CodeStock 2013: Wow

I’m just home from attending & speaking at CodeStock 2013 in Knoxville, TN.

I’ve always heard what a great conference it is…though most of the legends were around parties at Alan Stevens’ house! After CodeStock 2012, Alan pinged me and asked me to give the keynote for the next one. I’m reluctant to leave home in the summer and …haha right….me giving a keynote! But when Alan said his idea was for me to talk not about a technology but about some of my experiences as a developer of nearly 25 years. I think at the time he had in mind something about how I had made my recent journey into Domain Driven Development. Though over year since then and with encouragement from Nathan Blevins and conversations with many, I evolved this into a talk which I titled “Disrupt Your Comfort Zone”.

When the call for abstracts was announced, I decided not to rest on my keynote laurels and submitted two abstracts on some topics I am currently passionate about sharing: one is a talk about where Entity Framework and DDD intersect (a talk that has been evolving over time from my EF in the Enterprise session) and the other is a short version of my Automated Testing for Fraidy Cats Like Me course on Pluralsight.  The intention behind the keynote and both talks was to help alleviate fear & trepidation many of us developers have about learning new, possibly daunting (ala TDD) and possibly huge (ala DDD) topics.

I was surprised that both of my session submissions were accepted. I was going to be a busy girl.

Alan, Nathan and the other organizers (Andrew May and Don Den Uyl (sounds like" “denial” 🙂 )) were very generous with their time and energy and support. I was pretty nervous about the keynote. I wanted it to be great and I wanted them to be happy they had asked me to do it and I wanted attendees to walk away inspired and feeling great about themselves. (yes a tall order, but …. “go big or go home”). I even spent time with the wonderful Deborah Hartmann Preuss who is an agile coach and a life coach who helped me deal with the vast amount of ideas I had spinning around my head and figure out how to find a thread… a path through this talk.

Alan and his fantabulous wife, Michele, let me stay at their house. (Please don’t tell Sampson about my new-found love for their dog, Malcom!) Rachel Reese was there too (just from LambdaJam and doing a well-received F# talk) and (I’m laughing) she had driven down from Chicago (don’t ask) so I managed to get carted around the whole time by one friend or another.

I *think* the keynote went well (if you thought it sucked and don’t want to look like a jerk for saying so, feel free to contact me privately). Just having a handful of people tell me afterwards (& on twitter) that they were inspired, and learning that I also am most always overwhelmed by the challenges of learning made them feel better (ala “I am not alone”) was enough to make me ecstatic. I don’t imagine I was able to do that for everyone in the room, but knowing that I was able to give something useful to those who I heard from makes me a little verklempt.

The keynote began with this video:

And ended with this image:

Silhouette of hiker against mountain backdrop (Tennessee Department Of Tourist Development)

It also included bird-murdering cats.

I also truly enjoyed giving my other talks. The first was in a very small room with people standing in the hallway…others giving up and going off to other talks. I loved that on twitter, there was an impression of a standing-room only, overflowing attendance. But the truth is that there were only 22 chairs in the room and maybe 35 people were able to squeeze in. It wasn’t that hundreds were trying to attend. 😉

That session, the keynote and the Women in IT panel were all on Friday. The WIT panel was co-organized by the amazing gals, Corinna Brock and Arlene Gray (best twitter handle ever: @WhimSQL). The three of us made up the panel. And OMG! It turns out that Corinna was a 2003 grad of the same VERY SMALL very special liberal arts college (Wells College) that I graduated from (so many years ago that I’m not even going to put that down).

That night I managed to lose my laptop. (In the end, it turned out that I had left it behind in the vendor area when Rachel (it’s her fault, I swear) called to me from the elevator to hurry up (her fault! her fault!)). I didn’t notice how light my bag was until 1 restaurant, 1 ice cream parlor, 1 after party and then all the way back to Alan’s house. I chose not to freak out (thank you crashplan) and was only worried about how I was going to prepare for my Testing for Fraidy Cats talk the next day. So yeah, I got there early on Saturday and got my laptop and hid out to prepare for a few hours.

In the afternoon, I left the conference to go take a quick peek at the Smoky Mountains with Srinu Tulluri and fellow Pluralsight author, Michael Perry. Then we dropped Michael at the airport and I got his rental car since I was staying for another 24 hours.

I had another wonderful night at Alan & Michele’s. I watched a movie with Michele and their son while Alan, Chapman Smith, Srinu and Spede Bryan, spouted off  and had a grand old time (with the help of a bottle of bourbon) on the porch. 🙂

As if this wasn’t already a wonderful weekend, the next day was even more beautiful for me. After pancakes and another git lesson, I drove out to Oak Ridge to visit my 96 year old Great Aunt and Uncle. (He’s a real character with an incredible history and was featured recently on the local t.v. station). I haven’t seen them in too many years. I cried when I arrived. I cried when I left. I captured lots of video and family stories to share with the rest of my family. So thank you thank you, CodeStock, for this gift. Notice that my 96 year old Auntie’s hair isn’t even white. It’s still got a lot of brunette in it. Darn…I don’t have those genes. However, Uncle Josh has a full head of hair at 96 and on my father’s side, his dad had a full head of hair still in his late 80’s when he passed away. Of course there are more important things that I have acquired from them genetically, but still… And Aunt Grace got a huge kick out of my green fingernail and toenail polish.

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