MVP Summit 2018 Recap

Last week, I was out at the Microsoft MVP Summit in Redmond, Washington.  As many people know, I’ve been a Microsoft fan all of my life, so going out to the main campus is like a pilgrimage to me.  I made sure to wear some of my MVP gear on the flight out, as it’s a good way to find other MVPs.  While there were none flying from my starting spot, I met up with a bunch of MVPs – Azure, Outlook, Visual Studio – in Detroit.

Sadukie wearing her MVP hoodie and MVP jacket on the plane

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Speaking Topics for 2018

Last year, I added data science to my talks.  This year, I’m planning on growing more of my technical skills – learning React, Vue, and Node.js.  In terms of talks, servant leadership has joined the family of topics, and it’s a topic I’m excited to present.   These are just some of the topics I am presenting in 2018.

Data Science with Python, R, and SQL Server

In 2017, I had a goal to start looking into data science topics and see what’s in store.  By the end of 2017, I started talking about how you can use Python and R on SQL Server to bring the computations to the data, rather than bringing the data to the computing.  With regards to adventures in 2018, I plan on continuing looking into data science topics and continue talking about Python and R and how they can be used on SQL Server.

The next talk for this is:

  • The Polyglot Data Scientist – Adventures with R, Python, and SQL – CodeMash – 1/12
  • The Polyglot Data Scientist – Adventures with R, Python, and SQL – Cleveland .NET User Group – 1/25


Mentoring was a topic that came up a couple years back and continues to come up.  Whether it’s from the perspective of being a mentor and how to become a better mentor or from the perspective of being a mentee and how to find and engage mentors, I have talks that address various angles of mentoring.  My career wouldn’t be this successful if I tried to go this alone – I have wonderful mentors in various aspects (tech, business, and life) who have guided me along the way.  In my past roles, I’ve had the privilege to mentor over 200 career shifters who have wanted to go into development or who have been in development a short time.  I also am in the process of formalizing mentoring programs for those who want to do formal mentoring programs at their companies but aren’t sure how to implement it or how to administer it.

My upcoming talks include:

  • Bringing Up Future Techies – NEOISF – 1/17
  • Making the Most of the Mentoring Relationship – Developer on Fire Remote Conference – 1/22-1/24


New to my topics in 2018, I am presenting a talk on servant leadership.  Growing up with a father who showcased servant leadership, as well as reading his cousin’s book on servant leadership, this is something that runs in my family and comes naturally to me.  I have had numerous leadership experiences as well as a few formal roles, and all of my experiences plus the guidance I learned early on come to life in this talk.  When I present on servant leadership, I present it from a tech’s perspective, working in the trenches with my tech support team,  coaching my junior developers, and alongside my fellow tech educators.  I include stories of things I’ve done that would cause people to raise eyebrows and yet realize why it’s okay – and sometimes necessary – to make decisions that may seem absurd but have underlying reasons.

For those who want to see it in action, it’s currently lined up at:

  • Becoming a Servant Leader, Leading from the Trenches – CodeMash – 1/11

Other Topics

There are other topics that I have talks for and am still interested in speaking on.  These topics include:

  • User Experience (UX) for Developers – why it matters and what we as developers can look for and do to make things easier all around
  • Social Media and Personal Branding – how we can take little steps to help stand out in the sea of developers
  • History of Women in Tech – can do a general talk or can tailor this to specific areas of interest (particular tech communities such as a particular language or user group)
  • The Importance of Professional Development and how to find opportunities – affordable ways to grow your skills and the importance of staying relevant in the field
  • Acceptance Test Driven Development / Behavior Driven Development – understanding the concepts and how to apply it in various languages (C#, Java, Ruby, Python, and soon to add JavaScript)
  • Growing and Supporting a Tech Community – geared for those who may not have much of a tech community and how to start it and get it going.  This includes talking about networking and how to promote your community.


If you are interested in any of these or would like to have me present these at a user group or conference, please reach out to me either via email, Twitter, or in the comments here.  I enjoy talking with others, sharing knowledge and learning from others’ stories as well.  Looking forward to meeting others and sharing more knowledge in 2018!

The Fear of Not Appearing Technical

Inspired by the greatest Sarah that I’ve met this year who has introduced me to #SarahConf…. this thread really hits home:

Sarah mentions the fear of being less technical, and it’s something I’ve felt as well.

Topics Early On

When I first started speaking, I focused on technical stuff:

  • Samba with SWAT (1999)
  • Squeak (1999)
  • IronPython on Linux
  • Data Types in SQL Server 2008
  • Silverlight
  • Python

And that was just in my first years speaking.  (And yes, I spoke in 1999 and 2008 was when I got started again.  Notice – they were technical talks.)  Looking at my files, it looks like I had one non-tech talk in that first year – on social media for geeks.

In 2009, that changed a bit as I did my social networking talk at Kalamazoo X, but I felt like things balanced out as I did IronPython on Linux at PyCon.  So a soft skills talk and a serious languages talk (one that I – to this day – look back and wonder how I survived without dying of stage fright and fear since the language team and father of the language were in my audience.  Holy nervousness!)… most of my talks though early on were more leaning on the tech side.

More Recently – Adding UX for Devs, Mentoring, and Leadership!

Adding UX to the mix, I worried that I would appear soft and non-technical.  Even though I care about the tech side, I also know that UX isn’t well-understood among devs.  I think coming from non-technical parents and having been in a customer-facing role, I have more luck understanding users and translating their needs to techies.  So UX is a natural affinity for me.

I’ve recently been speaking on mentoring, and in 2018, my servant leadership talk will be debuting at CodeMash!  While these are departures from technical content as well, these are still more skills that I feel solid in and that I also feel like others could learn a lot from me, my experiences, and my perspective.  This is part of why I talk!

But Wait… I’m Technical, Too!

The main reason why I decided to do talks on data science, R, and Python is to remind people that I’m technical too.  I’m not just a soft skills person, and I am terrified of being painted as weak in tech because I don’t speak as much on the technical side.  I’ve been interested in data all my life – if you hear me talk of mentoring, you hear my story of my internship right out of high school, which shows an early love of data and how much I light up with that guidance.  That curiosity and enthusiasm came out more in the past year and change, which inspired more talks.  So I inevitably add technical talks to my repetoire so that I can remind people – I’m still technical, too!

So yes… this fear of appearing less technical… it’s real.

Why I Participate in #PayToSpeak

Over the past few days, I saw a lot of people talking with the #PayToSpeak hashtag, and knowing that some of my followers were curious, I figured I better weigh in.

Community-Run Events

When I know an event is community-run, then I know to expect some degree of #PayToSpeak.  Face it – when a community group is just starting out, sponsorship is a tough thing to get.  I want to see a community be stronger from our community-run events, so if there isn’t a budget for speakers’ travel and entertainment, {shrug} that’s fine with me.  I’ve been organizing community-run events since 2008, so I am sympathetic with those running the events.  I really enjoy seeing communities help each other grow.

Now, if it’s a community event that’s well-established, then that may be a different story.  I may ask for some assistance with travel costs – a hotel room or a place to crash is appreciated.  But for me, I see value in speaking to particular audiences, knowing that it will lead to work.  So I take that into consideration and typically shoulder some of my costs since I know they’ll be recuperated later.

Events and the Distance Factor

If there’s one thing people should know about me, it’s that I’m a family person.  I like being able to talk with my family when I’m on the road and try not to travel far from home.   So you don’t see me leave far from the Cleveland area – usually sticking to Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Detroit.  Sometimes, I can make exceptions for Cincinnati, Dayton, and Kalamazoo.  If it’s a relatively short drive (one I can do in a day sanely) and if I don’t have to stay more than a couple nights, I’m happy.  So I keep fairly local so that if I have to #PayToSpeak even a little bit, the costs are kept down.

If I am far from home but have friends or familiar faces where I am, that also helps.  When I am traveling and knowing something familiar is at the other end, then I feel less anxious.

What About Flying? That’s Expensive to #PayToSpeak!

As long as I don’t have to fly through La Guardia, then I am okay with flying.  Anything with direct flights out of Cleveland or Akron is even better, as I have yet to fly somewhere with a direct flight.    I do fly for engagements at times, but I keep that to a minimum as that gets costly, and that’s a cost I’d rather see the engagement pick up than have to pick it up myself. (I will work with the engagement to keep that cost low.)

This year, there were a couple events that went outside of close distance, and within good reasons.  I’ve known many of the Music City Code folks since pre-parenthood, and many are considered part of my tech family on the road.  Since my husband has been pushing me to get back into conference speaking again, I figured I’d go to a familiar area.  As for KCDC, that was one I had heard my friends mention, and seeing Jeff Strauss involved with it and knowing that my friends Mike and Jay think well of him, I figured I should see what that was like. (Also, I’ve learned that the KCDC crew are just as awesome and are also friends with my friends. So the tech family grows!)

Why Not Ask ALL Conferences for Travel Assistance? Why #PayToSpeak at all?

I’m also an event organizer and not just a speaker.  So when I sign up to speak at an event, I am also considering what the event organizers have to deal with in comping speakers’ expenses.  As Jim points out,  the costs do add up crazily if we – as organizers of small to medium-sized conferences – comp ALL of the speakers’ expenses:

What About Larger, For-Profit Events?

Depending on where those are held, how they align with my schedule, and what is covered, I’m a lot more selective with larger, for-profit events.  These, I typically will not #PayToSpeak.

Why #PayToSpeak?

There are times when I have little hesitation on considering #PayToSpeak some:

  • Helping a new community up off the ground
  • Promoting community alliances
  • Seeing old friends and making new friends

I think David Tanzer captured my overall thoughts well:


So I am okay with #PayToSpeak for the right cases.

Kalamazoo X – Inspiring Change

For the past 9 years, my dear friend Michael Eaton has been holding an amazing conference in Kalamazoo, MI called Kalamazoo X.  In 2018, he will be putting on the 10th Kalamazoo X conference.  And he has quite the line-up!

In 2009, I had the privilege to be invited to speak.  I had the speaking slot before lunch and took advantage of that.  It was great to inspire others to talk to other people and share stories, encouraging social media.  Not only did I speak, though, but I also paid attention to other talks going on and learned a lot that day!  Check out my 2009 Kalamazoo X recap!

While I haven’t been able to make it back – as April is my chaotic month between family obligations and some of my own conference/events planning – I cannot recommend this enough!

All Speakers are Invitation Only

Mike handpicks those who speak at his events.  Whether it’s someone in the local Kalamazoo scene or someone in our speaking circles who really stands out and shares a message he really wants delivered, Mike has a variety of speakers of all walks of life.  As he attends conferences, he takes recommendations from us as to who else he may want to look into besides the usual people.  However, it comes down to what Mike wants for his event.

Topics are Geared for All Sorts of People

The topics that appear apply to all sorts of people and not just tech.  They can apply to juniors, mid-levels, seniors, technical and non-technical.  Some of the topics they’ve covered include:

  • Self-Promotion
  • Branding
  • Empathy
  • Change
  • Neurodiversity
  • Teamwork and Collaboration
  • Mental Health
  • Managing Expectations
  • Leadership
  • Geek Parenting
  • Culture
  • Mentoring

A little something for everyone!

Amazing Storytelling

Looking at past line-ups, one thing that all speakers have in common is that they’re storytellers.  They not only make a point, but they bring interesting stories to help illustrate their points.  They use empowering words while keeping it real.  They captivate, engage the audience, and make an impact whether it’s through introspection or an explicit call to action.  They motivate and are truly inspiring.

My Call to Action for You….

When I think about Kalamazoo X, the storytellers who’ve come and gone, and the lives it has impacted, it gets me feeling warm and fuzzy – in a “restoring faith in humanity” kind of way.  Go check out the Kalamazoo X site.  And if you’re looking for inspiration and motivation to be a better you in 2018, put “attend Kalamazoo X” at the top of your 2018 goals!

Kansas City Developer Conference Recap

In early August, I had the opportunity to attend Kansas City Developer Conference in Kansas City, MO.  This was my first official trip to the city as an adult, as the last time I had been in the city was for the National Catholic Youth Conference in 1997.  My experiences this time around exposed me to a great tech community.

The Tech Family Reunion and #SarahConf!

One of my favorite parts of going to tech conferences is meeting other speakers and conference organizers, sharing experiences and learning from each other.   I enjoyed seeing friends I’ve made from my years in the conference organizing and speaking realms.  Most of all, I enjoyed meeting some of their local speakers and hearing about their adventures.   Great to meet new people and consider them part of my tech family!

Special thanks to Sarah Withee – @geekygirlsarah – for introducing me to #SarahConf:

Informative Sessions

In addition to speaking on “The Importance of User Experience for Developers”, I took some time to check out some of the sessions as well.  Some of the sessions I checked out included:

  • Sara Ford – The Psychology of Developer Tool Usability
  • Billy Korando – Everything Else New in Java 9
  • Michael Dowden – Introduction to Java Web Security
  • Jeff Cohen – Computer Science: The Good Parts
  • James Bender – I Promise to Give You a Callback: Working with Asynchronous JavaScript

The Psychology of Developer Tool Usability

With UX and usability (and Sara Ford’s energy and #SarahConf), I had to start with a topic that might bleed into my presentation topic.  I am always curious to see what others have to say, especially when it applies to developers.  This presentation lived up to what I was looking to see, despite 9 am brain going “basal ganglia?!  so early… can’t brain…”

It was great to hear Sara Ford’s experiences both from her times at Microsoft and with her Master’s Degree project as well.

Everything Else New in Java 9

Part of my work at The Software Guild has been teaching Java and contributing to their Java curriculum.  I’ve been watching Java 9 to see what is included, and I’m excited about what it has to offer.  While at KCDC, I caught Billy Korando’s session on Java 9.  It is interesting to see the modularity that comes with the Jigsaw Project.  This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this concept – it reminds me of something similar to PowerShell’s modules.  I’m also excited to see the REPL – as someone who sometimes teaches Java and who helps write curriculum to teach beginners, I can see the REPL being helpful for teaching.  There were some improvements to streams – which I was happy to see as it’s functionality we’ve had in C# with LINQ.  I like when I can show my apprentices that you can do similar things in C# and Java, which makes it easier for me to tell them that if you can understand one, the other has enough similarities to be easy to pick up.  There are plenty of other advancements in Java 9, and Billy had a lot to show in a short period of time.  He did a great job of showing these features!

Java Web Security

After the Java 9 talk, I had to get more Java in!  Michael Dowden presented on “Java Web Security” – including Spring Security, Apache Shiro, and Bouncy Castle.  We teach Spring Security at The Software Guild, so I was well aware of what I was getting myself into, topic-wise.  I hadn’t heard of Apache Shiro, and just saying Bouncy Castle makes me smile.  (A bounce house for Java?!?  Hmm… sounds fun! 😀 )  Being a web security talk, of course, the OWASP 10 had to be mentioned.  Seeing referenced as a resource validated what I’ve been recommending to my apprentices.

Computer Science: The Good Parts

When I saw this on the schedule, I had to wonder – what is someone considering “the good parts” of CS?  I started out in a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Engineering programming and switched after 2 years into a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Engineering Technology program.  So I never left the CS part – I switched from theory-focused to application-focused.  There’s a part of me that gets bored with theory and history and just wants to get into applying it.  As I’ve gotten older, the theory part is slowly getting interesting, and I am excited about the historical parts.  So… what did Jeff Cohen point out as some of the good parts?  Data structures – and yes, these can be fun!   He also mentioned some of the historical figures:

He even mentioned Grace Hopper’s take on a nanosecond, which led me to post:

Algorithms are fun too, and Manning has a great book I recommend – as the practical me likes its approach to explaining algorithms:

And one of the most important points that I gathered from the presentation is that computer programming and computer science are not one and the same.  I see many people try to say they are, so it’s good to hear someone else stress that they differ.

I Promise to Give You a Callback: Working with Asynchronous JavaScript

In our curriculum, I also help with the JavaScript materials.  Promises have been on my list of things to read up on and understand.  I’ve known James Bender for awhile, so I was excited to catch a session on something I’ve wanted to learn delivered by a friend.  His absurdly true pizza delivery story – you have to ask him about it – is a great analogy for understanding promises.  James sets the story up right, and it’s an analogy many of us pizza fans can follow.  Thanks to this talk, I can understand promises enough to apply them to code and write curriculum for them – it was a nudge in the right direction.


This was my first KCDC, and I hope it isn’t my last!  Jon, Boon, Lee, and Jeff really take care of their speakers and put on a great conference.  It was great to network with others, meet the KC tech community, and learn about new (to me) technologies.  I am inspired to create some new talks and take on new adventures based on what I learned.  Thanks, Kansas City Developer Conference, for having me!  This is on my list of conferences to try to get to every year.

The Geekette’s Wardrobe – Featuring Svaha

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated in any way with Svaha Apparel.  It all started with a Facebook ad, and then I noticed them – geeky dresses WITH POCKETS.  So what’s a geekette to do when she finds fun dresses WITH POCKETS and fun geeky pieces?  She blogs about it!

Last weekend, I was busy playing superhero, having fun with some of the behind-the-scenes logistics and social media for Cleveland Space Apps.  Since I had a little more visibility, I figured I’d be fine wearing my geeky outfits – after all, if a geekette can’t be wearing her geeky outfits at a NASA, we have other problems.

Photo courtesy of NASA Glenn Library

Friday night, I was wearing the Gear Train Stripes Sheath Dress.  I have always been intrigued by gears, and I love using them to signify movement, as indicated in my logo for Cleveland Tech Events / Cleveland Tech Consulting.  So when I saw this dress, I knew I had to have it.  Add to it that it has pockets – as a mom and someone on the go, if I can get away with pockets and not a purse or one more bag to carry, I’m going to take advantage of the opportunity.  This dress was so comfortable to wear and work in.  Whether I was moving to unload my van full of supplies for the weekend from one mega Supermarket Sweep like trip at Sam’s Club or speaking at the podium on weekend logistics, this dress worked well for me!

Thank you for flying Air Circuitry!

Saturday was a busy day – fellow space geeks were hacking on NASA’s Space Apps Challenges.  I was working through logistics and social media fun throughout the weekend.  Toward the end of the day, I was going to put snacks out, but then I remembered a few events and instances at prior places of employment where I remember them bringing snacks to us while we worked.  I appreciated that they’d feed us while we worked, with minimal interruption.  So I brought the concept of the snack cart to Cleveland Space Apps.  So here I am, getting ready to set off on an adventure with our snack cart in my Circuit Board Fit & Flare Dress.  I couldn’t resist making the Air Circuitry comment – so much fun!

But it isn’t just about dresses!  I love that Svaha Apparel has so many geeky options.  On Sunday, I was rocking a Pi Spiral Polka Dots Top:

I love how comfortable the material is and how colorful the designs are.  Being a typical geek, a lot of my wardrobe involves black, dark grey, and dark blue shirts.  However, there are moments where I love to add a bit more color and energy to my wardrobe.

And Svaha Apparel isn’t just for adults!  They have A LOT of designs for children, including geeky dresses for the children!   I imagine if I had a little girl that I’d be buying more of those dresses.  However, I am a mom to boys – so instead of dresses, I’m buying a lot of geeky T-shirts. (It also helps that my husband is as much of a geek as I am.)

My husband brought the boys to visit me at NASA on Sunday, and they too were in Svaha Apparel.  My younger one was wearing the Retro Solar System Glow-in-the-Dark Kids T-Shirt, and my older one was wearing the Future Astronaut Kids T-Shirt:

If you’re looking for geeky gear that’s comfortable to wear, I highly recommend checking out Svaha Apparel!

And if you’re Svaha Apparel and you’re reading this, I’d LOVE to see a lot of those kids shirts in adult sizes – so many fun designs, why do the kids get to have all the fun? 🙂

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.