Michael Dwan

Coding Is Not a Spectator Sport

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Last year I gave a presentation to the Chicago .NET User Group and internally to Clarity Consulting introducing Ruby on Rails for ASP.NET Developers. This presentation was my first time writing code in front of a crowd.

I’ve given dozens of presentations both large and small, however the CNUG presentation was unlike anything I had ever experienced. My flaky laptop prevented a sample website I wrote from running and brought my demonstration to a grinding halt. Trying to track down a problem in front of a hundred people in a silent room is one of the seven layers of hell.

Luckily Brian Eng of SoftiesOnRails.com happened to be in the audience. He gave a tip that helped me get things back on track so I could demo at least a portion of the awesomeness that is Rails.

Following the presentation the CTO of Clarity, Jon Rauschenberger, gave me a fantastic sentiment to keep in mind next time I give a presentation:

Writing code in front of a crowd generally goes either really well, or really badly… not much room for in between.

What was the problem in the end? The Windows Vista firewall was preventing webrick from accepting requests. The solution? Head out the next week, pick up a Mac, and never look back.

Here’s the slides from the presentation: