Five things I learned at Code Camp Wellington

Code Camp Wellington was held for the third time on Saturday, April 14. Jointly hosted by iconic Wellington-based companies Trade Me and Xero, this was an opportunity for like-minded techies to learn from some of New Zealand’s best technical speakers.  Here are five things I learned on this free one day conference.


1. Stories bond people together, but it’s all fiction, so don’t let the intensity get you down.

Julie Reddish kicked off the day with her brilliant keynote on ‘Good Humaning’, not that there is bad humaning.  My takeaway from her talk was that in times of trouble, we should ‘tend and befriend’ not just ‘fight or flight’. Making friends at work, and across teams, bonds us because we’re all in this together.


2. The 90’s was the best time for the internet.

It was ugly, expensive, slow and not intuitive… but still oddly compelling.  Gareth Bradleys talk on the Internet of the 90’s was not only a trip down memory lane but an opportunity to reflect on how design and user experience has changed.

It was so important to tell users your site was ‘under construction’ hundreds of ways to say so emerged.  These became an art form. Geocities neighbourhoods were the place to launch your online presence and how a menu looked was up for debate.  Let’s just hope the marquee tag doesn’t make a comeback.


3. Don’t be afraid of what your early work looks like, use the tools and iterate.

Everyone’s first projects were horrible when we look at them now, but the important thing is to remember we can add more value and it’s all part of something bigger.  Google, Amazon and even Elon Musk have built on their ideas as part of a bigger journey.


4. Most managers don’t receive training until they have been in a leadership role for 10 years.

Sunil Jolly spoke about the transition from Developer to Manager and his style of management at Xero.  He realised early on that managing is more than just performing HR functions and the occasional catch-up. As a manager, you have a multiplying effect. If you help one of your team become more positive and effective, you notice the whole team become more positive and effective.


5. Being a developer in the 60s was hard.

The computer powering the first moon landing was built on the punch card.  Where you physically punch a card, compile it and add it to a box … which you better not drop or mess up the order of.

Rory Braybrook told the story of the Apollo Guidance Computer and the challenges of building a system to fly through space using copper wires threaded or not threaded through tiny magnetic cores, assembly language, and a multi-programmed, priority/event driven asynchronous executive packed into 2K of memory.


Thank you to the organising team and speakers.  I learned a lot and look forward to more Wellington tech events this year.