Humanitarian Toolbox: Day 2
Awesome. There's no other word. This was positively awesome. On the 10th, we built on the foundation we created on Tuesday. We spent the entire evening coding. The event was supposed to end at 10:00. Everyone asked for "15 more minutes to finish a couple cards". Two hours later, at 12:30 am, we finally left. The best part was that we had finished the key features we came to build. Tony Surma, Microsoft's CTO for disaster relief response said, "if a disaster hit tomorrow and I deployed this, it would get used already. It's better than what's in the field today." A lot of credit goes to some very dedicated people. First and foremost, credit goes to the conference attendees that were part of the hack a thon both nights. We didn't know what to expect, and as a result, we'll plan better in future. The folks were patient, and helped us drive the forward. We got great ideas, lots of energy, and most of all: Working Software. WP_20130410_009 Also, a quick tip of the hat to Aaron Skonnard and Pluralsight. Everyone that participated by making at least one checkin got a free month subscription to the entire Pluralsight library. Selfishly, I hope they learn more, and help us build more software for Humanitarian Toolbox. (Disclosure: I'm working on my first Pluralsight course.) Brian Randell did a lot of behind the scenes work to setup web hosted TFS for us. He also helped us test and work with the Git TF bridge so attendees could use whatever they felt most comfortable with. (And, he helped me get more familiar with TFS and it’s features.  He was a great help.) Three people deserve extra thanks: Ward Bell, Julie Lerman, and John Papa. The team wanted to apply what they were learning at the conference, and selected breeze, HotTowel, and Entity Framework Code First for this project. John, Ward, and Julie all gave up quite a bit of time to help. They paired with attendees, explaining as they coded, or guiding their pair (sometimes me) around the code and libraries involved. Pure bliss: Learning and building super useful software at the same time. WP_20130410_003 For examples of what they did, John told me he and Ward would "try to stop by for about 10 or 15 minutes" to help a bit. They were both helping for at least two hours. Julie stayed until she was in jeopardy of missing her flight. (She did make it). 756607639   We had quite the cast of characters show up and ask how they can get involved as this continues over time. At future events, you may see Phil Haack, Scott Hanselman, Damien Edwards and other familiar names helping out. All of those said they would have helped this time, had they known more about it earlier in the process. I can't close this "thank you" section without mentioning three other very important people. Mari Sessions took on every task that doesn't involve code (she's got a business background, not a developer background). I have no idea where she gets that much energy. She organized the room, promoted the event, walked up and down the halls asking random conference attendees if they wanted to participate. Arranged refreshments, made everyone feel welcome, and made the event happen. Tony Surma, Microsoft's CTO for Disaster Relief, kept us focused on the problem at hand. He's gone to disaster sites and written code while in the field. His experience and knowledge of disaster zones and the problems relief workers encounter in the field was invaluable. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that he's also a super smart tech guy, and can just pitch in and make things work. Also, an extra hat tip to Microsoft.  They are providing free TFS hosting, Azure hosting, and other help supporting the effort. Furthermore, they are not mandating any technology decisions that we make. They are being a great partner to help us build software to solve real problems. And finally, without Richard Campbell, this doesn't get off the ground. I'm thrilled to be working with Richard on this. The reason is simple: when Richard gets behind an idea, things happen. Ideas turn into action. Tony started using the phrase "turn innovation into impact." That sums up Richard's contributions well. What we started only has meaning when it gets in the hands of real relief organizations during a (sadly) real disaster. When that happens, real lives are saved because those relief workers can do more. Richard brings energy, drive, and makes it happen. I'm glad he invited me to join. Finally, this last week can't be a one time event. It's got to be the start of long term commitments to create software that helps relief organizations respond to disaster events. Richard, Tony, Mari and I will be meeting in the coming weeks to go over what we learned. We're going to push code into release cycles. We're going to plan more events. We're going to create a plan to involve more people. Join us: When disaster strikes, code saves lives. If you're interested, signup at and well keep you informed.
Created: 4/11/2013 8:51:52 PM

Current Projects

I create content for .NET Core. My work appears in the .NET Core documentation site. I'm primarily responsible for the section that will help you learn C#.

All of these projects are Open Source (using the Creative Commons license for content, and the MIT license for code). If you would like to contribute, visit our GitHub Repository. Or, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for improvement, please create an issue for us.

I'm also the president of Humanitarian Toolbox. We build Open Source software that supports Humanitarian Disaster Relief efforts. We'd appreciate any help you can give to our projects. Look at our GitHub home page to see a list of our current projects. See what interests you, and dive in.

Or, if you have a group of volunteers, talk to us about hosting a codeathon event.