Archive for October, 2007

Silicon Valley Code Camp impressions

October 29, 2007 10:19 pm

I’m just about recovered from two interesting days at Silicon Valley Code Camp. Overall I found the time I spent there well invested. It was fun seeing the diversity of software developers we have here, and the talks were of high quality overall.

Here’s part of the lunch line from the second day:


Of all the sessions I attended, I’d say the top four were the introductory LINQ talk by Beth Massi, the Architecture talk by Kim Greenlee, the Project talk by Jeff Atwood and the UI Designer talk by Uday Gajendar. This picture is from Ujay’s talk (a bit fuzzy, sorry):


The talk on what makes agile projects succeed by Chris Sims was not a traditional presentation, but a highly interactive workshop, where Chris introduced us to the Nominal Group Technique; a way to brainstorm while making sure nobody gets to dominate the process. I think this was the session I enjoyed the most because it was so different and engaging. In that session we got a glimpse of the soon to be released XO laptop (one laptop per child), and later in the day, I got to grab a hold of it for a few minutes. It’s a very well made product. Check it out at (or, if you’re inclined to be charitable and help out a child in a developing country.)

I had quite a bit of fun trying out a new toy, too: a digital sound recorder. I used it to record a few of the sessions I attended. If the speakers permit it, the recordings might get placed on the Code Camp Wiki over the course of the next few days.

To give you a bit of an impression of what it was like to be at Foothill College early on a Saturday morning (9 AM), here is a picture:


I have a sound recording to go with it, too. The dog in the picture is Milo. How do I know? Listen to the recording.

I can recommend going to Code Camp next year, if you can make it. It’s worth it trying to step out of the typical programmer “introversion” and talk to people. It’s hard to overcome that initial shyness, but once you do, you’ll have a much better time. I’ll need to do more of that next time. Barring any serious scheduling problems, I’ll definitely be back next year.

Thanks to Peter Kellner and all the other people who supported the event. Also a big thank you to all the presenters, especially the ones I got to hear (Chris Sims, Kim Greenlee, Jeff Atwood, Uday Gajendar, Peter Kellner, Deborah Kurata, Beth Massi, Wesley Chun and Mathias Brandewinder.)

Sao Paulo banned Billboards this summer

October 6, 2007 9:49 pm

I applaud the mayor of Sao Paulo. He had the stomach to approve a law banning billboard advertising in the city.

Imagine what a difference this would make in so many U.S. cities. In the San Francisco Bay area there are two main highways to get from San Jose to San Francisco, 101 or 280. On the rare occasions that I need to go to S.F., I always pick 280, because it has no billboards. And because it goes through one of the most beautiful landscapes around here:
Vista Point on 280

101 is a mess of billboards and ugly urban sprawl. 280 is a fresh breath of open space and rolling hills.

I hope that Sao Paulo can become a model for cities in the U.S. who want to improve on their physical environment.