100 Sessions and Counting

Update: A big thanks to Russ Cam TV from Component One for providing these pictures.

Update 2: The recorded session has posted. You can find it at http://dotnetrocks.com/default.aspx?showNum=823

No Disney World, but still a magical trip!

I just returned from Orlando, Florida where I was a guest start on the .NET Rocks! Road Show. I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity by Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell.  As you are probably well aware, they set the standard when it comes to Technical podcasts. But unless you’ve presented with them, you may not know how easy they make it on their guests, it feels more like a conversation than presenting.

The conversations continued outside of the event as well. Carl shared his guitar skills by giving me an impromptu lesson. Richard gave me an hour-long education on the Scotch making process after I naively asked if Scotch is only made in Scotland. We took a short ride in the RV, turns out parking that thing can be quite the experience. And we visited the Microsoft Store so Carl could purchase a Surface. I offered him $20 to ask an employee “Do you know who I am!?” but he wouldn’t go for it.

All in all, it was a great experience and one I will remember for a long time. It got me thinking about the path that lead to me here, my involvement in the technical community and what it means to me.

From Session 1 to Session 100

Heading to Orlando last week, I realized that this would be my 100th presentation which was pretty humbling for me. Since my first presentation five years ago I’ve reached many of my goals and dreams. I’ve been on .Net Rocks! four times now, I received the Microsoft MVP award three years running, I spoke at a national conference, DevConnections, and reached a true dream of mine by being selected to speak at TechEd North America in 2011.

The last time I was in Orlando was for Teched in June of 2007. I had just started listening to .Net Rocks! a few months before and actually getting to see Carl and Richard record a session while I was there was very inspiring for me.

While at Teched back in 2007 I started writing my very first technical presentation for the San Luis Obisbo .Net User Group which had just started earlier that year. Little did I know that this would spark a new passion in my life.

While in the taxi heading to the hotel from the airport I realized that I started this 100 show journey right where it was ending, with thanks to the guys who helped inspire me to get it started. My journey really has come full circle.

Why Community Rocks


The reason that I continue to engage in the technical community and have come to love it is that it accommodates everyone. From those who have made speaking a full-time job as trainers or promoting new technologies, to those who do a few sessions a year and those who may never present, but attend sessions regularly and have learned a ton by doing so. Each and every one of us gets exactly what we want out of it. No matter where you land on the spectrum there are countless ways to benefit from the community. A few of the most impactful for me have been:

The personal connections that I have made from all of the community events I have attended. If I need help with SQL I have half a dozen phone numbers I can call. WCF issue? Another handful of contacts. The list goes on and on. And in turn I get phone calls from others asking me to weigh in on issues they are having. Knowing I have that “bench” I can turn to is invaluable to me professionally. Not to mention the friendships I have made along the way as well.

Deep technical conversations with experts from all walks of life. Whether at a speaker dinner or attendee party, or just during lunch, I find that sitting down with people who work in various areas of the technological world inspires conversations and ideas that don’t normally happen anywhere else. The company you work for may have a SQL DBA, a developer, IT Pro, a designer, etc. but they are all working on the same problems. When you sit down at a table with people in various roles but from all different companies with different problem sets and you find that the conversation turns to a solution for a problem you did not even know you had. Or to one you may encounter in the future.

I learn more presenting than I do attending sessions. When you present a session you really need to do your research. You have to imagine different scenarios and get your hands dirty. You have to get in there and figure things out, and that challenges me to learn new things. I’m envious of those that can attend a session and really understand the technology afterwards. I am in the ‘learn by doing’ camp. And I learn from preparing as well as interacting with my audience

Looking forward

In January I will continue my journey by presenting session number 101 back in San Luis Obispo at the .Net user group. I no longer live in the area but it just seems appropriate for me to go back there to kick off my next 100.

There are more people than I could possibly list who have supported me and helped to push me along on this journey. From fellow presenters to conference organizers, to the countless attendees I have crossed paths with along the way, I extend a heartfelt thank you. I am looking forward to the next 100!

iPhone vs. Windows Phone

I am a long time iPhone user and recently had the chance to try out Windows Phone 7.5 for about 8 weeks. I was pleasantly surprised by my experience with the phone. I’ve been asked many times what I liked and didn’t like about WP7 so here is a little bit about my experience with the phone.

Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) Strengths

These are the features of Windows Phone 7.5 that I feel are better than iOS 5:

  • Back Button: Every WP7 has a back button on the bottom left corner of the phone. The back button will either take you back to the previous screen you are on, or if the current application has a hook into the back button, will do something appropriate in the application. For example if you are in the web browser it will take you to the previous page (just like on your desktop web browser). This comes in handy all the time. You are in twitter, click a link that opens a web browser, then hit the back button to get back to your twitter application. You open a text message that comes in, then hit the back button to get back to the application that you were previously in. When using my iPhone I would find myself constantly hitting that location on the phone to try and go backwards. Continue reading “iPhone vs. Windows Phone”

Windows Azure Staging Model

One of my favorite features of Windows Azure is their Production/Staging model. I think the best way to explain why I think this is so well implemented is to walk you through the processes.

Here we have Test1 running in Production and Test2 running in Staging. Clients that go to your production URL are routed to your production code.  Clients that go to your staging URL are routed to your staging code. This allows you to have your customers use your production code, while you can test your new code running in staging.


Continue reading “Windows Azure Staging Model”

DotNetRocks Episode: Amazon vs Azure

I recorded a DotNetRocks episode a couple weeks ago that just went live.  It ended up taking a different direction than I planned, but hopefully you still find a lot of valuable content in there.  Primarily it’s about the pros/cons of Amazon and Azure and will help guide you in your decision of an IaaS solution (Amazon Web Services, GoGrid, FlexiScale, etc) or PaaS (Azure, Google App Engine, etc).

If your looking for more information on the topic you might want to check out my Cloud Computing presentation slide deck or the articles I have written on Amazon Web Services.

If your not already subscribed to the feed you can find this episode at http://www.dotnetrocks.com/default.aspx?showNum=565.

Free Edition of Hyper-V

It’s technically called Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2.  That’s why I call it the free edition of Hyper-V.

What you get is an ISO that will install Windows Server 2008 R2 Core edition running Hyper-V.  The license for that is 100% free.  If you install a guest running Windows you will need a license for the guest, but if all you did was install Linux guests you could have a 100% licensing cost free environment.

Realistically if you are a windows shop you are going to be buying datacenter licenses for the physical CPU’s to cover an unlimited number of guests.  And if you are not a windows shop you are not going to be using Hyper-V for no other reason than it does not have great Linux support yet.  But if you just want to look at Hyper-V or use it in a lab environment this edition of Hyper-V can come in quite handy.

And yes this blog post is mostly here so I can find the download page in the future.  If you can find it on your own within five minutes then I am impressed.

Code Camp Speaker Reviews

One more blog post where I am just linking to someone else.  But again I think the quality of this link warrants it.

I recently attended the NYC Code Camp which was an excellent experience for me and was a very well run code camp.

Stephen Bohlen wrote an excellent article about the review system they used and the benefits it had over other review systems I have been subjected a part of at various events.

As a speaker getting good honest feedback is very hard.  One of the things I really liked about their system is I was able to see my reviews in comparison to the other reviews that attendee gave.  So it helped me put in perspective the feedback I received.  For example if the feedback I get from a particular attendee is much better (or much worse) than the general feedback given to the other speakers then I know it is significant.  If an attendee says all the sessions are great than I know that he is just being nice.

I also received much more tangible and actionable feedback than I normally do.  On a “normal” review I will get one actionable comment (eg The way you demonstrated x was good/bad or if you would have done y I think I would have followed along with z better) for every 50 reviews.  I would say that 1 out of 10 from this system gave me actionable feedback.  Of course maybe that is the difference between New York and California cultures also 🙂

If your involved in organizing technical events or speak at technical events I highly recommend you read the article NYC CodeCamp Winter 2010: Session Evaluation Process, Results, and Conclusions.