Saturday, March 19, 2011

Talks at the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education 2011 Conference

In a couple of hours I will be talking about the Open Wonderland Development course that I organised through P2PU earlier this year. The time is 7a.m. PST or 2p.m. GMT and everybody is welcome!

This is the master schedule for the whole conference, which is finishing today.

Yesterday was the turn of Roland Sassen from Thinsia Research to talk about Wonderschool, their fantastic project that allows children in schools to use Alice through Open Wonderland. Roland also talked about some new research they are starting, to use Wonderland through thin clients and that sounds really exciting!

After that, Nicole and Jonathan from Open Wonderland Foundation and Wonderbuilders talked about the imminent preview 5 release that we are all waiting for!

As for today, I will be talking about the P2PU course and later on, at 1p.m. PST or 8p.m. GMT, Jon and Nicole will be joined by Kathryn Aten to tell us all about how to learn to program collaborative using Open Wonderland. This is a talk based on Wonderland Wednesdays which are our community weekly meetings in which we've been gathering together to write code collaboratively almost every Wednesday for the last 6 months. Can't wait!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Code retreat in Winchester

I had a quite big post written about the event in Winchester but as a proof of how much I learned in the space of just one day, I went into end of session mode and deleted it!

It was an intense day but very enjoyable. For me, my first code retreat and also my first time pairing with another person in the same room. All my previous pairing experience had been remotely, and I have to say that I did enjoy sitting side by side, but I could not do a fair comparison because I had never met any of these guys before, and shouldn't compare that with the familiarity of knowing the other person, even if only remotely.

Each session was surprisingly different from the previous one, not only due to the rules, but also due to personalities and languages. I must admit that by the end of the last iteration I had already lost a part of my brain. When someone said during the last retrospective that they needed a pint, I couldn't help but think that I'd rather have a bucket full to dunk my whole head in it!

Many thanks to everyone at Eden cause the organisation was excellent, and to all the participants for making it possible. It would've been cool to see @ecomba and @sermoa in a demo session of TDD as if you meant it; I'm sure I could have learned a lot from that. Also I have some concerns about retrospectives, mainly because only the more extroverted types participate more freely. A group of more than 20 people can be frightening for some. But such is life, right?

In any case, the event certainly surpassed all my (high) expectations and I can't wait to attend another one. If anyone is interested in facilitating one in Ireland, please get in touch and I could talk to local dev groups about it.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Learning a new language through testing

I've come across this very interesting talk by Ola Bini on Adopting the JVM in which he talks, among other things, about learning a new language.
I've been trying to learn Ruby for months now, and although it's being quite a slow process, it is kinda working, but the fact that I don't write it often is a big drawback. Ola mentions that a good way to get started, if you happen to write your code in Java, is to test your code with some other language supported by the JVM such as Ruby through JRuby.

A couple of posts ago I recorded a kata in which I was using cucumber and cuke4duke to test my Java code but my step definitions were written in Java, and my unit tests used JUnit. I guess the best way to practice more Ruby would be to write the steps in Ruby, and to use RSpec to drive the design.

A quick search yields the missing piece in the puzzle; JtestR allows for just that, testing (or stretching) Java code using Ruby. I haven't tried it yet, but I certainly can't wait! and the fizzbuzz kata (March's kata in 12meses12katas) looks like the perfect ground to put it into practice. Let's see how it goes!