Sunday, January 13, 2019

Interactive Venue Map for CodeMash

I was frustrated with not having a searchable venue map for the CodeMash conference, so I decided to create one myself.  Initially, I was going to build it from scratch while learning some cool new JavaScript framework, but upon googling the problem I came to realize that there are various tools out there that make creating such a map fairly easy.  The software that best fit my needs was MapWize.  I ended up creating the following map, which can be accessed via or by clicking on the image below.
The map allows you to search for a room by name and to get directions between two rooms, in addition to supporting pinch-zoom and general website responsiveness.

Here are the high-level steps that went into creating the map:
  • I emailed the CodeMash team and got a reasonably high res PDF of last year's conference map.  
  • I cropped the image and removed much of the background.
  • I imported the image into MapWize Studio and overlayed it onto their street map, which already had the exterior of the Kalahari Convention Center.
  • I then added a new place on the map for each conference room and drew the boundaries of each room.  I gave the room a name and configured a few properties, such as room type and marked it as searchable and clickable.  This was the most tedious part of the process as it took some time to draw each room onto the map.
  • Next, I drew direction lines along all the hallways and marked the exits/entrances of the building.  This is what the software uses when calculating directions between two places on the map.
  • And that is pretty much it.  I then published the map and generated a MapWize URL for it.  To make it a bit easier to share and to remember, I created the alias
One feature I didn't take advantage of was indoor navigation based on beacons or location of Wifi routers.  If those are enabled, the software can show your indoor location on the map.  That way you only have to type in the destination when getting directions to your next session and you'll see yourself on the map as you are walking.  Pretty much how you'd expect outdoor navigation to work.  You can achieve the same by giving the map permission to see your GPS location, but GPS reception is spotty when indoors.

Anyways, I used the map heavily during CodeMash and shared it with other conference guests. Feel free to use it and further share with others.  If you found it helpful I'd love to hear from you :)

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Fitness gadgets that make exercising less boring

Today I gave a talk at work on various fitness gadgets, equipment, and software that I have used to try to mix up my exercise routine and make working out a little more fun.  I covered the Zwift and iFit virtual training platforms, the Zombies Run mobile app, fitness trackers, and Strava - the social network for athletes.  The talk was well received and we had some great discussions afterward about various other gadgets that my coworkers have experimented with.  I encouraged people to try at least one of those to see if it will make exercising a little more enjoyable 🙂
Below are my slides from the talk.

(If the embedded slides don't work in your browser, try accessing them on Slideshare)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Get the most out of attending conferences

Last week I gave a talk at work on getting the most out of attending software development conferences.   I've been attending conferences for quite a while now and figured I had enough tips in the bag to share with others.  Things such as the importance of getting out of your comfort zone, how to learn from other attendees, various note taking tips, and why it is important to review what you learned.  The slides from my talk can be seen below:


Friday, January 12, 2018

CodeMash 2018

I spent the past couple of days at the CodeMash developer conference in Sandusky, Ohio.  I learned some new technologies, caught up with old friends, and as usual had a great time.  Some of the technology trends spotted this year: AI, machine learning, blockchain, digital voice assistants, people getting serious about security, and cheap (often cloud-connected) hardware controllers with tons of neat sensors.  Here is some of what I saw at the conference.

BB-8 riding the hallways

An attendee 3D printed this dragon

Unusually warm temperatures at the Kalahari resort. It got into the 60s (F) on Thursday, but then turned into a blizzard Friday afternoon!  That's Ohio weather for you.

Firefly board game

I built this heart rate monitor using Arduino and a pulse sensor

KidzMashers doing laser tag

Sphero robot programmed into a game of Hot Potato

A presentation about giving a presentation
(or recursion as we developers would call it)

Bunch of 3D printed stuff

A mainframe programmer spotted leaving the conference ;)

CodeMash definitely peaked my interest in exploring some technologies I haven't used before.  Let's get to work on that!
I believe this was my 9th time attending this unique event.  I can't wait for CodeMash 2019.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Learn by listening to audiobooks

Last week I gave a talk at work about the many benefits of listening to audiobooks.  I've been a heavy audiobook listener ever since discovering this book format back in 2001 as a great way to get me through long commutes.  I talked about where I get books from and suggested how mundane activities can be made more fun by doing them while listening to audiobooks.  I listed some of my favorite authors and provided various book recommendations both for self-improvement and general entertainment.  The slides from my talk can be seen below:


Friday, December 23, 2016

Teach your kids to code

Last week I gave a talk at Alliance Data on teaching your kids to code.  I basically walked through various applications, websites and robots that I have tried together with my kids (age 12, 9 and 6) and shared what we have enjoyed and what not.  Using these tools we have created together multiple stories and games, to our mutual enjoyment.  If you are a software developer who has a kid, I definitely recommend trying some of these tools out.  Here are the slides from my talk:


Friday, January 29, 2016

Interview for QA or the Highway

I will be taking my Web Services Testing talk to the QA or the Highway conference next month.  I am excited to speak at this QA focused conference for the first time.  I have heard a lot of good things about the conference.  Alliance Data, my new employer will be sending their entire testing team to the conference, so hopefully I'll have some friendly faces in the audience during my session :)  To promote the event and generate buzz, the Testing Curator is interviewing some of the speakers in what they call the Speaker Series.  I was recently interviewed.  Below is a link to the results.

QA or the Highway 2016 – Speaker Series – Featuring Stan Jónsson

Our sixth featured speaker who will be at QA or the Highway is Stan Jónsson.
1. What attracted you to speaking at QA or the Highway this year? I saw a...

Saturday, January 9, 2016

CodeMash 2016 - Program some health into your life

Another awesome CodeMash is coming to an end, with a lot of great sessions and a bunch of fun activities throughout the conference.  I attended the full 4 days and was joined by my family for the last 2.  For the first time my kids attended KidzMash, where they had a great time learning game development, how robots work, building an Altoid-flashlight and learning how to count to F! In the CodeMash spirit I attended mostly sessions outside my immediate comfort zone; including pre-compiler on 7 languages, front-end talks, UX-talks, softskill-talks and a few pertaining to what I am currently working on; microservices and modularity.

 I was honored to be presenting at CodeMash for the third time.  This time on a non-technical subject dear to my heart.  My talk was titled Program some health into your life; where I walked developers through what it takes to stay healthy at a desk job, the basics of nutrition and exercising, and offered various tips on loosing weight and getting the most out of your effort.  It went very well and I was not even booed when I suggested bacon was not the cornerstone of a healthy meal plan! :)  Apparently there was a free candy buffet going on at the same time I gave my talk, so I was pleased to see a room full of programmers giving up sweets for health advice :)  Below are the slides from my talk. 

As in years past, hats off to the CodeMash organizers for putting on a great conference.  I am already looking forward to CodeMash 2017!  Now off to the water park with the family!