Day Camp 4 Developers 6: Non-Programming for Programmers #DC4D
I've attended (and blogged about) the Day Camp 4 Developers series of online conferences before. Effectively, they're like a webinar, only that you get to see presentations from more than one speaker and that there's a little more interactivity. They're also reasonably priced and usually focussed on topics that are at least of partial interest to me. Which is why I attended all 6 of these events so far.
Having said that, number 6 in the series was the DC4D I got the least out of so far.
Four talks were scheduled this time. Lorna Jane Mitchell started it all off with a good talk on estimates. It included some good, honest, and hands-on tips. Favourite quote:
Only a person capable of completing a task can estimate it
This also got a lot of support in the IRC backchannel.
Next up was Brendan Wovchko on "How to Speak Business & Eradicate Confusion in Software Development". I liked that he tried to get some interactivity into the talk, by asking the audience to guess some measures for an airplane. Too bad that he messed that up by mixing up a 747 with a 737 and also using inches and feet for the measurement. I know how long an inch is, but I'm certainly not familiar with using it for any sorts of estimates for real-life objects. Somebody please think of the non-US attendees.
I sort of blanked out after this and stopped paying attention. Not sure why - I somehow got distracted by what was happening elsewhere of the internet (a common problem with webinars). I feel that I missed something, though, so I will have to watch the recording when it's available. This is also why I didn't rate the talk.
Talk number 3 was by Christopher Swenson about using source code management. To be honest, I felt like this was the weakest talk of the four. It felt a bit out of place. It was also very basic and not very inspiring initially (graphics would have helped - show me what's going on when I make a commit; the structure of a centralised vs. a distributed SCM; etc.). Then it turned into an introduction to git.
I know all this stuff, which is probably why I didn't get much out of this talk. But I also felt that the speaker could have done a better job explaining these things to somebody who's new to the topic. He certainly knew what he was talking about - he just didn't present it in a way that fit this audience.
The last talk was by Thursday Bram on documentation and saved the event somewhat, at least for me. She did a good job reminding us of the importance of documentation, to consider the audience we're writing it for and gave lots of handy tips and references.
I will certainly try and make writing documentation a habit now since, as Thursday said, even bad documentation is still better than no documentation. Plus, this coincides with my daily writing habit that I'm still sticking to, now that my book is out.
Part of the reason why I didn't get so much out of the event this time is probably that I'm slowly moving away from programming and software development in general. So I'm probably no longer really the target audience of a conference that focusses on non-programming skills for developers. I still feel strong ties with that community, though, which is why I attended and why I would still recommend to have a look at this series. Cal Evans is doing a good job here teaching developers some skills that I think they should have.