Review Community Day 2012

29-02-2012

This review was written by Linda van der Pal and is cross-posted from the Duchess blog on http://jduchess.org

This year I had finally convinced my partner to join me for the community day, convincing him that there would be several other C# programmers there. So we set out early, braving the slippery roads (which didn’t turn out all that bad). We arrived just after the building was supposed to be open. Which would have been great if it wasn’t for the fact that it was in fact still closed. There was quite a crowd standing before the gates already. But as it was -15 degrees Celcius, we decided to stay in the car under the emergency blankets we had brought. After about forty minutes, somebody with a key showed up and we went inside. I didn’t take off my coat until after I’d finished my first cup of tea. And so the day started about fifteen minutes late.

How to show code quality – Joost Visser

The session started out well with an open discussion, trying to find out what quality is. According to Joost there are two kinds of quality: funtionality and technical quality. Whereas functional quality (the code does what was specified) is relatively easy to point out, technical quality is less tangible. This lead to a discussion on what makes code beautiful. Some aspects that were pointed out are easy to understand, performance, loosely coupled code, code split according to responsibilities, and compliance to coding standards, to name a few. Sadly, it seemed to me that this discussion took a bit too long for the allotted time, as afterwards the presentation didn’t quite live up to the standards that had been set in the first half. The second half went on to talk about quality certificates, while I had been expecting to be shown some tools or other useful tips on how to show code quality to management and clients. One final important statement I took away was that quality measurements merely indicate symptoms, and that after they are done you have to spend time analysing what the actual problem is.

To infinity… and beyond (no seriously!) – Felienne Hermans

Felienne warned us in advance that this session would not have any practical applicability for us, as it would be highly theoretical mathematics. She told us about Brazilian tribes that had no numbers larger than three, and how they put numbers (explained to them with a number of dots) on a logarithmic scale, instead of the regular linear one. Which turns out to be what young children do too. Then she showed us Zenos theorems, and Galileos paradox. She explained Hilberts hotel and showed us how there are just as many numbers in between 0 and 1 as there are between -∞ and ∞. But what boggled me the most was that as there can be nothing in between 0,999… (followed by an infinite amount of nines) and 1 they must be equal. I tried arguing that the same would be valid for 0,999…98 and 0,999…99, but she explained that defining an end to the number makes it a different case. I’m not sure I quite understand, but it was a lovely demonstration of maths.

Extreme startup – Willem van den Ende

My final session of the day was a programming session for which I’d specifically brought my laptop. Alas, I didn’t quite have my IDE ready yet, having only gotten the laptop a few days earlier, so I didn’t have the proper tools installed yet. So it took me quite some time to get ready (which was not something my team mates could help me with). The idea was that you had to build a HTTP request handler and that the requests would contain questions that you would have to reply to. There were nine participants and we teamed up in groups of three. The team I was in consisted of three ladies, so naturally I opted to call us Team Duchess (as we were programming in Java). To Willems great despair, all teams used Windows. It took ages to find out that my laptop was having trouble with a firewall. But then we finally got it working. We had nearly run out of time, but we did get to answer about four different questions. If we’d had more time, we probably would have won. As it was, we joined the market so late, we didn’t have a chance anymore. It was a really great workshop that showed how code quality is often set aside in favor of deadlines.

I skipped the fourth session, as I was quite tired already. I would have gone to join in the coding kata otherwise, but that’s something you need a clear head for. All in all I had a lovely day.

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