It’s not just…
First off, it’s meant mainly to be a developer community micro hack event every meeting. The actual presentation (if there even is one) does not start at a scheduled time. The first 15 or so minutes is really just for people to show up and talk a bit. Talk to some old friends, maybe make a new one.
The next 30 minutes is for unstructured mentoring, coding, learning, planning, or general socializing if you’re just burned out on code that day.
Then when it feels appropriate, the organizers will start to rally the troops if there is someone there to present. Once everyone has wrapped up their scrum, the presentation will start.
So, if you’re interested in meeting other developers from the area in a welcoming environment that is designed for collaboration and socializing geek style, please join us.
After a minor hiccup on the part of United Airlines, where our connecting flight from Denver to San Jose was delayed 1.5 hours, we arrived at PyCon 2013 and had a great first night.
Kevin Dwyer, and Bruce Strugatch, and I first set up the Digital Reasoning booth and then we met up with Scot Clausing from Emma (formerly of Digital Reasoning) for some drinks.
Then we went to the opening reception and imbibed more spirits and had some “light refreshments”. I represented DRSI at the booth for a bit and also walked the floor and talked with dozens of amazing people working on some really cool shit.
After that the Emma folks and the DRSI folks went out for some Mexican food where Scot Clausing had his first ever fish tacos.
Great first day, and soon will start the first day of sessions.
Us geeks love using our tech gadgets to communicate with each other. Perhaps it all started with smoke signals, and there were geek cavemen who figured out a Smoke Magnification And Retransmission Technique that allowed tribal smoke makers get more information, faster, to the tribe that lives across the river to tell them that Something Big was Coming To Kill Them and watch them scramble in panic. Then they would laugh because I guess even back then they had geek trolls.
Anyway, at almost any presentation or lecture you may have the misfortune to attend, we all put our Twitter handle on our vanity slide. I do it, I admit it. It’s a great way for people who share my interests to interact with me. Recently, I changed my Twitter handle to make it “more relevant” and “aligned with my goals” and all that crap.
Well today, I decided that was a bad idea. Ok, maybe not bad, but certainly boring. I chose @nashvillecoder as my new Twitter handle. Perfectly reasonable, descriptive and easy to remember. Alas, it’s interminably BORING!
Today I challenged myself to come up with a handle that captured my personality. Something that was creative, while being technical. A little off the wall, and unexpected, and something I hadn’t seen before. I tend to buck trends for the sake of bucking them, and challenge the status quo!!!!
Then I discovered that every word or term that I came up with was already taken…
That was deflating.
But then! I had an epiphany!
I’m not a linguist, so I’m sure there’s some technical term for using glyphs in place of words/letters, but my thought was to make a visual Twitter handle. Here’s an example.
So I played around with arrangements of special characters that every computer programmer would know and I settled on a handle of @dashdashgreater and now every time I display my handle on a site, business card, or presentation it would look like this.
I like it because it has this feeling of forward movement and restlessness, and that reflects my personality. Never happy with what is, and always striving to make things better, faster, easier, more useful, and more beautiful.
It’s kinda cool, but not in a weird way like when Prince official renamed himself into that weird symbol.
Why he’s… this thing… symbol… icon… of course.
A couple weeks ago, I made a post about how developing content for a technology lecture I was giving ended up being a little harder than I thought it would be. Well, I finally spent some time at the Nashville Software School in downtown Nashville to a room full of eager, talented students who are learning the ropes of being software developers.
I have to say that it was a lot of fun.
The best thing about it was that all the content that I produced to help guide the students, and myself, through the concepts was largely ignored as I answered questions, gave real world examples, and shot from the hip to help explain things as best I could.
I can imagine that teaching subjects that were figured out thousands of years ago might become pedantic. Algebra doesn’t change, nor does the basics of English or Chemistry. Conversely, technology is changing and advancing at a blistering rate. Not only that, there are no static rules or procedures for teaching and learning technology. Of course, these same things are what makes teaching technology so problematic at a systemic level.
I have read myriad articles within the last 5 years bemoaning the state of technology education in our public, and even private, educational system. If you’re a full time teacher, how could you possibly have enough time to teach and also learn enough to keep teaching relevant information. It’s a Catch-22 (double bind) situation. Spend time to learn the latest technology trends, which is a full time job, at the expense of preparing materials, helping students and honing your craft, or spend time to better teach technology to students to make it more fun and engaging, all the while falling further and further behind what is current.
Our education bureaucracy can’t possibly keep up with standards, teaching materials, resources and programs.
That’s why programs like Nashville Software School, the Khan Academy, Code.org, and Coursera (there are many others popping up all the time now) are the way to teach tech moving forward. They can also easily be integrated into the K-12 school system where guest lecturers, real-world programming exercises, online videos are all curated an managed through the Technology Education Manager at each school.
That way, the educator that works for your community school gets to spend time on making sure that the content is taught at the right pace, is engaging for the student, and meets qualitative standards while not being responsible for producing any of the content. The teacher simply presents the content in the most effective way possible, and becomes a master at helping student get to the right answer without even needing to know what the right answer is.
After all, isn’t that what our educational system should be about. Teach the students to learn and explore and wonder wherever possible. The teacher is there to guide a child through that process to make it as efficient and engaging as possible.
I just found out yesterday that SenchaCon 2013 conference was accepting ideas for sessions. I’ve become a big fan of their ExtJS library over the last few years, and we use it almost exclusively now where I work, and I use it on most of the personal projects that I’m doing.
So I submitted an idea for a talk, as I’d love to attend the conference. I’m pretty comfortable with all the nooks and crannies of ExtJS, but I know there’s people out there who are doing way cooler things than I am, and going to the official Sencha conference should give me an opportunity to see some of those things.
We’ll see in April if they thought my idea was interesting enough for a large audience to want to hear what I have to say and show.
I’ve also had the opportunity in the past couple of weeks to stop in at the Nashville Software School a couple of times and do lecturing and general mentoring for the students there. They are currently tackling a fairly advanced project that involves building a web application for a fictitious baseball league. They are responsible for the design of the application, creating, modifying and deleting teams, and team information.
All this using AJAX and JSON stores from a cool service called Backlift. Backlift is cool because it connects to your Dropbox account and allows you to quickly prototype an application using JSON data stores without having to set up your own VPS or web server somewhere. Perfect for a introductory course in application development.
If any fellow Nashville-based developers, technologists, designers, or business leaders are reading this, I strongly encourage you to contact the school and find out how you can help. This is a great mission that is for Nashville, by Nashville.