CodeMash v2.0.1.0 Recap, Part 1

Over the past few days, I have been in Sandusky, attending CodeMash. This was my second year at CodeMash, and once again, I think Jim Holmes and his team did an amazing job of putting this conference together. Their main quote of Free your mind! really got me thinking, and this year, I decided to attend sessions on things that really piqued my curiosity.
A Look into Ruby
Many of my friends had urged me to at least look at the language, and I figured that I’d appease the curiosity of my inner language junkie. I started out in Joe O’Brien and Jim Weirich‘s Ruby Koans session at the Precompiler on Wednesday.
Joe had said that many programmers are also gamers and that we need to treat the koans as a learning experience and not like some game. I’ll admit it – when I first started working on the koans, my gamer tendencies wanted to just fill in the blanks and make it on to the next test. It wasn’t until a few tests in when my inner programmer beat out my inner gamer and reminded me just how excited I get about programming languages in general. Having seen a lot of programming languages in my past – through college classes and other past experiences – I have a great understanding of the various programming paradigms out there. So when I saw how Ruby did certain things, it reminded me of other languages – both in functionality and in syntax. Working through these exercises in tests gave me a better understanding as to what tests can be used for.
I stopped with the koans towards the end of the session, but I have a feeling that once things settle down a bit more, I may focus on them again.
On Thursday, I caught the discussion What Makes Ruby Different with Marc Peabody covering Java, Leon Gersing covering C#, and Joe O’Brien covering Ruby. It wasn’t a “my language is better than yours” talk, and I was glad to see that. I liked the approach of comparing multiple languages to see how one is different.
After getting a brief glimpse of Ruby, I hope to look into it a bit more later this year.
I’ve been given the heads up to pay close attention to MVC, as I may need to use it on some upcoming projects. So I made sure to catch Chris Patterson’s talk on Maintainable ASP.NET MVC. It was good to see how the MVC pattern works. There was one point that he said that really caught my attention – “ASP.NET MVC is an alternative to and not a replacement for Web Forms.” I’ve been in a Web Forms world for awhile, and I always have seen MVC as an alternative, even though I have friends with strong opinions that MVC should be a replacement. It was good to see that there are others who see it as an alternative.
Refactoring the Programmer
The last talk that I really wanted to catch on Thursday was Joe O’Brien’s Refactoring the Programmer. Joe told us his story on getting into Ruby and the community, talking about having a mentor and how an informal mentor relationship is great too, and stressing the point to find something that you’re passionate about. In his talk, he recommended 3 books – The Passionate Programmer by Chad Fowler, Pragmatic Thinking and Learning by Andy Hunt, and Apprenticeship Patterns by Dave Hoover and Adewale Oshineye.
I absolutely loved this talk. Joe is right – it really should be all about finding something you’re passionate about and running with it. This year, you’ll see more blog posts on web technologies and database topics, since that’s where my true passion lies.
This is what I saw on the first couple days – the Precompiler and first day of talks. Look forward to the next post, Part 2, when I cover the talks I saw on Friday as well as some concluding thoughts.

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