Friday, April 20, 2007

Devscovery Denver 2007

James and I just got back from Devscovery last night. This was the first of four Devsovery conferences that we will be exhibiting at this year and this one was held in Denver, Colorado. It was the first time that either of us had been to Colorado and we were pretty excited about it.

Our trip started off pretty tough again. It was no where near our last trip, but it wasn't looking good at our gate. We were scheduled to leave Columbus to Chicago at 9:30AM. Of course, the flight got cancelled due to "maintenance problems" and we had to reschedule our flight. I called and talked with a guy for 30 - 40 minutes before our call got dropped. Finally I heard an announcement over the loud speakers about a direct flight to Denver. I rushed over to the gate where this flight was scheduled to leave and I was able to get James and I on the flight at the last minute. YES!! Finally something is working in our favor. We will actually get to Denver earlier than if we would have gone through Chicago.

We arrived in Denver around 2:30 on Monday afternoon and got settled into the Hyatt Regency Tech Center. James checked into his room and I checked into my room. James' room had a plasma TV and an iHome theatre system for his iPod. My room had a better desk, but that is about all it had going for it compared to James' room. I had an old radio alarm clock and a 27" TV. I guess I had a little better view, but... whatever. The first thing that we did was catch up on some shut-eye. Neither one of us got much sleep the night before and we didn't have anything to do until tomorrow morning Tuesday, so I went to my room and slept from about 6PM Monday until 7AM Tuesday. I felt rejuvinated that next morning.

Tuesday morning, we got our breakfast and walked over to the Microsoft building (which was about 100 yards from the Hyatt) and got our booth setup. We attended the keynote which was hosted by Jeff Prosise. It was very motivating to see what Microsoft plans to do with SilverLite. After the keynote, James and I basically sat at our booth most of the day and worked on our presentation for Wednesday's lunch session. Once the sessions were all over, we went back to the hotel and got ready for the Colorado Rockies game against San Francisco Giants (thanks Wintellect!). The game was pretty uneventful other than the fact that Jeff Prosise got to be on the big screen and the "chicken guy" got kicked out right next to our group. :) "Free the Chicken Guy!!". It turned out to be a great game because the Rockies came back and won, 5-3! :) When we got back to the room, we tried to work on our presentation a bit more. James and I worked on it until about 2AM then I went back to my room and crashed.

Wednesday morning came way to quick and we actually both slept in a bit. James called me about 7:30 and I had some major cotton chops from drinking at the game the night before. We ate our breakfast, headed over to the Microsoft building and started finishing up our presentation material. We worked most of the morning and afternoon on our presentation and eventually rescheduled for the Thursday since we had broken the functionality a bit. Once we rescheduled and didn't have anything else to do, James and I headed out for the mountains. This is where our "Colorado Experience" really started. I'll definitely have to post the details of this trip in a separate post (trust me, it deserves a separate post). When we got back from our AWESOME trip, we tried to finish up the presentation yet again. :) We worked in James office until 2AM again and actually had some really cool stuff working, but we'll finish the fine-grain details of it tomorrow... I went back to my room and crashed hard.

So Thursday came and we slept in... again... at least I did. I woke up around 7:30ish and called James. I got all my stuff ready to check out and we met for breakfast around 8:30AM. We got to the Microsoft building around 9:15ish and really worked on finalizing our presentation. We had hyped ourselves up too much, I'm sure. The presentation went "OK". There were lots of things I would have done differently, but at least we now know. James and I are going to work on the presentation of the topics so that we can do better for Day of .NET and Devscovery - New York.

Wintellect has some great speakers and their speakers are very knowledgable. The Devscovery conference is a great conference for anybody that wants to learn about up and coming technologies. James and I sat through Jeffrey Richter's session on C# 3.0 features and learned a lot. That dude, knows his stuff. :) I must admit that it's quite humbling to sit through a session about some of the "next-level" .NET topics, and then turn around and drink beer and talk with the speakers in a social setting. This is especially true for me, because I'm a huge book junky and I've see their names on so many books that I just kind of put each of them up on a virtual pedistal (right or wrong, it's true). It was very cool to actually talk with them in a casual setting. For example, I actually got the opportunity to "shoot the shit" with Jeff Prosise at the Rockies game and he is a very personable guy. The whole time I was talking with him I knew that this guy was a "coding god" to many people all over the world. I (personally) have a couple of Richter's books and James actually claimed that he learned MFC from Prosise's book. When I told this to Jeff he stated that he didn't know whether to stand tall and proud or duck. :) Oh yeah, I had a moment of realization that Jeff Prosise looks like Mark Miller (mainly their profile). When I told Jeff this, he indicated that he had never heard that before. This was suprising to me, because they could almost pass as twins... Am I crazy? Keep in mind that the two pictures I've linked to give the similarities no justice. You would almost have to see them together in person to find the similarities.

On the last day of the event, Wintellect had a raffle. James and I threw in a t-shirt for each attendee and John Robbins had everybody put on our t-shirt for a group photo (pictured above). How cool is that? What would be really cool is if they use this photo on their site, because everybody in the picture is wearing a Data Dynamics t-shirt. I'm no marketting guru, but I think that would be a "good thing". :)

In conclusion, we made it back to Columbus late last night, ON TIME and unscathed. The trip will be one to remember for sure. Be sure to look for the next post that describes our drive through the mountains...

Update: John Robbins posted the same picture and gives his rendition of the event: Excellent Devscovery Denver

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Columbus Distance Classic 5K - My Fourth Race

As race day approached, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to race in this race or not. I pulled my Achilles Tendon the day after my last race. :( I wasn't able to run for almost a full week and had to resort to biking only. I had lost a lot of momentum from not running everyday. It sucked too, because my race times were getting faster and faster and I really wanted to do better this race since it was my birthday and all. Up until the injury running was getting easier every day and I could go faster and longer than the day before. However, I think ultimately this is why I hurt myself; I thought I was invincible and pushed myself too hard. My ankle spoke up and said "WTF!? Chill out!!" It put me out of commission for almost two full weeks and gave me a nice little reality check. :)

Since I didn't want to go out on race day and completely rupture my AT, I decided to do a couple of training jogs last week before the race. I did a 2 miler one day and a 3 miler another day, both at a snails pace, just to prove to myself (and my ankle) that I could. I did a lot of research on my injury and got all kinds of mixed advice. Most people said "STOP RUNNING!", but I decided to ignore that advice and "run it off". I was actually quite surprised at quickly my Achilles Tendon healed. Of course, it still is not 100%, but it's good enough to run on. Here is my story...

The Columbus Distance Classic is was a huge event for Columbus. There were 3,107 racers running in the half marathon, and 739 people running in the 5K. The half marathon brought an elite class of athletes from all over the world. For example, one of the winners (yes, it was a dead-even tie) was from Kenya, Africa!! Cool. Needless to say, I was surprised at how many people I had to run with. This was the first time I had to strap on an electronic device to my shoe for recording my time. I had always wondered how they kept track of times for the people in the back of the pack. I know for the Boston Marathon (which is tomorrow), it takes hours for everybody to get started. Well, I learned how... for these big races, everybody is assigned individual monitoring devices. The devices are called ChampionChips, and each runner has to tie them onto their shoes. When you cross the start line, it records your time and then when you cross the finish line, it records your time again. This gives you your time down to the milliseconds. This device allows each runner the luxury of having a floating start/end time. So this means that for all the people that were in the back of the pack, there time didn't start until the crossed the start line. For the Half Marathon, some of the people in the back didn't even cross the start line until 10 minutes into the race.

There were lots of big time people at this race. I started right behind Mayor Coleman at the start line. I mean I was directly behind him. Before the race, I actually tapped him on the shoulder and shook his hand. Chris Spielman gave a little speech before the race too; he was about 10 yards away from me. I'm still waiting to see my picture in the paper because there were all kinds of reporters and camera men taking pictures of Mayor Coleman before the race, as we were standing at the start line. If you see any pictures of Mayor Coleman at the starting line of the race, let me know!! I'll be that guy in the shades and green tobogin right behind him. :) Not that it matters, but I finished almost 5 minutes before him. :)

Before the race, I decided that I wasn't going to try and beat my last time because that would only put strain on my ankle and could have possibly put me out of commission even longer. I didn't want that because 2 weeks of no running was already bumming me out. I was starting to get stir crazy and couldn't wait to get back on the black top. The first mile was a breeze, I basically jogged it just to make sure I didn't strain anything right away; my first mile was 9:07. I knew that I could go a little bit faster than that because my ankle didn't show the slightest bit of strain. I bumped it up a little bit and increased my stride. At one point I gave a huge power burst for almost 100 yards during a kick ass Tool song on my iPod. I just got in tune with the music and passed about 12 people or so. Once I got pretty winded, I set back into a nice pace and kept up with my new neighbors. I know my second mile was much better than my first mile. Unfortunately there was no 2 mile marker and I wasn't able to accurately record it. If I had to guess, I would guess it was about a 8:30 mile. The third mile was a little longer because I was getting winded and there a slight uphill slant for most of the last part of the race.

As I got closer to the finish line, the crowd got louder and louder and the finish line itself was pretty impressive looking. They had the big sign above the finish line showing the time for all the spectators. I crossed the finish line at 27:28!! (this calculates to a 8:51 pace). I came in 117th place. :) Here is the results page: Columbus Distance Classic 5k Results Page (bib #10242)

My time is very respectable given my ankle injury and my "weight class"... if there is such a thing in running. Of course my time was much longer than I had originally wanted it to be, but I am (by no means) disappointed with it. Honestly, I was just happy to finish the race without limping or crawling. Believe it or not, I had no pain at all. The cool thing was that once I crossed the finish line I saw that there was a HUGE FEAST for all of the runners!! There were apples, bananas, all kinds of pizza, bagels, pretzels, water, gatorade, etc... To be honest, the last thing I wanted to put in my stomach after an exhausting run was a greasy piece of pizza. I grabbed an apple and a water; both of which were very refreshing.

To wrap it up, the one thing that I liked most about this race was the crowd. The Columbus fans were awesome!! At one point, there was a group of people sticking out their hands to give the runners high fives as we passed, almost as if we were celebrities or something. I thought that it was very cool and (of course), I obliged. :) Seriously though, every step of the way, people were cheering the runners on and it really did help give an extra "umph" when I ran by someone and they clapped for me and said "good job", "keep it up", "almost there", etc...

I will be running this race again next year. However, I plan to do the half marathon instead...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Holographic Advertising

I found a cool link today of a car company advertising their car using holographic designs. Vizoo appears to be the company behind the creation:

The Hole - video powered by Metacafe

It's cool to see this as a reality today; it used to be a 'futuristic' concept. Now I'm just waiting on the software and hardware that is used in The Minority Report.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

April Fools Day 5K - My Third Race

My 5K race times are getting better and better. Today I ran the Hilliard April Fools Day 5K race and I WON!! Ok, that was a cheap shot at an April Fools joke, but c'mon...

Seriously though, my goal today was to break the 25 minute mark. This would shatter my last race time (and personal record) but would require about an 8 minute mile pace (or less). I've never tested myself with these times before... When I run, I average a 9:20 pace, so 3 consecutive 8:00 miles is really pushing it for me. I know I'm getting faster, but today was the day to prove just how fast I really could go...

Tyler (my best bud) came with me for moral support and it helped immensely. I started the race very smoothly. Last race I darted out in front of lots of people and it drained me way to fast. I know that my first mile (last race) was around a 7:00 mile, but like I stated before, they didn't have the mile markers placed yet. Anyway, this time I just kept a fast (yet comfortable) pace the whole mile. My first mile was 7:38! I know I could have gone faster, so that was good to know when I clocked it (mental note). Up to this point, I was about the 5th place and there was a huge group of runners right behind me. I backed off a bit and let some of them pass me. My second mile was 8:02 and I was slowly fading into a stooper by this point... At about the 2.5 mile marker, I just about switched to an all out jog, but changed my focus to my hard pumping music instead and kept pushing my legs. The third mile was a nasty 8:24 and I knew that if I was going to beat the 25 minute mark, I was going to have to dig really hard for this last 1/10th of a mile. The final stretch (aka: last 1/10th) was a stellar 44 seconds (that's a 7:20 pace!).

My total time today was 24:51!! My watch actually showed 24:49, but the results were posted on the site with an additional 2 seconds. Oh well... The most awesomest(?) news I beat my personal record and met my 24 minute goal. It was a bonus that I got 1st place in my age group and 24th overall. Tyler was able to capture the moment that I crossed the finish line above... Thanks Ty!! :)

So to conclude my last couple of races...
  1. Arnold 5K - 26:25
  2. Shamrock Shuffle - 25:49
  3. April Fools - 24:51 (a full minute faster... read above if you're confused on the math)
My goal is to continue to get faster each race and beat the last race. I have another race in 2 weeks. I plan to do a lot of endurance training for this one because I know this was was really hard for me. I was really beat after today's race. I know I can do better and I will, but it is going to take some physical and mental training. Like I said, there were a couple of times today that I really thought about switching to a "jog" to give into the nasty pain in my side, but I'm glad I didn't. The end result of seeing that 24 on the beginning of my time was worth it. I've been on top of the world all day.

...the Columbus Half-Marathon is in October, which is a lot closer than I think.

Google TiSP

Google does it every year, and this year was no different. They take full advantage of April Fools Day and have fun with a professional looking site and all the realness you would expect from a regular announcement... The funny parts are the actual content and overall ideas they come up with. As Larry the Cable Guy would say: "I don't care who you are, that there's funny"

Check it out:

Unfortunately, I have a septic system and I'm not able to connect to TiSP. Apparently it requires a central sewer system to connect my house to the internet. :(

Good one.