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Whil talks about takin' on other people's software babies!

Given at BarcampMilwaukee5 on Oct. 2, 2010, Whil Hentzen leads a very frank discussion of what it takes to take on other people's software babies.

There are tens of thousands, no, hundreds of thousands of legacy applications out there, ranging from Cobol to FoxPro for DOS to Microsoft Access to Paradox to Advanced Revelation. Maybe even a couple Visual Basic 6 systems. Unfortunately, there aren't tens or hundreds of thousands of legacy developers to maintain those applications. Most likely, the original developer of the application you're now looking at is long gone. The application is â potentially â now yours. But this situation is fraught with peril. You want to avoid that peril, don't you? Fifty one tips and tricks, ranging from pedantic, overbearing and over-generalized philosophical rants to detailed examples using software you've never heard of, that will help you get through yet another night of dealing with The App From Hell that got dumped on your lap just before you were headed out for a week's vacation. Or something like that.

Audio was taken by the Zoom Handy Recorder H2 in Session Room 1 at Bucketworks. I trimmed, normalized and compressed it, then uploaded it to the mighty You can also download an MP3 file if you’d like. (And for our freedom loving friends, enjoy an Ogg file.)


Crossposted Manually from

BarcampMilwaukee Undesigns

I have made some horrible logos for BarCampMilwaukee over the years.

First Bad Barkcamp Milwuakee logo on flickr.
BarcampMilwaukee3 was a really great bad logo and should make you think about Mortal Kombat.

BarCampMilwaukee4's design had a Brent Favre feel to it.

And so I am most proud to reveal here to you, today; this is certainly not going to be the logo for BarCampMilwaukee5:


I wanted it to be almost one of those pictures you could rotate 180-degrees and have it still say the same thing. Like a word that is almost a palindrome.

Please come to BarCampMilwaukee5 anyway. Its on Oct. 2 and 3. Register. Do it.

Upon the Gift of BarCampMilwaukee


One of the things I love about putting together a BarCamp is that those who attend a BarCamp are responsible for making the event what they want it to be.

BarcampMilwaukee4 is going to be a lot more of an Unconference than usual. We're busting to make it a great event, but economic realities have made the "participatory" element of Barcamp more important than ever.

So let it be said, that you, dear Barcamp attendee, are responsible for making Barcamp into an experience that you will enjoy. Think about what you need to ensure you're going to be comfortable, connected, and engaged-- and then bring those things. Or make arrangements to bring those things. Or bring money to buy those things. Just don't expect that those things are going to show be there for you.

I plan to bring my own coffee pot, coffee maker, cooler of drinks, a power strip, cables, chairs, and tables, I also plan to bring some snacks, coffee, and things to share.

That's the thing about a participatory conference, right? It's not just about the Law of Two Feet and about getting great gifts of knowledge and t-shirts from your community. For Barcamp to work, you have to give back, too. If everybody took care of their own needs, and then ensured that they were also contributing to the comfort, connection and engagement of their neighbor, Barcamp could be held in a dark cave on top of a flagpole, and it would be great.

The organizers of BarcampMilwaukee, great people like Jenn, Ashe, Pete and Kevin, have given largely of themselves this year, and I, for one, am going to work as hard as I can to ensure that I live up to the standard of giving of themselves (and their time and their effort) that these folks, my friends, have set.

Will you?

BarCamp Milwaukee 4 is coming! Some advice on giving sessions

I've been blogging a lot lately, just not here.
BarCampMilwaukee4 is only twelve days away! Holy Crap!
That's super awesome.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do, session wise, I'm kind of rolling with the event and see what happens, but I posted these thoughts on the sessions discussions page at, and figured I might as well share here, too.

You have to give a session at Barcamp this year. There's no rule, or anything, but if you don't give at least co-facilitate a session this year, you're doing it wrong.

Don't let your monkey mind, your self-hater, get in your way. You have valuable experience to share. Sharing your knowledge is righteous and good. Your experiences make you an expert in what you know, and we can all benefit when you share that expertise.

Don’t be afraid to do some beginner’s sessions! You have far more expertise than you realize, and part of the magic of BarCamp is that the stuff you know a little about added with the stuff your colleagues know a little about makes for a whole lot of collective knowledge.

On the other side of the coin, if you know a lot about a subject, consider running an “intro” session before your advanced sessions. For example, If you think you might want to put on an “advanced Joomla hacking” session, think about doing an “Intro to Joomla” session first. You’ll find that running an intro session will help feed the advanced session, and will probably get new users excited about the subject you're so passionate about!

What ever you do, Don't make the mistake of thinking you can coast through a Barcamp without contributing in some way. If you really can't bring yourself to host a session, try volunteering at the front desk, making a meal for someone, bringing water to the session rooms or taking out the trash.

We'll see you punks at BarcampMilwaukee4, Ok? It begins Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009 at 10 a.m. and runs through Sunday, Oct. 4, 2009 at 4 p.m. at the Chase Commerce Center, 3073 S. Chase Ave, in Milwaukee.

Call for T-shirt designs

You can design the next BarCampMilwaukee T-shirt. And you should. Or I will. And I like unicorns and fairies on my t-shirts.


There are a couple of catches though:

  1. Color Choices: One color for the front. One color for the back. Full size images on both. Details of the exact dimentions are forthcoming, but for now, just assume you're working from 12" by 12" image spaces.
  2. The BarCampMilwaukee Logo, which you can download here, must appear on the back of the t-shirt somewhere, in some recognizable form.
  3. There must be room for a list of sponsors on the back. Typically 12-20 sponsor names. The sponsors are the reason we can even think about providing a t-shirt. Give them a bone, eh?
  4. Have your way with the front. It should say BarCamp and Milwaukee and 4, somehow. Other than that, Bob's your uncle.
  5. The design mustbe Creative Commons licensed. The less restrictive the better. The judges will be adding bonus points based on this.

Submit your high resolution 1-color artwork By SEPTEMBER 15 to

(Image credit)

Cross posted from Web414

A T-shirt Czar has been appointed.


Sometimes, I just can't believe that @AsheDryden puts up with Pete and Me. Well... me.

Anyway, I've agreed to take on the title of "T-Shirt Czar" for Barcamp Milwaukee 4. This is a thankless job, because it will be nigh impossible to follow in the footsteps of the mighty Mike Rohde, but the good news is that I'm not actually going to try.

Here's the thing: With the caliber of designers involved in Web414-- BarcampMKE's sponsor organization-- I can manage this T-shirt thing and hopefully let the designer do the design work-- let me run around making the phone calls and moving the data.
So watch this space for t-shirt contest ideas. If you're a hot-shit designer in the Milwaukee space, shoot me a note, because otherwise I'm going to end up designing the t-shirt and it will probably have skulls or birds or pirates on it. That's supposed to be discouragement, people.

Let the t-shirt ideas flow, friends. Lets go!

BarCamp MK3 Planning Got me Pumped.

There is a lot going on these days.

BarcampMK3: We're in the hard push for sponsorships: If you have access to $200, you could do more foolish things than spend it on BarCamp Milwaukee 3. There are a couple of promises I want to make regarding this year's BarCamp:

  • Bandwidth
    We will have bandwidth for all at BarCampMK3. Dammit.
  • Bucketworks
    We will be at the Mighty Bucketfor this years event.

There are other promises I want to make you, but at this time, I'm really not ready to make them. I think we should have electronic check in. I'm working on that. I think we should have webcasting. I think we should have a Creative Commons Salon/lounge. I'd like to have a band. I would like to screen "Steal this Film." I would like to have a *gasp* keynote session. (Appalling, I know.)
But before any of that can happen, we need sponsors. Send us $200. You can do it by PayPal or any other way you're comfortable. We just want your money. We need your money. This can't happen without your sponsorship.
BarCampMk3: October 4th/5th 2008. Starting at 10 a.m. at Milwaukee's famous Bucketworks.