Stephen Balkum

Agile Enthusiast, Leader, and Developer

Taking in Houston Code Camp 2012

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I blogged in the past about the importance of taking interest in your craft.  This is one of those areas where I practice what I preach.  This past Saturday, I woke up at 5am to drive to Houston for a code camp.  The Austin area has had a code camp for many years and it has always been an awesome, free opportunity for developers to learn about technology and generally just network.  Ben Scheimerman and his co-horts in Houston did a fantastic job organizing this year’s Houston Code Camp.

When I head to any kind of conference like a code camp, I obviously look for the sessions that are directly related to an area of specialization I am currently using.  However, rarely will I find a session in each time block that fits that description.  This past weekend was no exception.  In fact, there was only one session in my “must attend” list: Alonso RoblesRavenDB talk.  I am currently doing some experimentation with a CQRS framework and RavenDB is the up-and-coming document database for aggregates.

For the remaining time slots, I put on my architect’s hat and found topics that are unfamiliar.  You never know what will come up triggering a memory of a potential solution learned in a random session.  Here are the other sessions I attended in Houston:

  • An overview of d3.js with Jonathan Birkholz.  This is a pretty cool framework for creating data visualizations.  It doesn’t really make the visualization itself as much as it provide tools to make it easy.  There are lots of examples.
  • An overview of Highway.Data with Devlin Liles and Tim Rayburn.  They have written a framework to lay on top of Entity Framework to smooth over the edges and make it easier to do it “the right way.”  They are also starting to bring in NHibernate support as well.  I like how they have made it easy to profile, log, and test database queries.
  • Extending Javascript beyond AMD with Ryan Rauh.  I have been more of a jQuery user than any kind of javascript developer, so I expected this talk to give me a list of keywords to go look up later.  The talk really turned into more of a discussion, but I was not disappointed.  Gotta do some reading on require.js and almond.js.
  • Objective C for C# developers with Mark Wilkinson.  I’ve seen xcode before and knew I was missing some fundamental knowledge.  Mark walked through a brief history of Objective C and xcode and how to translate to a C# vocabulary.  There is a lot of meaningful punctuation, i.e. cryptic symbols, in xcode.

Find a local user group and attend.  It is usually a subset of a user group that organizes code camps.  It definitely worth getting up at 5am on a Saturday.