After a long, boring 4-hour drive on Friday, I arrived at Dan’s house just after 8. After stretching my legs for a few, we poured some drinks (thanks Dan for the Captain Morgan’s and Coke), set up our laptops on his deck and walked through our presentations. It was amazing how nervous I was walking through my slides, but between Dan and I, several improvements were made to both the slides and the demo code.
Around 11pm, we headed inside to play some Xbox. I discovered pretty quickly that I suck at Rock Band. When I say I suck, I mean it. The best way to describe my attempt is, well, pure suckage. While I sucked, Dan did a pretty good job on vocals and his oldest son did really well on percussion. After Rock Band, we played a bit of head-to-head COD, but decided we needed to work on our slides a bit more. I think I finished around 1:30 or so and finally went to bed sometime around 2. I’m not sure how late Dan stayed up working on his stuff.
Nothing sucks more than hearing my alarm go off at 6:30 on a Saturday morning, but Dan and I were ready and out the door by 7:15. We drove separately so to calm my nerves during the 40 minute drive I had the music (metal of course) cranked! Nothing like some Iron Maiden, Saxon and Metallica first thing in the morning.
Once we arrived at the event we checked in and started running into people we knew. The craziest thing is that when people were introducing themselves, it always ended up with something like, “oh, I’m
I finally met Sarah who introduced herself to me by handing me a picture (photoshopped image of me courtesy of James Avery) that’s been bandied about on twitter. I won’t link to it here, but I’m sure one of my tweeps will do it at some point. I confiscated the picture and for the rest of the day made my best effort to let everyone know of Sarah’s God-like VBA skillz. I actually ended up hanging out with Sarah (and several other Cleveland people) much of the day.
My session (An Introduction to Castle ActiveRecord, or Stop Writing CRUD!) was in the first time slot so after checking out the speaker room with Dan, I started setting up my laptop and making sure the projector worked. A huge thanks goes to Joe Wirtley for loaning me a presentation mouse! I’m definitely gonna invest in one soon (unless Jeff, Brian or Josh wants to hook me up with one). I think my session had about 20 people including Sarah, Jay and Leon.
I was extremely nervous until the exact moment I started talking. I’ve done this talk once before but have made a lot of changes since then. I spent a lot of time over the past week working on my slides and demo code and really feel like I nailed it this time. I definitely feel like I hit everything I wanted during my 70-minute talk. I loved looking out at the audience and seeing people nodding their heads as I made some of my points. Sarah gave me some great feedback later in the day which I’m going to integrate before I give the talk again this coming Saturday in Indianapolis.
Talking, Talking, Talking
After my session, I sat in on Jay’s talk about Boo and DSLs. While it was a good talk, about midway through I had to get up and walk around. I ran into Jim Holmes and had a great conversation. Jim is a great guy. He’s very easy to talk to and has a wealth of knowledge about a lot of things.
Before lunch, a bunch of us hit the F# session given by Amanda Laucher and James Bender. I’ll bet at least half the room was twittering during the session. The talk was good but I haven’t really spent any time at all looking into F#.
After lunch, I scheduled an open spaces event to talk about “Beyond Bullet Points”. At first it was just me, Dan and Sarah, but soon enough we had a lot of really great people join in! When I say really great, I’m talking about Joe O’Brien, Leon Gersing, Matt Casto, Joe Fiorini, Jim Holmes, Alexei, Joe Wirtley, Josh Holmes and a few others! Holy cow! We actually talked more about presenting in general than BBP, but that was fine by me. If I hadn’t attended any other sessions during the day and only done this one open spaces, it would have been worth my drive down!
The last session I attended was Brian Prince’s ‘Soft Skillz’ talk. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this talk and it definitely did not disappoint. Brian is a great speaker and this session was both informative and entertaining.
Food, drinks and more talking
After the giveaways at the end of the day, a big group of us headed to Max and Erma’s for dinner and drinks. I hadn’t eaten since 5pm on Friday (my hatred of box lunches in well known), so I decided to grab a table with Sarah and the Cleveland crew. It was nice to talk to MichaelDotNet (ok…fine, TheProkrammer) and the Cleveland crew. It’ll be nice to see them all at the upcoming Cleveland Day of .Net.
After dinner a bunch of us headed to Jeff’s room for a poker tournament. While I didn’t actually play, I was enlisted to help poker n00b Sarah who actually lasted quite a long time (mainly due to folding lots of hands). She won a couple of big “all in” bets but ended up being the 3rd eliminated at her table.
As much as I hated to leave, I finally pulled myself away from the party around 10:30 and started my 4 hour drive home. Even though I hate night driving, it wasn’t too bad. I cranked the music and just focused on the drive. I even managed to get a couple of tweets off during the drive.
During the day I met a lot of great people — some I’ve mentioned already but I don’t want to forget Dan Rigsby, Jennifer Marsman, Jeff Hunsaker, Nino Benvenuti, Justin Kohnen, Leon Gersing, Joe O’Brien, Joe Fiorini and Mike Slade. It was great meeting everyone!
Finally, I want to say thank you to several people:
Thanks Dan (and family) for having me Friday night. You made me feel right at home and I had a great time hanging out, drinking and talking (and trying Rock Band for the first time).
Thanks to Jeff for letting us all hang in his room after the event and for offering up a place for me to stay. The poker games looked like a lot of fun and maybe next time I’ll give it a try.
Thanks to Jason Follas for being sociable…oh wait, that’s right. You weren’t.