By Angela Hey
Code Camp at Foothill College shows you're never too old or too young to create software.Uploaded: Oct 10, 2013
Anyone can learn to code at some level, just like anyone can learn to write. Some write best-sellers, others find it hard to write a thank-you note. So it is with coding, some programmers are amazing, others struggle, some do it for fun. Some people learn to code on their own, others learn online, others learn at college.
Last weekend, Silicon Valley Code Camp at Foothill College was abuzz with programmers young and old. With 4498 attendees registered, 229 sessions and over 30 corporate sponsors, Code Camp encourages participants to learn new software, brush up on skills and meet software experts.
Microsoft had the biggest booth in their quest to attract both mobile and enterprise programmers. Faced with plenty of competition from Open Source platforms like Google's Android in mobile and Linux on servers, Microsoft is reinventing itself by acquiring Nokia's device business and leveraging its enterprise expertise.
Fifteen years ago I enjoyed using Microsoft Word and Excel on Microsoft's CE operating system on an HP Jornada. Nokia's Lumia phones also run Microsoft Office apps, but today it's not a compelling feature, given apps like DataViz's Documents To Go or Microsoft's Office Mobile on Apple and Android phones. However, a 41 megapixel camera might just persuade you to buy the Nokia 1020 smartphone. The downside, it's a bit slow and files are large, the upside you can have clear digitally zoomed pictures. National Geographic photographer Stephen Alvarez used one to take stunning photos on a 10-day tour of the American West. At Code Camp, Nokia Evangelist Raj Lal, and author of Beginning Smartphone Web Development, showed how easy it was to write phone apps to enhance photographs.
On the enterprise side, several sessions on business intelligence (BI) featured Microsoft products. Microsoft hosts BI meetups on the 1st Thursday of the month, alternating between its Mountain View and San Francisco offices. Also on March 8 2014, Microsoft's Mountain View campus will host a free one day training event for BI professionals. I attended a talk on using Excel for Enterprise Data Mining using Power Pivot. Power Pivot comes with Microsoft Excel Professional Plus and it enables you to analyze bigger data sets than you could in Excel alone. Microsoft was also promoting its BizSpark program, which often sponsors events for entrepreneurs at Microsoft's Mountain View campus.
Children, accompanied by parents and a laptop, had their own sessions. They learned how to write games using Greenfoot, a system for learning the Java language with pictures of objects. Stephen Chin, a Java ambassador from Oracle, helped children program a Raspberry Pi board. The board is a versatile computer which supported a touch-screen, memory card and keyboard for the class. If you missed Code Camp you can catch up by seeing Steve's presentation and slides of the class on SteveOnJava.com.
Recruiters were searching for talent - Intuit claimed it had 500 open jobs and Dice has 8000 openings in the Bay Area for tech jobs. There's plenty more on the Code Camp website.