Well, CodeMash 2010 is in the books, and once again it was an awesome experience. I find that throughout the whole conference I come up with tons of ideas to write about, I mean itching to write about, and then when I get home, and the whirlwind of reality hits me at work, here I am a week later and I haven’t written a thing… Boo on me.
I arrived at the Kalahari Tuesday evening to avoid having to get up while it was still dark outside, and hope that I will be awake enough to be interactive in the “highly interactive precompiler sessions”. I am starting to think that the precompiler portion of this conference is the most important day to attend. I started off in the End To End Coaching session with Steve Harman and David Laribee. Much like the similar session I attended last year with Dave Donaldson, both Steve and David were cool, down to earth dudes and the session was entertaining, educating, and fun. The reason I think sessions like this are so important before the conference starts is that you are practically forced into meeting and talking to people. I know, it’s kinda touchy feely hippie stuff, but the first exercise we had to do was interview a person and report our findings to the group. I met a guy named Mike Wood (@mikewo) and found out that he once was very interested in law enforcement and was a cop in his former life. I thought that was a pretty interesting story at a code conference. Basically, because of this session, I had made a handful of friends that I found myself waving to or stopping to talk to in the halls throughout the rest of the week.
The second half of the day I attended Mary Poppendieck’s session on Competency and Leadership in Software development where she went into topics about expertise and team dynamics. The one major thing I took away from the session was that she validated what I thought the characteristics of a highly efficient team were. I was part of a team once that I felt she was describing as if she was there. That made me feel good that my feelings about our now defunct team weren’t being pulled from thin air. The other main highlight of this session was that I spilt @CharlieSears coffee all over himself when I punched him the in shoulder (unbeknownst to me that he was holding a freshly poured scalding hot cup of coffee). After I hit him (lightly, he is kinda fragile-ish looking), he turned around with fury in his eyes ready to cuss out whoever it was that left a Gorbachev-style burn on his leg, to say “Holy shit, Lucas, what’s up?!?!”. I told him that what this meant was that I was once again going to have to refer to him in my CodeMash post mortem post, so there you go. Sorry about the coffee Charlie……
Thursday I woke up with the same excitement and exuberance that I have every year at this conference. There was so much interesting content this year that I was actually having trouble deciding what to do all day. I got to learn about Silverlight, Powershell, compete in a coding contest, multithreading and parallel solutions, and the Prism and Unity frameworks. Friday I learned how to hack USB devices with F#, more Silverlight, and even attended a session that used concepts from World Of Warcraft to convey how to build good applications.
These days go by so fast because these people aren’t here because their bosses made them, and they aren’t here for the free swag, or to get away from work. They are here because they want to be here, they begged their companies to send them, or they even paid there own way. CodeMash is a “Uber-User Conference”, and that is another aspect that makes it so special. It is one of the only places where I am up way too late, and can’t wait to get up the next morning, hangover and all. I am pretty sure that the race track and days that I am home brewing are the only other days like that for me.
The other thing that makes this conference unique (and there are a lot of them), as I recounted in last year’s recap (In summary, CodeMash 2009, the Hands of Fate), are the people you meet. So, this year I tried a new method of doing that: I’m not hanging out in the bars at Kalahari anymore, at least not when there are a few brave souls that have invited everyone to their rooms to hang out. A good portion of the #codemash twitter feed was merely room numbers used as code to make the Kalahari a bonified CodeMash Around-The-World party. Thursday night we hung out with some of the SRT crew, and a bunch of others. Brian Genisio was sharing his homebrew (there are a lot of geek home brewers out there), and I got have a bunch of fun conversations about beer, making beer, code, writing code, etc, etc… I found something in common with Phil Japiske (@skimedic) in that we were both in a fraternity in college and we reminisced on those days, all while mixing in geeky topics, and how we can be better speakers for the community. Keith Elder welcomed us the next night, and I had a total blast partying with everyone. I am amazed at how good these people are at remembering names and faces. Many of the people I had met just once last year became fresh in each of our memories once I saw them again this year, it must be drunk recall.
All in all, I wish CodeMash lasted a lot longer, and it was another great year.
I will end this with the obligatory CodeMash blog post ending, “Can’t wait till next year!”