Why do you code?

There are days, when I hate my job. Lately, quite a lot of them. These are the days when I know I do something pointless. I’m writing functionality, that some manager dreamed of, but nobody will use. Or I’m debugging some 10 years old code, and nothing works and nothing makes sense. You probably know what I’m talking about.

Those frustrating periods make me think – why the heck I’m still doing this? Why not just throw it all away, move to mountains and start breeding sheeps or goats?  Or maybe I should change my job? Will that change anything? Probably not…

But then comes the day like last Friday. Days, when I write some clean, elegant code, which provides functionality, that solves somebody’s problem. At the end of the day, as software developer, we’re paid to solve problems. “Craftsmanship” of this solution is important for me. But I’m much more happier, when someone says, that I made something useful for him. That I made a difference. On days like that, I realize why I code.

So, why do You code?

Weekend with Viking Ninjas

So two weeks passed and I attended another conference! This time it was Leetspeak by tretton37. It took place on 20th October in Malmö, Sweden.

When I was coming back from DevDay, Martin Mazur mentioned during our chat that they’re organizing this thing. It will have great speakers and will be super cheap (200SEK, in Sweden it is like 4 beers). And is already sold out. I knew I had to be there so this wouldn’t stop me, would it? Quick e-mail exchange with Peter, booking low-cost plane tickets, convincing my manager that paying for hotel in Malmö is awesome investment in my skills and I was all set up. Sweden here I come!

Because I’m on the wheelchair, usually when I travel somewhere, I have do to research. But I’m so used to the fact, that Scandinavia is wheels friendly, that I decided to be a little spontaneous this time. On Sturup airport I realized, that only bus option to Malmö operates those high buses/coaches, and they won’t be able to get me to the city (yeah Flygbussarna, you’re not cool). But it didn’t took a long time and some friendly Swedish couple asked me, If I need a ride. Well, that was unexpected. I heard so much about people here being closed, and this was just a first event to contradict that. The rest of the evening  I spent roaming around Malmö center. It’s a very nice city, you should visit it!

The conference itself took place in venue called St. Gertrud. It’s like small conference center with auditorium for ~200 people and very nice area for networking between sessions. First talk was Hadi Harriri‘s “Developers: The prima donnas of the 21st century”. He warned, that he won’t treat us nicely, and he delivered up to promise. As developers we are not good in communication. We often try to work on wrong things based on personal ambitions and put businesss at risk. He was jokingly harsh for most of his talk. At the end, he gave us some pat on the back, saying that people don’t appreciate the value of our work, and we are central to business in the 21st century. This was good talk, to start the day with overally good mood. Next up was Gary Short, who talked about math stuff in programming, like big O notation and algorithms. Most of the stuff I remembered from University, but I would rather learn the way Gary shown it, than my teachers used to. And romanian folk dancers videos were cool ;). Martin Mazur and Mark Rendle gave same talks as in Kraków, so nothing new for me here. Rob Ashton gave talk about Node JS. It was targeted at more experienced Node devs, so for me it was kind of hard to consume. But at the end, he showed a way to test asp.net mvc projects and this was interesting. Look for project Zombify at github. Jon McCoy presented his suit of tools for .net application disassembly and modification. There was cracking live demo, fun stuff. In the last session Enrico Campidoglio showed, how to control history with git. He went through most common use cases of git, visualising them with Phil Haack’s tool. Enrico kept this informative, yet funny.

Somewhere in the middle of the day, there was surprise waiting for us. At the end of his talk, Martin said, that they have gift for us. That they want to give us something useful and awesome. Something to hack on. In the lobby there was a pile of boxes wrapped in gray paper with “1337” printed on. Inside there was Raspberry Pi board. One for every attendee. You could feel the Christmas atmosphere in the room. Imagine bunch of super happy geeks unwrapping little boxes with big smiles on their faces. It looked like that. Awesome conference gift, tretton37!

If I were to compare DevDay and Leetspeak in many ways they were pretty similar. Both being small community conferences, that you don’t have pay a lot of money for. Full of passionate people, who want to invest they time in learning. Talks in Malmö were more technical and I liked venue more. Although talks in Kraków focused more on soft side of being programmer, I needed that to get inspired and loved it too. I also prefer booze prices in Poland ;)

We had some fun in the evening. I talked with many Tretton37 ninjas, and they’re great people. All that stuff I heard about Swedes being closed and introvertic – it’s total bullshit. They’re very friendly and have awesome community. I hope to see them next year. Or even earlier.

Next day I headed home. Big thanks to Peter for organizing me transport to the airport! Plane was late, some Poles got arrested at the airport, but I didn’t care. I still had big smile after the conference, and head full of ideas how to use my Pi.

Sweden was fun!

FADE IN *

Last week I was at the DevDay 2012 conference in Kraków. Not the first conf in my life, but this was different. This one left some disturbing, yet inspiring thoughts in my mind. I suck. I’m a phony. And I need to do something about it. Like right now.

The conference itself had freakin’ awesome speaker lineup. Just look it up yourself. I got excited when I saw Scott Hanselman‘s tweet, saying something like “See you in Poland”. I knew I had to be there, and I would do everything to get there. Then I saw whole agenda, and realized that all speakers are very interesting people. And best of all – it was free. Totaly free, like free beer free. Even better, company which sponsored whole event didn’t want to stick it in your face. Just a little logo here, banner there, some leaflets. Very classy.

Scott’s talk was all about productivity, and how to get what’s important from information flood, we get everyday. Most of what he presented I have read before on his blog, so there was nothing groundbreaking for me. But having this all in one presentation, and seeing Scott live was really great experience.

There were other talks, that were much more technical. Rob Ashton spoke about how JavaScript sucks, and how you can deal with it. He showed some tricks and tools, that make JS development a little bit less painful. Sebastien Lambla gave a talk about HTTP caching. He had very energetic attitude, but I didn’t get much from his presentation. This lacked some visual aids or better examples. There was also talk by Mark Rendle in which he showed some less known coding tricks and techniques that he used in his Simple.Data and Simple.Web frameworks. This one showed, that for complicated tasks, there will always be complicated code. If you don’t see it, it must be somewhere under the hood. I’ll probably never use some of the tricks that Mark showed, but they were fun to watch. On the other hand I didn’t enjoy Antek Piechnik‘s presentations. It was full of slogans, without any specifics, and sounded more like advertising of his company than informative talk. And the end of the day Greg Young talked about how to quickly jump into new project and identify most important problems as a consultant. I don’t remember much of this, because I was really tired at this point. Seven 1-hour talks is a little bit too much, especially if you didn’t sleep much last night.

There was one not-so-technical talk during a day, that I found most awesome and inspiring. It was Martin Mazur‘s “Why you should talk to strangers”. There was technical part, that showed what kind of inspiration we as .net developers can have from other languages. Martin went through interesting concepts from languages like Ruby, Erlang or Haskell, and how they can be applied in C#. In the other part he focused what .net community can gain from looking at other communities. He compared how stiff in so many areas are guys coding in C# and Java compared to Ruby Developers. There is some notion, that our conferences must be dead serious and our frameworks must be named super professional, and there are no good reasons for that. There is nothing wrong in bringing marching band to conference. And “God won’t kill kittens if we name library silly” (that was one of my favorite quotes).

I also had a chance to fly back with Martin on one plane form KRK to WAW, so we could chat a little about agile practices and how to become better developer. I found this part of the conference most inspiring. I realized that I’m only few years younger than Martin, and If I want to grow as a developer, I need to change some things in my life. In couple of years ahead I would like to be more like Martin Mazur, and less like my coworkers who are his age.

Generally, the networking part of the conference was awesome. I met some great people like Michał and Rafał, who organized conference. I had chance to talk to speakers personally, which was great experience. I even had my “13yo-girl-at-Justin-Bieber’s-concert” moment, when Scott signed my t-shirt ;). Talks were good, but you can watch them on the Internet. To engage in interesting discussion with people, you have to be there. And have courage to talk to strangers. That’s why I’m planning to attend more conferences. Actually, while writing this words, I’m waiting for my plane to Malmö, to attend Leatspeak. More to come!

* This blog post is one of the outputs of the DevDay. I hope, this is beginning of my regular blogging. I wanted to do it for a long time, but didn’t know how to start. During conference Scott Hanselman told story that comedian Paul Raiser told in some podcast. Paul met the actor Peter Falk and asked him if there was a secret to writing a movie script. Peter Falk said “get some paper, put it in a typewriter, type FADE IN…and keep typing.”