I was shocked to see that I hadn't blogged in a month. It's been a long time since I neglected my writing for that long.
As most people know, I'm one of the CodeMash organizers, and I also spoke this year (read that as "my family didn't see much of me during the holidays").
But CodeMash was a resounding success, attracting a capacity crowd of 550 attendees. It was amazing to see the conference grow from a concept to sold-out! The speakers we've been able to attract have astounded me. This year, as in the past, we have been able to attract nationally known keynoters as well as a mix of national and local speakers. The sponsors definitely make it all possible, since we could not put on a conference with meals for less than $200 without the generous sponsorship.
The highlight of this year's event, for me, was Venkat Subramaniam's keynote. His talk represented the objectives of CodeMash: to bring together people in a non-threatening and cooperative way, to learn about things outside of their comfort zone both to provoke thought and to expand their minds. Venkat's keynote mixed humor and insight. He's an amazing speaker, and I highly recommend that you take advantage of any opportunity to hear him speak. His low-key style really suits CodeMash well. I suspect it also suits No Fluff Just Stuff well, as he is a regular speaker at the NFJS conferences as well. Oh and I'm not really sure WHY he likes to speak in his socks, but the lack of shoes really does help to emphasize his relaxed style.
This year CodeMash tried a "precompiler" day, an optional "day 0" for people who wanted sessions to be a bit more in-depth. Mary Poppendieck's Value Stream Mapping Workshop was invaluable. Like with Venkat, take every opportunity that you can to hear Mary speak; she offers great insight with a very pragmatic style. Tom and Mary Poppendieck travel and speak as a team. Mary does most of the speaking, but Tom always seems to interject something of great value into every talk she gives. They do make a wonderful team. For a nice summary of Mary's workshop, check out Bill Wagner's blog on the session.
I suspect that the precompiler sessions will be back in 2010. Attendees really seemed to like them!
I was able to attend more sessions this year than last, since my talk (slides posted) was on Thursday instead of Friday (which meant that I wasn't editing my talk on Friday!). Some of my favorites included Dustin Campbell's "Multithreaded Mojo with F#" and "Actor Concurrency" with Alex Miller. Of course, I enjoyed Venkat's "Practices of an Agile Developer" and "Programming in Scala". My biggest regret is in missing Jennifer Marsman's "Developing for the Microsoft Surface". I didn't get to a single Ruby talk this year, which was a huge regret as well (but I did get to some last year at the Philadelphia Emerging Tech conference).
And so, for me and I suspect for all of the CodeMash conference committee members, much recovery time was needed post-conference. I think I've almost made up the long nigths and weekends to my family (but not quite). I hope to get back to regular blogging now that I'm almost caught up with customer projects as well. But first, maybe I'll go listen to SRT's Chris Marinos and Mike Woelmer talk about their conversion of PaintWars from C# to F# on DotNetRocks (http://tinyurl.com/bjz3pc).