Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

KaizenConf goals

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

So, I’ve got some rough goals for myself from Kaizenconf… (in no particular order)

  • I’m going to make really learning the MVC framework a higher priority so our team here can have enough info to consider whether to move the team that way eventually… I mean, of course we will, but I’ve got to have enough ammo to ensure that happens 🙂  Anyway, eventually, do some sort of team presentation would follow, like for the IoC stuff below.
  • I’m going to read more of that DDD book that I’ve only gotten about 3 chapters through.  I know, it’s terrible I haven’t read more, but I’ve gotten through a bunch of the Ubiquitous Language stuff, which has already been helpful.  I have the feeling more useful content follows.
  • I’m going to be putting together some sort of presentation(s) for my team about IoC/DI with mocking, and maybe NHibernate to do my part to equalize team knowledge.   My team here isn’t against some of these “new” ideas/change, but they’re not neccessarily sold on them either, so I’m going to work on making sure I can really prove out why.  This is actually not a bad thing at all for me, making sure I can justify stuff instead of presenting things from a gee-whiz perspective will definitely make for a better sell. Yes, , I know there’s a lot of material out there, but I should probably do a lot of this legwork myself so I’m best prepared.  Talking for an hour doesn’t come naturally to me, so I’ll have to know things that much better.
  • My list of books to read has gotten larger (see this list for a start)
  • I’ve got Prism, MEF, and Mass Transit as message-oriented things to look into that could be useful on my current project since we’ve got a setup that suggests a SOA approach.
  • We’re very early into doing Scrum on our team here and I think we need the discipline it’s got, and really want to prove this out before going in a totally different direction, but I’m going to read up more on Lean/Kanban some more, (offhand, Scrum-Ban may prove helpful), and see if there are tweaks that can be borrowed from those ideas that would improve our current experience.

Future posts will hopefully outline my actually doing the stuff above.  Additionally, some specific thoughts on the conference itself to follow… at some point.

At KaizenConf

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

This is a lot of fun.  I’m definitely learning, meeting lots of people who were previously only blog photos/email addresses to me, and I’m having a great time too.  Also, there’s some VB.NET – converted stuff I’ve been alerted I should post.  Woohoo, contributing back in my own tiny way.  Consider this my reminder to myself to do that. Also, to start twittering.  It’s clear twittering has gotten beyond the inane “I am eating Lucky Charms for breakfast-crunchy” type stuff that I didn’t care about to also being a useful networking/reference tool…. and as I mentioned in conversation tonight, I’m getting that feeling like I felt with Facebook a few years ago-like the crowd was moving on and if I wanted to continue to “exist”, I should go too.   Anyway, in the interests of full disclosure, I  should probably state here that I had Frosted Flakes for breakfast, not Lucky Charms.

Off to sleep, there’ll be a real post on the event in the next few days.

KaizenConf, here I come!

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Woohoo! Just came back from lunch and my invite was waiting in my email!  I’m going to KaizenConf!  See you all in Austin!

List of Invitees
Interestingly, the list seems to be in first-name alpha order, so at the moment, I’m #1 on the list.  Wild.

AlamoCoders

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Attended an AlamoCoders meeting tonight.  Interesting talk on jQuery by John Teague. I’d previously seen Front-End Developers doing stuff with it, but I didn’t really “get” it-not that I’d looked into it, or tried… what with struggling to pick up nHibernate, DI, and that whole world of things, I felt like my plate was already pretty full.  This overview really helped though.  Previously, I’d glanced at a bunch orf jQuery code and just thought “uh, that’s not js…. not sure what this is. must look at-eventually”  turns out, the key things with jQuery are 1) philisophically jQuery is set up to work on elements much like CSS does.  it finds, groups, filters, etc upon the same IDs and element types that CSS does.  It looks a bit different, but much of jQuery stuff is really just finding elements, picking out selectors, etc.  2) jQuery is sort of like working at the UNIX command line-it’s all about feeding the results of one thing to the other… jQuery code is chains of long commands that find, filter, and then do something (like assign a function to a click action)  this code is short, and once you get the hang of it, easy to read.  As a side benefit, it even keeps code out of the HTML.. not even any “onClick” commands.  Nice.  doing *that* without a library is not fun at all.

As an aside, I won a copy of “LINQ Unleashed”.  I confess the actual naming of the “Unleashed” titles amuses me.  It seems one step short of a wacky reality show title… imagine, “When SQL Attacks” or “Mocks Gone Wild” ..I mean really… eh… no looking a gift book in the mouth, I guess.

Tried for a spot at KaizenConf (Kaizen, as in a Japanese word for Continuous Improvement, it seems)… it sounds like a great learning experience, and it’s practically down the street in Texas-terms.  Sounds like it’s not a direct registration process, but some sort of judgment-on-mystery-criteria-then-invite.  That’s a bit discomfiting, but hopefully it’ll work out.

Prepping for the big move

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

So, I’m working on heading to San Antonio-permanently! I’m still locking down details about exactly when and how, but I’ve started my research on tech groups in the area. Unfortunately, I don’t see an Alt.Net specific group down in San Antonio like the fantastic DC Alt.Net group, but I’ve found Alamo Coders, which sounds like a pretty good and relevant group. I’m hoping I’m still in DC for Matt Podwysocki‘s F# talk… I should be, but we’ll see how it goes. Either way, one good thing about this move is it looks like the next big Alt.Net meeting is going to be in Austin in October. Clearly, a no-brainer to go, these conferences are free or inexpensive, said to be a great experience, and it’ll be happening right around the corner from me. I’m looking forward to it!

DC Alt.Net meeting

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

OK, this is a bit late, but last week we had the monthly DC Alt.Net meeting. On a bit of a different spin, the topic of the week was Lisp, led by Craig Andera. I hadn’t done any Lisp save for some very, very simplistic stuff back in the college Programming Languages course, so it was really very interesting to get a look at it now, both in that Craig covered much more sophisticated topics that the simple list adds we’d done back then, and that I now have a lot more programming experience. From the strongly-typed, heavily structured background I’m coming from these days, Lisp struck me as fascinatingly different; in regards to my recent experiences, I have to say the mindset was significantly more like Python than anything else I’ve worked with in a long time. Actually, the similarities are convincing me that I should make a serious effort to achieve a pretty sophisticated understanding of at least one of the dynamic languages (Python, Lisp, Ruby, etc) so I have that mental model in my toolbox. Sometimes a different way of thinking about a problem results in finding an answer, but there’s a bonus of a more directly applicable usage in that C# is beginning to borrow some dynamic language features such as lambdas; and the better I “get” dynamic languages, the more I’ll see how and when to appropriately use those new features.

Code Camp!

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

Yesterday, I attended my first Code camp.  I thought it was great! Yes, semesters of lectures in college was a bit tiring, but now, I find I’m hungry for them, especially when it’s just a day. I work with some smart, nice people, but as I’m pretty much on my own in my technical area, I don’t really have any real mentors, and so learning has been kind of a do-it-yourself project. So these sort of events are doubly valuable.

I attended “A Gentle Introduction to Mocking” taught by Scott Allen, which was pretty good-I’ve done some experimentation on my own, so I was ready to hear more. And I really don’t have a C# mentor at work, so seeing someone else do it, and *how* they went though was really informative. Sometimes you pick up little things that they do as a matter of course that you just didn’t catch when walking through examples on your own. And there was a discussion on when to use mocks vs. stubs, which I found interesting. I also had some revelation about my code base at work. There are certain parts of the code base that I’ve never been sure of how to test, or even if it was possible, because they jump off to NH calls a lot. Amusingly, I was also unsure of when one would use DI, or an IoC container. At this talk I suddenly figured out that the way to test those classes is that LOTS of stuff that I hadn’t even considered a problem creating in place needs to be inserted with constructor injection, enough so that it would actually be pretty ridiculous to do by hand. and so, I apparently need a container.

I had originally planned to attend Jay Flowers’ talk on TDD, but as he couldn’t make it, Kevin Jones kinds stepped in for a review of C# 3.0 features. He was actually pretty negative about a fair number of them, and I have to say after reviewing them, I am a little skeptical about some of them as well. The “var” feature in particular seems a bit dubious to me. I mean, we’re dealing with a strongly-typed language here. Introducing something like that feels like inviting in the craziness of vbscript. Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel like opening that door is questionable. I mean it works for Ruby and Python, but but those languages work on the basis of trust-it’s a different philosophy, and I wonder whether mixing in duck typing (though once you assign, it’s actually strongly typed, so it’s hidden typing, not true duck typing as I understand it, at least) to a strongly typed language is really a good idea.

Next was Constructive Code reviews. I was actually hoping for a little more meat in terms of how to approach the code, what things to think about, possibly something involving walking through it with code snippets. It was more a review of the different levels of code review from desk check to a full formal process. Still informative, but maybe not as interesting for me as what I was envsioning.

Next, Michael Podwysocki reviewed Dependency Injection and Inversion of Control. Again, I’d done some review of this on my own, but it was great seeing someone else explain the idea, and then walk through how to actually do it. The lecture took on a lot of extra meaning since I had earlier seen how I could apply it to my current project (whether I actually will be able to reorganize things is a separate manner, but at least I see an application for DI) I’m looking forward to him putting his code up, so I can more closely go over what we did in the class. It was also interesting hearing about other frameworks. I’d also heard about Windsor quite a bit on Alt.Net, and heard mention of Unity and StructureMap and Spring, but hadn’t known there were many more than that. Anyway, very useful.

Lastly, I attended a talk on LINQ To SQL in an N-Tiered Application. I’m still mulling over the level of usefullness of Linq to SQL when there’s NHibernate which is so full-featured. However, the Linq syntax itself is very interesting, particularly as it’s compiled and understood by Intellisense, etc. If it was brought in to nHibernate, it could be a *very* nice third querying option to complement HQL and the criteria interface.

Afterwards, they gave away some swag. Yeah, I can’t complain how I did… got a copy of Vista. Could be very nice to set up for Parallels on a future Mac purchase? Then, some attendees headed over to a next door bar. As usual, some of the most value in the tech events comes from the conversations. Interesting, smart people. Almost enough to make me reconsider my opinion of the average .Net developer… but then I remembered that anyone who cares enough to use their own weekend time to go to a code camp is quite a bit different from the typical 80% of the developer population, so I was not dealing with a good cross section. heh.