A few thoughts about Richmond Code Camp

I know I moved technology off to my other blog, but I wanted to quickly post something about the recent Richmond Code  Camp I went to, since it focuses more on a local conference than tech topics.

Last saturday, I got up early and went to Richmond Code Camp 2009.1, pretty excited about some of the sessions I planned on attending. I spent most of the day there, but left after the 3rd session, mainly to being bored out of my mind. First, let me state this – there are some BRILLIANT minds there, and it was a great oportunity to see people I knew and network with others.  I won’t go into too many details, I doubt i’ll be wasting another saturday like this again. Obviously, keep in mind this is just my opinion, and that if you feel that even ONE SESSION is worth it to you, you MUST sign up.

Pros:

  • Awesome topics, and if anything, you get to learn and discuss these in a social setting, which is often nicer than trying to learn it alone searching Google.
  • Amazing people – I got to meet a few new people while there, but also got to hang out with an old coworker and catch up with her between sessions and during lunch.
  • Very close – at least I barely had to travel for this.
  • Free lunch.
  • Most sessions demoed code in C#

Cons:

  • To short of classes, or to broad of topics to cover. Only one of my sessions actually covered what they planned to discuss, while the others totally missed the spot. As in, told you about half the information, and didn’t even come close to tying it up. I heard this from many other attendees as well. Also, some presenters ignored the ‘end times’ for classes. One of mine was knocked about 10 minutes due to the previous presenter running way over time.
  • To much reliance on PowerPoints. This is a flaw within itself, but why not also distribute the PowerPoints before (or as a handout) in the class as well, espc. if you won’t get to everything.
  • Do NOT ever put XML on a PowerPoint and read it out to everyone. FOR. MULTIPLE. SLIDES. I am not kidding, one of my sessions was exactly this.
  • If you are presenting, and have a personal blog, you may want to keep some thoughts personal. For example, dont talk crap about the session you were asked to present at, then advertise your URL. I know we all think it, but I feel that pretty much threw out any ‘professional’ idea I had about the presenter.
  • In each of my sessions, which were about an hour long, at least 5-10 of that was spent talking up their personal companies, blogs, twitter accounts, almost like advertising before a movie. I understand this may be a perk of teaching, but I think thats digging a bit to far into the presentation. 
  • I think the topics are to far reaching as well. Obviously some of the topics chosen are near impossible to discuss within an hour. Why even waste the time on them? The best use of this time would be to 1) split the topics up more, 2) find easier or more direct topics, 3) maybe even include more group discussion time rather than teaching. 
  • Groups of topics should even be more separated. For example, tracks for: Project Management, DBA’s, Developers, Web workers, other. Then, really narrow down those groups even more. For example, some of the PM topics should be so focused, that a developer should not need to go. A DBA session should be so focused that a Web Developer doesn’t need to go to it as well. 

I still admire everyone that spoke at the event. Ive been there, done that. Its not fun, and it can be very stressful. Espc. for ‘geek types’, where public speaking scares the hell out of you (at least it does for me). 

This event really seems on the cusp of being something great. It felt like this could have easily been a conference they could charge (though it would go against the rules of a Code Camp). But with becoming so large, so quick, it just feels very ‘Busch League‘. This events size really dilutes the information you can get from it.

 I also don’t get that with SO many people attending, there is VERY little being Blogged/Twittered about it. Yes, there was some chatter, but not as much as one would expect from an event so large. Heck, I decided NOT to twitter nearly at ALL during the event, since it seemed like no one else was! Why be so quiet. There’s so much GREAT THINGS going on there, why not share?

I do plan on going to the first WordCampRVA next weekend, and can not wait. Im expecting this to be a HUGE event with some of the people speaking. Its pretty awesome that we have so many opportunities to share so much knowledge in this wonderful city.

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Old Rag Mountian

For the first part of our vacation (or really, staycation), Deb’s and I went and hiked Old Rag mountain. I haven’t done this since probably middle school or early high school, and she has never been.

I didn’t get to take to many pictures, mainly because I was to busy walking. I actually felt great going up the mountian (for being so out of shape), but really felt like crap coming down. I hope to go back in the not to distant future, to get all the way up the mountian. The weekend we went was just too busy, and so when we got to the ‘rock scramble’, it was just to much of a wait to get through.

I have a few of the pictures we took over on flickr now!

Three Wonderful Years

Today my wife and I celebrate 3 years of being married! Its so hard to believe at times. It’s also crazy to think that this fall, we have been together for 10 years!

We are spending most of this week around town, and I plan on posting a lot of pictures of our adventures in the coming days.

The Start of Spring!

I have a strong love/hate relationship with this time of year. Its great because you can get back outside and start doing stuff after being crammed in the house all winter, but my allergies will destroy me for the next few months.

I didn’t let that stop me this perfect weekend to get a lot of things done OUTSIDE of the house. While Debs and a friend went off to run some errands, I went by Lowe’s and got what I needed to start a small garden at our house. While we both had small gardens at some point growing up, we have never made one on our own. With the continued high price and crap quality (EVEN AT UKROPS) of produce, we decided to grow our own, and save a few bucks. I planted Basil and Dill (which are right in the foreground of the above picture), Tomatoes, Green Peppers, Green Beans, Zucchini, and Yellow Squash.

I also started a compost bucket (which is living in the blue trashcan off to the right). I have no clue how this will turn out, but at least its going to be a fun experiment. Finally, I put out a truckload of mulch around our house we got for free from the Henrico Landfill. The quality was actually better than the stuff we have previously purchased from Lowe’s, and also had a much nicer color. And its FREE!

Sunday started off with a trip through Hanover (Route 1, down Route 54, and then back up Route 301). I personally have not been around that area, but Debs and I drove through it when taking Toby to the dog park a few weeks ago. I thought it would be fun to take a quick drive through there again to get a few shots. Most of these were shot while we parked at the Hanover Dog Park. Finally, we stopped at my Grandmothers grave (which is right on 301).

You can see the rest of the set here on flickr.

We are looking to buy some bikes, and plan on possibly riding through this area again soon. Having a car really limits you to being able to pull off the side of the road to get a few shots (for example, the railroad crossing on Rout 54).

Hopefully this coming Spring and Summer I’ll get to spend more time outside than I have in the past few years, which is something I have really missed!