July 23, 2006

Portland Code Camp: Wow!

I have to say, I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed Portland Code Camp yesterday. I had planned on skipping the sessions (except my own), instead monkeying for Rory as my entertainment, but that went out the window when I got there and saw the session list. I very much enjoyed Scott’s PowerShell presentation (Tab completion and PowerShell Analyst — wahoo!), as well as the RoR meta-programming and IronRuby sessions, but easily the best talk I saw was Jeff Berkowitz’s Poker Bots for Fun and Profit. The set of legal, ethical, technical and algorithmic issues he covered as awesome. The coolest thing I learned about was the Poker Academy, which is a poker tutorial program that lets me build my own poker bots to test my strategies. Fabulous!

My own session was co-delivered by Chris Tavares (recently of the Patterns and Practices group), and we spent 90 minutes pumping the audience for their feedback about building distributed applications under Windows, including what their scenarios are, what sucks and should be fixed, what’s good and should be kept and what solutions they propose. I have to say, it was fun to be on the receiving end of the heat instead of the giving end for the change and to be in a group that hopes to solve such problems (the Connected Systems Division owns Indigo, BizTalk and Workflow). Thanks, attendees, for the great list and for not throwing anything but insults (and so politely, too! : ).

In addition to the free sessions, there was free food, free entertainment, free wireless and free air conditioning. I miss the single-track benefits that you get with the DevCons, but other than that, the Portland Code Camp is now in the very short list of conferences I won’t be missing in the future. Thanks to Jason, Rich, Stuart and the rest of the organizers. Highly recommended!