Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ann Arbor Give Camp 2009

I've just recovered from the 2nd Annual Ann Arbor Give Camp and wanted to thank everybody that participated this year. We had around 60 developers help 18 non-profits this year, like the rest of economy we did more with less compared to last year's 15 non-profits. I also think all the groups were much more successful this year, having last years experience really helps! If you aren't familiar with Give Camp – in essence; Architects, Developers, DBAs, and Designers get together for 48 hours (Friday 5pm until Sunday 5pm) and either build a new web site or software application for a non-profit with the hope of allowing them to be more efficient and give them the technology and support that they couldn't afford to purchase.

My group this year was awesome; I got to work with three great teammates – Lauren Colten, Larry Siden and Mike Davidson. Right from the start we all got on the same page and really understood what our non-profit, Lend a Helping Hand really needed. As for a our non-profit, they were amazing too – Michelle Paulp founded the organization in 2002 and has helped so many people over the years to raise money to pay for out of pocket medical costs. We started off the night with some American Legend Pizza (Thanks for sponsoring Dominos!) and then discussed her goals and hopes for the website until after 11pm, it was amazing to watch the team understand so quickly what we needed to do and develop a plan to get it working in less than 48 hours. Our team did an awesome job – we probably did over 4 weeks' worth of work in just 48 hours, including design, development and deployment!

Our project was to convert their existing web site into a content management system to help Michelle update her site and provide more resources to people, without having to spend lot of time writing HTML. We also wanted to make the site much more interactive by allowing people to comment on the site, provide a blog, make it easier for the family members of the people they help to get organized and raise as much money as possible. We chose to build the new site in Joomla, which is an open source content management system and really made everything much easier. We only had to spend a minimal amount of time getting the look and feel right, and could focus on getting the all extensions and content in place so we take the site live on Sunday.

Our team even got in the spirit and lent a helping hand to the other teams using Joomla and gave all the non-profits that would be a using Joomla an overview of the software and wrote some documentation to hand it over to them. Joomla Hand Over: Getting Started Guide

I also wanted to thank Matt from Verio for coming out to support us again this year – having someone onsite to help get all the web applications up and running was a huge benefit. We are hosting Lend A Helping Hand on Verio and didn't have any issues getting the site running and transferring the domain over. You guys are awesome and I hope to see you again next year.

Speaking of next year, I think we are going to come back bigger and stronger than ever next year. I'm very excited to work with the team that put it on this year. Great job Mike, Josh, Jennifer, Patrick, and everyone else that helped! And thanks again to all the sponsors (Microsoft, Verio, Domino's, TechSmith, SRT Solutions, Devexpress, Telerik, O'Reilly, Wrox, H&H Consulting, Zen, redgate and bottle docker)– it couldn't happen without you!

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