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Codemash Timeline

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Presentations, Speaking | Posted on 14-01-2008



This year for Codemash I thought I’d do something a little different.  Last year I did a “Who’s Who’s at Codemash” that went over really well and I had several people asking me about it this year.  Since I spent most of my time looking through a camera last year and I had a lot more responsibilities (discussion panel moderation, two expert zones and two talks) I decided I would keep a mental note in my head and do a timeline instead.  I didn’t write anything down as I progressed through the conference because I wanted to just be free and not tied to a journal or a computer.  Since I didn’t write anything down I am sure I missed people or events and I apologize in advance.  If I missed something, email me, and I’ll gladly update this and add you into the timeline.  While I didn’t write any of this down until Sunday it was a fun brain exercise to recall every last step of what I did when.  I don’t recommend it though, it is hard.

Wednesday 2:30 PM

image The person I was riding to Codemash with this year bailed out a few weeks earlier.  This left me stranded at Quicken Loans in Livonia, MI with no way to get to Codemash.  Thankfully Jeff McWherter came to the rescue and was kind enough to give me a ride.  Jeff drove down from Lansing and arrived around 2:30 PM.  We jumped in his Mini Cooper and headed to Sandusky, OH like a speeding bullet.  If we got under 90MPH it was only to turn onto the turn pike.  We were traveling so fast for so long it reminded of a scene from the movie Spies Like Us when they get off the simulator and are walking down the hall with their mouths pressed back saying “You want some coffee?“.

It was a pleasant trip and great conversation.  Jeff and I met at DevLink this last past year and the more we talked the more we found out how many similar places we’ve been like the Metro Detroit Linux User Group and the Washtenaw Linux User Group.

Wednesday 5:00 PM

After arriving at the Kalahari Resort we got checked into our rooms.  Once settled in my room I headed down to the conference area and the first person I saw was Josh Holmes.  Josh was speaking to Steve Harman which I finally got to meet face to face.  Of course the Codemash organizers were hanging around registration such as Jason Gilmore, Jason Follas, Jim Holmes and Brian Prince.

After getting checked in the first thing I had to do is play Rock Band at the Quick Solutions booth.  I hadn’t played since the previous Saturday due to traveling so I was having withdrawals.  A couple of songs later and I wasn’t shaking anymore. 🙂 

After Rock Band I had to turn my attention to my first responsibility for the conference which was hosting the opening discussion panel.  I found a table out in the open and sat down to start working and Michael Letterle stopped by to say hello along with John Chapman.  It was my first time to meet John and turns out he knows a lot of guys I work with.  John and I got into an interesting conversation about CSLA and NHibernate that was a carry forward conversation from an earlier blog post.  BTW, later we hooked up on Rock Band, more on that later. 

It was a good thing I did some prior research before getting to the conference.  Everywhere I turned there was someone new to talk to.  Needless to say I didn’t have as much time as I had hoped to get my head cleared and focused.

Wednesday 7:00 PM

After reviewing bios and refreshing the aging memory on prior read information I made my way into the banquet room hoping the other panelist were gathering there as well.  A few minutes later Dianne Marsh handed me two books that we had to give away at the end.  We decided to give the first one away based on who came the farthest to the conference.  The second one we decided to throw in a nice twist and give it away based on who registered last. 

The panel was made up of Dianne Marsh (who I already knew), Joe O’Brien, Barry Hawkins and Scott Preston (who I met at Codemash 2007).  Knowing two of the four panelist made it easy for me since I had an idea of their personalities and what they might say in regards to the topic.  Joe and Barry thank goodness had blogs so I got to read up on them ahead of time and had a good idea as to what their responses might be. 

Wednesday 7:30 PM

IMG_3581A minute or so after 7:30 I kicked off Codemash with the discussion panel.  It took a few tries to find a working microphone but eventually I prevailed.  The topic was “Technology for Humans: Selling Your Ideas, Products, and Services”.  I knew going into the discussion the panel was made up of consultants and my hunch was the majority of the attendees were not consultants.  A poll of the audience later confirmed my hunch.  I opened the discussion to the panelist so each could give their elevator thoughts on the topic.  It was interesting to see how varied the panelist were in their opening comments.  After a few discussions on selling services I wanted to make sure I pushed the conversation towards more of the ideas segment.  I felt it was critical to leave the attendees with something they could use in the office.  Some of the audience members threw in some questions as well. 

For the attendees in the audience that were not consultants I hope the light bulb went off which is ultimately all of us have to sell and having that skill is important.  Selling an idea could be as simple as convincing an end user who made a request that their request isn’t worth it or valid given the context of an application.  At the end I hope everyone took something away and realized that even though we are developers we ultimately do have to sell our ideas.

At the end of the discussion we gave away two books as I mentioned earlier.  The first book was claimed by a surprise guest Sara Ford from Microsoft.  As Sara noted on her blog she had her LSU shirt on and I didn’t even know it was Sara until she got close to the stage.  I say surprise guest for several reasons.  One, she was the only other known Mississippian present at Codemash and two because I was so behind on news I didn’t know she was coming.  By the way for those that asked me about the book I mentioned you can find it on Lenann’s web site called http://www.youcansell.com/.  For those selling services or those that want to communicate better it is well worth the read. 

Wednesday 8:45 PM

After the discussion panel we starting making our way to the bar for conversation and drinks.  I was walking over with Dustin Campbell, Chris Woodruff, Jeff McWherter and Jason Follas but somehow got distracted and wound up arriving a few minutes later.  It wasn’t long until things got interesting.  I met a gentleman named Rich (which I can’t remember his last name but he was from the UK but lived in Arizona, hopefully Rich is a reader and will add in his comment).   More on Rich later.  Sara joined us and we got caught up on her new role with CodePlex at Microsoft.   I turned around to order an appetizer and Dan Hounshell and Michael Eaton were nearby along with one of their friends for which I can’t recall his name (sorry email me!).  Dan I had met before but I hadn’t got to put a face with a name for Michael yet.  It is funny, each time I saw Michael throughout the conference I said to myself he should be playing guitar in a heavy metal rock band.  He just has that look.  The guys were really funny and we had several laughs.  Michael and Dan kept razzing me about my Fried Bologna Sandwich article I recently wrote.  I explained it that it was an inside joke (which I haven’t disclosed until now) and I won $100 for writing that article because someone bet me I couldn’t write an article about bologna.  Pretty funny.

As more people flooded in I can’t recall everyone I spoke to so pardon me for not adding you explicitly to this conversation.  Close to the end of the evening Michael Kimsal showed up.  He had been driving all evening from North Carolina.  Michael and I used to work together as consultants years ago selling services around the LAMP stack and Codemash is about the only time we get to catch up (which is what makes Codemash so cool, you get to see people that play with different technologies that you wouldn’t normally see).  He runs http://www.webdevradio.com so I was trying to hook him up with some talent to record some podcasts.  I do remember introducing Jay Wren to Michael and I *think* they got together for a podcast later on.  Michael is a talker so all he normally needs is “Mike this is ____” and he’s off to the races.  Great guy, I miss working with him.

By this time it was getting late and time for bed.

Thursday 7:00 AM

The alarm clock went off and I stumbled into the shower then down to the restaurant to get something to eat.  They have an awesome breakfast buffet in the resort with all kinds of interesting twists.  Knowing how long of a day was ahead of me I had to get a jump start with a good solid breakfast. 

Thursday 9:00 AM

After breakfast I caught the last half of Neal Ford’s keynote and then made my way into the speaker room.  It was time to check email, put out fires and then focus on my up and coming Workflow Foundation talk.  While I had done this talk before I try to never let a talk stay stagnant.  I am always thinking about how to make it better, how to communicate a topic better, and how to improve the demos.  Campbell, Follas and Woodruff were in the speaker room as well. 

This is the part where having to speak at a conference isn’t fun.  On one hand you want to attend the conference like a normal attendee and go to sessions and follow the herd.  But you can’t because you have to make sure demos work, slide decks are in order and balance the small amount of time you have.  Needless to say I spent the next several hours getting things ready for my talk later in the afternoon.  I knew starting at 12:00 I wasn’t going to have any further down time.

Thursday 12:00 PM

Codemash 2008 015Lunch with Scott Hanselman.  For those that remember last year, we had ScottGu at Codemash and a select group of us got to have lunch with the GuMaster to pick his brain about up and coming technologies (which have all been released now).  This year since ScottHa was giving a keynote after lunch so we got to do the same thing, except with ScottHa.  Scott gave some interesting insight into how things work at Microsoft.  He hasn’t been there all that long so he is still learning his way.  This gives him a unique perspective on things and it is definitely interesting to hear how things work on the inside. 

Thursday 1:00 PM

After lunch, Scott gave his keynote.  Well, first he gave a prelim keynote which he later told me didn’t go over very well with the Patterns and Practices team.  At Codemash, it was hilarious and a great fit.  I can’t count the number of laughs, it was quiet funny. 

His real keynote was on IIS 7 whereby he showed some of the new features using PHP and ASP.NET in a unique way to scale an out of the box PHP application.

Thursday 2:30 PM

After Scott’s keynote I met up with Chris Woodruff and we recorded a Codemash podcast.  I suspect it will be coming out over the next several days.  We talked about Codemash, Smart Clients, and just random stuff.  Honestly it felt like we weren’t even recording just talking.  I hope it turns out ok.  Time will tell.

Thursday 3:20 PM

My Introduction to Workflow Foundation session started.  I honestly had more people show up for this talk than expected.  To all of those that did, thank you for coming out and I hope it was worth your time. 

Thursday 4:45 PM

After my Workflow Foundation talk I went to the Expert Zone.  I had scheduled my Expert Zone session right after this talk so longer conversations could continue.  Several people including Jon Kruger of Quick Solutions showed up and we discussed more Workflow ins and outs and some of the tougher questions like long running workflows, persistence, etc.  Also added to the mix was WCF, CSLA, Workflow Foundation and Smart Clients.  I truly enjoyed the expert zone discussion because being an educator at heart I love the opportunity to pass on information and help those struggling through the same thing I have already struggled with.  It wasn’t long until I plugged up my laptop and did an adhoc session.

Thursday 6:35 PM

My expert session ran a little long so I was late for supper.

Thursday 7:00 PM

After grabbing a quick bite I headed out to the floor to play Rock Band.  Hanselman and I teamed up several times.  Let me just say that he loves the Reaper.  I was playing guitar, Matt was singing, Scott was playing drums, and others were joining in.  It was a blast.  We played so long the mixer party started and we moved Rock Band over to the party where we continued to play.  Jeff Blankenburg, John Chapman and me teamed up on one of the longest songs to get the most points so we could win the Rock Band contest for best band.  We tried it on hard and got 87% until we bailed out.  It was my fault because I couldn’t hear the music very well due to so much crowd noise. 

I played Rock Band and mixed with the crowd waiting on my next turn.  As noted by Bender, I do pretty well.


Thursday 10:30 PM

I got word there was a Texas Hold ‘Em game going on so I grabbed my bag and headed over.  There was probably about 20 or so attendees playing.  I sat at the table with Blankenburg, Rich, John Chapman and three technical recruiters from Amazon.Com.  One of the recruiters from Amazon went out and got everyone some beer and chips which was extremely cool.  It was a great time to just relax and play cards.  Everyone that was playing was decent too which made it fun.  At the end it was getting late and I was completely worn down so I went all in on a King / 4.  John took me out with a King / 10 which got me to bed earlier.  Rich was amusing to play cards with because of his accent.  It was like playing cards with Robin Leach.  Rich and John kept going head to head, back and forth.  It was fun.  I think we should make this a Codemash ritual.   Amazon, thanks for the beer and chips.  With as much money as I’ve spent with you guys this year it was nice to get something back 🙂

Friday 1:00 AM

Bed.  Sleep.

Friday 9:30 AM

I missed the early morning keynote which I heard a lot of great things about.  I was up and would have went but I couldn’t because I had a server issue I had to resolve.  I managed to get to the conference a few minutes after Bruce Eckel’s talk began on why he loves Python so much.  I found a power outlet in the back of the room so I could work while listening.  From what I recall he had ten basic premises as to why he loved python and mainly picked on Java, C++ and some C#.  If I had to convince people to use Python I would have probably used a lot of the same arguments but ultimately for me it boils down to productivity within the platform as well as a language.  Of course there were about 25 points he made that I didn’t agree with but that is ok.

Friday 11:00 AM

I walked out of the session and John Chapman was hanging around the Rock Band set.  As I mentioned earlier John, Jeff and I went for the high score on a song the night before but didn’t make it.  Since Jeff was missing we wanted to warm up so we jumped in on “Enter Sandman” with another gentleman who picked up the bass.  We basically rocked it and got 390,000 points which put us in second place.  We call the band “The Mesopotamians” since our bassist had that on his shirt.  Pretty funny.  BTW the contest on Rock Band was the two top bands got $150 and $75 for the top two scores from Quick Solutions. 

Friday 11:30 AM

I headed to the speaker’s room to work on my Workflow Foundation talk I was giving later in the day.  Although I had given this talk before this is an extremely difficult talk because it requires about 50 minutes of straight programming from the hip with the end result having a custom activity in Workflow Foundation.  It is a fun talk but is also dangerous and requires practice practice practice to make sure it is done right.

Friday 12:15 PM

Lunch.  I sat with an awesome bunch of guys for lunch.  Let’s see, I know Joe Brinkman was there because we talked about Workflow Foundation and why DotNetNuke couldn’t use it initially.  Joe emailed me later to confirm that WF still isn’t an option they can consider because it requires full trust to run.  Something I hadn’t thought about.  Mike Wood was there as well along with Joe Whirtley and Brian Sherwin.  There were others but I can’t remember and I apologize for not being able to recall (email me and I’ll update this).

Friday 12:45 PM

It was back to the speaker room so I could concentrate on my talk coming up.  Did I mention when you speak at these things you really don’t get to enjoy them as much?  Anyway. 

Friday 2:00 PM

Sara Ford came into the speaker room and said she was going to go play Guitar Hero III.  Having been heads down for a stint I needed a break so I joined her.  For those that missed this, this was a Codemash highlight no doubt!  Two Mississippians going head to head on GH3 on……. easy.  Yes, we want on easy but you know what, it was more nerve racking than going hard or expert because EVERY single note counted and it wasn’t about who had the fastest fingers but who was more accurate.  A true test to ones skills.  In the end I prevailed with a 12,000 point victory but Sara fought a hard fight.  It was total fun.

Friday 2:30 PM

Since I had one of the last sessions of the day I headed to the Expert Zone once again.  I was looking forward to this since Dianne Marsh and I were scheduled to be in there.  I was looking forward to chatting with her but our chat got cut short because there weren’t enough rooms available for an adhoc Ruby talk so we gave up the Expert Zone room and moved it into the speaker’s room.

Friday 3:40 PM

My second Workflow Foundation talk started which was on creating custom activities in Workflow Foundation.  As I told the audience I just gave them all the skills they needed to be rich since there aren’t really a ton of third party workflow activities out there.  I think Michael Eaton is planning on becoming rich on my advice.

Friday 5:10 PM

I was late arriving into the banquet hall where prizes were given away.  I started standing at the back and Sara walked up.  She still had tears in her eyes from her Guitar Hero III defeat.

Dave Donaldson walked over to say hi which I didn’t recognize at first.  It had been a long time since I had seen him.  Sorry Dave I do apologize for not recognizing you at first but you don’t have a picture on your blog which I DO read!  This is yet another plug to tell people to put their photos on their blogs.  I do it so people know who I am when I go to a conference.  It works, trust me.   If it is any consolation Dave I am jealous of your dual 22″ monitors and you still need to come do a talk at our group in Livonia when you can.  🙂

While I didn’t win a book, Jeff McWherter picked out a book for me with his winning ticket since he gets a lot of books running the Lansing .Net User Group.  I am now the proud owner of the O’Reilly WCF book Michele wrote.  Thanks Jeff!

Brian Prince announced the winner of the Rock Band competition and The Mesopotamians took second place!  I got a $25 Best Buy gift card and hugged Brian’s neck 🙂

Friday 6:30 PM

Having eaten conference food for several days it was time to get something a little more tasty.  About eight of us headed to the restaurant in the resort to grab a bite including Chris Woodruff, Jeff McWherter, Sara Ford, Brian Sherwin, David Smith, John Hopkins, Chris Kotsis and myself.  Pretty much everyone got the buffet (pronounced baa-fey Sara not boo-fey 🙂  ) except for Brian and Jeff.  If you’ve never eaten with David, the guy can pump away some food and he only weighs like 150lbs soaking wet.  Dave, you are the man!

Friday 7:30 PM

Jeff and I jumped back in his light speed Mini Cooper and headed back to Detroit.  He dropped me off at the hotel near the airport and I basically fell into bed knowing I had to wake-up at 4:30 AM to catch my flight. 


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Comments (3)

I finally found my way home from CodeMash around noon on Saturday. I stayed an extra night because I

You’re absolutely right about me not having a picture of myself on my blog; totally inexcusable. I’ll be rectifying that soon.


Great meeting you at CodeMash. It was an all around great time.

Thanks again for the $10 at the poker table!

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