Wow! Just got back from DevReach in Sofia, Bulgaria. What a great event. I have never felt more like a VIP as a speaker than at DevReach, they really know how to take care of you. I never, at any time, felt alone or left with nothing to do.
Since the event is held in a movie theatre, they replace a lot of the movie posters on the walls with speaker posters, and other information posters about the event.
I was very honored they asked me to present four talks this year. I know some events limit a speaker to two talks, because they feel you can’t prep more than that for an event. That may be for people who speak on the side, but I am a full time speaker. I have these talks in my pocket, and could give them with very little notice. And when an event brings me in, I want to provide as much value for them as I can, so I am always eager to present as much as possible.
I had such a great time, I hope I get invited again next year. The people were really friendly, and engaged, which I love.
I had two talks on the first day, and two on the second day. By the end I was starting to lose my voice, but I loved it. The talks I gave are:
Five things you can do to be a bit more Agile-
I have given this talk several times, but always in different formats. Sometimes it is a lightening talk (20 minutes), sometimes it is longer. This was early in the conference, and the room was pretty full. Like usual, I pulled people out of the audience to do the Stand Up meeting demo.
I got some great questions, during the talk. That is a great sign people are really engaged. Most European audiences will not ask questions during a talk, and prefer to approach afterwards (as opposed to Americans, who will ask at any time). Either approach is fine. As a speaker I try to understand what the audience will do, and adjust my timing and pacing accordingly.
Architectural Patterns for the Cloud -
This is another talk I have delivered many times. I keep meaning to work over the slides a bit. They strike me as a bit Frankenstein-ey, but they serve their purpose I guess.
My goal with this talk is to show what is possible with the cloud, and get people thinking about how that lands with their own applications and systems. Many people think that the cloud is all about moving your code, and that is not necessarily the way to go.
Of course my favorite part of this talk is “The cloud don’t fix stupid.” People always like that line. I think people like to hear that the new technology of the day is not self-evidently better, and that you have to think about it. I think some developers might not see the benefits of something new, and feel shy about it because they aren’t ‘getting it’. The cloud can take time to wrap your head around, and like any paradigm, you have to learn when to use it and when not. I think they also like hearing a vendor telling them that there are times when you should not use what they are selling.
Windows Azure Tips & Tricks-
Ok, this was the one talk I had to prep for DevReach, but it is a talk I have had in my head for a while. I have been collecting tips as I work with developers for a while, and I finally decided to put them down on paper. These tips come from the most common questions I get when working with customers. There are probably many more tips on my list, but I had to cut for time limits.
Many of the tips were nested within each other, and may not be super apparent on the slides. For the first delivery of this talk, it went very smoothly.
Soft Skillz : They aren’t just for humans anymore –
This talk was scheduled for the last session of the last day. That is usually the death knell for a talk. People are wiped out, their brains are full, usually 40% of the attendees have left early, and the energy of the event is starting to wind down. But you know what, I don’t care, I’ll take it! Anytime I can present, I will.
This also happens to be one of my favorite talks to give ever, which you know if you have ever seen it. It was hard squeezing four hours down to one hour. And if you have been to the talk, you will be shocked to see that I actually finished on time!
“I now how you feel, others have felt the same way, and what they have found is I don’t care when I go over.”
Ten minutes before the session, as I was setting up and doing AV checks, there were about 10 attendees in the room, including three or four Microsoft Student Partners (who got to help in the body language demo). I immediately thought “Yep, last session.” In the
end, how many people show up doesn’t really bother me. As long as the RIGHT people show up, that is what is important. I would rather have 10 people into what I was speaking about, than 100 that were forced and uninterested.
Anyway, as the minutes counted down, the room became packed. Even the people that peek their head in by hallway stayed, and people even sat down by the wall.
It was a ton of fun. The more energy the audience gives off, the more I feed on it, and the more fun I have as a speaker. This was one of the best times I have delivered this talk. The other best time was at the Cincinnati .NET User Group, where we annoyed the PM training class next to our meeting.
Thanks to everyone who attended, and I hope to see you next year.
The tour of Blagoevgrad
The speakers were treated to a tour of Blagoevgrad, which is about 90 minutes South of Sofia. As our guide was leading us through the town, the group suddenly stopped. Someone had found a weak, but open Wifi signal. When this was noticed, all pretense of the tour was dropped, and the nerds scrambled to connect, as if they had found an oasis in the desert. It was very funny.
I have to say that I met up with a lot of old friends (that is Jesse Liberty’s back, if you ever wanted to see it) as well as met a bunch of new friends. It is funny that many of my friends I only ever see at conferences, see we all travel and speak for a living.
On our tour, I had lunch with Paul Carvalho and Shay Friedman. We had a great conversation, while eating our lemon topped kebabs.
PS. Best speaker gift ever was the hoodie from JFokus in Sweden. Very warm and comfy. I am trying to get a sponsor to give out sweatpants at CodeMash. That would be awesome.