The Confluence team has always been penny-wise when planning excursions and lunches and events, and a global financial crisis doesn’t increase budgets. But then again the expectations for our Grand Day Out 2009 were high: [“Last year had been a major success already “:] , and we needed to stay on par without spending big bucks and bathing in champagne.
h2. Raging war machines to the rescue
The official plan was to go canoeing in a remote area of Sydney, and everyone was informed that we would have some sort of top-secret coding competition.  But no one expected the amount of effort Matt Jensen and Matt Ryall had put into preparing a competition in [“Robocode”:]  – a fun game in which your hand-coded Java programs control small tanks that fight it out in a virtual arena. After a brief intro and a recap of trigonometry functions the team was split randomly into subteams of 2. Matt and Matt distributed an IDEA project that made it a breeze to set up the competitors’ laptop computers, and within 15 minutes everyone was reading the API and making first steps towards building the ultimate war machine.
h2. Or so we thought
The first competition just before lunch made it pretty clear that we should stick to programming wikis. Disastrous targetting-algorithms, failed ram-attacks, random shooting into the blue, running into walls and suicidal deadlocks caused a lot of laughter , but also the will to perform better during the finals. Unsurprisingly we wrapped up lunch quickly, and even canoeing the beautiful Sutherland shire didn’t seem appealing for longer than an hour. Back to the seats for another two hours of programming. But then the big disappointment. Somehow most of us had managed to overcomplicate our tanks, introduced even more annoying bugs, and in the end the most simple design won:  A tank named Ed209 which had perfected “Seek and destroy but no fancy stuff” wiped out the competition, making Charles and Don the deserved winners of the contest.
All together, we paid $630 (AUD) for everything. Light breakfast (great scones), sandwiches and fruit for lunch, and nibbles in the afternoon, canoe hire, large amounts of coffees, drinks, etc. That averages out to $40 per person for a whole day. We have spent more for previous post-release lunches! And I dare say we had even more fun than last year.  Thanks a lot to Matt and Matt for a great preparation, and to the team at the [“Star Boatshed”:] .
h2. Pictures
Getting there was the first challenge….
Finally there
It is really a boatshed, even from the inside. Screw ergonomics.

The winning team, Charles and Don (we hate them now)
Chris, Andrew and Matt, setting an attack-vector

Too nice: Woronora in the Sutherland Shire, just south of Sydney
“Everybody say ‘Cheese Macro’!”
h2. Flickr links for more photos and some videos
[“Dmitry’s videos and pictures”:]
[“Charles’ pictures”:]
[“Matt’s pictures”:]

Confluence robot challenge