A couple weeks ago, I was down in Nashville for devLink, a three-day conference focusing on various topics that would appeal to developers. For the most part, I enjoyed it this year. So what did I enjoy and what was it that I really didn’t like?

Meeting New People, Seeing Familiar Faces

I had been following “devlink” in TweetDeck for awhile, so it was good to finally meet some of the people who were talking about the event. I also finally met a guy who I had been playing online games (Asheron’s Call, Asheron’s Call 2, World of Warcraft) with for many years. It was also great to see many of the guys who I had met at the previous year’s devLink – including Dave Mohundro, Randy Walker, and Tommy Norman.

The Heartland district (OH/MI/KY/TN) had a good representation, but they weren’t the sole group of attendees. devlink had an international audience this year, including some guys who came from “across the pond” (such as Chris Hay and Mark Rasmussen). I finally got to meet Matt Hester, the IT Pro evangelist for this area. I also met a couple of the Microsoft evangelists from other districts – Zain Naboulsi (Houston) and Clint Edmonson (St. Louis). It was good to meet these guys and show them just what we’re about out here. Special thanks to Brian Moore for getting his team to check out what the other regions are doing.

Windows Mobile Development – Day 1.

As many of you know, I’m a web developer in my day job. One of the things I have to consider with one of my sites is the mobile layout. So I figured that I might be able to learn something from Nino Benvenuti‘s deep dive on Windows Mobile Development. I hadn’t done any actual mobile development in many years – back when I was doing VB 6 programming and playing with the Windows CE Toolkit (as it was called back then). So it was interesting to see how Windows CE and Windows Mobile have come along over time. I was able to follow along fairly well. The only thing I wished for at the end was to see more demos. However, I did learn a bit more, which gave me more to think about in my mobile layouts.

WPF 101 – Day 1.

In my day job, I don’t get to play with WPF and client app development stuff. So I wanted to see what WPF was all about, and who better to learn from than my friend Mike Eaton. He didn’t take on the new “Hello World” and create a Twitter client as a demo. But he did use Nate Kohari’s AgileZen as part of his demo. It was also nice to know that there are other tools out there to write XAML besides Visual Studio – including XAMLPad and KaXAML. It was good to learn some things about WPF, but his demos at the end weren’t cooperating as he had intended. Despite the Tennessee demo gods working against him, I still enjoyed his presentation. Seeing AgileZen in action makes me want to look into it more.

My Demo Gods Didn’t Make It Past the TSA – Day 2.

I couldn’t bring my demo gods on the plane with me – the TSA gave me funny looks when these beefy guys walked up with me. They were like “We’re her demo gods.” The TSA was like “No ID? No boarding pass? Not allowed…”. So any demos I had to show during my talk on using Mono cross-platform decided to fail on me. I couldn’t talk between my local machine and my VPC, and there were all sorts of other technical difficulties. Rather than tap dance for the last 40 minutes, I cut my talk short for the attendees to go enjoy the rest of the conference. I felt bad that I couldn’t show it off – but I will be blogging about it in an upcoming post.

Open Spaces, Open Minds – Day 2.

This year, I spent more time in Open Spaces, although I had intended on catching scheduled talks. Some of the talks I sat through included “Turning the Ship from the Galley” and “Making Change Happen”, “Finding Inspiration”, “Creating Online Puzzles”, “Growing Your Community”, “Advancing Your Career”, “Using Twitter Professionally”, and “Analog Gaming for Geeks”.

What I like best about Open Spaces is that you never know who’ll be a part of the discussion or where it will lead.

The reason why I chose to sit through the “Turning the Ship” and “Making Change” open spaces was to hear what others are doing to get change to happen. I am one of those who would turn the ship from the galley – I’m not management, and I’m not high in the chain. However, I know that if I can do a great proof of concept, I can get the right ears to hear me out and possibly put my ideas in effect. But it’s really all about knowing how to convey the change you want to see, why it would be useful and beneficial to implement, and how to put it in action. It was good to hear how others handle the situation.

With “Finding Inspiration”, I had a feeling I knew why Mike Eaton had called for it. What happens when you start feeling burned out? What if you get tired of speaking on the same thing over and over and aren’t sure where to find that thing to get your passion going again? That’s what came up in this talk. The suggestion I have on this is to look at other communities. When I get tired of looking at pure .NET, I have fun looking at IronPython – still working with .NET but looking also into the Python community, a different audience that can be just as inspiring as the .NET community. Step away from the community that you associate with the most and meet new people. Break from a routine and do something different. Sometimes, you have to change it up a bit to find that inspiration.

After a rough presentation, I was happy that I was heading back to an Open Spaces topic that didn’t require a lot of heavy technical thinking. The last Open Spaces session I sat in on the second day was “Creating Online Puzzles”. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the Toughest Developer Puzzle Ever. This discussion provided a lot of feedback and ideas for its SQL sequel. More levels, different approaches, more sites… definitely looking forward to the next adventure in online puzzle creation, and I’ve got a lot more ideas to add after talking with people.

At the end of Day 2, I was feeling a bit beat and ended up going back to the hotel to catch dinner with friends. Special thanks to Mark and Daniel of the Sophic Group for coming down, checking out the event, and treating us to dinner.

Stay tuned for Sadukie’s Devlink Recap – Day 3 & Conclusion.