Monday, January 4, 2016

CppCon, part 2: The Conference

As I promised a couple months back, here is part 2, the conclusion, to C++Con. The basics and my pre-conference adventure is available here.

I went to the first, second, and last days; I didn’t go on Wednesday or Thursday because my family wanted to both see me and talk to me; since I was giving up a week of potential work to go play socializing programmer 50 miles away, it was not unreasonable to spend some time with them. I guess.

Let me start by whining explaining that I hate riding buses. One minor detail I forgot about when I decided to get a bus pass and take the bus to and fro is that I get bad motion sickness when I’m in the backseat of a vehicle. One detail I remembered and experienced is that people like to talk to themselves on the bus. Now, I’m not opposed to talking to myself; I know I will always have an intelligent conversation with someone that understands me. But it is just plain rude to talk to yourself when other people are around. Don’t inconvenience me with a private conversation that you don’t want me to be a part of.

As for the conference itself, the seminars were fantastic. A lot of knowledge about the things that people were passionate about in their particular expertise and interest, from the music industry to graphics to making complicated C++ topics (and that is most of them!) simpler. Seeing and listening to Bjarne Stroustrup, the person who developed C++, giving tips on writing good C++ is like Steve Jobs teaching you how to get the most out of using your iPhone.

My favorite seminar was the one by Kate Gregory, “Stop Teaching C”. You should watch it for yourself in the link I gave you, but her thesis is that there is too much teaching the overcomplicated parts of C, C++’s predecessor that C++ made simple and better. She promotes the idea of skipping the C things that you don’t use in C++ and getting right to the language you want taught. As the husband of a teacher working to be a principal, I get to hear education theories, and Ms. Gregory’s philosophy here is simply that you teach the students you have, not the students you think you should have or the students that you once had – the same as my wife’s.

As for the volunteering part I did, I worked the coat/laptop charging closet for a few of the seminars and assisted in keeping time for one of the lunchtime open sessions that didn’t get recorded. I also did a little bit of sorting the rooms that each of the seminars and meetings were in. Lots of chatting with volunteers and with attendees who were passionate about their jobs and what their companies were doing.

Oh, and yo-yos. My kids loved the light up yo-yos.

Will I do it again this year? I don’t know if my schedule would permit it; my job as an on-call office substitute gives me a flexible schedule, one that I’m not sure I will have come next September. But if I have the chance, I’ll do it again. It was a good experience, and it has made me excited about my own career in software development.

One more thing: if you want to see the seminars for the 2015 convention, they are all on YouTube at the CppCon channel and they are worth the time to watch. Especially the keynotes, the final wrap-up session, and the Gregory seminar I mentioned.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Wikipedia, Stop Begging.

I may be more easily annoyed than usual, but this just irks me and I can’t be the only one.

Wikipedia has a begging banner, which is like an ad banner, but more pathetic. Instead of advertising a product or service that might be wanted, it says that Wikipedia doesn’t use ads because of donations, and won’t you dig deep into your heart and your pocketbook and donate to Wikipedia so that they can remain free?

This annoys me because, first of all, something you pay for is not free. I looked up the definition of free; it is “without cost or payment”. Wikipedia is asking for you to give it money so that the site can be free for other people to use for free. If anything, it’s resource redistribution. My money escapes my wallet enough already, so why help it?

But the bigger irritation for me is that the begging banner nets me the same result as the ad: a request for money on the top. At least an ad is open about the fact that they just want my money and attention. Wikipleadia is trying to make it sound like they are asking for me to give them money for my benefit.

Honestly, I would rather have the ads. The ads might point me toward something I am interested in purchasing from the advertiser. At worst, they are easily ignored. Either way, I didn’t pay for it! Now, there is a slim chance that I purchase something because the ad inspired me to buy something, and that has happened, but even if it was a waste of money, it wasn’t a waste of money for me.

So, Wikipedia, please stop begging me for money. You’re embarrassing us both.

Friday, October 2, 2015

CppCon Report, part 1: The Preconference

I am very close to having my Bachelor’s degree. I just need to finish my project and write my paper on it and it will be done. So close, I can taste it.

Which means it’s time to take a week to not work on it at all and volunteer at CppCon.

When you are done snickering at the name (and be honest: you did the first time you said it out loud), you probably figured out that it is about the programming language C++. The convention itself is over, and I took a couple days off of volunteering to be with my family. Fortunately for me, the convention was close enough to my house that I could go home at night. When traffic is good, it was only about a 30 to 40 minute drive. On the other hand, when I wanted to travel … it was not.

This might take a couple posts or so to cover. This one is about the days leading up to it.

Before I begin, I should let you know that I am terrible at names and always have been. Seriously. When I was growing up, I called my parents mom and dad because I couldn’t remember their names. This means that I won’t be able to share who the people are that I met and spoke with, unless I go and look it up. So if you are reading this and recognize yourself, feel free to comment on your name and I will update this post. Or mention it later. Or something.

As a volunteer, I had the opportunity to attend the pre-conference bootstrap course on the updates to C++ in both C++11 and C++14. The main thing I learned is that I am not a C++ expert. Now, don’t get me wrong; there are a lot of good features in the updates to the language – updates that are necessary and interesting to learn about. But I could actually hear my brain cells crying out because they were too stuffed. The other main thing I learned is that Visual Studio 15, the one I have, is not compliant with C++14 – the one with the coolest features.

After that was done, I went to the Volunteer Dinner because, well, free pizza. A little pizza place a quarter mile away, and we volunteers got the chance to meet each other. The big surprise to me was how many volunteers are from outside the country. One was from Toronto; she was working on a type of credit card payment system that uses GPS systems embedded. Another one was from New Zealand, and he was there just for this conference.

Getting back from the pizza dinner, which literally was uphill both ways, it was Socialization Time. Now seeing that I am not now, nor have I ever been, a socialist, this was not that comfortable for me. There are many things I’d rather do than be in a giant room full of strangers and talk to them; eating broken glass comes to mind. I met a code reviewer from Munich; as he described his job, “I’ve seen code you can’t unsee.” I also met one of the makers of Projucer, which I’ll talk about in a later post. Also met a few other people that I chatted with throughout the week.

Next post, I’ll talk about the conference itself.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Project Overview

It has been a long time since I last posted something. Too long. Honestly, I think that a reboot of this blog would be appropriate. Or at least, a good excuse to delete the old posts and start over. For those who have been following, sorry about not giving you anything exciting to read in the past couple let’s not talk about that. For those who are here for the first time, welcome to the Project.

Let's begin by going over what exactly Project: Poisontree is. The Project is, in short, my journey into software development. And you are getting in at right around the beginning. In other words, this isn't me telling my memoirs; this is you getting my experiences as I experience them. You are also going to get my insights and perspectives into the news about the I.T. world that is interesting to me. For example, I am interested in software, but hardware does not carry quite as much interest for me, so I probably won't talk about hardware as much.

But first, you should know why you should pay attention to me. I bring an interesting perspective because, well first of all, because I am a fascinating person. Secondly, I am 40, not the standard age to start. This means that I have a different outlook on things than the typical young buck. Now, there are those who hear my age and they automatically say, "Wow. You're old. You sure you've got a good idea?" To which I say:
  1. You're a jerk.
  2. My age means that I have already passed my "Time to Make Some Bad Decisions" phase. I have regrets. Oh, do I have regrets. Not as many as some people, but I do have them. As such, I have learned from those mistakes - and occasionally, from other people's mistakes. I'm not going to call out of work because I spent the previous night following the orders of Captain Morgan.
So now that we have the very basics of who I am, go ahead and follow me. And if there is a topic you would like me to discuss, go ahead and put it in the comments; if I am interested, I will cover it. For that matter, even if I am marginally curious, I will cover it. That's how special you are to me.