Codemash retrospective

So I’ve been posting all these posts about the sessions from Codemash, but that’s not all that I learned during my time there.  So I thought I’d do an “outside the session” retrospective.

  • No matter how well the facility prepares, 700+ geeks are going to kill the network.  It may have been the wireless access points, but no matter the case people quickly became used to near dial-up speeds again because of so much traffic.
  • I really need to realize I know more about some topics than I think I do.  I went to a couple sessions that looked like they should be higher level and more technical, but ended up focusing on the 150-level type of coding.
  • Great presenters follow the “what am I going to tell you, tell you, what did I just tell you” pattern for presenting.  They also are aware of their time constraints and will make sure to allocate enough time for Q&A, or provide a way to contact them for follow up.
  • Developers have the odd behavior of always sitting near the back of the room.  Some of it makes sense when the power source is in the back or the projector screen is so huge that it would cause neck problems by sitting up front.  This really makes no sense because of technical issues like the mic not working make it easier to hear the presenter.  (ironically, I’m sitting in the back row while I’m writing this up.)
  • A developer conference being held in Sandusky, OH in the middle of January definitely doesn’t sound like a bright idea, but it’s obviously a great conference.  It sold out in about a month.  Maybe it’s the waterpark that’s attached to the hotel.  Speaking of which…
  • I now understand the draw of sitting in a hot tub outside in freezing cold weather.  The hot tubs in the Kalahari waterpark all have an outside area and the feeling of sitting out there was amazing.  That almost made me want to skip some extra sessions to head out to them.
  • Enter The Haggis is an awesome band.  Edge Case Software paid for the band to come out to the conference and perform at the after party after the first day  of the actual conference (day 2 if you attended the Pre-compiler).  You can never go wrong with a band that has a bagpipe in it.
  • Conference sessions are only valuable to you for the first few years of learning a new technology.  Either make use of Open Spaces (provided the conference has it), or network with others.  Open Spaces is great because if there’s something you want to talk about, get it posted on the open space board.  Maybe a time slot has no valuable conference session to you, so check out what’s going on with Open Spaces.  You can learn quite a bit more that way, or meet people you normally wouldn’t.  In my case I caught Jeremy Miller giving a presentation on Storyteller and his goal with it.  And for networking, I got several contacts for the Madison .NET User Group to hopefully get some more prizes coming in.
  • Speaking of Jeremy Miller, I have to admit I’m now wondering why he’s considered such a big deal.  Sure he has done some great things in the open source field, but his presentation skills are kind of lacking.  He has a lot of great ideas, but he takes forever to present them.  I now understand where his monolithic, thousands of words type of blog posts stem from.  Seriously, you’re talking to technical people who are children of the Internet.  Our attention spans aren’t that long.  Keep it moving and vary it up a bit.
  • You can (usually) quickly tell how old some of the pictures are for those that use actual images of themselves on Twitter.  Those that have a somewhat recent picture made it easy to recognize them.  Although it does give you that surreal, “Where the hell do I know you from” feeling when you are sitting right next to the person but can’t place a name with a face.
  • Vendors that use twitter to give away prizes at the conference can be very annoying.  In the case of Pillar, they had a retweet message about being entered to win a Kindle.  The problem is that people just kept retweeting it, even beyond when the conference is going on.  Seriously annoying as all it did was spam the #codemash hashtag.  Telerik took a better approach in that only those that attended the session knew what specific @’s and #’s to put in a message to be entered for a prize.

Overall an outstanding conference.  Definitely looking forward to attending next year, although I think I may actually spend more time in sessions on languages I don’t normally use everyday.

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