Way back in 2010, when I was working at Microsoft, my team/officemate, Aaron, went to this conference called CodeMash. I was amused by this because I had just moved from Ohio, and he was going back to it for a week. He's originally from there too. Over the years the conference has grown to be an impressively large event in a place most would consider the middle of nowhere, an hour west of Cleveland in the Sandusky area. Most people know it for Cedar Point, which of course if the subject of a little hobby I've co-owned for almost 20 years called PointBuzz. But this clever non-profit also knows that conference space and rooms come pretty cheap in January in Sandusky, and the gigantic Kalahari facility in particular is a great place to land 2,500 attendees plus another 1,000 spouses and kids.
I've been kind of recreationally been thinking about doing more speaking beyond the annual Orlando Code Camp and local user group stuff. Career development and improving the quality of the developer workforce in the US is a serious passion of mine, and I believe that sharing what you know is key to that improvement. I was on the mailing list for CodeMash at some point, so when the call for speakers came up, I jumped on that and submitted a few proposals. They invited me, and with the hotel room covered by them, and work paying for my flight, it's a relatively inexpensive development opportunity for me.
The first two days are long-form sessions that do deep dives into stuff. The sessions available were varied, but I made a mistake in that I expected to kind of half-work during this time, including guide a deployment for a new customer. That wasn't smart, because deep dives require you to pay attention. What I did end up doing was drift in and out of sessions and still get some better feels. I learned about the latest "official" language/environment for Android is about, drone racing, process and professional development topics. If I go back, I'll commit the time and turn off Slack.
The third and fourth days are the more traditional hour-ish sessions, and that's what I presented. What was unexpected was the depth of the professional development stuff, but the few other sessions I dropped in on were really solid (API's, design patterns, microservices and other buzzwordy sounding things). It didn't feel like this conference was chasing trends as much as others, though it's hard for me to quantify exactly what that means.
My own session went really well, with around 50 or so people attending, and at least the initial star ratings were good. They'll get the legit feedback to me in a few weeks. The group was really engaged and seemed into it, and the conversations continued with three of attendees in the hallway. I love that environment.
The parties and entertainment were great too. The food was good. I really enjoyed the exclusive water park time. As it turns out, my friend Aaron was also there, so we had a chance to catch up and swap work stories. We've seen a lot of stuff in the last seven years. It was also interesting to hear that the work we did back then still holds up today, relatively unchanged.
CodeMash was awesome. I was getting jaded with conferences because of the hyperbole and egos that often go with them, but I didn't get much of that at this one. I would consider doing it again if they would have me. It was so well organized and executed, start to finish, and better than the events that are run by the big national for-profit companies.