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.

Moving on to different things…

Im writing this post with pretty mixed emotions, but overall its for the greater good.

I quit my job today. My last day is a little less than 4 weeks from now. While things are really hectic, I was offered a great job with the local county government being a developer on a pretty cool team. While I can’t go into detail with what I will be doing, Ill be writing software, and specializing in .net, and beginning professional work with .net 3.5,  and really exploring the powers behind WCF, WPF, LINQ, and more!

I’m ready to settle down a bit, do something new, and also give even more back to the region I have grown up in. Unfortunatly in the move, I end up leaving a company I loved to work for, a possition that I loved, and great people I have grown great friendships with.

I wont be moving any time soon, so thats another big benifit. Plus I also will be working less than 2 miles from home, and could pretty much walk to work if I watned. Im also going to have a LOT less stress, since I won’t be managing a team anymore, nor have to work on hardware, etc. Ill be able to just focus on my code :). This focus is something I have wanted for a while as I grow my carrer as a developer.

Im sure things are going to change over time. Since I will have more time, I plan on getting a lot more work done on our house. I also may even be still contributing code to my old job when needed. Finally, I am hoping to move back to a ‘real’ hosting environment, and start building out some of the ideas I have been having!

Listening To: ‘Time To Burn’ by The Rasmus.

Setting a character limit on a multi line text box in ASP.net 2.0

I looked all around to find this code when looking for it the other day. There were plenty of places that explained how to do this, but I couldn’t easily find something that JUST worked in the case I needed it to.

We had a site we were developing at work, written in ASP.Net 2.0 (C#). The user the software was targeted to is famous for ‘not following directions’, and we needed to restrict the number of characters they could type into the field. You see this in many places online, and quite honestly, it can even help the user experience. In Visual Studio 2005, you can do this easily on a text box by setting the ‘Max Length’ property. But if its a multiline text box, that wont work. It has to do with how multiline text boxes are rendered versus other text boxes. As I said before, many sites explained how to do this, but nothing actually JUST worked in our situation, so I have placed here code that DOES work, and in most browsers.

To start, one would place the following code in the ASPX page.

<script><!--
function textboxMultilineMaxNumber(txt,maxLen){
try{
if(txt.value.length > (maxLen-1))return false;
}catch(e){
}
}
// --></script>

The code above is basically a javascript that checks the length of the text in the textbox, and compares it against your maximum length. As long as this is true, you would be able to insert text into the box, then once it hits false, you can no longer enter text.

In your code behind, you need to then need to add an attribute to the text box, to link this JS to the text box.


txtNotes.Attributes.Add("onkeydown", "return textboxMultilineMaxNumber(this,250)");

This of course assumes that your textbox is called txtNotes. This particular line limits the text to 250 characters.

We have found this to work in most browsers. There are ‘gotchas’ of course, including users having javascript turned off and that if you copy and paste code into the box, it will still allow that. Therefore, follow general good practices and still check that your user is only entering the amount of text they can!