What a week!! Well as I expected it was awesome, intense, and career altering. My wife, daughter and I traveled to Austin, TX to take part in the Nothin But .NET boot camp. We love Austin! It's an amazing city, and the people are fantastic. We often hear about how friendly Canadians are, but honestly it was unbelievable how kind people are in Austin. Every where you go people seem to be having fun and loving life. We spoke with bus drivers, cab drivers, people sitting at the bus stop, people at restaurants, people downtown.
My wife and daughter traveled the city using transit while I was in class all week. Everyday my wife would tell me stories about how nice people were to her. She dislikes taking transit here in Calgary but really found it fun and a pleasant experience in Austin. The buses are pretty cool. For $1 USD you get a ticket that lasts for 24 hours. When you get on the bus you swipe it at the front and get on. Bus drivers were so friendly and told stories and jokes during the ride. They really made an extra effort to help people in wheel chairs get on the bus. I'd never seen it before, but seems to be common. Awesome!
A lot of people we met in Austin, aren't originally from Austin. It seems that there are a lot of people currently migrating there. We were fortunate to meet a pretty cool cab driver named Ed. He moved to the states from Brazil and told us a lot about the city of Austin.
The course itself was awesome. There were students there from Austin, Winnipeg, Houston, Denver, Calgary, Louisiana, and even as far as Brazil. It's amazing how close you seem to get over such a short time. The same thing seemed to happen in the Calgary course. The collaborative environment really gets people to drop their defenses, open up and be comfortable with their current skill set knowing that it's only where they are today, but not where they'll be tomorrow.
There were so many great conversations about so many different topics. Everyone seemed to have great opinions and ideas to further and push the .NET community. Everyone in the room was definitely passionate about developing better software.
It was pretty cool to meet Scott Bellware, and here some of his ideas about .NET and software development in general. At first I didn't really get it, but by the last night it clicked in. I remember saying in my head... "He's right!" Scott is a super passionate person, and questions everything. I remember making it a motto to "question everything" and he truly does that well. The .NET community definitely needs a voice like Scott, to keep us all on our toes to make sure we pay attention to what we're doing, to expose more effective ways of doing things.
I realize that as a young dev that I'm part of the next generation, and it's important to me to learn from the trail blazers and continue pave new paths when they've finished.
One of the key things that Scott talked about was the concept of Solubility. "It's so easy to read that it melts into your brain." The new style of writing unit tests that target specific contexts make it so much easier to jump in to a specific context and continue to write in new chapters of the novel. I really enjoy reading code and tests that read like chapters from a novel. It's a higher level abstraction that allows me to focus on the problem domain rather then the technical details. Let the compiler do the interpreting...
It was so much fun being a teaching assistant. I love answering questions and helping out, at first I was pretty nervous but after being able to fix a few small issues I felt better. One of the things I learned this week was that when I didn't know the answer or wasn't sure it was important to make sure I made that known. The last thing I want to do is pass along incorrect information or pretend to know more than I do. I found that by just communicating that I didn't know the answer to a problem, that chances were that someone else in the room did. This is one of the reasons why the open, collaborative work space is so important. You can save so much time by just asking for help.
When we left Austin to go home, we were pretty sad to leave. The further we got away from Austin, the more we talked about how we could totally move to Austin... I can't wait to go back and help out at the next boot camp!