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I'm going to be giving a presentation to a group of neuroscientists on the use of git to manage their matlab/r/xppaut/etc files. Some of these folks have an extensive software engineering background, some don't know what CVS is. The main goals of the talk are as follows:

  • Inform how git can increase collaboration and save everyone time (5-10 min)
  • Introduce git as a concept in graph theory, a familiar topic to the crowd (5-10 min)
  • Introduce the practicals of git: (rest of time)
    • Download & install
    • Set up new project (add, difftool, commit, checkout & branch, merge, remotes (maybe), generate & commit patches, stash, rollback to previous head, ...?)
    • If have time, show them github, specifically how to use it to fork and submit pull requests (I hope to have them set up github accounts to share scripts in the future)

I hope to have everyone bring their laptops to follow along on the tutorial.

This talk is supposed to be about an hour long, max is about 1.5 hours. My question to you guys is two-fold:

  1. In general, what do you think about the proposed outline?

  2. Is anyone familiar with slides that I can use for this sort of talk? I want to model the intro part around Joel Spolsky's mercurial tutorial, tone-wise, but I can work with other material if necessary.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Be careful of putting too much technical detail into a one-hour talk where some of the audience is walking in cold. You seem to be looking for more things to put in the "Set up new project" bullet point - don't. Figure out the minimal set of commands they need to use VCS (repository setup as simple as possible, equivalent of CVS checkout, update, status, add, delete, commit as well as the move command CVS never had). Give a few minutes of talk about other things Git can do for them, and how to get information on them.

Be careful not to overwhelm anybody. These are smart people, but many of them probably want the minimum necessary for their jobs.

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Good advice in the last paragraph, I've seen many smart people confused by Git. –  Adam Byrtek May 18 '11 at 18:49
+1 Hell, I'm still confused by git at times. Thanks. –  eykanal May 18 '11 at 19:22

For a talk/presentation, as opposed to a hand-on lab, I probably wouldn't expect anyone to follow along on their laptop.

Instead, be sure to focus on your own presentation. Practice, practice, practice to make sure you can fit your demo into the allotted time. An hour sounds like a lot, but for involved demonstrations where the audience can ask questions, it often goes by more quickly than you expect. Also, be sure to prepare for worst case scenarios. What if you cannot connect to the internet? What if you have to present with someone else's laptop? Etc.

Finally, be sure to provide follow up information. Your goal is to get some of these people interested in using git for their own projects. For them, make sure they know what to do next (read your handout, contact you by email, visit a specific website, etc.)

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Actually, I was thinking about it as a two-part talk, as I suggested above; (1) I talk about what it is, (2) they work along with me doing something. Do you think that wouldn't work? –  eykanal May 18 '11 at 19:23

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