Sergio and the sigil

ANN: The Second Chicago Code Camp

Posted by Sergio on 2010-03-22

After a successful first Chicago Code Camp last year, we're back to announce the second edition of this unique technical event.

The Chicago Code Camp 2 will happen on May 1st. In this event we are addressing one obvious and recurring feedback: Make it closer to the city.

We're thrilled to announce that our Code Camp will take place at the IIT Campus, just South of downtown Chicago, easily accessible by car and public transportation.

What is the Chicago Code Camp?

Just like last year, we want to host an event where any platform or programming language can have its space, as long as there's community interest in talking and hearing about it.

The code camp is a great opportunity to learn about and network with developers of different walks of life and technologies. Last year we had diverse topics such as .NET, Python, iPhone, Ruby, XUL, JavaScript, Scala, etc. We hope to have even more this time around.

To ensure the numerous technical communities are fairly represented, we are inviting all local technical community leaders to get involved and provide speakers and attendees.

The event is free to attend but everyone needs to register. Registration will open soon Registration is open and it's limited due to the venue capacity.

Call for Speakers

The Chicago Code Camp website is up and ready to receive talk proposals.

The Code Camp Manifesto calls for sessions that privilege code over theory or slides, but it doesn't mean a good presentation will be immediately turned down because of that.

Stay tuned

We will have more exciting news and announcements to share about this event. We will do so as soon are they are confirmed.

Keep an eye on the website (or this blog) to learn about registrations, volunteering, and getting involved.

[ANN] Chicago ALT.NET shows Rake and Albacore

Posted by Sergio on 2010-03-09

I haven't mentioned our meetings here in a while but our group has been going strong and enthusiastic all this time.

Tomorrow, March 10th our topic will be build scripts for .Net projects using Rake and Albacore. I've been using Rake and a little bit of Albacore in my own projects and I'm ready to say that it will take a very serious event to make me go back to NAnt or MSBuild.

Introduction to Rake with Albacore.NET

6:00 pm
Pizza and networking time

6:30 pm

How would you to write your build scripts using a scripting language instead of XML? In this month's meeting we will see how the ease of programming in Ruby can be used to create a much more pleasant and extensible build script.

Rake isn't just for Rubyists or Alphageeks anymore. Albacore helps bring the power and expresiveness of the Ruby language to the world of .NET build automation. Using Rake it's never been easier to handle build automation, test execution, continuous integration and just about any task you need to automate for your build.

Michael D. Hall has been developing software on the Microsoft platform for over a decade. He's been an Alt.NETter for years and is really enjoying the exposure to different ideas and concepts beyond the safe confines of the .NET world. Currently he's a consultant working with Obtiva and has started a Cloud Developer's Group that meets monthly in McHenry county.

Register for Introduction to Rake with Albacore.NET in Chicago, IL  on Eventbrite

Language Envy - C# needs Ranges

Posted by Sergio on 2010-01-02

As soon as I started learning Ruby, a few years ago, I got immediately hooked on its Range class. I could not believe I had been programming in .NET without them for so long.

I like to think of range objects as the specification for a for loop, packaged in an object that can be passed around. That's not the whole story, though. Ranges also represent sequences or intervals, which can be queried for intersection or containment. See the following Ruby sample code.

#declare a Range object
summer_months = 6..9
#enumerate it
summer_months.each {|m| puts "#{, m, 1).strftime('%B')} is a Summer month." }
#other handy features
summer_months.include? 7 # ==> true
summer_months.to_a # ==> [6, 7, 8, 9]  (converted to array)

I needed that in C#

That was back when the CLR 2.0 was just about to be released and I ended up writing my own Range

The Chicago Code Camp has got you covered

Posted by Sergio on 2009-05-19

As a brief inspection of your RSS reader will quickly tell you, it's Code Camp season. Not to be left out of this party, the developers in the Chicago and Milwaukee areas have a great option this year.

The Chicago Code Camp, which happens on May 30th, is strategically located right between these two cities.

The agenda has been published and it's pretty exciting to see so many interesting and useful topics in a single event.

.NET still dominates the schedule but there's a lot of options for developers of virtually all walks of life. Here's a quick summary (we will have 33 sessions but some cover more than one topic)

  • .NET: 20 sessions
  • Ruby: 6 sessions
  • TDD: 6 sessions
  • JavaScript: 3 sessions
  • Functional Programming: 3 sessions
  • Cloud computing: 3 sessions
  • Python: 2 sessions
  • Java: 2 sessions

The bad part is that we can't be at all the sessions we'd like — there will be 5 or 6 concurrent talks. Here are some sessions that interest me in particular:

Those are only a few of the talks. I'm sure you'll be able to find sessions of your own interest. RSVP below. Hope to see you there.


Taking PeepCode for a spin

Posted by Sergio on 2009-04-28

A rainy weekend and some brain hunger made me finally do something I had been meaning to do for a while. Once I posted about my interest in screencasts and their power to make information memorable. This last weekend I filled up my shopping cart over at PeepCode with a bunch of material that was on my to watch list.


This video was pretty interesting. It will definitely let you get off the ground quickly with git. I learned and still remember more from this screencast than from any other time spent on documentation and tutorials.

This is one of those screencasts where the author starts cranking out commands at the command line. If you can't stand the command line, you won't like this one. The advantage is that the command line is the same in all platforms.

My only negative comments, which is applicable to almost all the other videos I've watched, is that the author has the habit of clearing the screen way too early and often. At least it's recorded so you can rewind and absorb the information at your own pace.

GIT Internals (PDF)

While on my git learning mode, I went ahead and bought this PDF as well. Boy, this is money. If you're a sucker for internal details, this one is for you.

The PDF was written by Scott Chacon, who is very well known in git circles. The material is dense but is very well explained by Scott. Worth every penny.

The PDF ships with some videos from gitcasts and some handy shell shortcuts.

Rails from Scratch Part 1 and Part 2

I already have a reasonable level of experience with Rails. What made me buy these two episodes was to see a competent Rails programmer showing how he works. After watching both videos I was happy to see that I was not so far off. I know these screencasts are definitely simplified for the newbie and that a number of things changed in Rails since the first edition of this material, but the good advices on how to organize code and use the Rake tasks are still valid.

There's a whole lot more to Rails than it's possible to cram in 2h40 of screencasts but if you need to start somewhere, this is a good choice. I wish there was a little more ActiveRecord and plugins covered but, hey, it's still one of the greatest bargains out there.

Objective-C for Rubyists

I just started watching this one. My early impression (25 minutes in) is that its pace is a little too frantic. I don't buy the argument that knowing Ruby helps you learning Objective-C because of their SmallTalk heritage.

I've been trying to get into Objective-C from books and whitepapers but I had hopes a screencast like this would be more effective. I'm not too optimistic so far (I'll update this post if I'm convinced otherwise.)

Worth the investment

A good thing with the PeepCode episodes is that they are positioned at a price point (US $9.00) that doesn't let you feel too bad, even if you expected more of them. They have definitely been worth more than the sticker price.

I'm looking forward to a few more episodes later this year. RSpec and Haml are on my crosshair.