Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Though Through Tough Thought

... I finally realized how weird the English language really is. I couldn't imagine having to learn all the nuances of "ou" and "gh", when is the "th" strong and when is it soft.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

CodeMash 2014 (Pre Compiler Workshops)

Yet another great conference. CodeMash gets better every year. The first year it hosted 220 people and it has been growing drastically each and every year. I am proud to say that I've been to each one and it almost acts as a reunion for me to see all of the local nerds that I respect so much. I look forward to the event each and every year and I already can't wait until next year's event.

This year I did the "Double Pre-Compiler Package". This consisted of two days of hands-on training before the actual event. This post is merely an opportunity for me to express my feedback for the workshops. Later this week, I plan to provide feedback on the sessions during the event.

Fixing the JavaScript Mess (Day 1)

This session was hosted by Jared Faris and Travis Smith. They showed various techniques on how to consolidate legacy applications into modular js files using jQuery event handlers on initialization routines. Their approach was quite interesting and I can say that I did learn a few things. It was a bit more for beginner / intermediate JavaScript developers and a few of the techniques were more of a "refresher" for me. They did a great job during the session, but there were a few times where a few of us weren't sure what to do along the way since most of the code they wanted us to modify was already in their Git repository. The workshop assumed proper knowledge of Git and I noticed a lot of the people around me were behind for a while. All in all, this was a great workshop!

Applied Application Security (Day 1)

I really enjoyed this workshop! It was hosted by Bill Sempf, who is a highly skilled Pentester (Penetration Tester). Bill makes a living by letting companies hire him to find security problems in their applications. Basically he is paid to be a hacker. Cool job title! In this session, Bill had us install a VM for security testing called Samurai WTF; it's basically a Linux config configured for Pentesters. In this session, Bill showed us all the various tricks and techniques that hackers use to penetrate servers through SQL Injections, Cross Site Scripts, and various other techniques. Best yet, we all had the opportunity to try some of the techniques ourselves (after all it was a "work shop"). Again, I really enjoyed this workshop and learned a lot. It opened my eyes to some of the things I am (and am not) doing at work.

Intro to MongoDB Workshop (Day 2)

This was a workshop that I was looking forward to very much! It was hosted by Sridhar Nanjudeswaran who is on the MongoDB team. My goal was to get my hands dirty with MongoDB once and for all. We started the session by installing it on our machines and getting it up and running. Once we all had it installed, Sridhar began talking about the high-level features and low-level intricacies of the database. About 20 minutes into the "workshop", I was in over my head. I will be honest in saying that I was a bit dissappointed in this workshop (sorry Sridhar). We never got the hands-on training that I thought we would get. I left the workshop with too much information and not enough hands-on time using the technology. A better approach might have been to allow us to try adding, editing, deleting, and querying data. After all, the title said "Intro to" and that was exactly what I was expecting. It turned out to be a 4 hour talk about MongoDb. Sridhar was crazy smart and I highly respect him, it's just that the workshop was not at all what I expected.

Test Driven Node.js (Day 2)

This workshop was really cool! It was my first real intro into Node.js. I'd downloaded it a while ago, but merely to serve as a service on my machine for other things (mostly for compiling CoffeeScript). The workshop was put on by Todd Kaufman and 2 of his colleagues at Test Double. The room was full and the presenters were very knowledgeable in the topics. We basically got to build Battleship (the ship sinking game) using Node.js using a TDD approach. Functions included:
  • Placing the Battle Ship
  • Aiming the Cannon
  • Shooting the Topedos
  • Check for direct hits
The best part about it was that I got to actually use the node package manager, use Grunt and Bowerman, and even run Lineman to run my server, run my tests, and many other things that I'd never done before as an ASP.NET MVC developer. I highly enjoyed this workshop and learned a ton.

The pre-compiler workshops are a great opportunity for us developers to learn new things that we never take time out of our day-to-day lives to figure out. Perhaps it's due to the fact that we don't know where to start, or perhaps it's simply that we don't take the initiative to actually learn new things because we get "comfortable" with the things that we do know. I force myself every year to learn new things at CodeMash, and this year was no different. 

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Germany 2013 - Day 24

Tuesday started like any other day. I woke around 7 or so, did my jail cell worked out, showered, and headed down for breakfast. I was pretty excited to get back to Bob's since I had learned quite a bit about EmberJS from PeepCode's tutorials. I had gotten the "Aha!" moment late last night and was anxious to apply what I'd learned.

He and I worked together at the table up until lunch and then decided to head out for lunch at a quiet little Italian restaurant near his flat. We both ordered pizza and sat around and shot the breeze for a while afterwards. Bob was trying to "learn me" networking tricks, so we ended up staying longer than usual... Who am I to interrupt IP routing techniques?

As we were leaving the restaurant, it had began to sprinkle a bit. We made it back to "the office" with damp clothes and geeked out for the rest of the afternoon. Around 5pm I headed down to the hotel and got ready for a nice evening with Bob and Michelle.

Around 6:30, Bob and Michelle arrived at the hotel and we all walked a few blocks away to a nice restaurant named Zum Hirschchen for dinner. I ordered a genuine German dish of steak w/ mustard sauce, potatoes, and salad. What is a German dinner without beer? That's right... it isn't. I had a few beers to help wash down the deliciousness.

When in Dusseldorf, drink Alt beer. Kolsch beer can only be consumed in Koln. At least that is the motto. It's very similar to OSU vs. Michigan. At one point, Bob noticed that his Alt beer was in an Kolsch glass. This is wrong on many levels and it deserved a picture. I'm sure the tables around us thought we were nuts. We took about 20 pictures of this glass because it was hard to get the word "Kolsch" into the picture.

We stuck around the restaurant for quite a while and had great conversation along with a few too many shots of Jagermeister. Thanks for the great night Bob and Michelle!!

Monday, May 06, 2013

Germany 2013 - Day 23

Monday was a great day. It was mostly work related greatness, but great none-the-less. The day started with a hearty breakfast in the hotel. All of the waitresses know me by now and begin preparing my coffee for me before I even sit down. I always thank them with a big smile and a "danka!". The return the smile with a very nice "bitta". I'm convinced they think I live here now.

When I arrived at Bobs, he and I gathered our thoughts of what needed done for the week and dove right in. It was a very productive morning. Bob and I hacked away across from one another at the table. Around lunch time, we headed to Sevens with Michael and Michelle to get some delicious doner at the restaurant on the lower floor. Matt was still at an exam, so we took the metro without him and hoped that he might meet us there later; he never did arrive so we assume he would find his own lunch, :)

After lunch, Bob and I headed back to the flat and continued working. He and I worked at the table and time seemed to pass by very quickly. At one point we decided that we needed guidance on  problem we were having and found a killer site called which offers packages for learning various technologies. We got a 5 pack and began watching some nerd TV at the office desk. Before we knew it, Michelle was telling us it was time for dinner. She had prepared a delicious meal of shrimp and noodles with salad. Michelle and the boys enjoyed picking on Bob and I for getting so excited about our taste in good TV. Some people watch action flicks or horror flicks. Bob and I prefer nerd flicks. :)

After dinner we wrapped up a few last minute things and then I headed back down to the hotel around 8 or so. I was able to talk with Jennifer for a while and watched a bit more of my nerd TV before calling it a night...

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Germany 2013 - Day 22

Sunday was a pretty relaxing day. I woke up around 9 am because I simply couldn't sleep anymore. I decided to get a few things done and just hang out. Food didn't sound good at all yet, so I skipped breakfast and decided to go outside and get some fresh air instead. I walked all around and snapped a ton of photos in the process. It was an absolutely beautiful day.

Around noon, I decided it was time to try and eat some food, so I stopped at a waffle place in the Altstadt (yes, I spend a lot of time here) and ordered some banana waffles. Oh. My. Goodness. Yum! After gorging on waffles, I headed back to the hotel and relaxed for the better half of the day. I continued to work on my cool new project and watched soccer on TV... in German. My window was open the entire time and I enjoyed listening to the cars and people outside on the streets. The weather was perfect and I really enjoyed the sounds of downtown Dusseldorf all day from 3 stories up.

For dinner, I headed back down to the... wait for it... Yep, the Altstadt and ordered some doner at a corner cafe. The Altstadt was packed with people by this time who were all out enjoying the weather. I walked around and got a few grocery items and then headed back to the hotel to relax for the rest of the night.

I posted my pictures to my Google Plus account. Click here if you'd like to see some beautiful pictures of Dusseldorf on a perfect Sunday.