Mike Neel does an amazing job with Codestock. Two years ago, he (along with Alan Stevens) introduced open spaces to the heartland; Last year, he wrote an application that allowed attendees to vote on their favorite sessions; and this year, he held the keynote in an classic movie theater and invited Rachel Appel to talk about community and bring onstage others to give their views of community.
Two days after Codestock (and a day after a 9-hour drive home from Knoxville, TN), I’m still processing the information learned.
I delivered two presentations and hosted a discussion panel. My first presentation – Writing Your First ASP.Net MVC Application – was well-received. I love showing people how accessible a hot technology like MVC is. In the afternoon, I gave a 2-hour presentation on An Introduction to Relational Database and T-SQL. I had no slides: I spent most of the talk showing examples of writing T-SQL code to modify schemas and data. I wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested in this topic, but I heard some positive feedback. Many in the audience were experienced C# developers, who knew very little about the data they were accessing; and there were a couple experienced people who listened to get ideas on teaching this topic to others.
Because I had 4 hours of material to present, I spent most of Day 1, delivering or preparing my presentations. As a result, I was unable to observe much of the conference on Friday. My evening was free, so I was able to enjoy a nice dinner with about 20 folks from the community, watch the keynote, and hang out in the hotel lobby talking with developers from all across the US and Europe. I also sneaked in the filming of a couple episodes of Technology and Friends.
Saturday, my only responsibility was hosting a Panel Discussion – How to Put on a Great Conference. I did one really smart thing: I invited some really smart people to be on the panel. Because of this, I had to do very little during the discussion. I would ask an open-ended question, such as “What is the first thing you need to think about when planning a conference” and the conversation flowed with many great ideas exchanged. (The most popular answers to this question were venue, date and goals). Jamie Wright made a video recording of this session and I plan to release it soon as an episode of Technology And Friends.
I was able to watch a few sessions on Saturday.
Chris Woodruff asked me to film the premiere of a new talk he created called “Embracing Failure”. Chris emphasizes that we should examine our shortcomings, accept responsibility for them and use them to improve ourselves.
Patrick Foley gave a presentation on becoming and independent software vendor (ISV). Patrick suggests that you don't try to tackle every feature on every platform: Instead, start by focusing on one platform and do something better than everyone else.
In Nathan Blevins’s Mindstorming presentation, he showed off programs that controlled a car, making it drive, turn and automatically avoid falling off a ledge.
Saturday evening included a dinner sponsored by Telerik (Thanks Rob and Sasha) and a trip to Alan Stevens’s house for an evening of ping pong, cigars and fellowship.
During my time in Knoxville, I also spent a lot of time picking the brains of other attendees and speakers. I met a lot of intelligent and passionate people at this conference. I was late for dinner every night because I found myself engaged in a conversation with someone about error handling or MVC view engines or search engine optimization or one of dozens of other topics. Often I turned on the camera when I realized how much information I was getting from a conversation, so many of these talks will be available on future shows.
As with most conferences, it was the people that made this one. Codestock attracts many of the same people that attend local events in Michigan and Ohio. But it also draws people from New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Alabama, and many other parts of the country. There were even people from Manitoba, Canada and from the United Kingdom.
I’m already looking forward to my next trip to Tennessee (DevLink in Nashville in August) and my trip to Codestock next year. Let me know if you will be there.