Category Archives: Events

White House – Open for Questions

Ok, I need to go rogue here for a minute…

Have you seen the latest technological experiment the Obama administration is trying this week?  When I first saw this, I was strangely excited.  I’m not usually big on politics, but I’ve got to admit that I’m impressed by how much the Obama administration is reaching out to the public for input.  It’s becoming increasingly harder to be apathetic about the direction this country is going — and that’s a good thing!

So, have you asked your question yet?

Some Agile Advocation

During the first week of March, I co-presented on a topic about iterative and agile software development to a group of Business Analysts within the company I work for (which follows traditional Waterfall practices). It was a good presentation, and I had a great time doing it.  I wished there was more time to field questions, because it seemed like there was definitely some interest (or at least some curious minds).

What I found most interesting was how I had to adapt my presentation to the audience.  Talking about pair programming, test-driven development and continuous integration is not as important to a group of BAs as it would be to a group of developers.  Instead, I focused more on the benefits of moving from BRUP to more JIT requirements, and trying to justify why it’s ok to define high-level requirements up-front, yet defer the details until the point where the development teams are actually going to implement them.

With any luck, there will be some ensuing discussion about the merits of agile and iterative practices; if nothing else, it will have been an opportunity to get some new ideas into a few more minds…

PDC Media Galore!

Given the recent economic downturn, it’s not surprising that many who wanted to make to this year’s PDC event were not able to go.  However, this year it seems like folks at Microsoft are happy bringing the event to us – virtually, at least.

Microsoft has launched as web site with a plethora of information that is being presented at the PDC as it goes on right now!  For people like me who love to absorb information, this is a treasure trove of material.

You will need to install Silverlight 2 to take advantage of much of this site.

HDC ’08

Last week was the Heartland Developer Conference in Omaha and, as usual, it did not disappoint.  This was my fourth year attending the conference and I always enjoy the sessions that happen.  Also at the event was a demo Microsoft Surface table that I got to play around with; and the Microsoft booth had Rock Band 2 set up. I was able to get in one quick jam during the conference; thanks to whoever sat in on the drums…

Some of the more interesting sessions I attended this year include:

  • Rod Paddock on “AJAXing Your .NET Applications”: Very good presentation, especially for the more novice AJAX developers, like myself.  The biggest payback was seeing his demo of the Fiddler tool.  Very cool stuff!
  • Dennis Kirlin on “Estimating in the Abstract”: This was one of my favorites.  Dennis’ presentation was unique in that he presented a number of agile concepts and practices without using any of the associated buzzwords. By doing so, the presentation sounded refreshingly new, even to those already familiar with the concepts.
  • Javier Lozano on “The Zen of ASP.NET and MVC”: I attended a presentation with the IADNUG earlier in the year over this same topic, and it’s amazing the number of changes that have occurred between the earlier CTP and the recent beta release of the MVC framework.  I was unimpressed with the former, but Javier’s presentation won me back.  Now if only they could get the thing out of beta…
  • Clint Edminton on “Modeling in Visual Studio Codename Rosario”: This demo was cool until he told us that these features were for the Architect Edition of Visual Studio Team System.  Does Microsoft not think that developers use UML?  At least they now acknowledge that developers do interact with databases.

The other interesting thing to note was the increase in agile-specific topics, including sessions on using Scrum with Team Foundation Server, and the aforementioned Agile Estimating session.  I’m looking forward to what is to come in 2009.

DevConnections – In Vegas, Baby!

(Ok, so to preface this post, I don’t just attend conferences. It’s just that my company was gracious enough to send me to two conferences almost back to back and there’s always something cool to talk about when attending conferences.)

Well, the first day of DevConnections 2007 is almost over… and, in my opinion, it’s been a little underwhelming. Sure, there’s been swag up the wazoo, and the news that I’d be getting a free copy of Visual Studio 2008 just for attending didn’t hurt one bit… but the sessions so far have just not had a lot of substance or spectacle.

I take that back. The sessions I’ve been to have not had much substance or spectacle. But I’ve been almost exclusively listening to stuff over Visual Studio Team System 2008, and it has been mostly a recycling of the same material through each of the sessions, passed on to different speakers. Somebody should have just copy-and-pasted the session abstract information from one of the four sessions so that I could have realized this earlier and better spent my time (and my company’s money) attending sessions on other topics. Instead, the speakers probably gave the abstracts to some sales and marketing guys who made them sound super-intriguing (and unique) only to rope you into the session to hear the speakers yell “Gotcha!”

I will say the keynote over Visual Studio 2008 by Scott Guthrie was pretty cool. While a majority of the slides were over the same material he covered at the HDC last month, he did have some other Microsoft Product Managers come out and give some pretty nice demos. I especially enjoyed the one showing how you could use a Visual Studio add-in to create a plug-in for World of WarCraft to determine whether or not taking on an opponent in the game would result in their death or your own… Even though I don’t play the game myself, I thought the demo itself was frickin’ sweet!

Well, the first day is over, and I’m headed out to enjoy some Las Vegas nightlife (nothing too crazy). Let’s hope that Day 2 has a little more to offer.

Heartland Developer Conference – Day 2

Day 2 of the HDC is over and I’m back in Des Moines after two days worth of cramming my brain with a load of technical info. It was a whirlwind of material, and I’m sure half of it has already fallen out of my head; I’m just glad I took a lot of notes.

Day Two started out pretty good. Scott Guthrie graced us with his presence today with a boatload of information over the latest technologies coming out of Microsoft. His keynote this morning was over Silverlight and he did a good job with demos showing the differences between versions 1.0 and 1.1. He then spent about 2.5 hours in the afternoon covering the new features in Visual Studio 2008 “Orcas”, and… I mean…. wow!…. It makes me want to dump the VS 2005 IDE by the curb – it is that tastey.

Otherwise, I sat in on one other good presentation from an IT leader at Farm Credit Services of America and her company’s leap to agility (specifically Scrum) two years ago and what they learned along the way. It seemed like very 101-level material from an agile aspect, but it offered a great testimony from a good-sized company who had successfully made the transition from a Waterfall to Agile software methodology.

Now, it is time to rest and recover…