Mihai Tataran stood next before a group of technologist at the Jidvei winery and castle in Cetatea de Balta, Transylvania. IT Camp had ended the day before and the conference organizers took the speakers to the winery for a tour, a lunch, and a wine tasting. Mihai laughed and translated into English the tour guides jokes comparing wine with a beautiful woman. The group was tired from the activities surrounding the conference, but energized by the fresh air and the sunshine.
The speakers (including me) had come to Transylvania to speak at the 6th annual IT Camp in Cluj-Napoca. Cluj-Napoca is arguably the tech center of Transylvania - the region of northern Romania which has established itself in recent years as a growing technology hub.
IT Camp has grown from a small Microsoft-focused developer event into a 2-day, 6-track, multi-platform event with many presentations covering topics outside of software development, such as business skills and DevOps. This was my third visit to IT Camp in as many years.
The conference featured 3 keynote presentations - all on Day 1:
Cluj Mayor Emil Boc opened the conference by talking about the emergence of the tech industry and the advantage of the universities in his city.
Jayson Street described some things he has done wrong in his career as a security analyst and the lessons he learned from those incidents.
Laurent Ellerbach showed off his IoT-enabled garden that does everything from analyze the soil to automatically turn on sprinklers to take photos on demand.
IT Camp features an impressive list of speakers from at least 9 different countries - mostly from Europe.
I had a chance to see a few sessions presented by others, including Raffaele Rialdi's "Introduction to .NET Core", Mihai Coroș's "Building Your First SPA with Aurelia and ASP.NET MVC 6", and Radu Vunvulea's "Azure microservices in practice".
I delivered 2 sessions at IT Camp: "Open Source Technologies in Microsoft Azure" and "Adding Image and Voice Intelligence to your apps with Microsoft Cognitive Services".
The Open Source Azure session was well-received by the 30 or so attendees. This was a variation on a talk I've done in the past titled "Microsoft Azure Without Microsoft". In it, I highlight many of the open source technologies that are available in Microsoft Azure (e.g., Linux Virtual Machines and PHP web applications) and with which Microsoft Azure can work (e.g., REST services consumed by Java or Ruby).
I was much more happy with the Cognitive Services presentation. The audience filled a room with a capacity of over 100 persons and were impressed by this technology that exposes models built with machine learning to any application that can call a web service. A line of attendees came to the stage afterward to ask questions.
I also had an opportunity to meet with the Technical Evangelists on the DX Romania team - both in Bucharest before the conference and during IT Camp.
Few conferences treat their speakers as well as IT Camp. Perks of speaking here, included:
I'm writing this recap from an airport lounge in Munich, waiting for a flight to take me home to Chicago. I'm exhausted from a lack of sleep this past week, but I'm happy I had the opportunity to take part in IT Camp and to reconnect with so many people that I only see once a year.