Tuesday, August 12, 2008

CodeStock 2008 is a Success

As I mentioned back in June, we attended the Codestock down in Knoxville, TN. I'm so happy we did! We got to meet some really cool people and I think that the the way they handle the Data Dynamics sponsorship was very unique.

We heard about Codestock at a speaker dinner in Grand Rapids, Michigan before West Michigan Day of .NET. We were sitting around eating our dinner and drinking some booz and ended up sitting next to Wally McClure. Wally had nothing but great things to say about Data Dynamics products. We talked a bit and he asked about sponsoring a cool event in Tennessee. We told him to send us some information, and immediately he got on the phone with Mike Neel (head coordinator) to tell him about out possible interest. Well, the rest is history.

The most appealing thing about Codestock (to me) was that they were going to dedicate speaker rooms to the sponsors. By this I mean that each sponsor would have a speaker room named after the company. For example, there was a Data Dynamics room, a Red Gate room, a Microsoft room, etc... I thought this was really cool. Best of all, the Data Dynamics room was the first room and had the nicest chairs. Our room was a lecture room that had nice 'movie' chairs. The other rooms had college (half-table) desks. The sponsors were able to setup anything they wanted in this room, so we took our pull ups and set them up at the door. This ensured that everybody who attended a session in our room would see our name everywhere. Major kudos to Codestock from Data Dynamics!!

So anyway, James and I did our session on "Simplicity in Visualizing Numbers" and this time it went much better than we had both thought it would. Before we left the office Friday, we had a dry run in the lunch room in front of everybody. It paid off big time! During this dry run, we smoked through the talk in about 20 minutes... This was way short of 1 hour. We also found out that we (ok, mostly me) said "um" and "uh" a lot.

We left the office around 2pm and headed down to Tennessee. It was a pretty uneventful drive down and we arrived at the hotel around 8:30 - 9:00pm. Once we got settled in, we hooked up the laptops, turned on the TV, and ordered some pizza. James and I reformatted our talk a bit after some great feedback from Philip and the DD crew. I wound up falling asleep around 2am and James was still working on the slides.

The alarm went off a few minutes later (or so it seemed) and we headed to Pellissippi State Technical Community College to get setup. We setup our banners in the Data Dynamics room and wound up missing Jeff Prosise's keynote. Our session went off without a hitch! James stood behind the podium, while I stood off to the side, in front of the podium. We basically took turns talking; I would talk through a few slides, then James would talk through a few slides. At the end, people spoke up and asked some really good questions about some problems they're facing building charts and graphs at their company. One of the developers in the audience stated that she was doing everything wrong according to us and asked for some advise. It was at that point that I knew the session was a success. A few other developers asked for some advise and we answered them to the best of our ability. I'm sure that our insight helped them go back and apply some of our ideas.

After our talk, we did lunch, then attended some other sessions. James and I both attended a session titled "Mono and Open Source .NET". I learned quite a bit, but admit that it was hard to keep my eyes open after eating lunch. After that session, James and I attended a session titled "Getting Dirty with httpModules and httpHandlers" in the Data Dynamics room. This was a very cool session and Chris Love knows his stuff! The last session that we attended was (again) in the Data Dynamics room and was titled "Linq Migration Strategies" by Joe Wooley. This was a very informative session and it really made me want to get neck deep in to VB 9's XML Literals. Wow!

To finish off the day of sessions, there was a big sponsor giveaway in the auditorium. It was fun to say the least. After the sponsor giveaway, we headed outside to the concert area and got to listen to some live music by a band called Hanover Fist. They were pretty good, but we only got to hang around for 3 songs before we decided to hit the road. Codestock was a hip-hip event, and the logo pretty much says it all (hippy / rocker look). Congrats to Wally, Alan, and Mike for a successful event!

The drive home was pretty uneventful as well, but we all had some fun conversations. :) I got home at 2am, checked some emails and tweets, then went strait to bed.

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