CodeMash 2011

Following CodeMash ’11, I’m still here at the Kalahari. Today was spent winding down from CodeMash w/ some nice water park activities this afternoon followed by a very long & much-needed nap.

Weird but cool: CodeMash ’08 inspired me to start a tech blog. My first post was on 1/19/08.  My blog’s busiest day (162 hits in a single day) just happened this past week on 1/12/11.

Apparently I did not write any follow-ups to CodeMash ’09 or ’10.  I don’t know why not, but that’s too bad.  Maybe the lesson learned is: blog before I go home so I don’t forget.  So here I am in the hotel room at the Kalahari, reflecting on CodeMashes past.

Being pushed a little outside of one’s comfort zone is a good thing, as long as it’s a push and not a shove.

CodeMash ’08 pushed me beyond my comfort zone with the start of this blog.

CodeMash ’09 I realized how in 2008 I did not recognize most people’s names in the program lined up to speak, but in 2009 I knew a majority of them.  So to push myself further, at least one meal a day when looking for a seat, I specifically did not look for tables of people that I knew.  Instead, I specifically sat at tables where I did not know anyone.  I can be shy and reserved, but it was a nice little push outside of comfort.

CodeMash ’10 Was the first time I attended the “precompiler” sessions, which are more hands-on “bring your laptop and everyone is writing code” type of sessions than the rest of the week which are lecture-style.  Some sessions are all day, some are half day. In the morning I planned to help Leon Gersing with his all-day session writing a website using agile methodologies and Ruby on Rails.  In the afternoon I was going to attend something else.  In the morning I walked around the room helping people out getting things installed and ready to go, and helping people learn Ruby and Rails.  That shy thing still made this a small push out of the comfort zone.  It turns out I had so much fun doing that, that I ended up staying there in the afternoon helping out too.  In a way, I learned a lot myself in the process of helping other people learn some of the Ruby and Rails concepts.  Makes me go back to basics to explain something, and reinforce those ideas in my own mind.  It was the first time at a conference where people said hi to me walking around, or came up to talk to me, who were in those sessions that I helped out but I didn’t remember them (because there were so many of them and only one of me.)

CodeMash ’11 I did the same thing in the morning as I did the previous year, help people get set up in Leon’s session to work on a Ruby on Rails website.  Unfortunately I wasn’t “fully present” at that the morning session, because I was so focused on the afternoon, I don’t feel that I really helped out that much.  In the afternoon was that next big push beyond my comfort zone.  About a week before CodeMash, one of the precompiler sessions about doing Ruby on Windows was canceled.  At the last minute, 4 people including Charley Baker, Joe O’Brien and Matt Yoho, and I took on the session.  I still did not want to get up and speak in front of people, which I’ve mentioned many times before. I could push thru my fear of public speaking if I wanted to, I just don’t want to.  And I learned at CodeMash ’10 that I’m much better at sharing my knowledge 1 on 1, or 1 on 2-3.  I think I may actually be pretty good at that.  But I don’t have much desire to put 100% effort into public speaking.  So I was happy to prepare installation instructions for Ruby and Rails, and instructions on how to install and use my favorite IDE RubyMine, and pass on that information to the others who are much more ok with the getting up and talking in front of a group than I am.  Could I have found a new niche?  I prepare information ahead of time like I would if I were giving a talk – then feed my work to someone else to be my voice?  It sounds good to me, I wonder if that could work.  This was the first time where someone at CodeMash asked me if my handouts would be available online later.  So that’s pretty cool!  I will get those on this site in the next week or so.

In summary, it was another good year of CodeMash. I enjoyed catching up with old friends.  I really enjoyed making some new ones.  And I learned some new stuff along the way.  Much thanks to the organizers who make this happen, and I hope to see you at Codemash’12!

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