Another great Ann Arbor Day of .NET is in the books.
While Ann Arbor is only a couple hours away, my family and I always make it a weekend away from home and this year was no different. We pulled the kids out of school early and left town around 1pm. We didn’t feel too bad about pulling them out since we knew we were going to spend some of the afternoon at the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum. After a nice, leisurely drive on US-12, we managed to hit downtown Ann Arbor around 3pm. :-\ Ugh. I love walking around downtown, but the traffic at that time of day was killer. After 10 minutes of trying to find a parking spot, we finally scored a nice spot directly across from the museum.
My kids absolutely love the museum and this visit definitely did not disappoint. Because of my work with the museum before and during the Ann Arbor Give Camp, they were nice enough to let my family and I in for free. While my kids were running around being crazy, I spent a few minutes with my primary contact from the Give Camp: Ann N. During our conversation, I presented her with the check from “The Codestock / DevLink T-Shirt Challenge“. I had mentioned it to her a few weeks ago in email, but she had forgotten and was actually quite surprised.
After the museum, we headed to our hotel for dinner. Shortly after dinner, as my wife and kids headed to the pool, Sarah and I hooked up and drove to Mike Letterle’s hotel to pick him up. After a quick stop to drop his car off at a repair shop, the three of us headed to downtown Ann Arbor to meet up with Dave Giard, Nino, Matt Brewer and Joe Wirtley. The original plan was for us to meet at Gratzi’s, but that felt just a bit too “fancy” for us, so we bailed and headed a couple doors down to Conor O’ Neills. The service was slow, but that gave us more time to talk.
To wrap up the night, me, Dave, Matt, Nino and Mike sat in a nearby coffee shop and talked. Good times. I wish I could do this more often.
The next morning, I was up bright and early (wearing “The” Ratt t-shirt BTW) so I could catch a ride with Sarah (and pick Mike up as well). Since Sarah and I were speaking in the first time slot of the day, we signed in and headed to our rooms for final preparation.
Once again, I gave my “Introduction to Castle ActiveRecord” talk. I think the talk went extremely well, although at one point, I realized I was moving too fast and had to slow the pace down a bit. I had some really good questions both during and after the talk and hopefully I answered them satisfactorily. (note: My plan is to screencast this talk in the near future and post it.)
After my talk, I hit the speaker room to meet up with my friend Chris. Chris was preparing to give his very first talk EVER and I wanted to see what I could to help him during his final preparation. He was speaking in the final time slot of the day, and early in the day he seemed pretty at-ease. I could see him get more nervous as the day progressed. For a first-time speaker, I think he did pretty damn good. Of course, I plan on talking to him this week to give him more feedback, but I really hope he continues to speak and develop this particular talk (SQL Server BI).
I floated between sessions most of the day. I caught part of Carey Payette’s WPF talk and actually came away with some ideas for the application I’m working on. I also hit a little bit of Jay’s Boo/DSL talk and Len’s JQuery talk.
Lunch, thank God, was pizza and not box lunches. My hatred of boxed lunches is pretty well known, so I was definitely happy to see something different. As expected, the conversations during lunch were awesome. After lunch, I ran into a friend and former co-worker (Vinay) and caught up with him. He started a new job a few months ago and it sounds like he’s having a great time. It’s definitely a step up from where he was and I was glad to see he made the right decision.
I think the high-point of my day was a 30-minute conversation with Jim Holmes. Jim is one of those guys that I’d love to talk to more often because I know I’d learn a ton from him. He definitely didn’t disappoint on Saturday. We talked about estimation and then I started rambling on about how difficult it is, as an independent developer, to keep track of all the tasks from multiple clients/multiple projects without using multiple applications. Jim had some great ideas that I hope to pursue in the very near future (I’ll try to blog about them).
I was really glad to see that Alan Barber made the trip up from Bowling Green. Unfortunately, he had to leave right after the giveaways so I didn’t get as much time to talk to him as I would have liked. Hopefully he had fun at the Halloween party he left us for.
After the end-of-day giveaways, we all headed to a local sports bar where we ate, drank, played pool and talked for a few hours. A huge thanks to Sogeti for picking up the tab for the after-party!
The organizers did a great job this year (again) and I can’t wait until next year!