These Colorado devs are crushing it on GitHub, part 2

Carlin Sack

Blogs

We all hear about the great products being built within Colorado’s digital startups. But we often hear about this digital work in the eyes of CEOs instead of our city’s most dedicated and creative employees: our developers. This series will be giving some love to a few local devs who are super active with various personal and work projects - which are showcased on their GitHub profiles. To recommend a local developer for this series, email carlin@builtin.com.

Royce Haynes

File 28488

His day job:

Engineer at Pearson Education. My team builds web services and maintains server infrastructure used to provide social features to Pearson educational software. We're responsible for features like discussions, notifications, and student/teacher preferences.
 
What technologies he's excited about:
 
ReactJS - ReactJS is a javascript library for building user interfaces. What makes me excited about this library is its concept of one-way reactive data flow, which reduces the boilerplate code in binding data between a user interface and data stores (i.e., user forms, APIs, etc.).
 
Scikit Learn - I love Python, and I love that it has mature libraries for data mining and analysis. Scikit learn is one of those suite of tools that allows developers reveal interesting things about large datasets.
 
 
Interesting GitHub projects:
 
email-reply-parser - Email Reply Parser is a tool that makes it easy to grab only the last reply to an on-going email thread. Zapier tasked me to create this tool and its been a major hit in the Python community. In the last month, email-reply-parser has 3,693 downloads. This took me about 2 days to create the mvp.
 
rollsroyce - Rolls Royce is a minimal them for the Ghost blogging platform. I've had several bloggers tweet, email, and fork this theme for use on their personal blogging site. This took my a day to create.
 
framer - Framer is a simple file proxy built using nodejs. Most of my work is post creation of this library, which included extending image and file manipulation features. I've spent a day on extending Framer.
 
pydwolla - Pydwolla is a client library for Dwolla's API. I built this on a Saturday. 
 
Other projects:
 
Chrrp uses Stripe to show SaaS metrics and notify Chrrp users when something bad happens, like when a customer's card expires. It's basically analytics and alerts for Stripe. The cool thing that sets us apart is we're building for both iOS, Android and web. Check out our go ugly early solution.
 
How he finds the local dev community:
 
My connection to the local dev community is through past freelance gigs, meeting people through tech meet-ups and becoming friends with people who share similar skill sets. My advice to the local dev community is to keep building simple solutions, to overlooked problems that need solved, and to mentor others in the community on your experience.
 
 

Drake Emko 

 
File 28489
His day job:

I am a senior software engineer for Revionics, a software as a service (SaaS) company that optimizes revenue for retail companies using big data science. I'm currently working on a project for managing, creating, and optimizing retail promotions. Our small team in Denver was originally a software startup that focused on integrating Facebook custom actions with retail promotions; we are currently partnered with the Raley's grocery chain in California to use this technology along with our custom analytics solution. 

Our team's focus is on delivering intuitive, attractive software that is iteratively UIX (User Interaction and Experience) tested, so that we continuously design for the way our real users work.



What technologies he's excited about:
 

There are a ton of exciting technologies evolving in so many areas of programming and systems administration! My passion is looking at the mobile space - around the world, people are looking more and more to their tablets and phones to handle both their business and entertainment. How can we agilely deliver software to them for all the different platforms available? I have been looking into development frameworks that allow developers to code and design in HTML5 / CSS / JavaScript and push to a variety of mobile platforms, specifically PhoneGap / Cordova. 

Also, how can we deliver backend server solutions, for mobile or otherwise, that easily scale and don't steal valuable time away from the developers for systems administration duties? There are a number of solutions, established and emerging, for IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) and PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) that do just that; I have been using Google App Engine with python backends for my personal projects, and we use Cloudbees and Amazon AWS at work for handling our servers. CloudFoundry is another such framework that is always evolving with new features.


Interesting GitHub projects:
 
I have been lately interested in cryptocurrencies - the most famous of which is Bitcoin - and recently created a mobile app for the Pandacoin (PND) currency, to check your wallet balances. One of their developers contacted me after seeing some of my other similar apps and requested that I look into their currency, which I found to have a great user community as well as development team that is using some very innovative technology and ideas to differentiate their coin from other cryptocurrencies. For Android (also available on Windows Phone 8, Blackberry 10, Amazon Kindle, Chrome, and FirefoxOS). I have developed some other multi-platform cryptocurrency apps, such as a Bitcoin price checker.
 
My first mobile project was an advice column reader named Advice Owl - which I wrote since my wife and I are advice column junkies -  and it aggregates a number of popular advice columns onto one app.
 

What he does outside of work:

I also play guitar in a rock band, Wolfgirl (you can download our tunes for free here: http://wolfgirl.bandcamp.com/), and we try to play shows locally about once per month. The music scene here in Denver is great, and it's a lot of fun to get out there and rock!


How he connects with local tech:
 

Our office co-hosts a Meetup with Pivotal Labs, called Tech Confluence (http://www.meetup.com/TechConfluence/), which is organized by my manager Gabe Hamilton. It's a great way for developers and tech enthusiasts to meet during the day (food and beverages provided!), to listen to informative talks and to share ideas. It's also a supportive and low-pressure opportunity to practice public speaking if you want to give a presentation - I've done it a few times myself. The presentations range from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on that day's format, so you don't have to prepare an hour long talk or anything like that!
 
How he finds the local tech community:
There are a ton of other events locally that I want to participate in more this year, such as Denver Startup week. You end up seeing a lot of the same folks and making great connections - it's a small tech world here in Denver!
 
As a community, I feel we can do better by attracting more women into our high-tech work environments, and into the field of programming in general.  I don't know the best way to do that, but we can certainly be more pro-active about prioritizing diversity and maintaining non-hostile or sexist work environments, as well as educating our younger generation of women and girls about both the fun and importance of computer programming as a profession!

 

Devon Jones

File 28490

His day job:
I work on the big data team for SendGrid.  As a team, we dig through the mountains of data we have, looking for insights that can be used to improve our product for our customers.  Currently, most of our work sifting through the data is done via hadoop.  We develop models by exploring in the data and then transform that into systems that can act on our mail pipeline.  Currently most of our work is going into creating what are called bloom filters that allow us to encode information we discover on the hadoop side for extremely rapid lookup on the real time side.
 
I've also been piloting usage of docker in the company as a way to drastically reduce the effort needed to deploy software.  Working with docker has been pretty exciting.  I'm fairly sure as a technology it's going to revolutionize how hosting is done over the next few years.

 
Technologies he's excited about:
Hadoop, Hive, Impala, Docker, bloom filters, a variety of machine learning algorithims.
 
Interesting GitHub projects:
Most of my work at SendGrid is in non public repos, but here are a few of my personal ones:

SSH Helper, an app I wrote at my last company, Knewton that the company allowed me to open source.  ssh helper makes working with Amazon ec2 instances substantially easier by allowing the user to connect to systems not just by ip or dns name, but via any information amazon has about the instance - id, instance size, amazon internal ip, security groups, etc.  This isn't under active development as it mostly does what it needs to now.

 OpenReference is an android app I developed starting 2 years ago that helps tabletop RPGers play games.  It has over 100,000 users today. I work on this app a couple times a month.

 OpenForge is a repo of 3d models I've designed for use on my 3d printer.  It's models of game tiles that can be used in the afore mentioned RPGs.  I work on these in bursts.  Generally I'll hit it pretty hard for a few weeks and then lay off for a month or two.

 
Other cool projects he works on:
Code for RPGs obviously.  I like to write stuff for my 3D printer.  I've been known to do some microcontroller code for platforms like the arduino.  I particularly like the area where programming meets physical things.  As I build up my garage with tools to fabricate, I expect I'll be doing more code in this space to experiment with making smart devices.

 
How he feels about the local tech community:
Mostly I connect through the meetup Denver Tech Confluence.  It's a lunch meetup once a month and people give lightning talks.  I try to speak at it roughly every other month.  From time to time I'll go to other meetups or maybe a hackathon.

I moved here recently from the NY tech scene (though I am a Colorado native, so it was moving back).  The two tech scenes have a fairly different vibe.  I think what's most noticeable about the colorado tech scene is a focus on life balance.  People come here for a higher quality of life and the employers have noticed that, creating cultures that are still high performing, but let people have lives outside of the startup.
 
The biggest thing I think colorado needs to focus on for it's tech scene is how diffuse it is.  There's a lot of activity, but it can be hard to connect it all when it's spread across 4 different city centers (Boulder, Interlocken, LoDo, Denver Tech Center). It's good to see that a nascent startup scene has taken hold in LoDo, and the startup culture is really starting to infuse the Denver area.  My hope is that this continues to expand. Still, because of the difficulty of commuting to Boulder due to the congestion on 36, it's difficult for these scenes to weave themselves together, which I think is necessary if the Front Range is to join the top tier of startup regions like Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley.

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