BarCamp Cedar Valley was February 1 at the UNI campus. This was the third event we've put on and was by far my favorite. If you haven't attended a BarCamp and are interested, I would recommend following our Twitter account to keep up with the latest information. If you curious about what BarCamp is all about, I would suggest reading What Is Barcamp? from our website.
Planning The Event
I'm lucky to be part of a great leadership group that helps plan this event. Like I mentioned, this was our third event so we've worked out a lot of the kinks. We didn't have any locked door, no lights, or lost reservation incidents like previous BarCamps. One of the things we really needed to tackle this time was making our website mobile-friendly. When we originally created it we found a cheap WordPress theme and it was dated and didn't work at all on mobile.
To do this, I used Initializr to create a solid website base, integrated it into an ASP.NET MVC project, found a basic theme on http://startbootstrap.com/, and pulled it all together. The site was mostly responsive but there were a few minor issues. Thanks to Far Reach for hosting our site. While it was fun to pull all these items together, it really was overkill for what we needed and next time I think next time I'll just throw together a site on GitHub Pages using one of their built-in templates.
I'm always impressed with the level of financial support from area businesses to sponsor events like these. Among our great sponsors this year were Far Reach, UNI Innovation Incubator, Kyoger, Veridian, VGM Forbin, Visual Logic Group, Strategic Imaging, and Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber. It really takes a load off the organizers' backs when great supporters such as these step up to help. Thanks a lot!
Another thing we were concerned about was attendance numbers. Our first event in 2013 was wildly successful, drawing in over 100 attendees. We had great feedback from the event, so much so that we decided to do another event in the fall of 2013. Unfortunately the 2nd event only drew less than 40 attendees, and we were leery of doing another event. We (obviously) decided to plan a 2014 event, hoping to capitalize on everybody's cabin fever. We definitely made the right choice as we had over 60 attendees even in the poor weather conditions. I think we're planning on maintaining a yearly event every February.
My Talk: Recharging Your Battery - Avoiding Tech Burnout
Since the tech track was slow to fill, I decided to do a talk about burnout as I was currently feeling a little burnt out. It was the first talk of the day and there was a great crowd. I led with things I do to recharge my battery, including charity work, working with the community, and attending events. The crowd took over the conversation (which is what I was hoping for) and there was a good discussion about work-life balance. One great suggestion that I need to do is to write every pending issue and work item on a list and leave it at my desk every night. I'm hoping that this approach cuts down on my stress at night and helps me to focus on my family.
In my talk I mentioned a great presentation by Cory House from Iowa Code Camp on being an outlier in your career. After seeing this presentation I was definitely inspired to shake myself out the negative funk I was currently in. Just this week I saw that Cory is developing a video training session on the same topic for Pluralsight due to be released in April, so I recommend keeping your eyes on that.
As mentioned before, I'm going to try doing a brain dump to a list at the end of each workday. I'm hoping this cuts down on me sitting around worrying at nights about impending deadlines, challenges, or other work-related stress. I also learned about a new area user group: Cedar Valley Makers. I need to check out a meeting sometime.
I was very please to learn that Kevin Shannon was working on a charity hackathon in the Des Moines area. I shared some ideas from our Operation: Make A Difference initiative at work. I hope what he's planning works out for my schedule because I'd definitely like to participate.
I'm not sure exactly why, but this BarCamp was my favorite so far. I was lucky to meet Kyoger people Trevor Carlson and Trace Steffen. I was able to catch up with Zach Everman and Jaymie Feldman. There were few issues other than delayed t-shirt delivery and trying to transport nine platters of Pita Pit food by myself in my truck on rough roads. I'm really looking forward to next year's event. If you'd like any info on BarCamp or are interested in helping coordinate, sponsor, or speak at a future BarCamp I encourage you to reach out for information.