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.