Reflecting on Codemania

3 days post Codemania – it was a blast. Down here in New Zealand we don’t often get the opportunity to listen to world class content, at a world class conference. We have Ian Randall and Ben Gracewood to thank for this. From the venue to the top notch speakers like Damian Edwards, Jared Wyles, Jacinta Richardson, Karl van Randow, Richard Easther and Aaron Morton . From start to finish and everything in between, Ben an Ian did a fantastic job!

Phil Haack have the keynote ‘I fucking love to code’ where he talked about why we should do everything we can to keep our love for code alive. Anything that kills your passion, kills your mental flow, or the ability to code in anyway should be improved or removed. For example buy a decent chair. We spend more time sitting than we do sleeping as coders, so you better make damn sure your body is comfortable doing it. 

Of particular relevance for me was the few moments he spent addressing the recently resurged topic of ‘subtle sexism in the work place’. For women, all to often this can a major blocker of our love to code, and as coders we should all be doing our best to remove this from the work place. I have a few thoughts on this I would like to share .I’ll keep it brief and save the rant for another post.

Subtle sexism is a problem in any workplace, and no industry can afford to become complacent. In particular, in programming circles due to a skewed ratio of men to women, work places can easily become ‘boys clubs’. Women programmers in a lot of cases have spent their lives playing with ‘boys toys’ enjoying things that ‘boys do’, only to join the work force to once again be reminded that this is a ‘boys profession’ or a ‘boys club’. This is the very antithesis of what we should be practising. Being welcoming and inclusive should be something we practice not only in the work place, but in every aspect of our lives. If you want to do your bit for removing subtle sexism in ANY work place there are some really simple things you can do. If you can, start young – teach your kids (and your kids playmates if you can) that girls can like blue and boys can like pink. Nursing, teaching, firefighting and engineering, these are professions which both boys and girls should feel comfortable in persuing without having to deal with ingrained gender divisions. If you can’t start young then call out your peers for behavior that makes you or others uncomfortable. 9 times out of 10 people are simply not aware that their sexist comment, tone of voice or rude behaviour makes them look like a worse person than they actually are.

Michael Koziarski, a member of the core rails team took us on a trip through Community Development – giving plenty of humorous insights into how not to report an issue to projects. To me this spoke to the theme of ‘respect other programmers’. Joining in an endless rant on the GitHub issue list without concrete examples of your problem, is not helping anyone fix the issue any faster, in fact it makes it more likely that the issue wont get fixed. Who wants to help out an angry thankless mob with a sense of self entitlement? He also had another classic piece of advice: The shed is green – get over it.

Of personal highlight for me was Sam Saffron session ‘Performance on the web’ . He covered a lot of ground very quickly and never lost the audience once. This guy is a speed machine. Check out his blog of all his links from the talk check them out. There is so much amazingness in there.

Ivan Towlson took us on a journey though the for loop and more specifically How to Not Write a For Loop. He really hit home his point that describing your loop in a more functional way can dramatically increase readability and in some cases safety of your loops. Luckily in .NET we are lucky to have things like LINQ and Lamdba expression trees, which allow us to code our loops in a much more functional way. Ivan left me inspired to re-visit functional languages.

The day closed with a non technical talk given by Mike Brown. I found him to be incredibly engaging, he would fit right in on stage at TED. He spoke about how if we had to live our life over and over again, every pain, every sigh, every happiness, over and over again for eternity how would you feel? He asked us to reflect on how well we had lived, and how well we want to live. He called us to consider the power we have as programmers, power to change the way people work and live, and how important it is to treat this with respect. All very stirring stuff, and a perfect way to round off the day.

I personally walked away from the day completely inspired to live my life well, always do what I love. To keep respecting and embracing my peers and the ideas they have to contribute. Write lots of code, keep learning new things and most importantly have a blast doing it.

If you didn’t go to Codemania this year, I highly recommend you do next year!


Copyright © 2015 Amy Palamountain