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Creating passionate conference attendees

How many of you have been to a conference (or a class, even) that you weren't really prepared for? Where you were lost half the time and didn't get nearly as much out of it as you might have? This describes me at the 1997 JavaOne, where I showed up having coded no more than Hello World in the Java language. (And only on someone else's machine.)

So, wouldn't it be great if a technical conference had, say, a one-day pre-conference session that was a crash course in "how to get the most from the conference"? And some shows do that... but you have to fork over still more money on top of the conference fees.

So, wouldn't it be great if a technical conference offered the one-day prep session, and asked for nothing more than a donation to one of several well-respected, well-researched charities?

Railsconlogo
Leave it to the smart and loveable Pragmatic guys to do exactly that for the upcoming Rails Conference. Details
of how the "guidebook" (that's what they're calling the how-to-kick-ass-at-the-conference thing) are here, and the day-long session is even taught by two of THE nicest guys in the tech business (and I don't say that lightly), Dave Thomas:

Dave1

and Mike Clark:

Mike

What a terrific way to make sure conference attendees have a high resolution user experience, while also doing some real good. And it's no surprise that the Pragmatic folks have more passionate users than perhaps any other tech book publisher. Let me put it this way, in an effort to support this young publishing company, loyal readers will often go to their site to buy direct--which means paying more for the books than they'd pay on Amazon.

The conference itself sounds great -- with a lineup that includes Dave Thomas, David Heinemeier Hansson, Paul Graham, and Martin Fowler.

FYI - it's worth checking out that Hello World site I linked to at the top of this post. It's got "Hello World" coded in over 190 different languages--everything from Python to Prolog. Even if you're not a programmer, it gives you a sense of the different programming languages. The Ruby version, for example, looks a lot more fun and easy:
puts "Hello World!"

than, say, cobol:

000100 IDENTIFICATION DIVISION.
000200 PROGRAM-ID. HELLOWORLD.
000300 DATE-WRITTEN. 02/05/96 21:04.
000400* AUTHOR BRIAN COLLINS
000500 ENVIRONMENT DIVISION.
000600 CONFIGURATION SECTION.
000700 SOURCE-COMPUTER. RM-COBOL.
000800 OBJECT-COMPUTER. RM-COBOL.
000900
001000 DATA DIVISION.
001100 FILE SECTION.
001200
100000 PROCEDURE DIVISION.
100100
100200 MAIN-LOGIC SECTION.
100300 BEGIN.
100400 DISPLAY " " LINE 1 POSITION 1 ERASE EOS.
100500 DISPLAY "HELLO, WORLD." LINE 15 POSITION 10.
100600 STOP RUN.
100700 MAIN-LOGIC-EXIT.
100800 EXIT.

(OK, that wasn't exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, but I take artistic/programmer license)

Thanks Chad Fowler for letting me know about the "Guidebook" thing.

(And another p.s. -- I'm now only 90 days behind in emails, so... I'm catching up! If you're waiting, I haven't forgotten you.)

Posted by Kathy on February 2, 2006 | Permalink

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Comments

You know why else we buy direct from the PragProg guys, Kathy? It's because we can buy their books direct with the accompanying PDF (with linked up goodness inside), and get free PDF upgrades as errata are ironed out.

This is crucial with programming books. Books are great for cover to cover reading, but when I want to find that snippet of code dealing with that one example on how to parse RSS feeds .. I just pop open Preview (or PDF reader of choice) and search for it. Beats having to flip to the index, maybe finding something, and having to flip more to find it.

Amazon doesn't even come close to giving me the "I kick ass!" experience that buying direct from the PragProg guys does.

Posted by: Larry | Feb 2, 2006 3:08:50 PM

I'll echo the sentiments about PragProg!! I have almost every book they've done. They are well-written and technically accurate. They're more what you'd call "reference" than a "typical" Head First book, but that's what I use.

Posted by: Ed Borasky | Feb 2, 2006 9:55:38 PM

Kathy,
Glad to see you writing again. Looking forward to more. It's been a looooong dry spell.

Posted by: Burk | Feb 3, 2006 8:42:46 PM

I took their course in Pasadena. I recommend it highly. There are three good reasons why:

First, Both Dave and Mike are fantastic teachers. The course is professionally put together, well practiced, well laid out, and most importantly, it produces results. You will leave the course knowing how to build a Rails application.

With a friend who took the course with me, I am confidently working on real-world web application that should be up and running within 3 to 4 weeks. That is a long time for Ruby on Rails, but we each have only one day a week to work on it.

The second good reason to take the course is that it provides some amazing networking opportunities. The strictly guarded Alumni group is one of the best programming resources I have ever seen.

Finally, the third reason to take the course is that Dave and Mike both provide some great advice on how to manage successful software projects. I spent my time there trying to convince Dave to write a book called "The Pragmatic Manager". There is a post about it on my site: www.innovationcreators.com

Posted by: Rod Boothby | Feb 5, 2006 10:48:59 AM

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