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.
It meant that 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 more meticulous planing. If you have ever done
something similar, I would love to hear about it!
Code-hiking, as its name implies, combines hiking and coding. In my
case, 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 (only available in German)
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. After a strenuous day
spent hiking the hacking sessions end up being rather short - so far
we managed about 1-2 hours during the evening - but are incredibly
The hiking provides plenty of time to discuss, and mull over, challenges
and problems regarding the project(s) at hand. And after a
well-deserved dinner following the hiking, it’s time to find a power
socket and a place to hunker down for good, old-fashioned
coding. There are none of the traditional distractions, no HN or
reddit, no TV.
While you are rarely alone in the shelters on weekends, quite the
contrary, you can usually find a secluded spot. If it is 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
ranging from 15 to 30km across terrain of varying difficulty between
refuges. This allows for pacing according to your focus: hiking or
coding. It also comes with the additional benefit of being relatively
cheap in terms of accommodation and travel costs.
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 location itself was stunning. And we had the fortune of blue skies
for the duration of the conference with the mediterranean temperatures
offset by a wonderful breeze. 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.
The conference started with three days of talks and without going into
too much detail - all talks were recorded - the quality was incredibly
high. A few stood out from the rest:
- @mjtamlyn’s talk on
django.contrib.postgres, which gave a concise overview of the
coming enhancements for Django-PostgreSQL integration
- @aymericaugustin’s keynote on
“Where the wild things are”, detailing the changes to app loading
- @jacobburch &
@jacobian’s talk on
removing/replacing individual components of Django
- @idangazit’s talk on “Advanced Web
Topography”; a visually very pleasing introduction to, and overview of,
topography on the web
- @amjithr’s “Introduction to docker”,
a quick, yet thorough introduction to docker, and his amazing
one-handed typing speed ;)
- @Xof’s talk on “Really, Really Fast
Django”, which gave an overview of strategies to speed up Django,
through caching, 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 talk on diversity
in our industry.
For detailed descriptions of all talks, I highly recommend
Overall, I learned a lot of things from the talks and took home a long list
of libraries to review and adopt. For example:
The sprints were great fun. I got my first commit into Django and
really enjoyed the ‘getting things done’ atmosphere that was
palpable throughout the two days of sprinting. It was infectious.
Even if Django wasn’t a viable choice of framework (which it
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 food certainly helped too. On the topic of
catering, I think most participants would agree that the food was
I am looking forward to next year in Cardiff!