Geek News

October 21

Each year, Montreat College hosts RETR3AT, a conference designed to engage, educate, and raise awareness about cybersecurity in Western North Carolina and beyond. RETR3AT goes beyond the “1s and 0s” approach to cybersecurity training, challenging attendees to think about how to lead in protecting their organization’s information within an ethical framework.

Register at

Early bird registration by August 31: $100

After August 31: $125


We are grateful for a number of organizations that have already committed to sponsor RETR3AT: Mission Health System, Bank of America, Consolidated Assurance, Edgepoint, Snoopwall, Bitglass, ERC Broadband, Hirtle, Callaghan, LLC, The Biltmore Company, Samaritan’s Purse, Southern Champion Tray, and Epsilon, Inc.

Interested in sponsorship opportunities? Click here.


For more information, contact Grace Green, special events coordinator,, or call 828-669-8012 ext. 3709.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced $150 million in TechHire grants, designed to extend high quality, accelerated tech training opportunities to new communities—including over $30 million in grants for projects serving predominantly rural areas. One of the areas receiving a grant is Madison County, NC. Madison County will collaborate with local universities and partners like Tech Talent South to offer accelerated tech training through a new coding bootcamp, TechRamp Madison. Read more about the grants here.

The Asheville Drupal User Group hosted Drupal Camp Asheville 2016 at the new Mission Health/A-B Tech Conference Center, August 12-13, 2016.

Friday included a full day of Drupal 8 training, including introduction, theming and development. Matt Cheney, co-founder of Pantheon, was in attendance with a featured session on building an industrial grade development workflow using the Pantheon hosting platform.

Saturday was an exciting lineup of presentations by members of the Drupal community, both local and from the eastern part of the U.S. With more than 90 people in attendance, sessions included frontend and backend development, security, accessibility and more.

Drupal Camp Asheville is an annual event that focuses on hands-on training, community contribution and knowledge sharing for all levels of Drupal experience. The goal is to energize the local Drupal community, connect with the greater community and identify Asheville as a viable technology center. For more information about Drupal Camp Asheville and the Asheville Drupal User Group, visit

An initiative began today at a meeting at RISC Networks to change our technology futures in the Asheville-metro area through a planned ‘Appreciative Inquiry and a Search Conference Summit.’  Community members from throughout Western North Carolina were introduced to this foundation that puts a weight on the educational, business, and technology resources in our area.

Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a change management approach that focuses on identifying what is working well, analyzing why it is working well and then doing more of it. The basic tenet of AI is that an organization will grow in whichever direction that people in the organization focus their attention (reference –

Search Conference Summit

How do you define, plan, and implement actions to build an improved technology infrastructure of job skills for our Western North Carolina future?  

The answer?  A summit for all technology stakeholders to collaborate strengths, knowledge, and innovative possibilities.  This is facilitated though stakeholder engagement with ‘disruptive dialogues to inspire connection, imagination, and creativity.”

The Asheville community is a desirable work-life environment; but how do we ‘author prototypes of momentum’ for the benefit of future tech job-skill growth?  

To stay in touch with our ‘Appreciative Inquiry and Tech Summit’ developments, please: 

  1. Join the Meet the Geeks Meetup
  2. Contribute input through this survey form:

We commend Evolv for their stellar job at redesigning the Meet the Geeks website and we strongly recommend anyone who is looking for a website to consider hiring them for the job. Evolv not only designed and developed a beautiful modern site but  also consulted us on how to make the site more effective, secure, and easier to edit.

First Evolv recommended that MTG use WP Engine for the web host because they are a WordPress-specific host that configures their servers specifically for WordPress, has strong security measures in place, their own built-in server caching mechanism (Evercache) that dramatically increases the speed of site, and CDN (Content Delivery Network) which serves up the site around the world at multiple locations vs. just one location. WP Engine will even offer to fix your site for free if the site gets hacked, will do your WordPress updates for you, and notifies you right away of plugin security risks.

Then Evolv consulted MTG on what latest plugins would be more suitable for their needs, and found a nice scrolling homepage quality theme design by WooThemes and customized it to display a slider, newsletter signup, latest events & jobs, latest blog articles, and an about blurb with staff photos and volunteering request. They decided to use WP Job Manager to allow a filtered search of jobs and easier job submissions as well as a WP Meetup plugin to pull in events created on Meet the Geeks Meetup. Evolv then setup the homepage to pull in those events and jobs so that no one has to manually update that as well. And lastly they setup the blog to serve as our enewsletter post archives, in which case we switched to MyNewsletterBuilder for our new enewsletter service provider.

At every turn, Steffi Rausch, owner of Evolv, made sure that proper steps were taken to keep everyone on track and the process went very smoothly with finishing touches made by John Dorner. Thanks to everyone on the board who helped make this website a success! Anyone interested in helping to keep this site up-to-date or to write blog articles would be greatly appreciated!

Volunteer for Website Editing

Meet the Geeks held our 10th anniversary celebration in March at our usual hang out, Sculley’s on West Walnut Street. This event was special in a number of ways, founding member Trevor Lohrbeer, made his significant announcement about the sale of his company. We had a number of students from AB Tech, several new businesses in the area looking to hire talent, the press, good food, and photographers.

When you think of technology geeks, often the stereotype of introverts who don’t like to socialize may come to mind, or that it is a bunch of “guys” who like to talk about code, servers, and bandwidth. Well, take a look at our photo gallery and you will see lots of people talking, laughing and having fun, not the typical stereotype at all. Also note all the women in the group, this profession is not just for nerdy guys and it is great to see the diversity in a workforce in a profession that is constantly changing and challenging!

Meet the Geeks was formed to bring technology professionals together to build knowledge and opportunities in Western North Carolina. After 10 years of networking events in the odd months, free classes on many of the even months, 85 people attending to celebrate with us and it is easy to see that when the organization was formed the need existed and we see no reason to stop now. The Geeks can help grow our talent pool, connect business and services, and bring professionals together to share what they know and love to do!

We have some talented and committed volunteers who make all we do happen as a non-profit organization. There are some great plans for our next 10 years. Keep in touch with us, volunteer if you want to help us become a bigger and better asset! See you soon!

There are many opportunities for IT Professionals in Asheville. Yet, with all the opportunities how do you get noticed for one of them. First, know the company you are applying to, some of them require certifications in a specialty like Microsoft or Cisco and some do not. Read the ad, learn a little about the company and if they indicate certifications are required they probably mean it. Epsilon in Weaverville for example, does work with the Federal Government, they need people with certifications to place them in a position. It is a requirement. When they are looking for a position in their commercial sector, it may not be required. Other companies like ByLight Professional IT Services and, LLC are interested in education and experiences more than certifications for most of their openings!

What is your main interest in the IT professional space, is it networking, server administration, database design and development, web or application development, desktop support, or even data analytics? If you can’t articulate where your interest, passion, and education lie, a company will not be able to do that for you. Just knowing about computers won’t really get you in the door. Even if your experience is limited, you are probably really excited about an aspect of the industry– show it in your interactions and correspondence! Apply for jobs that really align with what you want to do, and even in this day and age when we text and e-mail, a cover letter is still a great way to get noticed. (Provided that it is grammatically correct and has no spelling errors!)

What are some of the most important steps a candidate can take? Not in any particular order but know that all these things while not “Evil Tricks” are things that a person who may want to hire you is looking out for:

  •  Use a professional e-mail address, this is not the time to be on your contact information.
  •  Provide a phone number, you might be surprised to learn that sometimes it is forgotten along with any other contact information.
  •  Be sure your public profiles like LinkedIn reflect the same information as your resume.
  •  Keep it simple, minimize the number of fonts and styles, be clear whether you are providing a skills based resume or a chronological resume don’t mix it up.
  •  When you are job searching, if your phone rings assume it will be someone interested in hiring you. Answering the phone with “yeah?” may not set the best first impression.
  •  If you can’t answer the phone, set up your messaging system with a professional greeting.
  •  If you get an e-mail request, read the request and provide all the information asked for. Following instructions is a test!
  •  Be on time, 10 minutes early is a good rule of thumb, 30 minutes is a bit too early.
  •  Even if you know the company is casual, dress should reflect your best first impression. Dressing up a bit shows that you took the time to put your best foot forward.
  •  A follow up note to thank your interviewers for their time, and reiterating why you are interested and believe you would be a good fit is not old fashion. Many people do not bother to take that step and people still notice those who do. It makes you memorable.

Finally, getting a foot in the door can be tough when you are replying to ads on any location, Monster, Indeed, Career Builder, etc. Networking events are still a great option to meet local people and make a positive connection in an informal setting. You never know what doors can be opened by striking up a conversation at a Meet The Geeks event, a job fair, a chamber event, or any other place where business people gather. Also consider volunteering your time, it is an excellent way to build some skills and many non-profits are anxious for help. Executive Directors and Boards of these organizations know a lot of people, make a favorable impression and there may be unexpected help.

Special thanks to Hillary Styles for moderating the class where hiring professionals discussed these topics. And thank you to Eric Oelschlaeger, Tracy Schmidt, and Cindy Ireland for sharing what they look for during the hiring process.


Cindy Ireland

A Condensed Introduction to Transitioning to Agile (Scrum) Project Management 3.5 PDUs

Ken Whitaker’s Deliver Projects On Time™, Every Time! workshop has now been condensed to give you what you need to understand agility in under four hours. You’ll learn how to distinguish the characteristics between the PMBOK® Guide, traditional waterfall, and agile (Scrum) approaches to project management. We’ll discuss the benefits and limitations with transitioning to an agile organization, innovative ways to schedule and define the scope for your project that satisfies both the needs of the business while gaining buy-in with your team. We’ll end the workshop with sound advice to effectively communicate not only to your team but to your stakeholders.

The instructor is a popular author with extensive hands-on project management, executive leadership, and workshop experience. Half-day, 3.5 PDUs, and a lively way to learn! For PMI members, fees start at $199.