Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Night Out with Fukuoka IT

In my search for a local freelancer community, a friend of mine introduced me to a group called Fukuoka IT. I’ll be the first to admit that I am no codejammer, but I am interested in web tools and IT as they relate to the field of translation. Not to mention, I am always game for meeting new people, so I got in touch with Mark Cowan, a self-confessed Java lover and the fearless leader of Fukuoka IT.

Mark, a native Canadian and long-time Fukuoka resident, started the Fukuoka IT Google group 2 years ago as a way for foreign IT specialists in the Fukuoka area to get together and share ideas. In the beginning meetings were often comprised of Mark and one or two other brave souls, but he persisted. Membership grew by word of mouth and eventually the group decided to expand its network by inviting Japanese techies into the fray. With mailing list membership now at 50, the Fukuoka IT group saw a record 18 members turn up for June’s meeting held at the Chuo Civic Center. Each month, members set a different topic and conduct presentations or engage in coding competitions. The aim is to share ideas and build professional networks.

Last Saturday I joined the folks from Fukuoka IT for their June meeting, this one sponsored by Elanex Japan. The topic was productivity tools, and one member discussed how he uses the Lighthouse project management service to run his development projects. Team leader, Mark, ran a series of interactive games to illustrate a development method known as Extreme Programming (Note: Mountain Dew consumption is optional). Since I am not really an IT guy, some of the more in-depth content was over my head, but I did find the presentations informative and accessible, and I met a lot of new and interesting people.

After the 2 hour session, the gang of 10 descended upon the Craic and Porter for some well deserved refreshments and less technically oriented banter. Who says techies don’t know how to party?

Are currently working in IT? Do you code for fun? Do you design web pages? Are you a whiz with Photoshop? Mark and the gang are always looking to welcome new members into the Fukuoka IT fold. Just swing on by the homepage to sign up and try to catch one of their regular meetings held on the 4th Saturday of every month.

(Photos by Kevin Soli)

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