The day started stormy for the citizens of Atlanta and for Hackathon teams as well. Many team members were disappointed, yet optimistic. No developer wants to run into unexpected problems. Unhandled exceptions are one thing, but edge case issues that arise towards the end of a project can be crippling. This is one of the many reasons why we subject our code and solutions to tests. Developers cannot predict everything that will happen but they can do their best to try and find all of the weak points in an application and teach it to stand up to faults.
Nevertheless, it still stings when things don't go smoothly. Problems are to be expected though in development. Developers know that, and relish the challenge. That is why that even though a few teams were met with some setbacks this morning, they were optimistic. They knew that they would hunker down, work through the issue, and come out the other side with that stronger application, an increased team resolve.
Windstream's Brian Lube was especially optimistic this morning even though his team ran into some unforeseen issues. He was happy as he told Bruce Rigaud that "One weeks worth of work yielded a Month's worth of stories, and at least one solution that can be pushed into production next week." Stories are one of the primary development artifacts for Scrum and Extreme Programming (XP) project teams. A user story is a very high-level definition of a requirement, containing just enough information so that the developers can produce a reasonable estimate of the effort to implement it. Brian continued to say that "Having access to experts who gave succinct answers to questions minimized solutions containing complex logic, to a simple database lookup." Brian noted the added benefit of being able to focus on, and enhance his teams dynamic. Noting how difficult it can be to create and maintain a tight group when developers are distributed.
Brian was grinning and cracking wise as he, and his team, headed back to their conference room to tackle the issues that had arisen in their application. Bruce turned to me and said "That is what these Hackathons are all about. That is why we do these".
Two lunch and learns were given today. Ciena's Bill Kaufmann gave the group a presentation on the long term road map for the Blue Planet Orchestrator. Every customer in attendance began nodding enthusiastically when a slide came up that detailed a multi-year vision of the Orchestrator and the features that Ciena is intending to add to the solution. The first session quickly descended into a Q&A with many probing questions being issued from Windstream. The team seemed pleased with all of the answers that were given.
The Second presentation was given by Matt Sherrod of Packet Design, a recent acquisition by Ciena. Packet Design brings enhanced layer 3 intelligence solutions to the Ciena portfolio. Matt's presentation was about enhancing adaptive networks by adding Route Optimization and Assurance (ROA). Specifically how ROA fits into the Blue Planet product strategy. Everyone in attendance was pleased to learn how ROA can increase service assurance, the ability to troubleshoot, implement enhanced change controls, reduce operating costs, and evolve network automation. I mean, who doesn't want to be better, faster, safer, and more responsive while reducing overhead?
After a brilliant lasagna fueled lunch and learn, the teams returned to their projects.
About mid-day, something odd happened... Jeff Groom gathered all of the participants together in the main room. He sat them down and said.. "Listen, I am going to show you something we don't usually show anyone..something special. You want to know how to hack? I am going to show you how to hack...."
It was absolutely brilliant! I have rarely seen small groups of programmers give a standing ovation... Jeff deserved this one.
Tomorrow is the day. Tomorrow a winner of the Hackathon is crowned. There can be only one.
Until tomorrow, developers gonna develop.
P.S. For those of you who are worried. The project components that needed to be fixed were fixed.