No one is going to debate the fact that BarCampOrlando lived up to it’s namesake this time around (ok, so there wasn’t much Foo there, but details deails). Both venues for the event, Slingapours and One Eyed Jacks, had plenty of room for the events with room to spare.
Power via extension cords and squid adapters wasn’t ever out of reach. The only time things got a little hectic was for the very first presentation which was packed since there was only one presentation at that time.
So here’s a brief wrap up of what I ended up attending:
Central Florida Tech Association by Dan Kinchen This was a great one to open on. Dan presented the crowd with a general question: Does Orlando need an association of technical workers/companies. The idea behind this would be that technical people from the area would volunteer to maintain some sort of an administrative board/website what would be a central portal for technical events. At the moment this is pretty much just the Central Florida Tech Events Google Calendar. Having a group like this would have a lot more power as well, such as throwing other events or even luring larger companies to the area. It sounds like a great way of marketing the Orlando technical community.
Social Spark by Peter Wright Peter gave an overview of Izeas new app, Social Spark, followed by a technical discussion of some of the issues facing the team in scaling the site. The site itself is impressive. I’ll skip the marketing spiel, but it had a great public face.
Larry Diehl gave an rundown of some of the biggest issues in scaling rails with some innovative solutions. To make searches speedier, they used a bitstream (all 0/1’s) to represent true/false for a set of conditions. So if condition 1 is false, condition 2 is true and condition 3 is false, the end result would be 010. They converted this number into a unique integer (through something like
(2^0\*0) + (2^1)*1 + (2^2)**0, giving a 2 in this case. Obviously this makes searching lightning quick. Also some discussion on fragment caching and it’s importance. Useful stuff!
Web 2.0 Killed The Internet by Sunir Shah This was more of a rant actually. Sunir is strong about his opinions that’s for sure. He went into his opinion on all the major buzzwords — semantic web, microformats, w3c, xhtml, validation — issues facing web developers. This opened up into a discussion with some for the above and a few argueing that the big guys out there don’t stand to gain anything by adopting some of these, so they don’t expect them to open up and play nice with others.
Creating Object Oriented Designs from Natural Language by Mike Blake I only caught the last few minutes of this one, but it dealt with the idea that if you say what you want an app to do in clear english, you’ll be able to parse out the programmatic objects based on the parts of speech. Nouns, adjectives, adverbs and verbs have clear similarities to programming. This kind of thinking got me interested in learning a bit more about rspec user stories which sounds very similar.
Past, Present and Future of Tech in Central Florida by Ryan Price This started out as a bit of history about Orlando before going into a group discussion about what we can all do to make Orlando a better place for future developers. He mentioned a few of the resources we have here in Orlando to help new businesses get off their feet, such as a the business incubator (I believe that’s what it was called), where they assist in writing a business plan and help answer your questions about starting a business. Quite a few people expressed interest in some form of coworking , although since I’m not freelancing this hasn’t been an area I’ve followed too closely.
Demystifying Agile Development w/Scrum by Robert Dempsey Aside from the elevator pitch about pigs and chickens, and 20 minutes of thumbing through the book at B&N, I haven’t heard much about Scrum. Being on the development side of a large team we haven’t had much impact in affecting the project management techniques to this extent, so it hadn’t been a priority. Scrum sounds extremely effective though. Here’s a brief rundown of what I got from it. You plan out what units of work you will get done in a “sprint” a set unit of time that once started should not be changed. So if your sprint is 2 weeks long, in that time frame you’ll expect to get a set number of tasks on a list completed. At the beginning of each day all the developers meet with the scrum master and answer 3 main questions: what did you do yesterday, what will you do tomorrow, is anything holding you back. The scrum master is responsible for following up on these road blocks and getting back to the developer. The thing I like more about this is the small units of work involved. Constant evaluation and goal setting is extremely effective. Think about New Years Resolutions. Most the time people give up by February.
Bayes’ Theorem by Tim Rosenblatt Went over the idea behind Baye’s theorem by presenting some math problems to the audience. Based on how the numbers were presented more or less people would be able to answer it. Nice break from the programming with a touch of problem solving in there.
Unit Testing is for Weenies by David Rogers This was a pretty basic talk about testing. David went over the ideas behind it, some testing frameworks for each major language and why should test. Pretty much the token “you should be doing this if you want better software” talk of the day.
Luvd by Less: Open Source Social Network by Less Everything The Less Everything guys are a lot of fun to listen to. They started off talking about their new open source social networking site, Lovd by Less. It’s written in Rails, using Shoulda for testing, so I’d already dug into the innards a little. Definitely some good advice in there and on the Less Everything Blog for Rails structure and security, and they practice what they preach in Lovd. Worth downloading if you want to see a full social networking site and the code behind it.
Microformats by Kevin Murphy There was a 5 minute pitch about Microformats at the last barcamp, but this one had a 20 minute hype for them. He mentioned some of the sites using them, as well as some tools for testing. One I hadn’t heard about was the Firefox Operator Plugin . Other than that Kevin went over a few sites using them, the new microformats search on Yahoo (which I didn’t find when I was looking earlier actually) and generally hyped them. Good way of hyping them too- – showing that if YOU implement this on YOUR site you’ll get MORE visits because Yahoo, Google or whoever will be able to display your information more clearly in search results or however they’re being presented.
Partners in Business not Life by Less Everything was easily the most funny talk of the conference. Less everything is a pair of developers with different strengths and weeknesses. They went over how they got together, just how huge a decision it is (they’re basically married) and what you should look for and avoid when getting into a businees partnership. And there were lots of hugs.
Simple Lisp Interpreter in 29 lines of Ruby by Larry Diehl Since I haven’t seen much Lisp, this one sounded like an interesting one. Larry went over his implementation, test cases and just how little Ruby code it took to accomplish. This sort of power in Ruby is one thing I still haven’t tapped, but always impressed by what can be done.
Ranting about the Community by Gregg Pollack Great way to end the day by bringing people together (and then making them stay there because it was raining). Gregg went the basics of community building and the importance of just talking and expanding your horizons. Sounds simple enough, but was a fun talk.