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CodeMash 2008 Wrap Up

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Big Sigh of Relief!

I just got home with my family. We have finally unpacked, and caught our breath. The past nine months have been a lot of work. And not just for me, but for the whole CodeMash planning team.

Just some of the volunteers that put this year together: Jim Holmes, Jason Gilmore, Jason Follas, Jeff Blankenburg, Josh Holmes, Dianne Marsh, John Hopkins, Brian Sherwin, and Chris Woodruff. There are plenty of others that helped out, and I want to thank you folks as well.

How do I even begin to capture the energy that was at CodeMash this year?

The keynoters were FANTASTIC. Each brought a different something to the conference. Neal Ford did a great job setting the tone of the conference. Scott Hanselman really livened things up after lunch, and showed that cross platform is in the real world with his demo of PHP on IIS (with huge performance improvements). Then Brian Goetz showed that there were still some great challenges left for us to solve.

Our speakers were fantastic across the board, with Jim Weirich giving an extra special session on his '10 things to know about Ruby' on Friday.

There was a ton of buzz and energy around the Quick Solutions booth, because everyone was playing Rock Band. This turned out to be Scott Hanselman's favorite hang out. We gave away the game to an attendee, and also gave away $150 and $75 to the top two bands. John Chapman was in both!

We had over 375 people there, way up over the 250 we had in 2007.

The Thursday night cocktail party held by Quick Solutions was a big hit. Although we had to move Rock Band closer to the party so that people would actually be AT the party. A bunch of real musicians brought in their instruments and setup a jam session in an adjoining room.

Instead of shaving my head this year, I dyed it blue. A lot of people kept coming up and asking me why I dyed my hair. Had I lost a bet? they wondered. I did it so that people would come up to me. I got to meet a lot more people that way. It was a great ice breaker. I also did it so it was easier to recognize me in the crowds. It's easy to find 'the guy with blue hair' than 'Brian Prince' in a crowd.

It was nice to see the Open Spaces program take off this year. I didn't get to attend any, but I heard a lot about the sessions that did happen. None of them took place in the pool this year though.

We can't forget the debut of the CodeMash Families and KidzMash programs. On a shoestring budget, Melissa and Matt Insko put together a program for the spouses and children of the attendees. They each received CodeMash badges, and had a special activities schedule. I think it really helped the families feel at home at the resort. Arnulfo Wing did a session on KPL for the kids. There was also a session with Lego Mindstorms as well.

The Kalahari was phenomenal as usual. Their staff is just top notch, and was always on top of anything that we needed at the last minute.

I did two sessions, Applied SOA, and Hands on Agile Practices. I think both went well. I especially had a lot of fun doing the agile talk, which I always do, it's always my favorite talk to give.

The content (podcasts and slides) from all of the sessions should be up on our site (www.codemash.org) within a few weeks.

Here are some pictures I found:

  1. CodeMash Video
  2. Flickr Pool
  3. Arnulfo Wing's pictures

And finally, I want to thank all of our sponsors. Without them, CodeMash wouldn't happen at all. We got a lot of great feedback from them this year, so I hope to see them next year.

The board now has a lot of work to do in learning what we can to make it better, and how to integrate the feedback.

How I kept Scott Hanselman from getting booed off stage at CodeMash

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Scott Hanselman and I were up on stage, really grooving with what we were doing. The crowd was going crazy. Then Scott just lost his rhythm, the worst nightmare for anyone on any stage. He couldn't keep up, and I felt like I was loosing him.

Three times I had to distract the crowd from his mistakes, until he could get back on track. Fortunately, it worked, and we made it to the end, without too many embarrassing moments.

...

Of course, I am talking about Rock Band at CodeMash.

Scott checked in at CodeMash fairly late on Wednesday, January 9th, 2008. I was packing away the TV and Rock Band setup we had at the QSI booth, when he walked up and asked if I could reconnect it so he could see what it was like.

I wheeled it into the grand ballroom, and set it back up. Of course a crowd started to assemble around us. We started up a game, with Scott on drums, and myself on the guitar. Scott admitted he didn't know how to play drums, and it showed. :)

In the game, if you make too many mistakes, you will be kicked out with a failure, but your bandmates can 'Save' you with use of their rock power to bring you back on. Three failures, and you get booed off stage, and you lose the game. During the game, I had to save Scott several times, which was as much fun as it sounds.

He had a great sense of humor about it, and he couldn't keep away from the the Rock Band game the whole rest of the time. If I ever hear Wheezer or Tom Sawyer again, I will puke.

Thanks for coming Scott!

Rocking CONDG Meeting

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So, I am a little late in posting about the CONDG December meeting.

This December, like usual, we had joined out November and December meeting into one, and chose a light topic, with an XBOX party afterwards.

I presented a quick lap around all of Visual Studio 2008, and .NET Framework 3.5. Jeff supplied me with a bunch or slide decks about all of the new features, and I Frankensteined a deck together.

Jeff announced that he had a limited number of FREE copied of VS2008 to give out, if people pre-registered.

We normally get about 50-60 attendees at each meeting. That night, there were 120! It was very crowded, with people sitting on the floor, and out in the hall.

I have to say, it was one of the most fun speaking engagements I have ever done.

After the meeting we played Guitar Hero III and Rock Band. Everyone had a great time!

Great User Group Leader Summit

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Jeff and Josh invited me to attend the Heartland Influencer Summit in Detroit, MI, on Dec 7.

There were a lot of great people there, many I know from the user group and MVP communities.

Josh and Jeff wanted to get us together to discuss how we can work better together as community leaders, and what MS could do to help support us better.

There was some great idea swapping. For example, other groups use a session called 'lightening talks' I want to do in our group (CONDG). For lightening talks, members sign up with any topic they want, and speak for ten minutes. The audience votes for best presentation. The winners get the swag.

The lightening talks keeps the pace moving fast, and short, so the 'new' speaker doesn't have much to prepare or stress about. I think this is a great way to start grooming new community leaders and speakers.

Coming out of this meeting was a few other action items. Josh/Jeff are going to put together a MOSS portal for the Heartland user group leaders to share speakers, schedules, ideas, and resources. This will be a great way to make all of our groups stronger. There are so many resources out there, and this will help make sure everyone knows about them.

Something the Northwest groups are doing is called the 'Northwest Tour'. They have arranged their meeting schedules so that a speaker can hit about five groups in a few days. This makes it easier to attract large speakers.