CodeMash 2017 Recap: Conference Talks, Day 2

Every year, I go to CodeMash with little plans made, knowing that the side conversations can happen and derail any plans.  This year was no exception.  I went into Friday with no expectations, and it turned out to be great!

Drops of Jupyter in Your Hair

When I saw the title of this talk, I had to giggle, as it triggered Drops of Jupiter in my head as well as Jupyter notebooks.  Well-played, Brian Sherwin! 🙂    I wish I had seen this earlier in CodeMash, as I could see using a Jupyter notebook for taking notes throughout other sessions.  An interactive notebook, where I can write in programming languages and make notes in code… I can see these things being super useful.

The Software Guild Sponsor Table

During the 9:45am slot on Friday, I stopped by the Software Guild sponsor table.  I’ve been with the Guild for a long time now – part-time teaching assistant for C# and Java off and on since June 2013, full-time instructor since May 2016, curriculum developer, and now the lead instructor for our online programs (with in-person responsibilities and curriculum responsibilities as well).  This was their first conference with me in person, and it was a great experience to talk with the guys at the table and work at the table.  It was great to see people coming by, especially after I had tweeted to come and get scanned to win a PS4.  Our founder Eric Wise and our Employer Network Manager Matt from our Akron office were on hand, answering questions from potential apprentices, potential employers for our apprentices, and other networking opportunities.  I also managed to stop by a couple sponsors to learn more about them and hopefully connect them with the Software Guild.  Whether you’re looking for junior Java or C# developers (join our FREE employer network to be notified) or looking for training to sharpen your object-oriented development skills, keep The Software Guild in mind!

Thinking Like a Hacker

It should be no surprise that I am still intrigued by the security realm.  In the 11am slot, I caught “Thinking Like a Hacker” with Chris Maddalena.  Listening to the ideas behind how hackers work reminds me of the things I would do in my college days, bored to death in my engineering labs and poking at the Sun machines to see what I could get into.  It also reminds me of one of my favorite movies – Ocean’s Eleven – and the stuff they pulled, both in the original movie and the newer remake.  It also reminds me of the mindset that came back to me when I was helping with a security audit for a non-profit last summer.  Listening to Chris’ tales of what it takes to be a pen tester or social engineering your way through things… and his other tales… overall, this session was a great catch!

Vendor Session – Building a Better Development Shop

I took a break after Thinking Like a Hacker so that I could eat lunch, say goodbye to new friends, and wrap things up myself.  I knew I was going to catch one more session before heading home to surprise my family for dinner.  The last session I caught was Building a Better Development Shop, as presented by my boss – Eric Wise.  In this session, he talked of how to attract and retain talented developers and even how to run them off.  All of the things he mentioned in his talk he also puts in practice at the Software Guild.  As he mentions… good developers are… worth it!  I also enjoyed how he mentioned what interviewing practices keep good developers away – I’ve had to set employers straight when there are bad typos in ads (such as Sequel, instead of SQL) and I’m not a fan of trivia games as part of interview processes.  The common traits of high performing teams and the stress of cross-functional teams reminds me of what I enjoyed on my past projects and what I look for when I’m building teams for projects.  Fatigue being deadly to productivity… this is something that we talk about at work.  When one of us is seemingly on a death march, our team talks about it and how we can all pitch in to get our colleagues off of the fatigue train and onto the train to success.  We’d rather divide and conquer than see our own die under the fatigue of work.  Overall, as he put it – good talent is hard to attract and hard to retain, but if you put the effort in and deal with what truly matters, it will be worth it in the end.

Conclusion

Overall, this CodeMash has been an enlightening experience.  When faced with tragedy, it was good to see my conference family and the tech community in general come together in support.  It was great for me to meet my MVP community program manager and see other MVPs.  Networking with other conference organizers, speakers, and community folks, I see a lot of potential for new events and new alliances in 2017.  It was good to see both my security and data science interests piqued. I look forward to the adventures ahead!

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