Sandusky Ohio, the Kalahari and CodeMash are a week behind us now and I continue to be stunned. I met so many brilliant people and exposed myself to so many new technologies; it really does inspire me to follow up on some things that I had long put off with a host of excuses.
First, I will be there next year, regardless of how that happens. The cost is so trivial compared to the information I absorbed, it is a no-brainer in every sense. I also think I really question the value of traditional training after something like this; I just don’t believe that you’re going to get training on testing ASP.NET code with Ruby from any vendor - thanks @ben_hall! Conferences in this vein really highlight software craftsmanship and picking the right tool for the job, whatever that tool or combination might be. I really loved being able to talk about “soft” skills from the likes of coach Dave Laribee and go right into a technical discussion of testing C# assemblies with Ruby and MSpec and then meet in the hall and discuss where the two intersect.
Even sessions that I had thought would be less applicable or interesting really blew me away; perhaps because of the presenter, but probably more because I had the wrong assumptions going in the door. I had thought Jim Weirich’s SOLID Ruby principals would be repetitive since Jeremy Jarrell had just done SOLID solidly at our local ALT.NET group meeting two months prior. Wrong. SOLID in a dynamic language really is a whole new beast to tame and Jim really engages the audience and forces you to think.
Being able to catch Mary Poppendieck was a huge highlight for me as well. Mary’s thinking will forever change the way I constantly evaluate what our team is doing in the light of the value it creates. I also walked away with a lot of useful knowledge from Jon Stahl’s Kanban presentation. Jon has supreme enthusiasm and more importantly, a way to gather answers for a team’s greatest nightmare: Scheduling. Joe O’Brien’s talk about what it is to be a programmer and how to plan improving what you do is also highly recommended, Joe is the Leo Buscaglia of geekdom and you will feel the love. I certainly did.
One thing that I was hugely disappointed with was the lack of management and team leads in attendance. If software craftsmanship is good and admirable in a team member, then it certainly holds true for the leader. Of course, I think constant reevaluation and improvement are core to any well thought out and aggressive career. I also think that IT is at a crossroads in terms of mature coaching techniques that are proven to work but fall outside the traditional management process. I don’t expect what worked last year to continue to be the case indefinitely, so we review and we adapt, we overcome, we improvise something new that does work.
Finally, I had several sessions with the hugely talented Leon Gersing - a very natural presenter fluent in corporate .NET and agile Ruby with a knack for talking about situations we have all been in at one point or another in our career. Leon spends a lot of time and effort supporting the local user group community, and we should support him as well, so go see him present if you have opportunity to do so.
I look forward to CodeMash V220.127.116.11.