Today I again had the privilege of attending a Coding in the Clink , this time number 6. This was my third visit to Marion Correctional Institute. (Read about my first visit and my second visit.) The last time I went was June 2011. Since then, the Java Guys have definitely continued to improve, in TDD, pairing, and Java. And as before, the guys were curious, hard working, and fun to be around.
As always, Dan Wiebe did a great facilitation job, and this time added new twists. He had us break from CodeRetreat tradition in a couple of significant ways (besides the fact that prison lunch never qualifies as "something good, catered"):
- No GoL, instead Mancala (We were all surprised at what a challenging problem Mancala is, given the fairly simple rules. I think it's more interesting than GoL.)
- Instead of deleting our code after each round, we left it there for the next pair. And he asked us to not pair with the same person twice, and not work on the same code twice
In round 2, when I sat down at someone else's code for the first time, it took most of that round just for me and my pair to make sense out of what was there. (Most pairs experienced this too.) I found that each subsequent code base I visited was easier to understand (and most other devs found this too). It was cool to sit down to each subsequent code base and find something better than I had previously sat down to.
For our final round, everyone agreed to go back to the workstation where we started. I'm not sure there was any consensus around that experience. For me, I was sad to find there weren't many more tests 5 hours later than when my pair and I first left it. (Which seems odd, given the experience of improving codebases we had up until the last round. Maybe I was having some bias when looking at "what they did to my code"?)
I'll close with the logo for today's event, as created by one of the inmates, Mark Roberts: