TechDays 2010 Ottawa review/summary
Wednesday, November 17, 2010 9:14 PM
Last week TechDays 2010 rolled through Ottawa, read on for one geek's review.
TechDays, from Microsoft, is a FANTASTIC way for people in or near, eight Canadian cities to participate in MANY key technical presentations given at Microsoft's worldwide TechEd conferences. If you're lucky enough to get to goto TechEd (or PDC for that matter), well, TechDays may not be for you. BUT, if you can't afford the $$$$ for travel, hotel, food, taxis, etc and the $$ for conference tickets, then this is a great event brought to your city, well, eight to be specific.
How is this possible? Well, the team of Microsoft evangelists (Joey deVilla, Christian Beauclair, Rick Clause, Damir Bernsinic, Rod Buike are just a few of the key players, apologies if I missed someone) stake out the TechEd presentations for key ones they feel are applicable and cool to our Canadian market. Then they get some other key people to help them deliver the presentations they pick. I was very lucky to get a second opportunity to present this year in Ottawa and I HAD A BLAST!
More on the presentations in a bit, but one of the KEY features of TechDays is the opportunity to talk to other gee.......uh.....like-minded technical people! Ya, that's the ticket, other SMART people who are dealing with very similar problems as you are, on a daily basis. And some of them have solutions to share with you! You just have to talk to them. That's one of the coolest parts of the conference, talking to other people over coffee!
The presentations are about an hour in length and that's juuuuuuuuust long enough my bladder can take (did I mention they have coffee, and it's free, and pretty darn good too LOL). The MS guys do a great job of balancing a lot of presentations with a length you can absorb and still get high value from them. If the presentations were two hours long, everyone would bail half way through, and if the presentations were half an hour, you'd get fifteen in a day, but you'd never learn anything. The one hour session is a great length.
The first night there was a new addition called Speaker's Idol. This was the first year for it, and I think it went over very well. In fact, out of seven participants, I personally know of three, and two were in the top three!!!! The cool thing about Speaker's Idol, is it give you a brief taste (10m) of what it takes to do a technical presentation without completely GPFing yourself. It is also a fantastic stepping stone to presenting at a local user group meeting.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Joey deVilla and Guy Barrette for giving me the opportunity to present the Visual Studio 2010 Tips'n'Tricks presentation! I had a BLAST doing it! Merci beaucoup! And for those who where there, I hope you got a lot out of it too! Something I got out of it was enough people asking me to blog about some of the cool tips'n'tricks. So I'm starting a new TnT series, I hope you return to check them out! Unfortunately I'm not able to distribute my slides, BUT, you CAN see the Toronto presentations online, as well as the Montreal ones (coming soon) in french. If you watch the upcoming TnTs though, you'll probably get some "OH YA, I rememeber THAT one!" from my presentation.
Back in the middle of the summer when I was hoping to get a chance to speak at this year's TechDays, I REALLY REALLY REALLY (did I mention I REALLY) wanted to present something, ANYTHING WP7! From my other blogs, that shouldn't be too big of a surprise. Well, when I found out MS decided to give all 16 presentations to one person, well....I wasn't impressed. At best, it screws over 14 other people (8-1 cities, 2 per per city). There are certainly NO shortage of SL/WP7 people in the Ottawa/Montreal/Toronto area who are quite capable of giving those two presentations. However, after talking with Mark Arteaga Monday night, I HAVE to admit, Microsoft not only did the right thing, they probably got the best person to speak about WP7 across Canada. If you're not familiar with Mark's work, let's just say, he's done MORE mobile coding than most people have done CODING. This guy's not only knowledgable but approachable! He's a family guy who has the same time/work/family/technical/business constraints as you or I. He's just like every other Joe at the conference! He wasn't some "high'n'mighty dude" that I had originally thought he was (shows me not to judge a book by it's cover eh?!). I learned more from him in the very short time we spoke than I did in the last month of WP7! The guys a walking MS Mobile wikipedia! Don't believe me? Check out his upcoming Windows Phone Developer Briefings in OTT, CAL, MISS, MTL and TOR.
BUT!!!!!!!!!! Things worked out quite nicely though! Ironic how things work out sometimes! HAHA I was given a chance to talk about my favourite IDE in the world!!! Visual Studio!!! YAHOO!!!!!!! Oh man! THAT IS SO COOL!!!!!!!!! OK, SURE! I can do that! I wanted to KNOCK'EM OUT OF THE PARK with that one, and I hope I did?! I had to do a bit of last minute slight of hand with a laptop though, cause mine started "spontaneously rebooting" while I was prepping for my talk. DOH! Not good to have your laptop reboot in front of an audience that people PAID MONEY TO SEE THINGS WORK!!!!!! DOH! Thankfully I was able to get a pitch-hitter. I'm looking into fixing this, but good! Can you say "Office Space?" LOL
On that Monday night, Joey deVilla asked me if I would be able to help him out with being a track host for Optimizing the Development Process track. COOL! But I was a bit nervous, I had no idea what to do, but hey, Joey asked me to help out, so SURE! I'm in! The first day, I was a bit, uh.....shy... But I wasn't going to get caught again, so that night I went home and was googling all the next day's speakers and made sure I had bios, past history, MVP status, all that good stuff. I hope the next day hosting was better than the first!
Together with Colin Melia, we hosted the two development tracks. Thank you very much for the opportunity Joey! I had a great time!
Another cool thing at TechDays was an opportunity to play with some WP7 devices! Ya, seriously! Everytime I walked by that WP7/prize booth, I saw John Marshall and Sylvain Boucher demoing and giving prizes away! It was quite something indeed to watch those two! I don't know how they did it but they were as excited at the end of the as they were when it started!!!! And on top of that Sylvain was speaking at Speakers Idol and he managed to keep his energy level up for that too! Kudos man!
There were MANY other conversations to be had and jump into as well! It was INCREDIBLE to see the number of MVPs who were there, presenting or just present! I already mentioned Colin Melia, John Marshall and Mark Arteaga, but there were others like Wes MacDonald, Joël Hébert, Jean-René Roy, Louis-Philippe Pinsonneault, Mario Cardinal, Peter Ritchie, Garth Jones, Brad Bird,Mitch Garvis, all local guys (or close enough with the MTL guys LOL). There's something like 20 MVPs in Ottawa, please leave me a comment if I misssed you. These guys LOVE talking tech with anyone! Attending these kinds of events gives you an opportunity just "shoot the gab" with these guys about things that mean something to you. And hey, who knows, mabye you'll get your next solution over your next coffee?
Anyways, it's time for me to get back to some TnT and WP7. Again, I want to thank Joey and Guy for giving me a chance to present again and I hope I'm lucky enough to present next year! Now it's time to grab a coffee and get coding!
Updated 11-18-2010: Added URLs to MVPs blogs.
Developer Connection:Scenes from TechDays Ottawa, Part 1, by Joey deVilla
Developer Connection:Scenes from TechDays Ottawa, Part 2: In Which I Go a Little Whiteboard Crazy, by Joey deVilla
Developer Connection:Scenes from TechDays Ottawa, Part 3, by Joey deVilla
Developer Connection:Scenes from TechDays Ottawa, Part 4, by Joey deVilla
Developer Connection: Windows Phone Developer Briefings in Ottawa, Calgary, Mississauga, Montreal and Toronto
PCHenry.com: TechDays Canads 2009 Ottawa (Day 1)
PCHenry.com: TechDays Canads 2009 Ottawa (Day 2)