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Whitireia hosts first NZ computer “Code Camp”

11 April 2006

Whitireia hosts first NZ computer “Code Camp”

They talk in acronyms and deal in code; they are easily excited by complex computer processes and are not often seen in great numbers.

Whitireia Community Polytechnic’s campus will be occupied on 22 and 23 April by up to 140 computer “tekkies” for this country’s first “Code Camp”.

The camp, organised by New Zealand’s Dot Net User Group, is a chance for software developers to learn about the latest Microsoft technology.

Whitireia computer labs will be taken over by the Code campers, who will be sampling technologies that are not yet in general use.

Dot Net User group leaders Sue Chard and Brenda Lloyd say they had originally planned to host an event for 100 software developers, but have now increased the numbers to 140 – and places are filling fast.

The pair, who teach in the Bachelor of Information Technology programme at Whitireia, pushed for the Code Camp to be held at the polytech and are expecting participants from all over the country.

Code Camps started in the United States and have also been held in Australia for developers who use dot net technology to make software.

Sue, named by Microsoft as an MVP (or Most Valued Professional) is one of a select few MVPs in New Zealand. She says user groups help people to develop their skill set. “On campus we use it to network students into industry.”

Brenda says the meetings are attended by professionals as well as students. “It gives students a chance to talk to industry people.” She says there will be long lunch hours and plenty of opportunity for people to discuss ideas.

The Code Camp is aimed at professional developers, though some senior information technology students will be attending. There will be speakers, including reps from Microsoft – and workshops for some hands-on experience.

Those attending will be able to learn first-hand about WinFX and Vista technology.
Vista, Microsoft’s next major desktop Windows release after Windows XP, is to be launched this year.

WinFX, meanwhile, is the name of a new set of managed code application programming interfaces, or APIs, used by developers as the building blocks for new software.

“Developers are not working on the technology that is on the desktop now, but on what will be coming in a couple of years,” Sue says.

As a group, they enjoy discussing applications and are used to working in teams – and, up to a point, don’t mind discussing their ideas.

“Developers tend to be jealous of the actual application they are working on, but they will share the technical details of how they achieved it,” she says.

Sue and Brenda hope the Code Camp will generate some interest in the polytech’s information technology courses. Internationally, there has been a drop-off in interest in computer technology. One theory for this is that the industry has been too focused on fixing problems rather than looking ahead to what can be achieved.

Code Camp is a start. “It’s a gathering of “tekkies”, so we’ll talk a strange language,” Sue says.

Brenda: “We tend to talk in three-letter acronyms.”


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