Wednesday, April 23, 2008

April Is For AOL

Last night was the always fun Los Angeles web application developer Meetup, this time at AOL in Beverly Hills. After navigating a veritable maze of cubes, we found ourselves in a fairly large screening room chock full of AV equipment, accompanied by a large pile of pizza boxes. A few moments later, the throng of LA-based developers shuffled in, ready for the latest and greatest. The prerequisites fulfilled, we got down to some serious techno-babble.

First up was Omer Singer from DigiTrust, talking about Web Application Firewalls. Although it strayed a little closely to a sales pitch, Omer was able to tie it together with his definition of "defense in depth", which is simply enough having multiple layers of overlapping protection. One good point that he raised which is often overlooked is the cost of "brand-damage" in the marketplace from a web application being hacked. There were several good security related question asked afterwards, so yes the crown was paying close attention.

Next, was Mitch Hashimoto recent hire at CitrusByte, with a brief overview of the newly beta released Google App Engine. Mitch took us on a brief tour of the main capabilities of the Python-based system, like a Datastore API (based on BigTable), and the Users API (based on the Goog's own account authentication database). If you like Python, and don't mind doing everything the Google Way and no other, then the App Engine might be for you.

After Mitch, I did a presentation about Frankie, my newly released Ruby gem for easy development of Facebook applications. If you don't yet know, Frankie uses the Sinatra web server and the Facebooker gem to allow you to create a basic Facebook application with only 10 lines of Ruby. I also did a brief demo of a new, super-secret web thing that I have been working on for a little while... more will be revealed soon!

Last up was programming chum and Ruby expert Ari Lerner, talking about Amazon's EC2 service, and showing a little of another upcoming pet project of ours called "Pool Party", which makes it easy to deploy an auto-scaling application to the EC2 cloud.

It was a really great meetup, and the turnout was really good. Thanks to the persistent efforts of organizer Will Jessup, the community in LA is really thriving, and we were even able to keep the annoyance of non-technical recruiter sales pitches away. Great job, everyone!

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