This last Saturday I attended the Austin Code Camp 2008. I didn't take notes so am unable to post coherent bullet point recaps of each session; instead I will post what must be, by logical extension, incoherent.

The Krewe of Austin

Something is noticeably different between the various Houston community events and the code camp I attended in Austin. A few notable things about this code camp that I liked:

  • The code camp did not feature an "Introduction to Silverlight" session. This is the simple, effective test by which I will measure all future conferences: is there an intro to Silverlight session. If there is, then good chances are most of the sessions will be useless. Further down the road, change out "Silverlight" with whatever new UI framework/data grid/designer tool that is "up to two years away from release." I'm officially tired of these type of talks, 4 LIFE. Call me back when you're running a "Best Practices in Silverlight Smackdown."
  • The code camp was heavy on OO principles. This is a good thing; between "patterns cage match" and "IoC jumpstart" and "OO design" and "mocks and stubs", my brain was assaulted by lots of OO. Which is good, I haven't gotten this much in the 3+ years of involvement with Houston user groups and events. Not to gripe on my home city, let's stay positive etc.
  • The remaining slots were filled by oddball (but useful oddball) sessions--in particular I liked our "Sarbanes Oaxley fishbowl talk" with heavy audience participation. I also liked the advanced SharePoint session, which helped me identify two major bugs in my project that I discovered by asking about the presenter's 12 lines of code. Let me repeat this for emphasis: he only had time to show the barest minimum of code, and yet I managed to pick up two places I need to change my own code, from that tiny snippet shown for just a few minutes. Sigh, SharePoint is hard sometimes.
  • Informal and efficient. You kind of showed up, you picked up a drink in the hall if you needed one, the presenters passed out books at the end if they remembered, registration took no longer than any other user group meeting. Self-service over concierge; it worked; awesome.

#1 benefit of attending: INSPIRATION

As sarcastic as I usually am, I want to let you, my dear reader, to know that the following is genuine and there will be no punchline involving abhorrent use of embedded MIDI and/or MARQUEE tags and BLINK tags that still work in Firefox for some reason.

But really, I did get one thing out of the code camp that I can't say I get anywhere else: I left feeling inspired to get awesome. I don't know at what precisely, I don't think it matters. What matters is that I've got the energy now. I'm motivated.

Yeah, now to act on newfound motivation--noted. Track record: not good; will try anyway.

So what do we take away from this rambling incoherent post?

  1. Thanks to the organizers/speakers of the code camp, it was awesome and at least one person (me) enjoyed it. I would like to place an order for ONE MILLION MORE of these camps; please schedule at your earliest convenience.
  2. I'm looking forward to the Houston Techfest 2008 [placeholder link; website not updated from 2007]. If anyone reading this a) also hates intro sessions, b) is willing, and c) is competent enough to be an authority on a given topic, please submit your session to the Houston Techfest organizers. You can even be from Houston, you don't even have to be from Austin to give a good presentation. It's great how that works.