Hi, I’m Charlie.

Interactive Designer & Developer

Nebraska.Code() Conference 2016 Recap

26 May 2016

Last week I was back in my hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska for the Nebraska.Code() Conference at the Nebraska Innovation Campus. This is the first year I’ve attended this particular conference, and as I tweeted on Thursday:

The speakers were great and the venue was really nice. For some reason there seems to be a strong Microsoft/.NET community around Omaha (not my area of expertise), but there were a wide range of talks to suit developers of all levels and backgrounds. I was able to attend some fantastic sessions and want to quickly call out a few speakers I thoroughly enjoyed as well as some take-aways.

Ionic workshop

Wednesday I attended an all-day Ionic workshop hosted by Justin James. I had read about Ionic a little bit, but went into it more or less completely new to the material. He started from the ground-up and walked us through how to build out a simple TODO app using Ionic and Angular as a front-end mobile framework and Back& to provide the API. We didn’t get all the way through his workshop material, but by the end of the day I had a working TODO app with user authentication and multiple views.

The session included OAuth integration, something I’ve struggled to implement on a few past projects. Justin did a great job of explaining how OAuth works and I now feel like I could add it to my projects in the future.

As a bonus, when I asked a question about Docker following the session Justin was eager to stick around and show me and a coworker the basics of Docker environments. You don’t get that every day.

JavaScript with Jonathan Mills and Lee Brandt

I attended two back-to-back JavaScript sessions presented by Lee Brandt and Jonathan Mills, both out of Kansas City. These guys put on really entertaining talks, the kind that keep you engaged from start to finish – and they manage to do so while presenting complex material in an easy to understand way. Lee had one of the clearest examples of closures I’ve seen presented.

While I definitely walked away having learned a few things, these two sessions affirmed that I actually know way more about JavaScript than I give myself credit for. I probably could have sat out the second session completely, but having heard Jonathan speak last year at the Midwest Developers Conference I had to see him again. If you ever have the chance to see either of these two I highly recommend it.

Building a personal brand

The idea of establishing a “personal brand” has always made me feel gross. Like I’ve got to come up with a mission statement and go around touting how amazing I am to everyone I meet. Duane Newman‘s talk Branded for Success helped assuage that feeling. I walked away with some good points I want to share, for others and a reminder to my future self:

  • Your personal brand is how you present yourself to others and their perception of you. It’s a matter of whether you’re working to create a “brand” for yourself, or letting others define it for you.
  • Be yourself. If you’re fake, people will figure it out. Put your personality into everything you do.
  • Get involved in the community – blog, participate on social media, contribute to open source projects, attend meetups, and don’t be afraid to go up and introduce yourself to people.
  • Be consistent.

There were a number of other really good sessions, too many to write about. Shout outs to Lyndsey Padget for her talk called Presenting for Programmers, Michael Fairchild for Web Accessibility (a11y) 101, and Rob Richardson‘s Anatomy of a Web Request.

One minor complaint…

My only disappointment was the lack of vegetarian friendly options for lunch. Having been a vegetarian for around 10 years I’ve eaten my share of cheese and mayonnaise sandwiches at funeral buffets and the like, but I expect more from such an event. If I was still adhering to a vegan diet, or had any other type of dietary restrictions, I would have been completely out of luck.

I brought this up with one of the organizers who was understanding and explained the situation. I hope in the future they choose a different caterer, or work more closely with them to ensure they have a wider selection. (Side note: if any organizer happens to be reading this and would like help planning a veg-friendly menu, I’m happy to assist.)

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