A couple of weeks ago I was honored to speak at the very excellent NCDevCon. While there I had a very interesting conversation with a guy by the name of Phillip Senn. Phillip expressed that he was looking for a mentor, someone who would push him towards better development practices and help him get unstuck when he encountered a problem he couldn’t get past. For example, he needs a bit of a push to get started with Git. He’d like to see how people setup their development environments, etc.
While I don’t really have the time or inclination to be a traditional mentor, the request got me thinking. I certainly don’t know everything there is to know about programming, but over the years I’ve gotten really good at learning new things quickly. I feel comfortable being thrown (or throwing myself) into new technical situations. I recognize patterns and can Google with the best of ’em.
So, Phillip and I conceived of what he dubbed “Office Hours”. The plan (at least for now) is for me to have a scheduled time to do a screencast where I help someone get started with or learn something new for free. I will be doing this in a Google+ hangout and streaming it live to my YouTube channel. I also plan to make archived sessions available online.
The first Office Hours will be this Friday, November 2nd from 3 to 5pm EST. Right before the office hours is set to begin I’ll publish the Office Hours Google+ Hangout URL, the live stream video, and any other relevant information. Those who are interested (up to 8 additional people) can join in the hangout and help out or follow along. Anyone else will be able to watch the video in real time.
For this first I will be working with Phillip to help him get started with Git. Truth be told, while I use Git, I’m no Git guru. My intention, however, is to help him get it installed, create a new repo, commit code, branch, merge, etc. Basically, to give him a tour of as much of it as I can. I imagine this will be rather organic with a few false starts and dead ends before we really get anywhere. To me, part of what makes Office Hours interesting is that I’ll be learning while I do it too.
I want to make Office Hours a weekly event. I also want you to feel free to email me with your requests and suggestions. For example, perhaps you want help getting started with Node.js (or anything else). Just send me an email and, if I choose your topic, we’ll schedule a time for your Office Hours. I would request that you not limit your questions to what you expect me to know. If the topic is new to me I’ll work ahead and be ready to hit the ground running in our Office Hours session.
So, do you have any thoughts or suggestions? I’d love your feedback on the concept.