Friday, January 30, 2009

Talk with Jeff McWherter

Jeff McWherter (blog) organized the Michigan tour, talking to companies like TechSmith and GreenStone, looking for places to allow me to visit. He hosted a hack fest on Monday night, then a get-together on Wednesday night. Along with his wife, Carla McWherter, he put up with me not just from Sunday until Thursday, he didn't even seem to mind when I stayed there an extra night to avoid driving in the bad weather at night. I want to express how grateful I am to him for the great experience while I was out there.

Jeff is one of the founder of the GLUGNET user group, co-organizer for many Day of Dot Nets, Givecamps, Hackfests, Techfests and all sort of great community events in the area. Jeff also helped organize a software apprenticeship programming with Lansing Community College.

Jeff was a good enough to sit down with me for both a "How I Got Started In Programming" and a Programming Tour video, embedded below. I really enjoyed our conversation, covering his views on craftmanship, apprenticeship and lots of other topics. Enjoy!

Talk with Jeff McWherter from Corey Haines on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Talk with Matt Poland

While in the Lansing, Michigan, area, I had the fantastic opportunity to visit GreenStone Farm Credit Services and talk to some of their development team about their efforts to bring a legacy application under test. Initially, we were talking a bit about doing TDD, but it quickly became apparent that their current processes would benefit more from just taking some significant steps to decrease the time between checkins for their developers. A good first step is to try to get some automated developer tests around their app as a whole, working on slowly building in shims for isolating their system from the external stuff, like databases and third-party vendor services. I had a great time there, and I really appreciate the fact that they took time out of their schedule to spend a day talking to me.

While there, one of their lead architects, Matt Poland, was kind enough to sit down with me and have a conversation about what they do, how they do it, as well as some thoughts on career development. At the end, he shared a great insight of his regarding how to get your system under test slowly, focusing on 'how do you eat an elephant? one bite at a time.'

Of course, I video-taped it, so here it is. Enjoy!

Talk with Matt Poland from Corey Haines on Vimeo.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Upcoming Tour - Florida

Here's a heads-up for my tour through Florida from February 8th through February 19th. I'm actively seeking hosts for this tour, so please contact me if you are interested. The basic premise of the pair-programming tour is that I pair-program with people in exchange for room and board. Room can be anything from a guest bed to a spot on your floor for my air mattress. I'm a vegetarian, but otherwise completely flexible for food. If you happen to be flush with money, a hotel is okay, but I prefer staying with my hosts as a way to get exposed to people's lives outside programming.

This tour marks a very important milestone for me, as it is the first tour outside of my local area; I'm flying down to Orlando to attend acts_as_conference as part of my "How I Got Started In Programming" interview series, then beginning a journeyman tour from February 8th to February 19th. While at the conference, I'll be interviewing as many people as I can for the series.

This tour came about through some pretty awesome sponsorship coordination by Anthony Eden of I want to express just how overwhelmed I am by what he's done in support of both the interview series and the journeyman tour. Anthony contacted me on twitter about coming down to Florida and interviewing ruby/rails people at acts_as_conference for the series. I figured that, as long as I'm heading down to the Orlando area for a couple days, why not extend it into a pair-programming tour, as well. Since being hosted dramatically decreases my expenses while on the road (hosts provide room and board), extending the trip isn't a huge deal.

Anthony really pulled through for me, finding enough funding for both the plane ticket and hotel during the conference. There are some other incidentals that we are looking for support for, but I already am absolutely floored by this kind of support for both the interview series and the journeyman tour idea. I'll be creating a separate entry about the exact sponsors as the tour gets closer.

I have a few people starting to sign up for hosting, so I'll be posting more information as it gets closer.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Upcoming Tour - Michigan

Just a heads-up on an upcoming, short tour in Michigan.

I will be kicking off the tour at the Microsoft MSDN DevCon conference on January 22nd in Detroit. I guess this isn't officially a part of the journeyman tour, but I will be using the opportunity there to talk to people about post-apprenticeship activities and continuous improvement. While I'm there, I'll also be doing some interviews for the "How I Got Started In Programming" video series.

The next day, Friday, Patrick Wilson-Welsh (blog) is hosting me in Ann Arbor. Saturday, January 23rd, I will be attending the Ann Arbor Code Retreat, which should be a lot of fun.

Thanks to the organizational prowess and support for the journeyman tour idea of Jeff McWherter, I will be spending the week of January 26th through the 29th in Lansing, MI. I'm very appreciative for the effort that Jeff has put into coordinating my week there. He has been talking to some of the companies in the area that are interested in having me in. As a hint of how cool Jeff is, his title at work is "Director of Simplicity." Fantastic.

While I have to make it back to Cleveland for the following weekend (talking at a local company's user group), I'm hoping to be able to make it back to Ann Arbor for a couple days before heading to Florida (announcement on that coming soon).

I really look forward to meeting people through this short stint on the road, as well as capturing a lot of ideas to share on this blog. I will continue to interview my hosts regarding the tour and whatever they may be currently contemplating.