Yesterday I had the pleasure of returning to the Best Buy HQ campus for Minnebar12. I’ve been to many and continue to be impressed that an event that large continues to be free, well attended, and full of pretty decent content. For my first session I chose to attend @eryno’s talk on being a lead developer. She breaks down the lead’s role into three categories: Facilitate, Advocate and Motivate.

To illustrate what a good facilitator does, she told a story about her brother in law giving her a pretzel. After starting to eat it, she realized it was salty and would require some water – so she went to go ask for some but there was her brother in law with water in hand who said “duh, pretzels are salty.” The point being, try to anticipate roadblocks and get them out of the way before they happen if you can.

Advocating is basically the art of saying no, but having evidence to back you up so an actual negotiation can take place rather than a battle of emotions. One of the things people often ask me is “can we just do X” and my typical reaction is something like “anything is possible with enough time and money!” Which is my way of letting them know that yes, we can probably do that, but something else that you also think is important won’t get done when you thought it would.

She had some good perspective on motivation as well – starting with the notion that no one is going to be more optimistic about the feasibility of a project than you are, so make sure you’re presenting a positive attitude to your team.

I also attended Andrew Rahn’s talk about the mini yarn skein winding robot he made for his wife, which was a lot of fun. I’ve recently started trying my hand at some electronics stuff, but nothing with stepper motors or even a proper case yet, so I learned a couple things.

Another session I enjoyed was an intro to Kotlin, a newish JVM language that is type safe and heavily influenced by functional programming. Looks very interesting, and I’m definitely hoping to try it out on something soon.

Also attended sessions on reactive functional programming as well as one on genetic algorithms, so as to cover 2016 and 2004 buzzwords adequately.

As always the food was great, got to see old friends, and I got a new T-shirt.