I wrote the following ‘on the road’, after the first day of a hike around the Königssee. As it turned out, the trek that we picked was a little more challenging and the weather a little worse than expected and we didn’t touch the laptops for the remainder of the hike. I still believe that the concept of code-hiking is very enticing, but requires very careful planing. If you have done something similar before, I would love to hear about it!
Code-hiking, as its name implies, combines hiking and programming. It leverages the amazing infrastructure available throughout southern Germany and the Alps to spend the days scaling the mountains, enjoying the breath-taking views and fresh air and spending the evenings hacking on projects.
The DAV (German only) maintains shelters and refuges throughout the alps. These let you charge your laptop over night. They also provide a certain level of comfort that sleeping in a tent just cannot. For obvious reasons the hacking sessions end up rather short, so far we managed about 1-2 hours every evening, but are incredibly productive.
The hiking provides plenty of time to discuss and mull over challenges and problems regarding the project at hand. There is nothing more rewarding than reaching the daily destination after a strenuous hike, organizing your place to sleep, taking care of the equipment and getting together for a well-deserved dinner. After dinner it’s time to find a power socket, a place to hunker down and get coding. There are none of the traditional distractions, no HN or reddit, no TV.
While you are rarely alone in the shelters on weekends, it is usually not hard to find a secluded spot. In the case that it is a little crowded, people will still respect your desire for privacy. Next comes the easy part, open up your local copy of the documentation along with your favorite editor and get coding. Once the exhaustion finally does set in, it’s time for a final cup of tea and some reading/talking with the fellow hikers.
Code-hiking is very flexible: in the alps you can schedule anything between 15 and 30km across terrain of varying difficulty between refuges. This allows you to pace yourself depending on whether the focus is hiking or coding. It also comes with the additional benefit of being relatively cheap in terms of accommodation and travel costs.
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DjangoConfEU, #djangoisland, ended last Saturday. I have my boss to thank for sponsoring the trip. The Île des Embiez off the southern coast of France was a wonderful choice of a location. The conference started with three days of talks, without going into too much detail - all talks were recorded - the quality of was really high. To me, a few stood out from the rest though:
- @mjtamlyn’s talk on
django.contrib.postgres, which gave a concise overview of the coming enhancements for postgres integration
- @aymericaugustin’s keynote on “Where the wild things are”, detailing the changes to app loading coming in 1.7
- @jacobburch & @jacobian talk on approaches to remove/replace individual components of django.
- @idangazit’s talk on “Advanced Web Topography”; an aesthetic introduction to, and overview of, topography on the web
- @amjithr’s “Introduction to docker”, who amazed all attendants with his one-handed typing speed ;) in addition to giving a quick, yet thorough introduction to docker
- @Xof’s talk on “Really, Really Fast Django”, which gave an overview of strategies to speed up django, through caching and caching, oh and also caching
- Finally, and this gets my vote for best talk, @evildmp’s keynote on “The programmer’s body”, a beautiful and philosophical on diversity in our industry.
For detailed descriptions of all talks, I highly recommend @reinoutvanrees awesome talk-by-talk summaries.
Overall, I learned a lot of things from the talks and took a long list of things to investigate, review and adopt. For example:
The sprints were great fun. I got my first commit into Django and really enjoyed the atmosphere of ‘getting things done’ that was palpable throughout the two days of sprinting.
Even if django wasn’t a viable choice of framework (and it most certainly is), its community alone would be worth sticking with it. Far from being limited to Europeans, #djangoisland drew participants from all over the world. The fact that all participants were quartered in the same hotel had the beautiful effect of having everyone eating together three times a day. This made meeting and interacting much more natural and prevented the kind of clustering that frequently occurs otherwise. Equally, the wide variety of the participants’ backgrounds made for very diverse and interesting conversations that frequently lasted (way too) late into the night. The wonderful catering certainly helped too.
On the topic of catering, I think most participants would agree that the food was excellent. The location itself was stunning. And we had the fortune of having blue skies for the duration of the conference with the mediterranean temperatures offset by a wonderful breeze all day long. Taking a stroll around the island was a very rewarding experience, with multiple small beaches to enjoy and a rather monstrous goat to be seen - its size and huge horns had become rather infamous by the end of the conference.
I am looking forward to next year in Cardiff!
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