Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ann Arbor Give Camp

Ok as promised my Give Camp post.

I first heard of it when i went to a Dev Cares clinic. It was taught by Jennifer Marsman from Microsoft. She gave great information and was very knowledgeable. She spoke of the Give Camp and I immediately went to the site and signed up.

A few weeks later my boss and very good friend Mike Hacker emailed me and asked if i was interested in donating my time. I was like "already signed up brother". He said ok, can you email some of the guys at Sogeti and get them involved. I was like hell yes. Emails went out, threatening bodily harm by triangle choke if they did not sign up. So they did.

The first day of the camp came and arival time in Ann Arbor was between 5-5:45. I had to go in an hour early to work that day for a meeting, so it felt like the longest day. Then 5 came and I was out of that place. Having a 45 minute drive ahead of me during rush hour, i had to speed things up. For most who know me and my laundry list of tickets for speeding, getting to Ann Arbor in less than 30 minutes was a reality.....and it was 0:-)

So I get to the registration and get signed in. Been up since 6 am, i was on my 5th wind by this time I think. We met in the auditorium for a little info like no drinking in the class rooms, no coding naked (which are 2 of my favorite things to do). Each charity stood up and told who they were, what they did and what they needed done. At the end we met our charity members for the first time and broke out into the classrooms to get the details we needed to get started. We get the info and it looks like SharePoint all the way. I am a SharePoint guy, so looking at the specs I was like, man we will have this done by 3 pm on Saturday. So we break for pizza.

My team mebers and myself get aquanted over a few slices, being we have never met eachother before. After the pizza and Mt. Dew we are ready to get rolling, but first we need to get WSS installed on the hosting server. One problem....the hosting servers that was offered for free to the charity, did not support SharePoint. Suddenly, a finish by 3 pm on Saturday was slowing becomeing a dream.

My team and myself then desided to just make some .NET pages to at least give them a web presents in which they did not have. As we figure how to give them a rich user interface with admin pages allowing the charity to go into the admin parts and type what they want in to update the web site as need by storing the post information a database. This was the direction we were going. it is now midnight, i have been up for 18 hours straight and i am really feeling it. Dreading the hour drive home, i leave a little after midnight and arive home around 1:20 am. Went to bed around 2 am.

Saturday morning I wake up @ 7 am to get my day started again. I am out the door and back in Ann Arbor a little after 9 am. One of my team members was talking about another software that mimics SharePoint that was dontated. He secured a copy and uploaded it to the server Friday night. Hearing other developers that were using it for the charity they were working ran into many installation problems. I went upstairs to the charity that had just got it up and running and asked for some help. They were both great, came right to our room and sat down and got us up and running. Everyone acted as one team. Everyone helped everyone all weekend, it was great. Now learn this new software. We ran into several road blocks and bumps in the road trying to get it to do what we wanted but it was not as flexable as we would have liked it to be. Pages are made, pages are blow up, database errors, files accedently deleted, ftp problems, style sheets not doing what i want them to do, ahhhhhhhhhhh. As my mother always told me, nothing good ever comes easy. We get a pretty funtional site up and running by 1 am, yes i said 1 am. Another 18 hours i've been up and another hour drive home.

Sunday up at 7 am and out the door and back at the college by 10 am (dragged a little ass this day) We spend the day just tweaking and polishing the site up. Then I get the great idea that the site needs some custom graphics. Guess what, no designers available. So i download Photoshop and do the best i can. The site has to be done by 3 pm, it is now 2:10 and I am still making gaphics...........2:15......still making gaphics............2:20 still messing up graphics...........done by 2:40. We race to the auditorium to present our site. It is done, the charity loved it, it is now 5 pm.

Between only getting a total of around 9-10 hours total sleep the weekend, driving 2 hours a day, tired, not getting paid............I would do it all over again. I can't wait until the next one. Everyone came together when someone else needed them, it was great. i met a bunch of great people like Josh Holmes, Michael Eaton and John Hopkins. Many more people were involved and made it a success. I am sorry I dont remember all of the names but they did a great job. I would do it all over again in a heart beat.