Monday, December 29, 2014

NodeSchool Wisconsin Premiere Event Post-Mortem

NodeSchool Wisconsin Premiere Event Post-Mortem - 

BarCamp Green Bay, Nov. 1st, 2014.

NodeSchool Wisconsin got off to a good start by having a learning event in conjunction with BarCamp Green Bay.  The event was held at NorthEast Wisconsin Technical College.


  • The room.  BarCamp Green Bay dedicated one room to NodeSchool Wisconsin, and NWTC provided a beautiful room that was very conducive to group learning.
  • The Internet connection was fast and responsive.  This isn't something that we should take for granted.
  • Snacks.  Snacks are always a good idea.  I was able to bring some snacks, courtesy of Smart Social Media.

  • Stickers.  We had NodeSchool Wisconsin stickers to give out, also courtesy of Smart Social Media.  People seemed to like that.
  • NWTC's event staff was courteous and responsive to requests all day long.
  • Since NodeSchool started in the afternoon, I was able to take advantage of the free room by running a "Vagrant and Docker" training session while trying to set up the lab computers with the NodeSchool interface. 
  • Blake Hall is amazing and provided valuable assistance and insight throughout the day.


  • We spent a lot of time trying to configure the lab computers with Vagrant and Docker, but then discovered that some of the ports had been closed by the NWTC sysadmin, meaning that we could install everything, but couldn't figure out a way to ssh into the box.  In retrospect, we should have considered using workshopper instead.  Another thought would be to simply use some sort of vagrant "port checker" to run at the beginning of the install on an unfamiliar network.
  • Being associated with BarCamp GreenBay was great, but some attendees did not bring their own laptop or have any programming knowledge, which was something that I hadn't really prepared for.  I had assumed that most people would want to learn node.js like me.  Luckily, I don't mind explaining the basics of programming, but we didn't really have nodeschool material prepared for users with no programming experience.
  • NodeSchool was sparsely populated until the last hour of BarCamp, and given that the exercises usually take 2-3 hours, there wasn't much time for work.  People seemed to appreciate it, nonetheless.

Lessons learned:

  • Prepare an "intro to programming" track for those with no experience.  I referred them to JavaScript for Cats, but I'm not sure if this was the best starter resource.
  • Consider bringing at least one "loaner" laptop pre-configured with Vagrant, Docker, and the NodeSchool exercises.
  • See if the new Workshopper interface solves some of the configuration problems listed above.
Pictures from the event  (the whole BarCamp album is here):