BarCamp Boston 5 - Day 2

There were some more great presentations at Barcamp Boston 5 day 2, here are some comments on the ones I went to.

Your Website Sicks! But it can be saved
This was a great presentation, he showed a lot of examples showing how things can go wrong when the balance between form and function are skewed. One example he gave was the geeksquad website, which has lots of information but doesn't have an easy way to get an overview of what they do. After the presentation a few people volunteered their websites for critique. He had a lot of great feedback for them including "You have a FAQ section, has anyone ever asked these questions?" - which got a good laugh. There was only time for two, so I didn't have a chance to volunteer this site.

He referenced smashingmagazine.com as a good source of design info.

Agile Programming Methods
This was sort of a crash course on Agile but had some nice group discussion on what tools people are using, and on what parts of Agile methodologies are really important. For continuous integration a few people were using Hudson, he mentioned Cruise Control; no one else was using Electric Commander though. Not many people using pair programming, it will be interesting to see if that ever really picks up.

When Will Immersive 3D Web Arrive? And: What you will need to do to get ready: Maria Korolov, hypergridbusiness.com
This lady was either crazy or a visionary, either way I didn't realize 3D social environments like SecondLife were getting so big. She had a whole bunch of predictions about where this technology will be in 5, 10 and 15 years.

There were some fun-facts thrown in there too, for example, some companies use this technology and enact dress codes on the virtual characters; Some platforms like SecondLife require you to use a fantasy name rather than your real name so imagine executives with names like "Star Catcher".

She also used the early adoption curve showing that this technology was still before "The Chasm".

Rule Based Programming in Interactive Fiction; Or, How I learned to stop worrying and love them declarative languages
This was a neat view on a very specific programming problem: How to design text based adventure games. It wasn't what I was expecting at all, but was a good peek into an area that I knew nothing about. He started off by describing some pitfalls to a simple Object Oriented approach, his design got bogged down by edge cases and special conditions. He finished up by talking about a prolog-esque rule based language (I'm not sure if it exists or not) where you create many rules to describe the objects and rooms and let the language crunch all the rules for a given action and give you a result. At one point he mentioned "You need a language built from the ground up which is designed to hack itself".

Don't Be a Douche - Best Practices for Game Mechanics in Your Webb App: Sachin Agarwal
This was probably the most entertaining presentation of the day, he started out using a Wii controller to advance slides and made some wrestling characters represent people in a business. A lot of his presentation was inspired by this presentation "Design Outside the Box", you should check out his blog for more.

There were some amusing quotes that stuck out:
When describing badges / achievements "evil evil awesome shit"
"Does the house win in the app your making? It should..." response to a question mentioning online poker.
After mentioning Emoticons / Emoji are popular with Japanese girls: "You know that when shits big in Japan that its gonna come here eventually"

Version Controller Discussion: Shankar
This was a round table discussion about what people are doing with version control. Most of the group were using free centralized / distributed solutions. A handful were using commercial things like clearcase/perforce/accurev. Noone used something valled Versioning Filesystem or Visual SourceSafe. A couple funny things people mentioned was having a lava lamp automatically switched on when someone breaks the build, and having a "break the build" jar where you put some money in if you broke the build.

Closing
The event wrapped up with the programming contest winners and some feedback from the audience on the event. If you have feedback update the wiki at wiki.barcampboston.org.

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