October 21, 2013

What happened at HarvestJS

I went to HarvestJS this weekend. I knew it was for beginners but I still wanted to go so I could a) support the community and b) maybe pick up a few things. I feel like an “advanced beginner” but truth is I feel that way about almost everything.

In the morning it was “self paced JS training” and it was in a big stadium seating room with uncomfortable seats not well suited for using a laptop. I used the time to work on some other project and was contemplating leaving since it wasn’t a good way to work. After about an hour or so they announced we were all going upstairs to one of several empty rooms where the same content was going to be presented by 3 different people. I ended up in Chris Cowan’s room and he made the “intro to node” section so I figured it was a good room to be in. Found out later he is @uhduh and he turned out to be more personable than I thought he would be after following him on twitter (just the avatar kinda scares me). That was mostly self paced with Chris and Rob Rich going around and helping people that were stuck and when everyone was ready move on we went to the next challenge. After that was “intro to express” which was a self-paced thing with no instruction except what was on the site (and I skipped it since I’ve used express already and could go back to it since it was online).

Then lunch. They had a “lunch truck” and the food was excellent (though the line was kinda long). They had snacks and drinks out all day. They never ran out of Diet Coke. Couldn’t have been better. Thanks Rackspace!

After that they did sessions that were being repeated three times in 5 different rooms. All of the speakers did talks in the “hands on” way I always dreamed of.

  • Luis had 6 slides that basically said “websockets is awesome, go get this repo” and the rest of the instructions were in the repo. I enjoyed the review even though and I’ve played with websockets before and even won a hackathon using them.
  • Blaine made a “choose your own adventure” style game with node and interactively taught people about npm. There were fireworks! But I never got to them because I was too busy asking questions about whatever else that he was happy to answer (as long as it wasn’t about Borderlands)
  • I learned the most from a a talk about async by Rob Rich that was “go check out this repo” and in the repo he had 9 folders and in each folder was two files that did the same thing but in very different ways. The repo and instructions were great and the way he explained some core concepts wasn’t like what I has seen before and really clarified a few things for me.

I didn’t get to go to either of the presentations by the Fractal guys . . . it’s like I was boycotting them or something. But I really should have went to the Mocha one and I wanted to go to the Mongo one but then Luis mentioned he liked Postgre now because it had native support for a JSON field (which I read about before and was wondering if anyone was making good use of it).

Anyway, it was well done. And the code and content is all on github so I can relive it anytime. Thanks to Rackspace and all the people that put it on.

Sheldon

August 25, 2013

#phxmobi 2013

I’m writing this down now so I don’t forget. It’s mostly for me but it also serves as a review of the Phoenix Mobile Festival 2013.

The most important point: the event was well organized. There were ALL KINDS of sponsors from all over in the mobile space many that I had no idea had a presence in the metro area. The venue was SPACIOUS. I never had to wait to go to the bathroom. The food was plentiful and good and included a wide variety (including cans of cold Diet Coke which I always appreciate). I only went to a few talks (I was REALLY nervous and spent some time talking to sponsors to get my mind of my presentation) but the ones I went too were informative and interesting.  They didn’t have a shirt in my size . . . and when your only complaint is about your FREE shirt not being the right size you know everything else must have been amazing.

I didn’t get a chance to talk to every sponsor but the ones I got too were great.  And there was a flurry of activity around all the booths (even the Blackberry guy had me mesmerized) . . . all good signs.

phxmobi  emails

Here is just one more point to make about how well organized they were. I was a speaker and a part of that is communicating what your talk is and getting in a bio and all that. I think I was a bit high maintenance . . . the image to the left is the thread of emails between me at the organizing team. But they answered anything I threw at them and did it incredibly fast. So thanks to Pranil, Kiran and Anjali . . . can’t wait for next year! Talk title: Google Glass: Why it’s failing in the marketplace.

Okay, the rest of this is just a reminder to me and it’s mostly rambling.

I got a message from Luis late on Monday the 19th.

Luis: Any interest in doing a glass talk at phxmobi?
me: from me?? You and Blaine are the experts. I guess I could just read his blog post and see if I can replicate it with Legos. :)

luis interest in a talk

I was planning on going to the event but thought it was in a few weeks. Turns out it was 5 days away.

I really didn’t feel qualified to give a talk. I read about the Mirror API and kept up with the community as best I could but I hadn’t really done anything. For glass I was just a user and usually at these kinds of things the target audience is a bunch of developers (and they’re going to ask tough questions!). But I told Luis I was willing to do it and he shared my contact info with the phxmobi team. Luis and I continued to chat about it via google chat and he gave me some ideas and shared what he had (he did a talk that included glass at another conference). Thanks for thinking of me Luis! And thanks for helping out.

By the end of Monday night I got an email from one of the organizing team asking for my bio and a “catchy title” that included the words “Google Glass”. They PREFERED it be aimed at developers and developing on Glass but were happy with whatever I wanted to talk about (as long as it was about glass).

The next day I was in a panic. Every free moment I was reading about glass development. I watched the videos from Google I/O that I should have watched ages ago (they connected Glass to a bluetooth keyboard! . . . installed and ran any APK!). I started up the github repo that would hold my presentation and hopefully a project I could show off. Every chance I got I talked to people about a Glass presentation and what they’d want to see.

By Thursday I had a structure of a presentation and some topics I wanted to cover but still didn’t have a title. I had to call in the big guns . . . Jim. He’s quick witted and I know just TALKING to him about titles would lead me to a great one. He suggested I “go with what you know” and, sure, talk about development if possible but that also many people just don’t know what glass is and pretty much whatever I had to say about it would be fine. He suggested a couple of great titles that were long versions of “Fact and Fiction”. We settled on one after he rejected a few of my ideas. I called him back and said “what about fact and fiction from a fanboy” and he said he didn’t hate it. He said “you gotta be you . . not sure if it should be fanboy or zealot”. I loved zealot and even had a theme now . . . STARCRAFT. Thanks Jim!

Jim didn’t just help with the title . . . he also helped with making a demo. We talked about what was POSSIBLE given the time and keeping the scope in check is valuable when you have to deliver in 5 days. Really appreciate that.

I mentioned the presentation and sent the link to the speaker section of the website (scroll all the way down. . . I’m at the bottom) to my boss, Bryan, at ASU. Before I could ask to take Friday off he was telling me to. I can’t thank him enough. Without that time there is no way the presentation would have went as well as it did. It gave me the freedom to stay up to 3am on Thursday working on the presentation and getting the Mirror API demo working and then work ALL DAY on Friday on putting the presentation together (had an outline of topics and talking points but I needed to transform it all to actual slides and speaker notes about what to say) as well as figure out how to get what was on glass to show up on my computer.

My wife, Sarah, also helped . She made sure I had time to work throughout the week by keep my daughter Embrie happy (who melts me and can steal my attention from just about anything). She knew I needed the time on Friday so she headed up to Grandma’s early Friday so I didn’t have any distractions. Without that help I never would have gotten it done. Thanks my love!

Friday at about 11pm I was running out of ideas for the presentation (“I gave all I can give!”) but I still needed to setup my PC for the presentation. Mac’s are HORRIBLE at being presenting machines (I need full screen chrome on projector and another window on the laptop and it just doesn’t work). And, additionally, my Macbook Air never works when I connect a dongle to a projector VGA, HDMI, DVI . . . all fail. I hadn’t used the PC laptop in a long time so I had to get Windows update going and needed to download all the tools I needed so I could connect Glass to show it on the projector. At midnight the machine crashed and I had to hard reset it. By 1am it still wasn’t ready but I figured I had all day the next day. At 2am I was still sleepless so I went back too it. By 3am I gave up and took a couple pink pills (Benadryl) to get to sleep.

Steve, a friend from Dessert Code Camp, was there early and he helped me get the screencasting working on my laptop. He’s a sysadmin, programmer, designer, woodworker and he even dances . . . all that and he can’t have a drink because he’s not old enough. Insane amount of talent. Thanks for the encouragement!

I was nervous all day Saturday. Everyone was reassuring and said I would do fine but I just couldn’t hear it. This was a BIG CROWD. Way bigger than the user groups I’ve spoken to before.

Memorable moments from the presentation:

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I mentioned a guy there I KINDA know that works at Microsoft saying something like ” . . . and it’s all hosted on Azure . . . how do you like that Palermo?” And Palermo wasn’t in the crowd. Later on I got a text message (on Glass) from Jim saying “Palermo has arrived. No more Palermo jokes.” . . . so I put that on the presentation screen. And at the very end someone asked a question and I said “well, glass does mean that people start conversations with me and I know it doesn’t seem like it but I’m shy and just don’t know how to engage people . . . like, ‘hey man cool ‘I heart windows phone’ shirt’” which is the shirt that Palermo was wearing.

Showing off Frogger app and jumping around and jerking my head and a guy yells out “it is like the SNL sketch!”

Showing the Lander demo FOR THE FIRST TIME. It was great seeing it up on the big screen like that. And it was fun to explain to the audience that the lag wasn’t in the serial communication between Glass and my computer and that it looked the same in Glass as on the projector. And then Jim’s unbiased opinion that it was THE BEST LOOKING GAME.

At the end Palermo gave a tablet to the youngest developer in the room (which was wonderful . . . and I really need to learn more adjectives) and he said “I gotta take a picture of that” so while he was getting out his phone I walked up behind and took a picture with Glass and said “I got it.” Palermo: “Nice one!” . . . “or Nicely done”. I forget. Glad I’m getting this down now.

“The Mirror API is cool because you don’t need Java…I hate Java…unless you are a recruiter in which case I’m a Java expert!”

People mentioned me in a tweet I got notified on Glass and could show it to everyone else, live, during a talk. A few timely tweets and my funny reaction to them and the crowd loved it. I can say I was funny with confidence since at the after party a guy told me it was funny and I said “really?” and he said “Yes, when you say things and the whole crowd laughs that means you’re funny.” It was surreal how well those live demos worked out. Google would kill for it to go that well during a keynote.

I showed the video of Embrie walking. Just seeing it again made me a bit emotional.

Jim asked a question that basically asked me to predict the future . . . I went back a couple of slides and flashed the “NO IDEA” text about 20 times. Jim: “So what are you trying to say?”

Any other memorable moments? If you’ve read this far I know you must have one. @tooshel on twitter or email anytime and I’ll add it.

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I talked to Palermo after the presentation and he said he enjoyed it and was glad that I could be funny and honest. He’s a good natured guy and even though I don’t know him well I knew he would appreciate my sense of humor (and, though he wasn’t there when I said it I really did use and continue to use Azure!).

After the presentation several people said it was great. THANKS for that! I appreciate it. I worked really hard on the presentation but honestly, presenting on something that is mostly loved is so much easier than what many of the people there have to do. For example, Blackberry Q10 an Z10 look like wonderful products but it’s such a battle. Guys like Jarvis (he was the rep from Blackberry that did a WONDERFUL job talking about those phone) really have to work for it.

Sheldon

P.S. Here is my tweet stream from tonight . . . and one of my favorite tweets. Oh, and did I mention I won an iPad mini in a raffle? Insane day.

Twitter - phxmobifestival- Embrie first walk was captured cropped Twitter - Interactions phxmobi today

 

September 11, 2009

Email and programming

Jim and I occasionally talk about programming by email where I’ll ask a question or describe a situation and he’ll tell me I’m wrong.  And sometimes he’ll email me asking about some old programming language and I’ll rattle off some stuff and he’ll gleam enough to remember the right answer.  It works great because later on when he needs help with his sprinkler system or some problem with his toilet or a ceiling fan I’m right there with the magic fix!

Anyway, today I had a question about “constraints” in c# and his answer was awesome! So I told him we should post it to stackoverflow.com but that we should reformat the question so it doesn’t look like I’m a dumb ass.

Jim proposed that he post my question and that I post his answer . . .  so that’s what we did. I hope my boy Jeff doesn’t get mad and take it down!  I need the rep Jeff!

I wish I could post the original email because it’s pretty funny but I’d have to cut though the inside jokes that are funny to us but probably offensive to outsiders. I’m sure Google will make it public and search-able someday!

Sheldon

P.S.  No, I don’t know Jeff Atwood (used full name so that his ego search will find this) but he replied to my email once so now we are best friends.