Aug 11 AT 2:00 PM Eric Weiss 11 Comments

A Sense Of Community

Are you a developer for Android looking for a place to talk shop, people to bounce ideas off of, or just other people who speak your (programming) language? Are you an avid Android fan looking to meet others of your kind to trade tricks and tips and talk about the latest androidandme.com article over a cup of joe?

User groups are nothing new. It’s simple really, people with common interests getting together to help and meet each other. In my quest to find or start an Android Users Group in my area I found the Austin Google Tech Users Group, where else, but on Google Groups. The Austin GTUG was started in June by Jeremiah Akin and meets once a month at the Green Muse Cafe, a coffee shop near the University of Texas campus. The main focus of the group is for programmers using Google’s App Engine to meet, though it is welcome to any and all who have interest in Google and Google products.

The meeting started simply with introductions followed by a demonstration of Google Wave and Google Voice. Afterwards people were invited to show what they have been working on. People asked questions of the developer and offered suggestions.

One such project that caught my eye was “Next UT Shuttle” developed by Hanbing Liu. Before the meeting I would have considered it a simple application to know when to expect the next University of Texas Shuttle . But after hearing about how he had to manage the different schedules (weekends vs weekdays, school vs summer, etc) and different routes with different stops it became apparent what an undertaking it was to manage all that data and make it work within a user interface. He talked to me afterwards about his hopes of finishing the app and making it available for Android and iPhone. Since the meeting Hanbing has told me that because of some things he learned at the meeting he has been able to make some changes that improve how he pulls the data for the site. He has also started work on a version for the Capital Metro bus routes called “Next Austin City Bus!“.

I am not a programmer so some topics were over my head, though I never felt excluded or unwelcome. I enjoyed meeting like minded people who get excited about technology and getting to see their works in progress. I look forward to attending the August meeting as a member rather than a journalist.

After the meeting (which was around an hour and a half) people hung out, talked and exchanged contact information. It’s definitely worth looking into User Groups in your area and if you can’t find one… Start one!

If you are in the Austin area and would be interested in an Austin Android Users Group, let me know. Check out our forums and let us know about Android/Google user groups in your area or connect with others in your city and start your own.

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