with just "playing with the GUI libraries" as
their goal.

The current structure of the Boston Ruby hackfest (two years later) has a
few types of people who show: some are looking to solve a problem from their
day job or nightly hacking, and are using the hackfest as a way to get
face-to-face help; some have an idea or patch they can get done in two hours
and want someone to help with that; some just want to continue to work on
their stuff as normal but with the option to ask for face-to-face help; some
are just looking to socialize and eat free pizza; and some are looking for a
mentor. These people (the ones looking for a mentor) show up with a laptop
and idea but often very little Ruby knowledge. Some of us (myself included)
are more than willing to stop whatever we are hacking on to spend the
evening pairing with this new member of the community.


I provide this not as the only way to do it, but the way I've seen it done.
The lessons I've gathered from this are: if you're in a group, everyone
should struggle to solve it together; if you're pairing, at least one person
should know what he's doing.

Has anyone else seen this done before? How did it work for that group? What
lessons did you learn?


[For reference: I'm pretty new to Haskell. I've only used it in my spare
time for the past few months.]

--
Mike Burns mi...@mike-burns.com http://mike-burns.com

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