Tag Archives: teched

My Tech Ed NA 2012 Speaker Idol wrap-up

I’m finally coming down off of the emotional high that I had coming home from Tech Ed NA 2012 in Orlando.  I had a very long week, met a lot of great people that I only knew by their twitter account or blog postings, and saw some interesting content.

My first day started off with a bang, as I was entered into the ‘Speaker Idol’ competition.  This was a VERY important event for me, as I have been aspiring to present at a Tech Ed conference for years.  The Speaker Idol competition is a talent contest in the same vein as American Idol: competitors give a brief presentation each of the first three days.  The three winners and a wild card from the 3 second place entrants go to the finals.  The winner of the finals on Thursday gets a full invite to Tech Ed 2013 to present a full session.

I was the third to present on the first day, and consequently the pressure was on from the moment I stepped off of the plane.  I attended the first day’s keynote that covered Microsoft System’s Center, and was wholly unimpressed.  As a developer, I could see that I would be drowning in IT content for the week.

I skipped the second session of the day so that I could focus on practicing and being ready for Speaker Idol after lunch.  When the competition started, I watched the first two entrants and kept my confidence about me, as I was about to give a presentation that had content no one could compare against.

My presentation introduced a unit testing framework for JavaScript Metro applications in Windows 8.  I was demonstrating code in a new operating system, built with a new development tool, with a new open-source project that I announced on stage.  Yea.. content doesn’t get any fresher than THAT.

I took my lumps from the judges and was awarded second place on the day.  I knew it would be up to me at that point to attend the other 2 preliminary rounds and pray that the second place finishers did not stand up to the quality presentation I started the week with.

I attended several very good sessions on using Visual Studio 2012 for testing, application life-cycle management, and how to get more out of the tool with shortcuts and hot keys.  I even attended a few sessions on Windows Azure architecture and service bus use.

As part of my volunteerism with INETA, I assisted in two ‘Birds-Of-A-Feather’ sessions.  For the uninitiated, these are group discussion sessions with experts to assist in advancing the discussion.  I assisted with a session on ‘Local Developer Community’ that was sparsely attended and a session on ‘Better Scrum’ that had about a 75% room attendance rate.  Both were interesting topics, and it was great to assist on a session at the conference, as I walked away feeling like I (in some very small way) contributed.

On Wednesday afternoon, I received the message from (Speaker Idol host) Richard Campbell that I was to be the wild card entrant into the finals of Speaker Idol.  From that point, I knew I had nothing to lose.  I attended a final session that afternoon, and spent a chunk of the evening with colleagues re-writing parts of my presentation to comply with the judges criticisms from earlier in the conference.

On Thursday at lunch, I got the draw and it was determined that I would be the last speaker.  This was a golden opportunity for me, as I could make the lasting impressions with the judges when they go into their final deliberation.  I gave my presentation, and the judges commentary came down.  

I was quite disappointed that the changes that I made to meet their comments were met with exactly the opposite commentary than what they delivered in the initial round.  For example: I removed a faux demo failure in the talk and replaced it with a sample that explicitly demonstrated a failing test scenario.  The judges felt that this demo was bland, and did not have any excitement, where previously they were too excited and distracted by my demo.

I will finish posting these two videos from the finals in the coming day or two.  I’ve been a bit distracted since coming home.

Unfortunately, I did not place in the finals, and David Giard was named the ‘Speaker Idol’  David is a great speaker, and I’m happy for him.  I found it a bit odd that there was no ceremonial ‘green shirt’ to bestow on him as a ‘prize’ for winning.  Ah well…

My mission was achieved, I attended a phenomenal Tech Ed.  I got myself a good amount of press based on my appearance at Speaker Idol.  I met and spoke with a number of Microsoft employees, MVPs, and great community members.  With a little bit of hard work, luck, and a successful QUnit-Metro project over the next 2-3 months and I think I have a shot at an MVP award.  

We’ll see what happens.

Me with the Speaker Idol and DotNetRocks hosts: Richard Campbell and Carl Franklin. Our paths WILL cross again  😉

Fritz’s Theorem on Conferences and Shoes

Something has been bugging me all week here at Tech Ed: there is an amazing number of ‘good looking people’ wandering around the conference floor. Now, that normally wouldn’t be a bad thing, if you have good looks, then go ahead and strut your stuff. But you see, most of these people are ‘sales people’ or you may more commonly hear them referred to as ‘booth babes’.

When I attend a large conference, I make it a point to wear comfortable shoes. Why? The volume of walking that I do from session to session is absolutely killer on my feet. I leave these events and always have fresh blisters on my feet from the enormous amount of walking that I do. These ‘booth babes’ do no walking at all…

Comfortable Shoes

Hence my theorem: If you are not wearing comfortable shoes at a technical conference, then I don’t really want to speak to you. You don’t have the technical knowledge that I want to exchange ideas with. It’s fine for you to attend, bring attention to your company, and attract a group of people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not intimidated or upset with your presence. I just have better things to do with my time.

For those organizations that hire more than 1 to operate their sales booth on the expo floor, you are communicating to me that you have NO technical content, and NO technical experts that want to talk to your future customers. That’s okay too, you’ve just made my choice in selecting vendors much easier.

I have two daughters that I want to mature and enter a technical industry and be successful. These stereotypes and chauvinistic practices are a bit sad for me, as I don’t want them to think they need to be compared to the ‘booth babe’ There are many strong women in our field, and those are the women that I want my girls to be like. These women are smart, happy, successful, and most of all: wearing comfortable shoes

Perhaps I spoke too soon

After I wrote the post yesterday “Is this my last Tech Ed as an attendee”, I had no idea what would happen next.  In the 2 hours that followed, the final round of the “Speaker Idol” competition took place.  As a result of this round, I qualified to be in the competition finals.  So, I think I’m on the right track here:  I might not be at Tech Ed 2013 in New Orleans as an attendee, but rather as a Speaker!

This was an exciting result for me, as it places me in the top 4 speakers in the competition.  Not to be overly critical, but some conference attendees relayed to me that my speaking skills were better than the instructor in some of the sessions that they attended at this conference.

All in all, great news.  I’ve refined my original presentation and will have video and results to post later today.

Wish me luck!

Is this my last Tech Ed as an attendee?

I think this will be my last Tech Ed as an attendee.  I’m growing a bit impatient with the content available.  Please understand, that I consider myself a bit of an ‘alpha geek’ who follows MSDN, Channel 9, and many of the Microsoft bloggers on a daily basis.  Hence my problem:

Why should I spend my time at Tech Ed in developer content sessions that I have already seen online?  Additionally, the number of developer focused sessions at Tech Ed North America 2012 this year is significantly smaller than the number of IT focused sessions.  I am embarrassed by how little Asp.Net developer content and Windows 8 content is available.

If Microsoft REALLY wants to push the app store model, why aren’t they training us to deliver that content at the HUB of their training year?  On the TechEd website, when I search the session catalog by product there are ZERO sessions on Windows 8!

 Don’t get me wrong, I love Tech Ed as a show for junior to mid-level developers to learn a LOT at.  It is an absolute blast to meet and talk with all of these technologists that I have tweeted with over the past few years.  That interaction is INVALUABLE.  More than anything else, getting some face time with people like David Starr, Peter Provost, Richard Campbell and Carl Franklin have absolutely made my visit to Tech Ed a pleasure and valuable experience.

I just think that I may have outgrown the content at the show, and my talents would be more effectively used in presenting some more topical content or assisting in hands-on-labs when I return to this conference.