Code Camp 9 -- The legal kill limit on campers has been raised to three.
So, if you're hiking today, please wear something bright and keep low.
Code Camp 9 this past weekend out at the Microsoft building in Waltham, MA.
This was my first Code Camp to attend, and I learned a lot. Had to tear myself between sessions that were personally interesting (XNA Game Development) and sessions that were good for work (Visual Studio 2008 in the Trenches). Here is a list of the sessions I went to, with a brief take on them:
- Extending Powershell -- the speaker was energetic and enthusiastic (for a 9 AM session after two hours in the car) -- Atalasoft's own Lou Franco. Great presentation -- I say that without too much bias -- as I came into the session not knowing Powershell was anything more than a lobster on steroids, and walked out of the session knowing enough to start using it.
- Visual Studio 2008 in the Trenches -- I felt the potential for this one wasn't met. It was an open discussion on anything in VS 08, good or bad, but we stayed focused on a single topic (Linq) for too long.
- Game Development with XNA -- this was a blast. Chris Bowen led us step by step through developing an actual game (well... almost. It was Pong.)
- WPF Mean Business II -- I guess I really needed the first one. I was hoping for more, but the presentation was very dependent on the slides, and my senses were a bit overloaded by them -- too many "words", not enough "pictures". I can not even remember if we made it all the way through the example.
- ASP.NET AJAX -- I was enthralled during this presentation so much, I never looked down to take notes. We have a couple of AJAX-enabled tools in our DotImage product, and it was eye-opening to know just what is making those tick.
- Advanced Techniques for Everyday Development -- I came away from this one with a list of tools to try out -- not because they were really part of the presentation, but more because the presenter had them installed and they looked helpful. The talk was mostly on "Behavior Driven Development", which, to me, meant "write want you want to accomplish in plain English before you start coding". Ummm... right. To me, that should be step one regardless, but I don't think I'm going to name my functions "This_function_will_return_an_integer_value_if_I_send_it_two_integers_to_add" any time soon.
- The AJAX Control Toolkit -- this felt like an extension of the first AJAX session I went to, in both energy and information (I remembered to take notes this time). I learned a lot about the ScriptManager and the way an AJAX page communicates with the server -- great analogy by the presenter, Greg Howe, to make the concepts easy for anyone to understand.
A couple things I would suggest to anybody giving a presentation:
- Resist the urge to put more than 20 words on a PowerPoint slide. If I want to read, I'll buy a book. Having a conversation about the topic, using the slide to highlight areas, is much more effective. Consider handouts before the presentation begins.
- Consider making your examples available to load so that people can follow along on their own machines during the presentation.
- Lead the discussion -- don't let the discussion lead you. Have the, um, cajones to take control when people veer off the path, or when a question does not apply.
On a personal note, Chris Bowen says in his blog there were 300 people on Saturday, and 200 on Sunday. I counted 11 other women besides me. *sigh* Not to get all women's lib in the blog, but that was severely disappointing. And I did not see a single female presenter.
(Methinks I just volunteered myself... darn it.)