NodeConf SummerCamp!

This past week, I had the amazing opportunity to co-represent Skookum Digital Works at the second annual NodeConf SummerCamp, held at the Walker Creek Ranch in drop-dead gorgeous Petaluma, CA.

I won't go into the exact details of what went down, since you can read about that by fellow camp-mate Tim Caswell in his blog post about the event.

But here's what I can say: I had a blast!

Day 1 was all about meeting members of the community.  I'm not afraid to say I had serious Node crushes on some of the Core Contributors (aka The Nodility - ha!), but I know I wasn't alone ;-)  I'd say there were about 100 of us at camp, of which approximately 15 or so were on the Significant Others track.  The rest of us were there because we love to Node and want to take the language to the next level.  The biggest thing that I noticed was that everyone was at a different stage of Node ability.  Certainly there were the guys who had been Noding since version 0.0.2.  But there were also a few people who had just started (one who was even just getting started in JavaScript!), and everyone in between.  (I consider myself in the in-between camp.)  I know not everyone likes to network as much as I do, but spending the first day getting to know the other attendees really helped lay a solid foundation for conversations that I would have later at camp.  (Also, bonus: as one of only 2 non-SO females attending the conference, I got a WHOLE room to myself!)

Day 2 made my brain hurt.  I'll be honest: I went into the conference with the expectation that I would be learning lots of tips and tricks to help enhance my own Node abilities.  Instead, I got a rare, insider's view of the process of taking a programming language to the next level.  The talks were about hearing from the community - what does it need, what does it want, and what can it do without.  The Core Contributors listened intently, explaining why they made the decisions they did, what they were (planning on) working on, and what the community could do to help them out (hint: it's Open Source!  Do it yourself. ;-))

Unfortunately, most of the talks were over my head.  At my level, I haven't needed streams or domains or many of the other topics that were discussed.  And there were certainly moments when I felt like I was in the wrong place.  But on the plus side, I now have a really good idea of what's in store for me as my Node ability progresses.  It's like having a treasure map before anyone else knows that there's even any treasure... mwahaha!

By lunchtime, I knew that if I was going to get anything out of the conference, I was going to have to step up my own game and start asking questions.  (Those who have met me know - I'm not shy when it comes to getting information!)  Given that my goal for the experience was to walk out knowing how to up my Node game, I started asking around:

  1. How do I get better?
  2. What do I need to do/know to improve?
  3. Are there any shortcuts?
  4. (And, specifically to the Core Contributors:)  How do I get to be as good as you?  (It's like the adult way of asking, "Can I be you when I grow up?")

Here are the answers:

  1. Code. Hack. Read.
  2. Code. Hack. Read.
  3. No. Code. Hack. Read.
  4. Code. Hack. Read. All. The. Time.

More specifically, though, here are some of my tweets from the conference:

Callbacks, Events, Streams: know them all, and you'll be able to go through node core and understand what's going on. @nodeconf #summercamp— Raquel Vélez (@rockbot) September 5, 2012

Callbacks are level 1, events are level 2, streams are level 3. @nodeconf #summercamp— Raquel Vélez (@rockbot) September 5, 2012

Lessons learned from @nodeconf #summercamp so far: I need to hack more, *everything* is debateable/changeable, and this community is awesome— Raquel Vélez (@rockbot) September 5, 2012

I think that last tweet just about sums it all.

Day 3 was bittersweet.  We had a morning of hacking (read: final conversations with the ridiculously awesome people who attended), followed by a bus ride back to San Francisco.  Armed with the knowledge that I need to code more, hack more, and read more, I spent a non-insignificant amount of time collecting reading materials.  I finally got a copy of "The Crockford Book", downloaded the Node source code onto my iPhone, and tagged a bunch of modules that were mentioned more than 10 times throughout the conference.  I've got a LOT of reading to do!

So, all in all, I had a great time.  Thanks in particular to @mikeal and his awesome wife @annaemaier for organizing!  And thanks also to all the Core Contributors and community members who helped this young Noder stay on the path to being awesome!

Now, if only I could get myself back on east coast time... hmph.