Catching up…

It’s been busy, busy month, and blogging was one of many things put off. Now, it’s time to start catching up.

I had an awesome month of June. Working on my main client project, we released yet another update on 12 June. After that, I took two weeks “off” — at least away from billing — to do some professional upkeep.

I spent a few days studying and then took the two MySQL 5.0 Developer certification exams on Tuesday the 17th. I went to the Blended Solutions facility in the Mall of New Hampshire, adjoining the PSNH building on Elm Street in Manchester, NH, and took the two exams, back-to-back. The first exam was the simpler of the two. Reviewing all the questions a couple times, I was still done in under an hour. The second exam, though, was a bear! The material was the more advanced stuff, some of the questions were trickier, some of the topics were material I had only book knowledge on. I marked a bunch of questions for review, went back and filled in all the answers, reviewed and debated and over-thought a bunch of questions and then, with three minutes left, decided any answers I changed in a panic were more likely wrong than right, and stopped. I passed both exams with acceptable scores, but nothing I’d brag about. “What do they call the man who graduates at the bottom of his class in med school?” “Doctor.” So, I’m pleased to have the opportunity to establish my level of knowledge, flag a couple of areas I need to learn more about, earn a logo I can display as part of my marketing and gain a listing as a MySQL Enterprise Ready Partner.

Wednesday the 18th of June was the first day of the Red Hat Summit in Boston. I attended all three days, commuting from Contoocook to the Anderson Rail Center in Wilmington and taking public transportation from there. While it made for a lot of hours on the road, the savings over staying in town were significant (total parking and rail for the week: $84 for 6 days), and sleeping at home in my own bed very much appreciated. The Red Hat Summit was a fascinating event. I wasn’t that familiar with the corporate structure or the market focus of Red Hat and I got much better insights into who they are and what they do. Here’s a slew of links on what went on, Red Hat announcements, and links to presentations.

Parallel to the Red Hat Summit was the Fedora Users and Developers Conference, FUDCon10 for short, that shared the Hynes Auditorium facilities on Thursday and Friday, and met at the Photonics Center at Boston University on Saturday. Even though many Fedora participants are Red Hat employees, the tone and structures of the groups are dissimilar. I missed a lot of the last-minute organizational notes the FUDCon’ners put together to organize their HackFest, so I tended to attend the Red Hat sessions instead. In the future, I’m more likely to put more effort into the HackFest side of things. Saturday was a BarCamp, a one-day self-organized conference. As I noted at last year’s conference, the means of pitching sessions, voting, scheduling and running the show are put together on the fly, and the results are startlingly good. Having pretty much had my brain filled of tech at the Red Hat Summit, I chose instead to focus more on process sessions, and learned about bug triaging, web site usability issues, and Fedora structure. A great use of a day, and a great chance to attach faces to the name and shake a few hands.

Sunday was a day of rest for me, and a day of washing laundry for Laura. Thank you!

Monday found me back on the Commuter Rail, this time attending An Event Apart just across the street from the Prudential Center where the Summit had been. Two long days of sessions were focused on the web, primarily design and usability, very different aspects from the two previous conferences. Like the Red Hat Summit, this conference was a little outside my comfort zone, in this case, designers rather than developers. Jeffrey Zeldman puts on an incredible show; facilities were superb, speakers knowledgeable, swag cool. Eric Meyer is the authority in the field of CSS, and it was his sessions I got the most practical tools from, but all of the sessions were well-presented, informative and thought-provoking. Jared Spool of User Interface Engineering had a very funny and very insightful session on analyzing clickstreams for success that will have me restructuring some of my client’s web sites. All of the speakers had great observations on the state of the art and future directions. Great stuff! Several other people took great notes I can share with you.

Arriving back to work on Wednesday, there was no time to decompress; a day of meetings lead to a couple frantic days of shipping yet another release and picking up another couple of projects. Thirty billable hours later, my super-contractor did a high-five tag-team tag and was off on his own adventures, while I took over sheparding a release out the door on Friday with some new features, new team members, new procedures and new prototcols. Whew!

It’s been an exhausting three weeks, but an exhilarating time, too. Hope to blog more details as I catch up on all the other projects.

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2 Responses to Catching up…

  1. Stuart Rutter June 30, 2008 at 6:00 pm #

    Man when do you get time to sleep!

  2. tedroche June 30, 2008 at 9:55 pm #

    Well, Stuart, I didn’t find much time to do much more than commute, confer, and catch a shower. Laura was great about running the office and taking care of the boys. The three conferences made for such a rare opportunity that it was just too good to pass on. But I’ll be catch up on the sleep for another week!

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