Indy GiveCamp

Indy GiveCamp 2012 Recap

Between building a new phone app, playing with a new Surface, and attending exciting development community events, I almost completely forgot to write about this year’s Indy GiveCamp. A few weeks have passed since the event and my memory is a bit fuzzy so this will be a little sparse but I better capture what I can remember.

Indy GiveCamp was held October 5-7. Once again MID Technologies was kind enough to allow our group of more than 40 software professionals to use their facility for the weekend so we could help five organizations achieve their goals through better use of technology. As a bonus, we had enough unregistered volunteers to offset the number of no-show volunteers so we were able to assign a few people to work on the Indy GiveCamp site too.

This year’s non-profits were:

Indy Irish Fest's Old Home Page

Indy Irish Fest’s Old Home Page

I was the lead for the Indy Irish Fest project. Indy Irish Fest is an all-volunteer organization whose mission is to preserve, promote, and nurture Irish culture, arts, music and history. 2012 marked their 17th annual festival.

The organization has been living for years with a site that was becoming dated and increasingly difficult to maintain. It was cluttered and information was often hard to locate. Additionally, the site was static HTML built and modified with FrontPage. To make matters worse, sometime shortly before GiveCamp the FrontPage visual editor started choking on some HTML and forcing them to make changes to the HTML directly.

After a lot of discussion with Mary and Terry from Irish Fest about their goals for the site and with the help of the two volunteer designers we were able to modernize their site and transform it into one that they could use to better spread their message without the friction of FrontPage.

Indy Irish Fest's New Home Page

Indy Irish Fest’s New Home Page

We reorganized most of the content, promoting the most important things, and demoting some of the less important things. We made it easy for visitors to locate cultural events in the cultural calendar, to sign up for the mailing list, and find content through a search. We also made it easy for visitors to connect with the festival through various social media outlets with focus on Facebook and Twitter.

GiveCamp is one of the few outlets for software professionals to use their talents to give something back to their local community. I was excited to work with such talented people on the Irish Fest site and once again proud to be part of a larger effort where five organizations were given the help they needed to enter their next chapter.

I’m already planning on volunteering next year. If you can spare a weekend I really recommend joining in on the action. You won’t be disappointed.


Indy GiveCamp: October 5 – 7

Many non-profit organizations struggle to carry out their mission effectively because they don’t have the IT resources to get the software tools that will support them. At the same time, there aren’t many outlets where software professionals can utilize their specialized skills to contribute something meaningful back to the communities in which they live.

GiveCamp events across the country are filling this gap one weekend at a time by bringing non-profit organizations together with small teams of developers, designers, DBAs, and other software related roles to build something that will help the organization carry out its mission more effectively.  GiveCamp can’t do it without your help though.

This year’s Indy GiveCamp is being held October 5-7 and volunteers are still needed to maximize the number of organizations we can serve.  I understand that an entire weekend is a major time commitment but given that this is my second year participating I can personally attest to how rewarding the experience is.

Last year my team changed how Heart in Education Teacher Outreach (HETO), an Indianapolis-based organization that connects Indiana teachers with teachers in Honduras, promotes its mission, recruits teachers, and accepts donations.  We built a new WordPress-based site that was easier for the organization’s leadership to maintain, organized the site in a manner that focused on their objectives, and extended volunteer involvement by placing the HETO Facebook feed on the homepage.  The site is now the go-to resource for all things HETO.

If you’re in the Indianapolis area and can spare the time for a great cause I highly recommend that you volunteer.  Don’t worry if Indianapolis isn’t convenient for you though since there are GiveCamp events all over the country – just check the upcoming events calendar on the national site.

I Survived My First GiveCamp!

I did it!  I made it through my first GiveCamp!  For the benefit of those not familiar with GiveCamp it’s a weekend-long event where technologists donate their time to provide software solutions to non-profit organizations that otherwise could not afford them.

When we say “weekend-long” we mean it.  This was a caffeine-fueled 48 hour marathon of requirements gathering, design, code, CSS, collaboration, and stand-ups.  The only thing missing was sleep!  The lack of sleep was a small price to pay though to see how our work was going to breathe new life into these organizations.


Upcoming Events in Indianapolis

There are a few interesting software development related events coming up in Indianapolis over the next few weeks.


Indy TFS User Group

10/13/2010 6:30 PM

Microsoft Corporation
500 E. 96th St.
Suite 460
Indianapolis, IN 46240

Web Site: invitation.aspx?code=151376

The first meeting of the Indianapolis TFS User Group will feature Paul Hacker introducing many of the Application Lifecycle Management tools in Visual Studio 2010.

I’ve been reading Professional Application Lifecycle Management with Visual Studio 2010 and am pretty excited about many of the features.  I hope to use this session to expand upon what is included in the book.

This event is free to attend.  Follow the link to the right to register.


10/14/2010 6:00 PM

Management Information Disciplines, LLC
9800 Association Court
Indianapolis, IN 46280

Web Site:

The October IndyNDA meeting will be presented by the group’s president, Dave Leininger.  Dave will be discussing ways to graphically represent complex relationships in data.

Three special interest groups (SIGs) also meet immediately following the main event.  The SIGs were on hiatus last month so I’ll be giving my introduction to dynamic programming in C# talk this month.

IndyNDA meetings are free to attend thanks to the sponsors.  No registration is required.  Regular attendees should note the new location.

Indy GiveCamp

11/5/2010 – 11/7/2010

Management Information Disciplines, LLC
9800 Association Court
Indianapolis, IN 46280

Web Site:

“Indy GiveCamp is a weekend-long collaboration between local developers, designers, database administrators, and non-profits. It is an opportunity for the technical community to celebrate and express gratitude for the contributions of these organizations by contributing code and technical know-how directly towards the needs of the groups.”

I can’t be participate in this year’s event due to prior family commitments but I’ve heard enough good things about the GiveCamp events in other cities to know that it’s a great cause.  There is still a need for volunteers so if you can spare the weekend please volunteer.  One of 18 charities will thank you for it.