I finally found my way home from CodeMash around noon on Saturday. I stayed an extra night because I didn't want to drive home Friday night the 3+ hours to Cincinnati. I really felt like wuss after hearing that the guy who drove in 13 hours from South Dakota for the event was driving out Friday night.
My normal position during "free" time was attached at the hip to Joe Wirtley, Mike Eaton and Clark Marx (the self-proclaimed "Anti-Community" community member). But I did get to meet and talk to a lot of the other friends and regional .NET developers.
I have one word to say about CodeMash - AWESOME!
Jim Holmes, Joe Wirtley, Mike Eaton, Mike Wood, Dave Donaldson, Scott Hanselman, Sara Ford ("Quite possibly the best conference I've ever been to."), Keith Elder and others have already done a great job of posting their highlights of the event. Here are mine:
I attended the keynotes and quite a few very good sessions during the conference (which I hope to post more about later), but by far and away the most interesting discussions I had occurred in Open Spaces, in the Experts Room, and mingling in the hallways. While I found the sessions informative, I think I actually learned more and connected more in the other places. I didn't take to Open Spaces too well last year, but I fully adopted them this year and actually tried to attend each one that I had any kind of interest in.
One example of a great Open Spaces discussion was about Amazon Web Services. When we first started there were three of us with varying levels of experience doing a variety of things. My experience is primarily with Amazon's Catalog service, one of the developers was basically just there to gather ideas, and another had quite a bit of experience using Amazon's EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) and S3 (Simple Storage Service) offerings. After 10 minutes or so our conversation started to lose steam and it looked like we were about ready to call it complete. Just then in walks Harry Sun (link?) and two other developers/managers from Amazon. To say that reinvigorated our conversation would be an understatement. We had a ton of questions that they graciously answered and they even had some questions for us about what we, as consumers of their services, would like to see. I came away thoroughly impressed with Amazon and their management and development teams based on that discussion.
Keith Elder is a very funny and welcoming guy and someone you want to meet and hang out with. In addition to being fun he has a lot of real .NET experience and loves to talk about it. He has a ton of speaking experience as well and when he offers words of advice and direction - make sure you take note.
If you ever run into Scott Hanselman at an event make sure you introduce yourself. Don't be intimidated by his "rock star" status - he's very approachable, engaging and witty to boot.
Since I'm on the topic of Rock Stars, there were a lot of rumors floating around CodeMash about Dave Donaldson being a .NET Rock Star. I don't know much about those (though I may have actually started a few :). I can dispel the myth that Dave arrived in a blacked out limo 10 minutes before his presentation, jumped out amid a crowd of bodyguards and enthusiastic onlookers, did his show, jumped back into the limo immediately afterwards and then sped away. I know for a fact that Dave was at the venue at least a couple of hours before his presentation and I've heard that he stayed around for a little while afterwards, too. I haven't been able to confirm nor deny the existence of the limousine, though.
Wow. I had a chance to meet and talk CodePlex with Sara Ford. Great stuff - she is very into CodePlex and it shows. I also had a chance to participate in a conversation with her, Bill Wagner, and Steve Harman where we offered her feedback about the features of the site (or lack thereof in a couple of cases). Talk about enjoying being the proverbial "fly on the wall"!
I met Joe Brinkman, of DotNetNuke fame, on Wednesday night during check-in and spent some time talking with him and Dustin Campbell about conferences and speaking and tons of other things. Joe, I forgot to mention that I am a fan of DNN and have used it successfully for various solutions in the past.
Speaking of Dustin Campbell, it seems that my self-confessed "fanhood" of him shall soon pale in comparison to the throngs of groupies that will religiously follow him. Dustin gave an awesome F# presentation at CodeMash and I happened to pass by him being interviewed by Scott Hanselman for a Hanselminutes podcast on the topic. I haven't listened to the podcast yet, but I guarantee I will do so sometime today.
I was introduced to the Speak.NET Google Group during an Open Spaces discussion. Speak.NET is targeted at .NET developers who spend time and energy spreading their knowledge in the .NET community (speaking at developer events or user groups, or blogging or writing about development). It is dedicated to discussing how to better spread and teach best practices to the whole developer community. We had a really great talk at CodeMash and I've since joined the group and found the discussions there to be thought-provoking as well.
During a stint in the Experts Room I met Leon Gersing, who is a SharePoint guru (he did a presentation earlier in the day on SharePoint) and who happens to live about 15 minutes away from me. However, the thing that caught my attention was that we was doing another presentation later where he was going to demonstrate LINQ by querying SQL Server, the Flickr API and the Twitter API. Those of you who follow me know how much I enjoy digging into 3rd party APIs and web services. To say the least I was thoroughly intrigued. I attended Leon's session later and I can't wait to get my hands on his demo code. I came away with a couple of other goals: 1. Get Leon to spend some more time at the Dayton .NET Dev Group, 2. Leon needs to do that LINQ presentation for the group, and 3. Spend a bunch more time chatting with Leon because he seems to be interested in a lot of the same things that I am. He does seem to prefer Ruby on Rails these days, but I won't hold that against him. :)
Jeff Blankenburg is the most awesome Microsoft Developer Evangelist EVAR! If you are a .NET developer (or other Microsoft technology developer) in the Great Lakes area, you need to read and subscribe to his blog.
Finally, The Toledo Blade provided a bit of media coverage for the event. The focus of the story was about recruiting, not the main purpose of the conference itself, but it's nice to get some pub and it's a good article nonetheless.
If you haven't gotten the point yet: you need to attend, sponsor, volunteer or otherwise support CodeMash next year! It is truly a great and growing conference. I'm already looking forward to CodeMash v188.8.131.52.