# Monday, 27 August 2012
Monday, 27 August 2012 23:54:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, 23 August 2012

The organizers of That Conference knew a good thing when they saw it. For years, CodeMash has set the standard for community technical events. And when community leaders from Illinois and Wisconsin saw the success of CodeMash and experienced how well it was run, they resolved to create something similar.

The similarities are immediately apparent - a large polyglot developer conference, run by volunteers, taking place at an indoor waterpark. They even chose another location (Wisconsin Dells, WI) of the Kalahari water park. They added a bacon bar - an idea that I first saw implemented at CodeMash earlier this year and upped the ante by roasting a pig for dinner one night.

But it's not enough just to draw inspiration from success, have a good concept, and borrow a few ideas. To be successful, you still need to execute well. And the organizers of That Conference executed their plan very well.

They attracted an impressive list of speakers covering a wide variety of topics. Not only did this make the presentations great, but it also made the lunchtime and hallway conversations great. I saw some excellent presentations by Steve Bodnar, Jimmy Bogard, and Scott Hanselman, among others. My favourite was Bogard's session, which described how to write code that is easier to functional test.

My presentation on Azure Storage went really well. The audience was great. They asked good questions and were genuinely interested in this technology. I even overheard a couple people talking about my presentation in the lunch line. And thanks to Bob Laskey, I now have a new photo (below) that I can use on my conference profile pages. As you can see, I was very excited about my presentation.

Photo by Bob Laskey

But talking one-on-one with experts in the industry is where I get the most value from these conferences and I gained a lot of value from conversations at this conference (or is it “that conference”?). Many of the talks were so interesting, that I asked permission to record them, so you will soon see Chris Powers, Keith Casey, Ian Felton, Scott Hanselman, Samid Basu, Clark Sell, Jeff Nuckolls, Jay Harris, Michael Collier, and Ted Neward on Technology and Friends. Topics ranged from Windows Azure to telephony to home automation to the relationships between developers and managers.

That Conference included a few extra events, including a hackathon, a code retreat, a game night, open spaces, and a night in which the water park stayed open until 1AM, allowing the attendees a chance to play.

The only downside was the cost to attend, which was higher than most community events. The ticket cost was very reasonable ($350 for 3 days), but hotel rooms were almost $200 a night, the flight to Wisconsin was expensive, and the closest major airport is over an hour from Kalahari, meaning one still needed ground transportation. I was fortunate to receive sponsorship from Telerik (a sponsor of That Conference)and others received a training budget from their employers, but not everyone is so fortunate. Still, it is much cheaper than the large for-profit technical conferences.

600 attendees is an impressive turnout for a first-year conference. But the Kalahari can hold many more, so I expect this conference will grow next year. Especially if word gets out what a great job the organizers did.

That Conference home


Thursday, 23 August 2012 13:23:04 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Last week, Microsoft released Windows 8 and made it available to MSDN subscribers.

Recognizing that more applications will make this platform more successful, Microsoft is offering free help to developers who want to build applications for Windows 8.

You can sign up for the GenerationApp program to get guidance, including free access to Microsoft architects and consultants to advise you on everything from design to getting App Store approval. There are some limitations, so check out http://tinyurl.com/30daysWin8 for more information.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012 19:53:54 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Tuesday, 21 August 2012 04:27:41 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, 19 August 2012

JavaScript’s popularity proves how useful people have found the language. Novices use it to add simple validations to web forms, while advanced build amazing applications with JavaScript.

Yet, for all its utility, many look at JavaScript with disdain and fear, pointing to dangerous features and to the difficult of dealing with the browser's Document Object Model.

In JavaScript: The Good Parts, Douglas Crockford distinguishes between the good features of JavaScript that make it and elegant and powerful language; and the bad parts that make it dangerous and difficult to understand. Crockford’s message is to use the good parts and avoid the bad parts and stop fearing JavaScript.

According to Crockford, most people misunderstand JavaScript and so they misuse it; then, they complain about the language.

Crockford acknowledges that the designers of JavaScript made some mistakes (global variables, for example), but that there are enough good features of the language to make it appealing to a wide range of users writing a wide range of applications. He notes that JavaScript succeeded as a platform for creating client code for the web – something that that the more powerful Java language attempted and failed badly – and that this proves JavaScript’s power.

Applications will be better and developers happier, notes Crockford, if developers avoid the bad parts of the language. For example, always use the "===" operator, which returns what most users expect because it doesn't do any type coercion. Avoid the confusion of the "==" operator, Crockford recommends.

Crockford's style is concise and straightforward. At fewer than 200 pages, the book has no room for distractions. Regular Expressions are presented and described and examples are shown how to use them. Crockford clearly describes Closures, a feature that is likely new to many developers; and he spells out how callbacks are implemented in JavaScript.

Before reading this book, I was unaware of implied semicolons in JavaScript and whey they can be dangerous. Crockford spelled out the dangers and how to avoid them very clearly.

JavaScript can be a great language if you confine your programs to using the best parts of the language and steer clear of most of the dangerous features. This book will help distinguish the two.

Sunday, 19 August 2012 03:36:23 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Here is Mike Wood's presentation on Continuum (of the Windows Azure Variety) at the July 2012 Great Lakes Area .NET User Group meeting.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012 13:36:59 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, 13 August 2012
Monday, 13 August 2012 20:27:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, 12 August 2012

I recently delivered a presentation titled “Persistence in the Cloud: How to Use Azure Storage” at the aspconf online conference. A recording of this presentation is available at http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/aspConf/aspConf/Persistence-In-The-Cloud-How-to-use-Azure-Storage.

Sunday, 12 August 2012 17:52:59 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, 06 August 2012
Monday, 06 August 2012 07:49:43 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Wednesday, 01 August 2012

I recently delivered a presentation titled “HTML5 is the Future of the Web” at the aspconf online conference. A recording of this presentation is available at http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/aspConf/aspConf/HTML5-is-the-Future-of-the-Web.

Wednesday, 01 August 2012 15:07:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)