Every year Philly’s BarCarmp gets better.  Last year I met great people and learned new tactics from my peers.  This year I enjoyed a number of roundtable discussions where we taught each other and had my core paradigms challenged.  (of couse still met great people, but that is implied)

The day opened last night with a fantastic hosted party @indyhall.  It had a vibe that reminded me of my college days where the future was bright and everyone you talked to has excitement around what they were doing.  I loved being surprised by people.  Even the kids from Phillymagic had more going on then I would have thought.  First off the magician was a Rensselar student and I was saddened to learn the bars I institutionalized as a student were no longer in vogue.  More importantly he was not just flipping cards for pay, he is building out an online hub for magicians to fill a market need that he noticed.  I’m barely through my first tequila and completely impressed by this fellows accomplishments in building a passive income stream is a business he loves.

There were another half dozen similar occurrences that night and I could tell all the stories.  One of them being that I met the “Best storyteller in Philadelphia” and learned that StorySlams happen around the corner from my house.  My wife Jen tells a great story and I’m looking forward to coercing her to get in there and compete.

Innovation, entrepreneuring, passion, community - good start!

The next morning saw me walked up Broad street at 730am to help unload a car and get setup.  I was listening to music and passed a colleague heading south.  Checking my phone’s walking GPS I realized I was not lost, he was just early and meandering about.  Little did he know there was heavy lifting to be done and in true barcamp fashion he did not hesitate to roll up his sleeves and help us out.  I thought that there might be a shortage of people in the early AM and there were actually plenty of bodies.  A good start.

It is hard to keep saying how the day kept getting better, but even the act of mindlessly stuffing badges was fun.  The debate about giving extra or fewer ‘dot’ votes to sponsors was hilarious and socially relevant at the same time.  When you want to lead a talk at barcamp you simply put a card up on the wall.  If you want to attend a talk you put a ‘dot’ sticker on it.  The organizers use the sticker to determine what size room to put the talk into, it is not a vote.  Everyone gets to talk if you have a card up.  A common misconception around this was that cards with fewer stickers would not be attended.  It is like voting in that most people have decided in their heads what talk to go to but don’t bother walking up to ‘vote’.  But that is another topic.  It is safe to say I didn’t see any bare cards and I’ve never seen an empty room.

Interlude for carafes of old city coffee, overflowing platters of bagels and jams and baskets of fresh fruit.  No pretentious croissants, just honest local philly goodness.

For the first session my wife listened to LessAccounting’s Steve for the topic of Making Money.  She is a Terry Pratchett fan.  I’m looking forward to her dad’s take on their offering.

Personally I went for the VIm talk by Trevor.  I’m a big VIm fan and recovering Java IDE addict.  Yes I went down the dark road where I relied on IDEs to generate pages of boilerplate code that locked my development into that particular IDE.  I even skipped reading the documentation of third party code and just let intellisense autocompletion help me muddle through.  Moving back to VI forced to to really understand the code and look for the elegance that comes with refactoring around concise code.  Additionally since I partner VIM with command line processing I can use the same toolchain on dev, qa and CI without much fuss.

Also modal editing rocks.  Fingers stay on the home keys and regex navigation makes pages of code seem to grow on the page rather then being written top down.  Most of the people there had at least dabbled with VI and we shared some great tips.

More importantly I’m not alone in thinking VIm breeds productivity and automation.

And most importantly for my not so secret agenda VIm runs on Linux, Windows and Mac.

More on that later, stay tunned for part II - Open Data Philly!