West Michigan Day of .NET 2008 Recap

Twitter

I saw many "twitter people" in the flesh for the first time, which was a very strange experience.  From memory, these include: mjeaton, joshholmes, jamesbender, danhounshell, stevenharman, timwingfield, sillyevar, pandamonial, and patrickfoley.  It was cool to watch many of the attendees live-twittering the event.

I Need to Speak

One of the great revelations that occurred to me and kept playing on my mind during the event was that I really should have been speaking/presenting.

This is in no way intended to take away anything from the presentations that I witnessed, but I came away feeling very confident that I could give a presentation at least as good as the ones I saw.  While I watched the presentations, I took notes on what bothered me about them, and what I would have done differently.  I thought a lot about what I would like to see in a presentation that I didn't see.

That's not the only reason I'm convinced that I need to speak next year.  It also occurred to me that most of my twitter friends who attended were also speaking at the event.  In fact, I didn't see much of them because they were either hanging out together in the "Speakers' Room" or giving presentations.

I came away convinced that people who get the most out of these things don't go for the technical content.  They go to talk to people and be seen.  The sessions are very much secondary, or perhaps even irrelevant.

So I'm planning to speak next year.  I'm not sure what the topic will be, but I already have a few decent candidates in mind.

Feedback for the Organizers

Ironically, my first bit of feedback would be to give us more time to give you feedback! :-)  They made a point to say how important our feedback was, and then gave us all of two minutes to fill out the feedback forms!  Also, don't expect people to write their names on their feedback forms.  People are less likely to honestly criticize you if they can't do it anonymously.

My second bit of feedback concerns the Wi-Fi.  I'm not sure if there is anything the organizers could have done about this or not, but the Wi-Fi...well...sucked.  When I fired up my laptop for the first time at the event and opened up Firefox, I was greeted with a big, ugly registration screen from Davenport University telling me that only students and faculty were allowed to access the Internet.  Are you freakin' serious?!  After several panic-filled minutes, I finally figured out how to get around it, but it was not at all obvious.  I realize there's probably nothing the organizers could have done about that, but at least distribute clear directions on how to get around it.  Also, when I did finally get connected, it was very slow.  People nowadays love to twitter from these events, and if they can't get online, then they can't twitter.  That's a serious bummer.

My third bit of feedback would be to make the labeling of the session rooms less confusing.  I actually wound up in the wrong room for the first session and missed a presentation I really wanted to see because the number outside the door did not match the number that the organizers intended for it.

My fourth and last bit of feedback would be to (if at all possible) put the "Speakers' Room" further away from the session rooms.  At one point, I was attending a session in a room that must have been right next to the speakers' room.  We were absorbing a tremendous amount of noise, to the point that we could barely hear the presentation.

But, keep in mind these are just a few criticisms of what was overall an awesome event!  The organizers did a fantastic job overall.

Summary

Overall, it was a great event, and I'm really glad I decided to go.  The venue, Davenport University, was very nice and modern.  There was a huge amount of variety in the sessions, covering wildly different areas of the Microsoft universe.  I got to see a lot of cool people in person and be entertained at no cost.  I'm looking forward to next year.

 

P.S.  For anyone who met me for the first time on Saturday, I apologize for my lack of conversational skills.  I'm not adept at the art of small talk, and I'm aware of that.  I'm actually fairly interesting once you get to know me, but I guarantee I won't wow you with my charisma at our first meeting.

6 comments :

Michael Eaton said...

Nice write-up Matt. It was good to meet you on Saturday.

As for your comment about speaking, I think that's a great idea. My first talk was created after watching a session at CodeMash that I knew I could do better. :-)

I also agree that you can get a lot of value by networking at these events. I wanted to make more sessions, but it was tough to tear myself away from some of the conversations I was involved in.

Sorry for the noise coming from the speaker room. :-) We did get a bid rowdy at times.

Chris Woodruff said...

Thanks Matt for the feedback. Yes the WiFi was bad. Actually Davenport is upgrading their entire network this summer so we are lucky we actually had WiFi before they went dark for the summer.
The room set up was not the issue in regards to the confusion. It was how we developed the pocketmods. I did not change the rooms to match the classroom numbers. I felt bad and tried to remind people as they walked toward the rooms from the lobby. That will be corrected next time.
I actually wish we could have given people more time to fill out the eval forms at the every end but with 5:30PM as our hard time to end we had to give out the swag. Honestly the eval forms were in the bags that we handed out. We tried to give everyone an eval form when the received their badge but if you did not receive on until the end I apologize. That is another item we will keep in mind and tracked for next year.
Overall i think the day went very well and people had good times and really connected with other attendees and the speakers. We always learn from the previous events and I hope next year will be much smoother and just as fun as this year's Day of .NET.

MattsOnlyAttack said...

It was great to you meet you.

There were a few Wifi instruction sheets floating around, but not many. I think by the time we were in the same session you had your laptop connected.

Any ideas on what you would like to speak about at next years Day of .NET?

MattsOnlyAttack said...

Guess I should ask what your session candidates are...

Matt Blodgett said...

@Chris

You guys did a fantastic job overall! It was a great event!

With regards to the eval form, no I didn't have one in the bag I received in the morning. I didn't get an eval form until I walked into the big room a few minutes before the drawing.

Matt Blodgett said...

@Matt

You know we've met before, right? I worked on a URL rewriting proof-of-concept for your company with Joel several months ago. We came and met with you at your office on 28th Street.


I've kicked around a few session ideas in my head for next year. One of them would be titled something like "Why You Should Care About Ruby". I'd discuss, from the perspective of a C# developer, the many ways in which Ruby is superior to C# as a general purpose programming language and why current .NET developers should use it.

Another session idea would be to take on the thorny issue of maintaining different database environments for a project (dev, QA, etc.) and how to best handle deploying changes to the schema. I'd need to do a lot of research on this one before I'd commit to it, but I'm guessing SubSonic migrations would be heavily featured in the talk.

My third idea is quite nebulous at this point, but I was thinking of presenting on a more high-level, philosophical topic related to general software development, like something you'd read in the Mythical Man-Month. Again, this one is pretty vague right now, and I'm not sure what the point of my talk would be exactly.