Posted 29 May 2014. Tagged: hiking and travel

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 productive.

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.

Posted 19 May 2014. Tagged: django and conference

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:

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 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 excellent.

I am looking forward to next year in Cardiff!

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