Recap: CodeMash 2015

CodeMash logoLast week I attended CodeMash 2015, my third time attending the conference. Held at the lush Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Sandusky, Ohio, CodeMash brings together some of the brightest minds in Ruby, .NET, and JavaScript for two days (plus a pair of optional “pre-compiler” workshop days before the main conference) of code, networking, and (eventual exhaustion).

In previous years, I evaluated sessions based on a strategy that was basically “of all the sessions in this timeslot, which one will I gain the most (professionally) out of?”. A few exceptions were made (last year I attended a lockpicking demonstration in the “Open Spaces” area and I usually make an effort to attend any talks from my friends at Sparkbox, though those are always excellent talks), but the general directive was to amass as much new knowledge as possible. It seemed sensible at the time, but it almost always leads to total exhaustion by the end of the first day, which only serves to drag you down for day 2.

This year, I took a different approach: attend at least one session each half of each day that’s purely professional, but mix it up with classes that are more interesting to me as a lover of technology. Alongside courses on leveling up your JavaScript, modular CSS patterns, and a great reminder of the Git basics and how they work behind the scenes (more on this later), I also attended sessions on home automation, writing apps for Chromecast, and Hubot.

Speaking of Hubot, one of the CodeMash traditions is the PechaKucha, a speaking activity wherein speakers have a deck of 20 slides, set to automatically advance every 20 seconds. This makes presentations under 7 minutes and is a fun challenge for people like me who tend to ramble when they speak. I decided the day of the PechaKucha that I’d submit a talk, S*!t My Bot Says, about the features 10up has added to our Hubot instance, and decided to sign up right around 2:00 after being reminded the cut-off was 3pm (I later learned that most people spend days working on their presentations, not a few hours amidst a conference). Unfortunately, nobody else seemed to share my enthusiasm for PechaKucha this year, so the event was cancelled.

Stand-out speakers

There are plenty of awesome speakers at CodeMash every year (I keep hoping to be among them, but alas their overwhelming number of submissions makes it an annual challenge), but there are always a few that really stick out in my mind. This year was no exception, so I present some of my top speakers for CodeMash 2015.

Seth Juarez, DevExpress

Seth Juarez is a Program Manager for DevExpress (who is also one of the sponsors of CodeMash) and an exceptional speaker who gave a trio of talks at CodeMash: two on AI/machine learning and one “soft-skills” talk on getting past our anti-social tendencies at conferences and other networking events and making conversation with new people. Seth leverages his experience teaching high school to engage the room and often teases that “awkward silences are only awkward for you.”

Julie Cameron, Girl Develop It: Ann Arbor

Julie Cameron is a developer in Ypsilanti, Michigan and the founder of the Girl Develop It Ann Arbor chapter. She gave an excellent presentation on the basics of modular CSS, including a great breakdown of the differences between popular patterns like BEM, SMACSS, and Atomic Design. Julie has given this talk before, so here’s her talk from SEM js last November:

Jordan Kasper, NomadJS

Jordan Kasper (jakerella) is the kind of speaker you want to just throw hardball questions at in the hopes that you’ll find something he isn’t an expert on. I caught two of his talks: Object Oriented JavaScript (Yes, it Really Exists), which was a great explanation of JavaScript’s prototypical inheritance, and Gitting More Out of Git, a fantastic look at Git beyond git add -a && git commit.

Additional reading

If you’d like to read more about my past experiences at CodeMash, I’ve written about them on the Buckeye Interactive blog: The Five Stages of CodeMash (2014) and my recap of CodeMash 2013.

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