Monday, May 12, 2008

MinneBar 2008

MinneBar, the Minneapolis Bar Camp, was last weekend and it was fantastic.
First and foremost, I thought it was organized and run exceptionally well by Ben Edwards. Organizing events on this scale is a huge undertaking.
Probably the biggest surprise for me is my realization that I've lived about four houses from Ben for the past five years, we'd never talked shop. Small world.
The sessions were a mixed bag for me, about 25% were excellent and well worth my time; half of them were decent; and the remaining quarter were almost a complete waste of time. Considering the price of admission, free, I definitely received more than my money's worth.
The high points for me were the panel discussions on agile development and distributed software development. The best session, in my opinion was Mike Calvo's presentation, Why Should I Care About Grails, And What To Do About It. Mike Calvo opined that Java web development is in an embarrassing state and that Grails is a tremendous step forward. Calvo compared Grails' contribution to Java web development to Spring's contribution. I completely agree with the sentiment.
A close second for me was Farmsourcing Rails: or How I Stopped Worrying and Love the Enterprise by Matt Bauer. Matt's a smart guy. He's hiring Midwestern college graduates and fast tracking them into Rails developers. Bauer claims that his farmsourced developers can compete with Indian developers on price and can eat their lunch on quality. If I had a bunch of money to invest, I would invest it in Matt's company.
I wish I would have attended Brian Westrich's sessions on continuous integration and Hudson. I'm a huge fan of CI and consider it to be one of the most responsible steps a development team can make next to creating automated tests.
Honorable mention goes to Open Circuit's discussion on Free Geek. Free Geek is a non-profit that provides computers to people who are unable to afford them on their own. They are also a great place to give your old computer equipment to when you're done. Had I known about them, I would have foregone the electronics recycling last month.
I also felt the panel discussions on agile development's rough spots and distributed development were valuable.
A great way to spend a Saturday meeting new people and seeing old friends. Again, a big thanks to Ben and the sponsors.

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