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Before I move on to other topics...I wanted to do one last post on STLDODN 2008.  Now for some random event thoughts:

The event was held this last weekend and it was one of the longest weekends of my year.  As an organizer I spent last week stressing over many of the final details and anxiously awaiting final shipments of swag.  I also spent a significant amount of time with my assistant* packing take-home bags.  At one point I even paid each of my three girls $10/apiece to help stuff pens into bags for attendees.

The day of the event was a whirlwind as I was exhausted from the night before during which we did all the setup of the 230 extra chairs we had to order plus all the PA equipment, signs, registration area, etc, etc.  While not everything worked out quite like we planned, fortunately we made it through the day without any riots or bloodshed.  Time will tell if it was a success I guess but I walked away extremely pleased.  My biggest worry in the weeks leading up to the event was how we were going to fit 250 people into the CAIT facilities as that seemed a little much.  We had some snafu's during the registration process which led us to keep registration open for longer than we intended and we ended up with more people than we initially planned for.  In actuality we had nearly 100 people attempt to register AFTER we shut down registration so we are cautiously optimistic that STLDODN 2009 will be even bigger.   As it turned out, all attendees moved between rooms very effectively for the large numbers and we even handed out 250 lunches in about 15 minutes.  So that was a HUGE relief.

I did volunteer to give a presentation on the day of the event and, while I'm very used to presenting, I was unsure if I wanted to spend my time simply making sure things ran smoothly or do that AND present.  I tried both and it worked out well I guess.  No one threw rotten eggs at me when I presented and the event didn't fall apart either. 

One debate we had early on was over how much content to pack into one day and whether 50-55 minute sessions were too short.  My session was an overview of all new technologies announced at PDC 2008 and I was able to stay at 10,000ft and get done in 50 minutes.  I'm fairly longwinded anyway (if you can't tell from my classes or my emails) so keeping myself down to 50 minutes was somewhat of a challenge and it seemed that I had just introduced myself and I was done.  While I was fine with the timeframe, I'm sure many other presenters struggled to get enough detail into such a short session to be of value to hardcore developers.

The speakers for the event were awesome.  Although I spent my time making sure everyone could be heard and their computers actually worked with our projectors (which was an issue a few times) I heard great things from many attendees.  We hosted a speaker dinner the night before the event and I met some great guys (and gals) with a TON of .NET expertise.  We couldn't have asked for a better group and they helped make the event what it was by being flexible and cooperative when something wasn't going perfectly and helping everyone succeed.  They all put in a significant amount of preparation time as well getting their demonstrations and PPT's ready to go.  Most people don't realize that presenters at these community events prepare for these things outside of work hours for no direct benefit to themselves (other than some local visibility and name recognition).  The time spent adds up but I think it's a huge benefit to the person doing the research as they become experts in their field whereas people who do not put in this effort to present or study get left behind.  I've always thought a huge learning opportunity can be found by volunteering to be a speaker at events like these and making yourself work hard to prepare a presentation and be knowledgeable enough to sound like and expert and field questions from experts.  I took this to the next level and found a teaching job :)

We had over $15,000 in raffle prizes donated to the event and some of the most significant were XBox 360's and Microsoft Zunes.  The lady who was drawn to win the nicest XBox 360 didn't know what it was and passed.  That was rather humorous :)  The guy behind her in line gladly accepted her "hand me down".

As to the "grunt work" of setting up and tearing down...we, as organizers, are pretty fortunate to have some great friends and co-workers who didn't leave us out on a limb.  We had a lot of hands pitch in and make small work of a big job.  We were able to leave the facilities in as good or better shape than when we left it and everything went smooth.  If you were one of those individuals I tip my hat (and my glass :) to you!  Thanks!

In addition to myself, Jeff Fattic from Quilogy and Scott Spradlin from Covenant were conference organizers.  I know they stressed out as much as I did and took time away from their families for months to send emails, field calls, and to finalize last minute deliveries or setup the venue.  I have known Scott for many years as he coordinates the local .NET user group where I present and sponsor frequently.  I had never met Jeff until about 3 months ago when we met for lunch with the idea of hosting an event.  But now that seems like a lifetime ago now but I had a great time planning with these guys and now we are back to the drawing board and eager to jump on STLDODN 2009.

As to next year, we are currently setting up our conference post-mortem meetings and initial planning meetings for STLDODN 2009.  The only thing we know for certain thus far is that we are shooting for a more "conference center" type venue which will enable us to hopefully draw(and support) many more attendees.  We were all excited about the sheer number of St. Louis .NET developers who showed interest in an event like this and we hope the community can continue to grow and provide value to all it's members.  We are currently taking input from anyone with ideas on what would work better next time or what did we not think of this time.  So, if you have some ideas, feel free to write me at kvgros@SSEinc.com.

Anyway, enough about an event in the past...  While I still have final shirt orders and other things to coordinate before this event is officially "closed", I've got some huge projects at work getting ready to get underway so I've got to get back in "learning" mode and ready to start ramping up large teams.

Which reminds me....ARE THERE ANY GREAT C# DEVELOPERS IN ST. LOUIS LOOKING FOR A JOB?  I NEED SOME SENIOR PEOPLE INTERESTED IN COMPOSITEWPF, SMART CLIENTS, WCF, WINDOWS WORKFLOW, ETC.  We do some cutting edge stuff at SSE and have some awesome projects lined up for 2009 and I can't seem to find people capable enough to help.  The people with the skills and enthusiasm I'm looking for are all gainfully employed (which isn't to say they can't be more gainfully employed working for me).  Anyway, I'll probably blog more later about my struggle finding good candidates but, for now, if you might be looking for a better situation please drop me an email..

Till next time...thanks for coming to STLDODN 2008!

-Kevin

 

* My "assistant" was actually my wife and I only call her that if she gets roped into helping me with "work" stuff...

Posted on Monday, December 15, 2008 9:54 PM | Back to top


Comments on this post: St. Louis Day of .NET 2008 - Recap

# re: St. Louis Day of .NET 2008 - Recap
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Sound like the event went awesome. Congratulations. Next year I will definitely come present!

~Lee
Left by Lee Brandt on Dec 18, 2008 12:13 AM

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