Monthly Archives: September 2009

Attention span of a developer

I play around with a lot of technology and like installing and testing things, but I wonder if I am missing any great systems because of install fatigue – how long is too long to get a system installed, run through the configuration and get some test data in there and running? There is nothing like a good ‘quick start tutorial’ or a ‘build a blog in fine minutes’ to get you going.

A great example of this was when I recently installed geoserver.  Now this is not a simple piece of software, but I was able to follow the documentation to install and get the software up and running in about 20 minutes. If more developers would take the time to produce this kind of documentation with step by step instructions it would really help with adoption of your technology.

nswsphere streamed

There’s a lot of talk about the carbon footprint of attending conferences these days and on Friday I attended my first virtual conference. NSWsphere provided a live stream of the conference. The job they did was excellent (numerous cameras, direct mic etc.) and I was able to watch easily without getting frustrated.

The second important factor was the live twitter stream. This allowed me to tap into some of the intangibles that you get from going to a conference – the important chit-chat on what everyone thought of the presentations. The advantage of twitter was that it was happening as the presenters were talking, so I didn’t have to wait until the session ended to get people’s views.

The last advantage was that I could tune in to just the presenters I was interested in. I simply printed out the agenda and switched over when they were on.

So despite being in another state, I was still able to get something out if this conference without traveling, without spewing out tonnes of carbon and while keeping up with most of my real job. Obviously face-to-face meetings with colleagues are better and I would choose that if I could, but especially for conferences where you might just have a peripherally interest and can’t justify the cost of attending in person, it might be worth giving this a try.