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26May/100

IndyTechFest Recap

IndyTechFest is teh awesome!

I was privileged enough to be a speaker alongside some other ridiculously awesome regional speakers (and even had a few of them IN my presentation!)… star struck having @dburton, @timwingfield, @skimedic, and other community leaders like @myotherpants and @maggielongshore in the audience.  I am truly humbled.  Thanks to the organizers for allowing me to practice my teaching, and thanks to those that sat through my talk for supporting me (and also, thanks for the positive feedback from those I talked to afterwards!).  [Side note: If you want to see my slides:  http://github.com/jonfuller/presentations/tree/master/mongo/]

The best part, however, had nothing do with any presentation at the event.  It had to do with the amazing conversations we had in the Open Spaces area hosted by @alanstevens.  I hung out there ALL day (except for when I was presenting), and got more out of any one open space topic than I have at entire conferences before.

We talked about Ruby on Rails, IronRuby, Public Speaking, Technical Speaking, Running a User Group, Linchpins, Alt.Net, Software Craftsmanship, DVCS (hg and git specifically)…

I’ll pause and let that list of topics sink in.  For me, that list is like a holy grail of a developer conference.

Most of this was deep discussion about the topic at hand by some great minds/leaders in the area.  All of the aforementioned folks plus @jayharris, @alanbarber, @jademason, @garrinmf,@arktronic, @browniepoints were together having these conversations, and it was really exciting (at least for me) hanging out with these guys and learning so much from them.

For me, this year, IndyTechFest was about the people and the interactions I had with them.  What was it for you?

I can’t wait for next year.

16Oct/090

Question Debugging

There isn’t much I dislike more than asking a question at a high level and getting an answer back that feels demeaning because the answerer explains everything to me from the ground up [without ever pausing to breathe or giving me an opportunity to say ‘Yeah, I know, move on’]. I typically already understand the details, or don’t care at this point, which is why it's so frustrating (to me).

I hadn’t ever really thought [at least not too much] about how to solve this problem until I heard Matt verbalize it like this a couple months ago:

I first try to gauge where the person is, and try to respond at a similar level.  I also adjust the response as I get visual feedback from the person as they are listening to my response.

Whoa.

I have been acutely aware of a person’s inability to do this every time I ask a question ever since I heard Matt say this (Shoot!  Now I’m ruined!).

So here is how I try to debug your question (and you) so I don’t irk you off when you come to me with a question:

  • Think about the problem first.
  • Understand the problem/Be empathetic.
  • Assess where you are in the solution space of the problem, so I can give an answer in a neighborhood relevant to you.
  • Start trying to help solve the problem.
  • Be clear and specific.
  • Change my response based on any feedback I'm receiving from you (verbal or otherwise).
  • Respond with help that leads you into the pit of success.

I’ve come up [involuntarily… sorry, just something I do] with a list of don’ts when I ask you a question as well:

  • Don’t blow me away with your superior knowledge/expertise/arrogance/cockiness/awesomeness.  I already know you’re awesome… that’s why I asked you!
  • Don’t drown me with inane details.
  • Don’t be condescending.
  • Don’t be vague.
  • Don’t pretend to know if you don’t.  (Hint: I can tell when you don’t!)
  • Don’t yell at me, or yell about someone/something else, or go off the hook for some other reason. Not cool.

Reflecting over those two lists, looks like the moral of the story: Be a good listener, be resepectful, don't be an a-hole. Sounds about right ;)

Do you run into this (or think about it)? How do you try to solve it (from both sides of the question)?