Conferences

.NET Rocks! Visual Studio 2012 Launch Road Trip in Indianapolis!

.NET Rocks Visual Studio 2012 Launch Road Trip

The details are still a bit sparse on this one but here’s a note to mark your calendar.  On October 8 (Yes, the day after GiveCamp) IndyTechFest presents The .NET Rocks! Visual Studio 2012 Launch Road Trip in Indianapolis!

If you’re wondering what this is all about here you go:

Well, we’ve done it again! We went and rented a big 37′ RV and booked another United States (mostly) Road Trip for the launch of Visual Studio 2012. No charge for admission.

At each stop we will record a live .NET Rocks! show with a guest star, whom we will fly in for the occasion.

Following that, we (Richard Campbell and Carl Franklin) will each do a presentation around building modern applications on the Windows platform. Carl leans toward development and client-side technology and Richard leans toward DevOps and server-side technology.

There will be food, drink, geeking out, and hopefully some alert locals will know of a pub where we can adjourn after the event to continue the conversation.

If you’d like to attend be sure to register.  I’ll update this space with more details as they’re made available.  I hope to see you there!

10/8/2012 Update

I’m a little behind with this update since I was tied up with GiveCamp all weekend but the venue details are as follows:

IndyCoz
7960 Castleway Dr
Indianapolis, Indiana 46250
[Map]

Kalamazoo X in a Nutshell

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to attend my 3rd consecutive Kalamazoo X conference.  This event has gotten better every year thanks to the efforts of Mike, Mike, Matt, and Mark.  I’ve written about the conference recently so I won’t go into detail about what Kalamazoo X is.  Instead I’ll let a quote from the home page do the work for me:

The X Conference is the other half of your career; the half that makes you stand out.

Kalamazoo X has a rich history full of great speakers with interesting topics and this year was definitely no exception.  As with years past I took quite a few notes, the highlights of which I’d like to capture here and share for you to ponder.  As you read through them I think you’ll find some of the recurring themes begin to fall out naturally.

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Kalamazoo X Conference 2012

I don’t get to as many conferences as I’d like to during the year.  I have yet to go to Code Mash, I missed out on Code PaLOUsa, and I envy everyone tweeting from VSLive (especially since Aria is a great place), but one conference I always make sure to attend is Kalamazoo X.  I’ve attended this conference for the past two years and didn’t hesitate when I was invited to take advantage of early bird registration for this year’s event.  It’s a four-hour drive from Indianapolis but it’s always well worth the trip.

I’ve mentioned this before but Kalamazoo X isn’t like other developer conferences.  Instead of focusing on the latest frameworks and toys, Kalamazoo X looks at things like communication skills, process improvement, and design.  I generally view it as a personal and career development conference for geeks.

The organizers have traditionally done a great job pulling this event together.  With speakers including Leon Gersing, Jeff Blankenburg, Tim Wingfield, and Joe O’Brien this year should be no exception.

Kalamazoo X is on April 21 from 8:00 AM – 5:30 PM at Kalamazoo Valley Community College (check the conference site for full logistics).  If you’re free that day I highly recommend registering.  It’ll likely cost you less than seeing a movie but the lessons will last for years to come.  You won’t be disappointed.

KalamazooX 2011 Recap

I attended the 2011 Kalamazoo X conference in Kalamazoo, MI on April 30, 2011.  There were no family emergencies this year which was great because this year’s event was even better than last year’s!  I’d like to extend another huge “THANK YOU” to the organizers and speakers for making it happen again.

For those unfamiliar with the Kalamazoo X conference it’s not your typical software development conference.  While most software development conferences focus on technical skills, Kalamazoo X focuses on the often forgotten soft skills.  Also unlike other software development conferences Kalamazoo X only has one track of consisting of highly focused 30 minute sessions.  This format is perfect for my limited attention span.  I feel less tired after this conference than I typically do with others of similar length despite being bombed with a steady flow of information.

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My Day of Agile

On March 26th I attended the Cincinnati Day of Agile conference.  It was nine hours and three tracks of talks and discussions about using Agile practices to build software.  The first track focused on introducing Agile concepts and techniques while track two was more about “soft” skills and getting the most out of Agile.  Track three was mostly an open space type track.  Despite still being a relative n00b to Agile I spent my day bouncing between tracks two and three.  What follows are my notes and thoughts from the sessions I attended.

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Cincinnati Day of Agile

I am attending the Cincinnati Day of Agile ConferenceOver the years my team has followed very loose processes for software development.  Now that we’ve matured as an organization we’ve found that the time for more formality is upon us.  As such, we’ve started adopting Agile methodologies to help us stay focused and on track.  With this change I thought it would be a good idea to get up to speed with what’s happening in the Agile world and what better place to do that than a day long event focusing on Agile?

The Cincinnati Day of Agile is on March 26th and is being held at the Savannah Conference Center.  It runs from 8:00 – 5:00 and early registration is $50.  You can find out more on the event site or registration site.

I hope to see you there!

My IndyTechFest Experience

This past Saturday I, along with 400+ developers, admins, and DBAs attended IndyTechFest.  It was a long, intense day of sessions covering topics such as WPF, Silverlight, SQL Server, C#, VB, Testing, and Windows Phone 7.  I’ve had a few days to digest what I heard and wanted highlight some things from each of the sessions I attended.

This year’s conference was split into seven tracks each with five sessions and an all-day open space.  All of the tracks had at least one topic I was interested in and many time slots had conflicts but ultimately I stayed within the general .NET and Silverlight tracks.  My schedule for the day was:

  • Keynote: Are My Three Screens Cloudy?
  • WPF for Developers
  • Implementing MVVM for WPF
  • The State of Data Services: Open Data for the Open Web
  • C# Tips and Tricks
  • Silverlight Code Survey

For the most part I found value in each of the sessions I attended.  Thanks go out to the sponsors, organizers, and volunteers that made this event possible.

Keynote: Are My Three Screens Cloudy?

Presented By: Jesse Liberty

In many ways Jesse Liberty’s keynote was the highlight of the day.  I think my #1 takeaway for the day is that Jesse Liberty is awesome!  In the keynote Jesse briefly described his position within Microsoft, how he got there, and gave a quick history on the evolution of Silverlight.  He went on to describe what Microsoft sees as the “three screens” (computer, TV, and phone) and how Silverlight is the technology that will bring the three screens together through Windows, XBox360, and Windows Phone 7.

WPF For Developers

Presented By: Phil Japikse

This was the first of two Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) sessions from Phil Japikse.  In this session Phil gave a good introduction to WPF for the non-initiated (like me).  He started by defining WPF, describing the advantages and disadvantages of WPF to WinForms, and discussing new features in .NET 4.0.  The majority of the session was demonstrating some of the more common features.

Some highlights:

  • Creating custom spell-check dictionaries with .lex files
  • Panels dock in XAML order
  • Controls tab in XAML order by default
  • INotifyPropertyChanged interface
  • INotifyCollectionChanged interface

The presentation and example code are both available on Phil’s Samples and Presentations page.

Implementing MVVM for WPF

Presented By: Phil Japikse

Expanding upon his first WPF session, Phil discussed how to implement the Model-View-ViewModel (MVVM) pattern in WPF.  This session was almost entirely demo showing the classes that represent each part of the pattern and how they interact.

The presentation and example code are both available on Phil’s Samples and Presentations page.

Additional Resources:

The State of Data Services: Open Data for the Open Web

Presented By: Dan Rigsby

Dan Rigsby gave a great introduction to OData, a protocol developed by Microsoft to facilitate data interchange between systems using existing Web technologies.  He started by describing REST and Atom/Pub, two technologies that make OData possible then went on to show OData in action.

REST (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representational_State_Transfer)

  • Embrace the URI
  • HTTP Verbs (GET, POST, etc…) translate to methods
  • Content-Type defines the object model
  • Status code is the result

Atom/Pub (http://atompub.org/)

  • Standards based XML syndication format for publishing and editing web resources
  • Preserves metadata
  • Provides constructs

OData (http://www.odata.org/)

  • “Open” Data
  • Formerly known “Astoria” and ADO.NET Data Services
  • Open protocol
  • WCF Data Services is Microsoft’s provider for creating and consuming OData
  • Netflix provides an OData interface to its video library

C# Tips and Tricks

Presented By: Mark Strawmyer

With all due respect to Mr. Strawmyer I was incredibly disappointed by this session.  The IndyTechFest program had this to say about the session:

This C# presentation focuses on tips and tricks for the C# developer.  It contains a mixture of C# specific features along with other handy how-to items such as shortcuts for working with the C# IDE that will make you more productive.

This session did not fit the description.  I understand the the previous session was a C# 4.0 overview and there was a strong desire to avoid duplication of information but only two of the tips/tricks mentioned were actually specific to C# and one of those was a C# 4.0 feature!

For the curious, the tips and tricks discussed were:

  • Optional & named parameters
  • Extension methods
  • ObsoleteAttribute
  • GC.Collect()
  • using keyword
  • Parallel extensions
  • Utilities

I really question offering up GC.Collect() as a tip, especially when it was provided with the caveat “you can do this but don’t.”  Is letting people know something is possible really a tip if it shouldn’t be done or is not doing it the tip?

To me, a C# tips and tricks presentation should include things such as lesser known/used operators, XML documentation & IntelliSense, compiler options, automatic properties, etc…

Silverlight Code Survey

Presented By: Jesse Liberty

This session was originally going to be “Application Development with Silverlight 4” but after some feedback from the morning’s keynote and the overlap with the MVVM session it was changed.  In this session Jesse did a quick run-through of creating a new Silverlight application, showing some basic data binding, and some basic animation.  Most of the demonstration is available on the Learn page of Silverlight.net.  Nevertheless, I wasn’t about to miss the opportunity to listen to Jesse present again.

In the Hallway

As with just about any conference lots of interesting things happen in the hallway between sessions.  I’ll sheepishly admit that I didn’t use this time as well as I could (should?) have but I really did enjoy playing with the Windows Phone 7 demo application at the Microsoft booth.  I was even clever enough to crash the app by clicking the emulator’s home button while a dialog box was open :)