Mark Gilbert's Blog

Science and technology, served light and fluffy.

Amusing Bits from Ann Arbor Give Camp

The Ann Arbor Give Camp, held at Washtenaw Community College, was a blast!  A great group of developers came together to try to knock out some useful applications for a great group of charities in just under 48 hours – start to finish.  I knew I would be surrounded by a lot of great talent, and I wasn’t disappointed.  I was a little surprised, however, to find myself doing the whole “fan-boy” thing as I discovered that the charity representative for my team was John Mullinax (while he is employed by Microsoft he was actually in attendance representing Golightly Academy of IT, where he is a board member), and one of my teammates was Sarah Dutkiewicz of  Until this weekend I hadn’t met either, but I had followed their blogs for months.  Sarah has a great write-up of the Golightly project on her site.

It was a thrill crash-learning a new CMS system (Telerik’s SiteFinity) with a new team (comprised of Sarah, Brian Kriesel, and Kevin Shin).  But that was only a small part of the fun.  My part of the fun started with me arriving 25 minutes later than I had wanted – roughly 10 minutes into Jennifer Marsman’s kick-off address.  I entered the building, picked up my check-in materials, and hustled to the lecture hall where she was speaking to the entire group of developers and charity reps.  I happened to catch up with another developer who was just arriving, and as we approached the door I turned to him with a smirk and said, “Well, as long as we don’t enter at stage level, I think we’ll be ok.”  Ahem.  Yeah, you can guess where that door led.  So, I hustled past Jennifer as quickly as I could and walked up the aisle to stand in the back, trying to draw as little attention to myself as I could.  I think I was about as successful as I would have been trying to parallel park an elephant in downtown Kalamazoo during rush hour.

While caffeinated drinks and humor were in plentiful supply this weekend, there were actually two things that seemed to be in great demand: CSS skill and sleep.

As it turns out, several of the teams chose SiteFinity CMS for their solutions (we had six donated licenses for our use this weekend), and one of the key pieces was being able to style the front end using CSS.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of the developers in attendance lacked either the skill or the confidence to properly wield this technology (full disclosure: I lack both the skill AND the confidence), so calls began going out for people in the group who could help.  Those two or three people ended up being sent around to the other teams as an ad-hoc “tiger” team, and got everyone up and running.

Now, while lacking CSS-talented developers was unfortunate, it was also unforeseen, but we managed to work through it.  Lack of sleep, on the other hand, was completely self-inflicted.  A handful of developers (I was not among them) decided to stay up all night Friday.  By dinner on Saturday, there were some pretty zombie-like devs walking around, and it made for some great moments in dialogue.  For instance, one developer who actually did get some sleep on Friday lamented, “I feel like a loser – I slept”.  Another, trying to clarify what everyone was talking about asked, “SiteFinity, does that start with a ‘C’ or an ‘I’?”

I unfortunately couldn’t stay for the entire event (I drove back to Kalamazoo late last night), but from all accounts the demo earlier today went well, and John was very pleased with our progress, calling the new site a “solid foundation that the Golightly Academy of IT can build on“.  All in all, an exhausting, thrilling, awesome weekend.  I am definitely looking forward to the next one.

July 13, 2008 - Posted by | General


  1. Ha! I love that SiteFinity with the C or I comment. I should be getting the SiteFinity license this week to finish getting up and going. I’ll definitely email you guys once it’s all in place!

    Thanks for such a fun weekend! It was great working with you!

    Comment by Sarah Dutkiewicz | July 15, 2008

  2. The feeling is mutual. This weekend was a blast.

    Comment by markegilbert | July 15, 2008

  3. […] Mark Gilbert […]

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