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.


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!

CodeMash 2017 Recap: Conference Talks, Day 1

For the first day of conference talks, I had some things I wanted to see and others that I ended up not seeing, due to a turn in events.  I may have been checking out topics I’ve been interested in, as well as scouting for speakers for Stir Trek (as our call for speakers opens January 15).   These are the adventures from conference talks day 1.

Data-Centric Encryption in Practice

I wanted to see data-centric encryption presented by Wolfgang Goerlich, as I’ve enjoyed his talks in the past and wanted to see what he had to say in this talk.  He is quite the storyteller, including Batman in his story.  For an 8am talk, there was laughter and sitting on the edge of my chair, waiting to see where the story would go.  It was great to see the cast of characters trying to get data as well as where the vulnerabilities lie.  I now have a list of more tools to play with.  One of my favorite words of advice in this talk is – encrypt everywhere, decrypt on use.  Overall, I really enjoyed this talk!

Leadership Journey: From Software Developer to Leader

During the event, my conference family was shaken by a tragedy.  Of all of my friends at the conference, there were a few in particular that I was really concerned about, including my friend Mike Eaton.  When I saw that he was doing a talk on leadership, I suspected he’d reference Jim Holmes’ The Leadership Journey book, and after this event, I wanted to make sure all was well.  Also, knowing Mike’s story about going independent and knowing that he took a job full-time with Quicken Loans, I was curious to see how he brought all of his adventures together in this talk.  Sure enough, I was right in that he mentioned Jim’s book as part of his presentation.  Mike did a great job of keeping himself strong throughout the talk.   One of the questions that Mike mentioned in his transition from consultant to employee and management was What is your ‘why?’  I know my whys for going back full-time and taking the opportunities presented.  I will always have whys.  Another running theme in his talk was People are hard.  I am in the process of transitioning back to management (after years of being away), and it was good to hear Mike’s adventures to remind me of the path I’m getting back down again.  He’s right – people are hard.  But oddly enough, I enjoy those challenges.  And as always, I was glad to catch one of Mike’s talks, as it had important lessons.

TechHappy: Hacking Positive Communities

After I heard that my Microsoft MVP Community Project Manager (CPM, formerly referred to as our MVP leads) was going to be at CodeMash, I made it a point to catch at least one of her sessions.  I wanted to meet her in person, as I missed the MVP Summit last November and end up missing our regional gatherings due to work or family obligations.  Lisa Anderson did a great session on hacking positive communities – taking ideas from positive communities and how we can use them in our own communities and lives.  There was a lot of leading with positivity and happiness.  She mentioned two different leadership styles – resonant vs dissonant.  She mentioned How Full Is Your Bucket by Tom Rath, which is now on my list of books to check out this year.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this talk was the reference to Tina Fey and the improv exercise of “Yes… And…”.  Lisa mentioned Second City in Chicago, and this made me think of the improv sessions I’ve seen or gone through in the past with Mike Hagesfeld at Stir Trek and with Jessie Shternshus at a past CodeMash.  I also had to think of Bob Coppedge – one of my favorite people to talk business with – and his improv background and how he recently retired from Point of No Return, a local improv group.

I also enjoyed how she brought in the discussion of Hacking Your Flow State from a guy from Shots of Awe.  She asked us for how we felt when we feel we are at peak performance.  She also mentioned the Flow Genome Project and Flow Dojo.  Finally, she mentioned positivity and play – and she brought play dough!  I took 2 containers home to my boys, and they really enjoyed playing!

My boys playing with play dough from @LisaAnderson312

Have Your Best Season Yet: Becoming a (Microsoft) MVP

After meeting Lisa, she convinced me to join the MVP panel in the afternoon.  It was great to join in on the panel of what is a Microsoft MVP, what do we do, how do we get to become one, and all of the other details around the MVP community.  The panel was made up of a bunch of Visual Studio MVPs, all of us with varying backgrounds:

One of my favorite questions was about what we’re looking forward to this year.  After having presented Microsoft technologies on non-Microsoft platforms in my past (IronPython on Linux at PyCon 2009… with Jim Hugunin and the IronPython team in my audience!) … I am beyond thrilled to see .NET Core on Linux being an official stance.  I am looking forward to .NET Core, seeing its possibilities, helping talk about it on a non-traditional platform, and see how it gets adopted.

I really enjoy my adventures as a Microsoft MVP, and I am thankful that they renew me.  I am also thankful for the privilege to be on this MVP panel with such a diverse group of techies.

Bringing Up Our Future – On Mentoring Junior Developers

Last year, I had a standing room only talk on mentoring junior developers. This year, they moved me to a bigger room, and I had a lot of fun presenting many of my mentoring experiences and lessons to a larger group.  (For the record, I was wearing my Sadukie Squadron shirt that my Akron Java September 2016 apprentices from The Software Guild created to represent our group.  My apprentices rock!)

Representing #SadukieSquadron

The thing that got me the most excited about my talk was seeing Melinda Walker of One Squiggly Line come into my room with the tools of her trade.  I had seen her in action last year, and when I saw her walk in, I knew what was going to happen in my talk – Sketchnotes!!

SketchNotes from Mentoring Junior Developers, courtesy of DevCoaches

Long story, short – I really enjoyed sharing my lessons on mentoring – both with my interactions with my own mentors and with my apprentices.  I will be writing a couple blog posts in the future to talk more about my mentors and my relationships with them, as well as how to find mentors.

Laser Pong 2 – Taking Back the Record

Last year, they had a record setting laser pong challenge.  Apparently some guys claimed the record after the CodeMash record.  So this year, we came back with a vengeance.  I was hanging out with some of my DevCoaches friends – Dave, Victor, and Matt – and figured this could be quite an adventure for us.  We were seated in section R3 – probably the most united section.  Lots of cheering, lots of competition… however, in the end, Team Bitchin lost to Team Rad 11-7.  While there was a winning team and a losing team in terms of the competition, the main point of this exercise was to reclaim the world record.  Our independent witnesses counted 380 of us to hopefully take the record back!

Conclusion from Day 1 of Conference Talks

Overall, it was quite a busy day.  I really enjoyed the sessions that I caught and even in the ones I participated in.  CodeMash has been exciting, enlightening, and really inspiring… and there was still one more day to go!  I am thankful that my husband encourages me to go to CodeMash every year, and I’m most especially thankful for being able to go this year, as there are more friends to make and more things to explore.

CodeMash 2017 Recap: Pre-Compiler Day 2

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, one of my personal tech topics that I want to explore in 2017 is data science.  For as long as I’ve known, I love data.  As a hobbyist in my teens, I was playing with Access and reporting on data.  I eventually migrated to Visual Basic talking to Access… which led to me taking an internship right out of high school where I was QAing data sheets and working with a contractor on an app that was migrating an Access database to a VB front end and SQL Server back end.  That contractor saw my curiosity and excitement around data, and he introduced me to the Oracle database administrator.  Fast forward into my career – lots of fun writing data reports in Crystal Reports and SQL Server Reporting Services and wearing the database administrator hat over many versions of SQL Server!  Moving right along, I end up writing and supporting web applications that talk to SQL Server back ends.  Nowadays, I’m working at The Software Guild, writing database curriculum for both C# and Java cohorts and encouraging our apprentices to explore databases – amongst other topics.  I get to play with SQL Server and MySQL.

However, as much as I get to play with these tools and data, I’ve been more curious about the topic that is getting a lot of talk – data science.  One of my friends asked what we wanted to learn more about in 2017, and when I mentioned data science, another friend asked if I had met Matthew Renze yet.  While I hadn’t crossed paths with him at that point, I was curious.  He linked me to his courses, which gave me an idea of what to expect with the pre-compiler.  Most of all, I was looking forward to a day of data science at CodeMash, hoping to see what all the talk was about.

Pre-compiler – Practical Data Science with R

With a name like “practical data science”, I went into the pre-compiler expecting how to work with R and put it in practice.  The name of the pre-compiler workshop set the expectations for me quite clearly.  Reading the abstract and the pre-reqs for it, everything was spelled out enough for me to have reasonable expectations going into it.

R and RStudio

In this Practical Data Science with R workshop, we learned about the R language and used RStudio to run through labs on various topics in data science.  I really enjoyed Matthew’s storytelling, weaving a story around a fictitious guy’s ridiculous idea for a space western musical movie.  We played with a movies dataset for many of our labs, looking at the data and seeing why this guy’s musical idea was a bit ridiculous and unwise. For some other labs, we also played with iris data.

Looking at the R language, it made sense to me.  Everything being treated as a vector… I had seen that in other languages before, so it didn’t seem foreign.  The arrows of assignment reminded me of lambda syntax in Java and C#… oh arrows and lambdas and assignments… again, it seemed familiar enough.  The indexing with the ranges reminded me of my adventures with Ruby Koans of CodeMashes past.    Even now, as I recap this, I am realizing that some of the familiarity is due to my past background – surviving engineering and math statistics courses using MATLAB and Maple.  In fact, during the workshop, I mentioned to my friend Victor that I wish I had this mentality back then, as my advanced math classes may have been more tolerable back then.  Playing with R reminded me of how much I love analyzing data and building out visualizations.

R in Visual Studio

In the workshop, Matthew Renze mentioned that you could also run these things in Visual Studio.  Of course, I couldn’t resist – running a new language for me in a tool I am quite familiar with!  I installed R Tools for Visual Studio and ran through the labs from today in Visual Studio.  I really like that the Ctrl-Enter to execute code in RStudio carried over into Visual Studio.  The visualizations were neat to see when I ran them in Visual Studio.

Inspiration to Play More

After sitting through the data science workshop today, I realized a lot about myself and my love of data.  I realize that my love of data really hasn’t changed in the past couple decades – I really do enjoy seeing what all is in a database, how the data relates, the various trends, cleaning it up, understanding why there are certain trends and what the outliers may indicate.  While I had a quick flashback to younger me not happy in my classes in college that introduced the concepts, I realized that I still like the visualizations and calculations, and with the right teachers, things aren’t as bad as they once seemed.  Playing with data makes me excited, and today’s workshop reaffirmed that.

This really confirmed – 2017 will be my year to have fun with data science.

CodeMash 2017 Recap : Pre-Compiler Day 1

Tech-wise, personally, my goals for 2017 involve learning more about data science (especially R and Hadoop) and playing with .NET Core on Linux.  (Have I ever mentioned how excited I am about writing code in a language from Microsoft on an operating system that is not Windows?!?)  Work-wise, I should probably be focusing on C#, Java, and JavaScript-related topics – including which frameworks may win the framework adoption in the JavaScript realm.  Since I’ve heard Angular 2 was a much different beast than Angular 1, I figured I should probably learn more about Angular 2.  So with CodeMash – I knew I had to take advantage of learning from amazing minds on these things.

Pre-Compiler 1: Introduction to Angular 2 (Part 1)

Knowing we have Angular 1 mentioned in some of our curriculum at The Software Guild,  I figured I should at least know a bit more about what’s in Angular 2.  Seeing an Angular 2 pre-compiler in the lineup, I had to see what it was about.  Now, with Angular 1, we do all things in JavaScript – from templates to directives.  Angular 2, though, looks like a lot of TypeScript.

The pre-compiler’s description mentioned:

We will go over everyting that a developer will need to be productive in Angular 2, including components, directives, pipes, services, dependency injection, as well as overviews of RxJS and TypeScript.

Thankfully, I understand the above concepts very well in numerous languages.  However, I had only seen TypeScript in passing and hadn’t had any experience with RxJS.  That description though mentioned that there would be overviews of both, so I didn’t anticipate any issues.

In preparing for the pre-compiler, I installed my pre-reqs and ran through to make sure versions were correct.    I re-read the pre-reqs and still felt confident that this session would be for me.

Even though we will work in TypeScript, a working understanding of JavaScript is essential…

Experience with a modern web framework is not required but would be very useful (React, Angular 1.x, Ember, Vue)

An understanding of TypeScript would be helpful but is not required nor essential — there are lots of example provided

I’ve been working with JavaScript since the late 90s, so that didn’t phase me.  We cover Angular 1..x in one of our courses, enough for me to gather the overarching patterns of Angular.  However, again, no TypeScript here.

Going to this pre-compiler, I expected a little more guidance on how they structure their projects and how this code talks to each other.  However, there wasn’t much guidance.  The slides were also incorrect, but thankfully I know enough about git to  know how to search his tags and do git checkouts as needed.  For the first couple labs, I would check out the solution and then work backwards to understand how the code comes together and just what is going on in each of the TypeScript files.  Oh yeah… did I mention that this is heavily TypeScripted?  Yeah…

After a couple of labs of working backwards from the solutions,  I started to feel comfortable enough to attempt a solution on my own.  I was mostly there other than missing a little bit of component code.  However, I saw the pattern and started writing TypeScript files based on the pattern presented.  After a couple more labs, though, I realized we weren’t getting enough direction and were getting a lot of glossed-over descriptions of code. I could continue the lab on my own time and work backwards on my own time.  This wasn’t as beneficial as I had hoped – other than starting to pick up TypeScript and bolster my confidence in debugging and working backwards from solutions.  It’s time I use the law of 2 feet:

If you are neither learning nor contributing in a session, you are required to get up and leave and join another session in progress where you feel you’ll be more useful and inspired.

Pre-Compiler 2: Game Development with the Unity Game Engine (Part 2)

While talking with friends at lunch, my friend Victor convinced a couple of us to follow him back to Mike Geig‘s workshop on game development with Unity.  Thankfully, when I was installing pre-reqs for my pre-compilers, I installed Unity just in case I changed my mind.  I’ve known Mike from the conference speaking circuit, and I was curious to see his presenter style as well.  I was a little nervous as I really struggle seeing some aspects of games, and I really hadn’t had any background in Unity.  However, my C# background really helped in this when playing with the scripts.

I really like Mike’s presenting style:

  • Set the expectation of what we’re going to do
  • Do the thing while pointing out each step along the way
  • Recapping what he just did
  • Post the steps for us to do the same thing
  • Recap what we just did

For not having background in this and for jumping into the workshop halfway through, I honestly enjoyed this session a ton.  It was great to see how Unity works, and it gave me some ideas on things – granted I need graphics people for help, but it gets me thinking.  I also look forward to us having Mike come speak at our user group sometime this year, as he has some cool topics and has a presenter style that really works well.

Pre-Compiler Day 1 Conclusion

Overall, I learned quite a bit today.  There’s still 3 more days of learning at CodeMash to go.  However, today was quite an adventure in JavaScript, TypeScript, Unity, and C#.  I can’t wait to see what else I’ll learn!

Sadukie on WiT and Diversity for the Sake of Diversity

After some recent discussions on personal branding, I realized that some people don’t get me.  Some people don’t understand just who I am and what I am about.  So let me tell you a bit about who I am and where I stand on things.

Who I Am

  • I am a geek.  I love tech, and I’m not afraid to admit it or show my love for it.  I blog, speak at conferences, appear on podcasts, wrote a book, and continue eat/sleep/breathe tech.  I’m also married to a geek, so to say that I live surrounded by tech is an understatement.
  • I am still ever-curious about things in the tech realm – wanting to play and explore with .NET Core on Linux and also looking into the security world, especially looking at AppSec.
  • I love sharing information and learning from others.
  • I am all about the community – participating when I can, leading, growing it, and fostering it as best as I can.
  • I have a wonderful group of people close to me who I consider mentors, friends, and like family.  They have been supportive of me throughout my career – from my early days continuing through today.  I am blessed to be collaborating with such an amazing group.
  • My life’s accolades and successes (as well as failures and tribulations) are due to the work I’ve done, the effort I’ve put in… my gender and background does not factor into this.
  • I only mentor people who are in this field for similar reasons – curiosity for tech, wanting to grow in their tech career, wanting to get involved in the community.  If the passion for tech isn’t there, I am not the right mentor for you.

What I Am Not and Some Dislikes

  • I am not a poster child for the women in tech movement or diversity in tech.  Absolutely not… because…
  • I don’t like the exclusivity of those movements.  I don’t like seeing WiT and diversity events filtering out their attendance to be geared strictly for those demographics.
  • I also don’t like the discrimination that comes out with the movements.  Diversity scholarships and scholarships for particular demographics are used to lure people into the field – seemingly promoting diversity for the sake of diversity.
    • I am for merit-based scholarships – give the scholarships to those who show the interest and willingness to go the distance for the field, regardless of gender/creed/age/hot demographic of the moment.
  • I do not play the gender card to grow in my career.  My gender does not define who I am all the time, especially not in my career.
    • Yes, I’m a wife, mom, sister, aunt, niece, daughter, goddaughter… lots of feminine roles there.
    • Yes, I do things like sometimes read Cosmo magazine and used to watch Sex and the City.  Yes, I can totally relate to Carrie Bradshaw’s random questions at the beginning of the episodes.
    • No – none of these things impact how I approach tech.
  • That said, I don’t like it when people think they should play my gender card for me.  Did I mention – I am not a poster child for these movements?
  • When it comes to conferences that I support, I urge the organizers to steer clear of diversity for the sake of diversity and to choose the best content for their events, to put out the best event possible.  Do not sacrifice the quality of the event for the sake of diversity.


Yes, I am a woman – and as my husband reminded me, I’m a woman phenomenally.  However, I am getting tired of people telling me that I need to get involved in the Women in Tech movement more and urge more women and minorities in the field, especially when that’s not how I operate.  I want to see more people in the field – but I don’t care about their race/creed/gender.  I want to see more people who are passionate about tech and want to have fun learning, people who are respectful of each other, people who are all about collaborating to help grow each other’s careers as well as the community.

Adventures of Working on an App

While I teach my apprentices how to write code, there comes a time where I have to be able to write my own code.  In the classroom, I’m good at using canned examples and even better at coming up with other relevant examples.  I really enjoy that part of my job – while I’m the queen of typos when it comes to live coding, I’ve learned to get past that and just have fun, which makes it that much easier for me to live code.

However, when I’m out of the classroom, I somehow escape that mindset and end up facing the same issues my apprentices have – getting trapped in my head between ideas and code and fighting through analysis paralysis.  Thankfully, there is a part of me that listens to what I tell my apprentices, and this is what my latest adventures have led to.

Brainstorming on Paper

Despite this being a digital age, I am one who thrives when I have pen and paper.  From drawing wireframes to making lists of things to be done, I find myself making lots of notes.  Whether it’s drawing on pads from UI Stencils or the many notebooks I’ve gotten from conferences and other events, I’m making notes of what I envision the user experience of the app to be.  As I do that, I watch wireframes flying out of my head, followed by data models.  Notes are added by buttons and menus as to what I expect to put there.  It’s such a fun experience once I get going.  By sketching my ideas out, I can make sure I’m on the right track.

Recently, I was asked to create a dashboard application, and while it’s something I’m working on solo, I still drew out some of my thoughts. Since I’m using technology that I’m very slightly unfamiliar with and feeling very rusty with some of this, I bounced the ideas off of a friend to see if I was missing anything.  Had I not shown them my notebook, I probably wouldn’t have been able to properly convey where my thoughts were.  It was good to get the ideas out of my head.

Starting to Code

Once I get through the planning phase of an application, then I transition into coding.  As my apprentices tell me, it’s overwhelming when you have a large idea and don’t know where to start. When you feel so overwhelmed by analyzing the problem and don’t know where to  start – that’s analysis paralysis.  Sometimes, sketching out the app makes the app seem larger than life, a daunting, overwhelming task.  So many moving parts… how do you know where to start?!?

This is when I take a deep breath, evaluate ALL OF THE THINGS, and break them into manageable chunks.  Sometimes, this means drawing out class diagrams – which is sometimes done on paper and sometimes done in my development tools.  Once I have that outlined, then I have a better idea of where to go.  With my apprentices, I have them do flowcharts to understand processes and flow of the program.  Once we get through these steps, I encourage pseudocode.  This is where I am now on my dashboard app – pseudocoding things and figuring out my layers.

The Nerves of Working on Apps

While I tell my apprentices to get used to failure and to check their perfectionism at the door, I struggle a little with this as well.  Not the failure part – I’ve embraced failure and see it as a stepping stone towards success.  My perfectionism though gets to me on projects.  Does this UX flow well?  Did I lay it out right?  Do I like these colors?  Wait… what if I did…?  The questions flow and I second guess a lot.

In addition to my solo app, I have another app in my backlog that involves coding with a friend.  While I’m excited to be working with this friend on this project, I’m still nervous with my own issues.  What if my perfectionism brings out a not-so-nice, cranky side of me?  (Silly, girl… your friends know how to deal with you.)  What if my code is a mess?  (Seriously?!  You don’t put up with that from your apprentices.  You won’t let yourself be that scattered.  Your chaotic organization won’t be in your code.)

The Excitement of Working on Apps

This is why I’m in software development – the excitement of working on apps outweighs the nerves every time.  I love taking an idea and making it come to life.  I enjoy solving the problems that others are having and making their lives easier or better in some way.  To watch my wireframes and notes turn into something that makes the world a better place – regardless of the size of the project – that is awesome!  When I hit that zone where ideas are flowing and code is flying from my fingertips… such a great feeling!  As for working with friends… to see how we think, where we differ, how we handle differences, and how we work together to make our ideas come to life… it’s quite an adventure!


I don’t think my apprentices or friends realize what it is like when I’m working on an app.  This is what it’s like for me to go through developing an app.  And with that… I’m off… another app to work on!

Being Part of a Team

My 4 year old has been singing “Everything is Awesome” as he’s been playing throughout the house this weekend, and after last week’s blog post and important conversations, I can finally breathe easily and agree – everything is awesome!

Everything is awesome
Everything is cool when you’re part of a team
Everything is awesome
When you’re living a dream

And it’s true – everything is cool when you’re part of a team.  So today, I wanted to take time to talk about some of my teams and how fun it’s been so far.


In the past year, I’ve become friends with two of my fellow instructors – Dave Balzer and Victor Pudelski.  We eat lunch together and talk about everything under the sun.  I really enjoy the conversations we have, as sometimes it’s pure laughs and enjoyment and sometimes I catch something surprising that I don’t expect.  Dave had the awesome idea of recording some of our lunch conversations and turning them into a podcast – hence DevCoaches!  We talk about topics that people in software development could benefit from – from technical (polyglots) to non-technical (interview, impostor syndrome) to coding bootcamp life.  If you haven’t heard it yet, check us out – subscribe with iTunes, listen on Stitcher, and check out our website!

The Software Guild

Earlier this year, I signed on full-time with The Software Guild.  At the Guild, I am a lead instructor – contributing to our curriculum for HTML, CSS, JavaScript, C#, Java, and SQL.  I also am privileged to teach one of our Java cohorts out of our Akron location.  I am lucky to be part of the Guild’s team – not just as an instructor but also working with our other teams – enrollment, marketing, curriculum, employer network, and operations.  It’s great to be part of such an enthusiastic team that is all committed to the success of our apprentices.  While we are in different locations and serve different roles, the end game is to our customers and we are truly, genuinely committed to them.  Our Akron team is where I call home, and it feels like I’m going home to another family – the staff is that close-knit and welcoming.  They make my job a lot easier and more enjoyable, and I am still finding it hard to believe that I have such a fun job with such an impact on people’s lives.  I am thankful for Eric Wise giving me the opportunity early on to work with them and to keep me on board.

Space Apps Challenge – Cleveland

This is one of the few local teams in the community where I have been collaborating and planning events.  I get to work with some of the coolest people from NASA Glenn – some of the NASA GVIS team! – as well as Brad Nellis, one of the most well-networked tech business guys who’s down-to-earth and helped sponsor our Space Apps Challenge event from last year.  When I meet with these guys, I am in awe of the fun things we get to do while planning on bringing the community together to hack on challenges for NASA.  I look forward to our event in 2017!

Stir Trek

I’ve been working with the Stir Trek planning team for many years now, even though the event is in Columbus and I’m here in the Cleveland/Akron areas.  My fellow Stir Trek planners are friends of mine that I’ve met early in my career and have grown with throughout our community.  We work well with each other, helping where needed and making suggestions on how we can do better and become better.   Next year’s Stir Trek planning is already in the works, as we have a new location and new adventures with that.  No matter how difficult the challenge is and no matter how dramatic things can get, we’re still putting on these events, helping our fellow devs to become the best that they can be.  Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is our target movie for next year – stay tuned for more details!

The Dynamic Duo / Hacker Twins

A team doesn’t always have to be a lot of people.  In fact, my favorite team I’m on is a team of 2.  We have had people call us the dynamic duo, and when we were younger, our friends called us the Hacker Twins – Hack Boy and Hackerbabe.  Good times!  We are team Sadukie – that’s right, sadukie isn’t just me.  Sa is from Sarah and dukie is one of my husband’s nicknames.  This year marks 20 years of awesome adventures together as friends and more, with a lot of craziness ahead.  I couldn’t picture a better partner-in-crime for me, as we both bring out the best in each other and have brought two more lives in the world, with high hopes for them as well.  And yes, not just personally, we can also collaborate professionally, which makes me that much prouder of us.  We respect each other’s strengths and weaknesses and defer to each other when a situation requires one of our expertises.


These are just some of the teams in my life, and each team has shown me some of the various purposes I have in life.  I really enjoy my roles on those teams, and I look forward to serving them more in the future!  Everything is awesome; everything is cool when you’re part of a team!

Overwhelming Past Few Months…

Over the past few months, I:

  • moved my kids to a new daycare, full-time
  • took over a remote Software Guild cohort mid-stream
  • went house hunting much earlier than anticipated
  • helped the company my husband works for in moving to a new location
  • purchased another house
  • took a full-time instructor position with the Software Guild
  • started teaching my first Java cohort
  • moved to a new house
  • spoke at a user group in July

And now we’re in the process of listing our old house.  So to say I’ve been busy is an understatement for sure.  As I was going through this process, I kept mentioning to my husband that the day would come probably in August when it would all hit me and I would fall apart.  I knew it was coming rapidly when I woke up on Tuesday morning and firmly decided that I was taking Wednesday and Thursday as days to disconnect.  I mentioned to my boss that I was disconnecting, and he’s completely supportive.  While I could tell my co-workers were concerned, they too are supportive.  They all gave me the permission to disconnect, encouraging me to take the time for me.

Disconnecting with Distractions

Yesterday was tough – as much as I wanted to check on my friends on Slack, Twitter and Facebook… as much as I wanted to read my email…  I knew that I needed to disconnect.  I don’t rest well, as many can tell you.  Thankfully, I found distractions in unpacking boxes, catching lunch with my husband, and then taking on an idea for a small web project.  I also found a lot of distraction in Terraria – lots of fun with that.


Reconnecting with Words

Today, I decided that I couldn’t be completely disconnected and that I needed to get past distractions and face all of the overwhelming feelings that have hit me.  This morning was more focused on a personal meeting, but this afternoon is all about reflecting on the feelings and putting them into words.

I’m thankful that I moved – the commute from the Cleveland area down to Akron was really cutting into family time, which was taking its toll on me.  Becoming an instructor has been quite rewarding – it’s been something we’ve all wanted, and the timing just happened to be right finally.  The part that I really underestimated was the transition back to work full-time.  Thankfully, I was going to work full-time with co-workers I had already been working with for awhile in an environment that I was already familiar with.   However, I hadn’t realized how bonds would change from me working part-time to being there full-time and from developer mentor (teaching assistant) to instructor.  Parsing all of this information is definitely overwhelming.


If I seem a bit shattered, overwhelmed, and disconnected, it’s because I finally hit the “oh my goodness, what did I just go through?!?” realization and am slowly working out of that haze.  Thank you to those who have reached out to me in concern – I am getting past this and am looking forward to getting out of this chaos and back into the community.

They’re Gone…

After dropping off my boys this morning, I figured that it would be a good idea to stop by my classroom at the Software Guild to get some stuff to work on at home.  It’s my classroom after all, my home away from home.  Now that I can work from home the next few weeks, I should be fine going in there to get what I need.  After all, if it feels like home, I should be comfortable in there.

My classroom at The Software Guild

But as soon as I stepped into my classroom, tears welled up in my eyes. Nothing could’ve prepared me for the surge of emotions that hit me.  It’s overwhelming, and I felt extremely vulnerable, which is probably why I went it alone.  It’s times like those where I both need my support network and shy away from them to try to deal with my feelings on my own.

Missing Routine

As I stepped in the classroom and looked around, I realized that I missed them and the routines we had.  I miss the daily standup, learning what they’re working on and how to better serve them.  I miss the conversations we’d have as the day was getting started – whether they were the warmup exercises or just general chatter before our lectures conversations.  I miss the morning conversations about the various topics in programming – from variables/loops to inheritance to dependency injection.  I miss watching my apprentices work on their labs and even on their side projects – to see how they applied the concepts from the classroom to their own interests.  Most of all, though, I miss the people – they were such a talented and diverse bunch.

Moving On

While a part of me is missing the routines of the classroom, a part of me is excited.  The missing apprentices are no longer just apprentices – they are alumni.  They survived the 12-week coding bootcamp and are off to do great things.  Some of mine are returning to classrooms of their own, working on their degrees.  Some are out looking for places to live, as they are moving on to new jobs, away from their homes.  Some already have places and are eagerly awaiting their start dates for their new jobs, the new life ahead.  Knowing this, I’m excited to see them grow in their careers and look forward to their adventures.


This morning’s return to the classroom was definitely unexpected for me – I didn’t expect to be overwhelmed like this.  From curiosity to sarcasm, ambitions to frustrations to break-through moments… I miss it all.  At the same time, I’m excited to know that I have given them the skills to do great things in the world.   This was my first group as an instructor, so they will forever hold a special place in my life.

Have no fear – my next group starts in mid-September!  To new adventures…

Adventures Ahead!

Yesterday was a milestone day for me – I ended yet another cohort at The Software Guild.  This cohort, though, is more of a milestone for me because it was my first full 12-week coding bootcamp cohort as an instructor.  That’s right – I am back to work full-time, teaching at The Software Guild in their Akron, OH location.  I am proud of those who have graduated, and I look forward to their adventures ahead.

My next group starts in mid-September, and while I have a lot of work obligations to get done, I also will have a little more time to explore my own interests.  So what’s on my plate?  What are the adventures ahead?

Looking at .NET Core on Linux

I’ve been a fan of Microsoft’s technologies on non-Microsoft platforms for a long time now.  After all, I did speak about running IronPython on Linux back in 2009 at PyCon in Chicago.  Hearing so much about .NET Core from friends in the community, I am excited to see what’s going on with this cross-platform Microsoft stack.  Part of this will be playing with this on my own, and part of this exploration will be working with a friend on an application.  While I haven’t paired on an app for awhile, I’m both nervous and excited about this opportunity!

A Chance at my Geek Card – Dungeons & Dragons

Truth be told, I have never played Dungeons & Dragons.  Never, ever.  I watched people play briefly, and I didn’t think it’d be for me.  Mind you, I come from an RPG background – my addictions with Dragon Warrior, Chrono Trigger, Diablo II, Terraria… my many adventures in MMORPGs – Asheron’s Call, A Tale in the Desert, Horizons, EVE Online, World of Warcraft… so yeah, let’s forget that some of those games have D&D qualities and possibly rules and other influences in them.  D&D is not for me… or so I thought.  But some of my friends have talked me into giving it a try, so we’ll see how this goes.  I’m a little unnerved having to be the healer – I am used to being a hunter or warlock with a pet as a tank.  I’m used to all sorts of stories of mischief and mayhem – from getting into things I shouldn’t to causing all sorts of tales to unfold.  I can’t see the healer getting into mischief and mayhem, but we’ll see.  While I’ve fought the idea of playing D&D for a long time, I’ve now realized it’s time to quit fighting myself.  (That and these guys won’t let me back down now. 🙂 )

Catching up on Reading

Something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile is catch up on my reading. These are the books currently in my queue:

The first two books are nods to my interest in learning and education in general.  The more I read, the more I am curious about how to better teach lessons – whether it’s life lessons for my own children, my apprentices, my friends, or even myself.

The third book, though, is something that I swore I would never understand.  In college, I had to take courses that explained data structures and algorithms.  While they did a good job on theory, they didn’t really explain the practical part.  However, one of our later lectures in our cohort is on data structures and algorithms, and I had Victor cover that for my group as well, as I knew that data structures and algorithms were things he got excited about.  I didn’t realize just HOW excited he got until I saw his prep work and making notes on his lessons and seeing his examples.  His excitement is quite contagious, and when he showed me this book, I realized that there is hope for me to better explain algorithms to my apprentices without feeling like the theory from college killed my will to understand programming languages.

In addition to the above, I also need to continue unpacking and settling in our new house and putting together my home office.


Overall, I have a lot of things to get done over the next few weeks.  I definitely am looking forward to the adventures ahead!