I’m a bit late getting this out (compared to last year) but it’s all good. I am sitting in the Slagthuset building where Øredev is held drinking a lovely cappuccino at the espresso bar here. It was a bit of a slow start this year and while most sessions were pretty good, it wasn’t the whirlwind start of 2011. They has a really cool meme theme here based on funny YouTube clips and I recommend watching some of them (Double Rainbows, the cat version of Grinding the Crack and Ken Lee). So here are the highlights of my first day at Øredev this year.
Iris Classon – Stupid questions and n00bs – top ten intriguing things you need to do
Iris’ session was very interesting and totally amazing for someone who’s been in the branch for less than 2 years. If I was able to travel in time and redo the start of my career, I’d definitely do it more like Iris has done. Anyway, Iris has done a series of stupid questions on her blog and some of them are really not that stupid at all (see here). The idea is to ask stupid questions that other juniors might be afraid to ask. Asking stupid questions is a great habit to cultivate, there’s nothing stupider than sitting in a meeting and not knowing what people are talking about. Iris talked about integrating junior developers into teams and what senior developers can learn from them. An example would be to copy their curiosity and lust for learning new things, something that you might have lost a bit after years of working as a programmer.
The most interesting part of this session was when Iris talked about gender equity and showed statistics that the proportion of women to men in our branch is actually decreasing. This is a fascinating topic for me. I have a 3-year old daughter and notice this stuff much more these days. Iris recommended watching Sapna Cheryan – Signaling Belonging. So I’ll be watching that over the weekend.
Pairing with Lisa Crispin
Angela Harms was supposed to do this session but had to cancel. Luckily Lisa Crispin offered to do it instead. This was a decent session with pictures of Lisas’ donkeys and a bunch of pair programming tips.
Brian Foote – Software in the Age of Sampling
This session was based around the metaphor of music which felt quite appropriate as Brian Foote is famous for his Ball Ball of Mud metaphor. Brian compared different eras and types of music with the different eras of computer programming. The Waterfall era is Frank Sinatra; first a composer wrote the music, then someone arranged and finally Sinatra sung the song. Next came the Agilists who are like the Beatles as they both wrote and played their music. Then came the Turntablists (Rap, Grandmaster Flash etc.) and they could create new music by changing the original music but without changing the source. Brian then mixed in even more metaphors (this session was chock full of them) and tied in the Mosiac browser as an example of a Turntablist project and as a Big Bucket of Glue. Mosiac was just mostly glue code, reusing code that others had already written but adding the ability to view images. And the final music metaphor was the Samplers, like electronic music, where you take small snippets and mix into your code/music and produce something original that way. Unfortunately, Brian had a bit of demo fail when doing his DJ show but a reasonable session anyway. There were a load of funny one-liners e.g. “tasteful, gourmet dumpster diving” to describe how you should work with legacy code. I know he redid it the day after to redo the DJ demo so I don’t know which version will be put up on Vimeo.
Vicent Marti – My Mom told me that git doesn’t scale
Vicent Marti works on the backend for Github (which I love by the way, in case you missed it). I reckon they have some sort of school or university at Github for making slides and practising presentation skills. Vicent (like all of them at Github) could easily find work as a stand-up comedian and his slides were so polished. I laughed the whole way through this despite it being all about the “boring” details of how they build the Github backend. Vicent started by saying the reasons to attend where either because you want to build a Github competitor or because you find this stuff interesting. He did a great job of making it interesting and now I know why the network and graph tabs in Github are slow sometimes and why Github doesn’t use the JVM (it’s too modern, they’re still focussed on using Unix tools as they’re the simplest way to do git stuff).
Alex Papadimoulis – Ugly Code: Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder
Alex is the editor for the DailyWTF website (Worse Than Failure, apparently) and therefore has tons of ugly code to show. He started with Mumps and ended with the recommendation that if you ever have to work on Mumps code then find another job. In between all this, he should ugly code and code that could be considered ugly or not. His definition of ugly code is interesting; ugly code is code that costs more to maintain. Alex is a slick presenter and got lots of laughs out of the audience with all his samples from DailyWTF. He did give a few tips on how to improve your ugly code, the first being just don’t if you really don’t have to and his other message to us at Øredev was to stop writing clever code. So more funny than practical but well worth a watch.
Closing Keynote with Jim McCarthy
Don’t know what to say about this really. This was a real barnstorming, burn-down-the-barricades speech. Jim McCarthy has worked at Bell Labs, Borland and Microsoft and told the story of how he built the Microsoft Visual C++ team. This then morphed into his vision for the future with thousands of programmers doing great things, an era of magnificence. That we, the programmers can hack the culture of the world and that we hold the real power. He talked a lot about how important a shared vision is if you want your team to be high performing. Maybe even 10 times better than team without it. I got a bit lost at the end when he started talking about his new manifesto(maybe?) the Core Protocols (http://www.mccarthyshow.com/). His preacher style made the whole keynote a bit unsettling and I’m not sure he really managed to capture the audience. I’ll have to research this a bit more before giving an opinion.
Meeting Interesting People
I finally got to meet Kristoffer Ahl from DotnetMentor and one of the few OSS .NET devs in Sweden. He works on FluentSecurity so check that out and send him a pull request. Also met a bunch of former colleagues and had some really deep and involved discussions on programming. A visit to Øredev really triggers a lot of deep thinking that I don’t really have time for during the rest of the year. It gets me thinking a lot about the areas of learning I need to focus on and my core beliefs and values as a programmer. The discussions that triggered this were the best part of Day 1.