The local Microsoft .Net Community and why you SHOULD attend a CodeCamp
What is a Code Camp?
The idea behind a Code Camp started a few years back from inside the community itself. The principal is simple – get a bunch of people together on the weekend and learn from each other. The events are usually free (or charge a nominal fee to cover food/logistics) and offer a way for people from the local area to meet, network and discuss all things .NET related.
It is one thing for Microsoft to release new technologies and tools but quite something else to see people gather together, passionately, and in their own spare time no less, to talk about those technologies and a pride in bettering their own skills.
As a company – you couldn’t feel more humbled and respected by your customers. Thank You!
Philly.NET Code Camp
There are a ton of usergroups in the local Philadelphia area – you need only go check out Meetup.com or the list off my own blog to see the topics and locations. Philly.net happens to be one of the biggest usergroups in the area and it also hosts a Code Camp twice a year.
What the Community does continues to amaze me. With very minimal help from Microsoft (we show up, we connect the dots, and we help with some sponsor money) the Community comes together and throws an event that has an upward of 800 plus people registered on a Saturday afternoon!
Here is just some of the amazing stats that go into a community run event like this:
- 60 speakers
- 10 sessions being recording live over the Internet
- 30-40 vendors at 9 tables
- 260 bagels
- 1700 hoagie slices
- 400 bags chips
- 1000 beverages
- 400 cups coffee
- 300 soft pretzels
- 200 bags popcorn
- Xbox360m Zune 32 Gig, and 4 Acer Netbooks for prizes!
Wow! So what exactly does 500 developers waiting for some Netbooks look like? Well wonder no more and check out the quick video I took yesterday below. I am just glad that Andy didn’t throw the Netbooks.
Community Code Camp Photos
I took a bunch of photos during the day you can check out on my Flickr account here. From the Philly Pretzels, Subs and Popcorn to the Silverlight and jQuery debates it was an event to remember. Beginning developers, independent consultants, partners, large enterprises, and small mom and pop shops all came together in one place to network with fellow peers and celebrate just being a developer! This is a place where you walk down the hall and hear everything form dependency injection to why Visual Basic still rocks. Being a geek never felt so good!
Introduction to Windows Azure for Developers
Azure changes things for Developers
For this weekends codecamp I covered one of the more exciting things to come out for developers in a while – Microsoft Azure. My session covered the evolution of hosted computing, how we got to the cloud, what Microsoft’s offering is all about, how Dallas and oData really change the landscape for data (“there’s a feed for that!”), and why you should care as a .Net Developer. One of the questions I love asking during an Azure session is about how long you have waited to have a server set up? I had more than a few in my session who were over a few months (yes I gave that person a T-Shirt!) I remember when I first started out as a developer I thought the process ended at me compiling my code and being full tested but that was just the beginning.
Soon I found myself learning everything I didn’t want to know about load balancers, DNS, server hardware, and fiber channel arbitrated loop switches. Because hardware was a capital cost in the enterprise I had to wait for things to be ordered, go through a procurement process, and then get fully setup/configured (for the record the longest I have waited for a web server was 6 months).
Azure changes all of that for us. It is now possible to spin up a fully load-balanced website that is available publically on the internet (DNS registered and all) in about 15-20 minutes. Not only that, if you decide later you don’t need that kind of hardware you can shut it all down and no longer be charged. Of if you become tremendously successful and need to scale up for more requests you can do that too without having to pick up the phone and order more hardware.
Downloading the Presentation
My content included a lot of stuff I did for the Azure Launch Events and recent roadshows as well as some of my own experiences and areas are think are important. Please feel free to grab them and use them in your own discussions as well as sending me any feedback with questions you might have.
I would also want to mention the work Channel 9 has been doing in creating content around all the latest Microsoft technologies. Be sure to check out the Windows Azure Training Kit for hands on labs, training and code. If you’ve got a spare 15 minutes or so a week you can also subscribe to the Cloud Cover Show and hear first hand about all things Azure related.
Live Streaming of Community Events
One of the things I am pretty passionate about is getting content to you even if you can not make it in person. When I look back at my career most of the really impactful things I have learned were either on the job or from my fellow peers. But how can we learn from one another when sometimes we’re miles, if not oceans, apart? That is where I think the recording of events comes into play.
All of the big Microsoft Conferences ( like PDC09 and MIX10) currently allow you to watch the sessions online after the conference. Why not take the great community content that is available and bring that to you live during the conference as well as available for future reference after the event.
My first attempt (not to mention the first website I had hand coded in quite a while) was during the Enterprise Developers Conference last May. Back then I was able to partner with iStreamPlanet and bring you numerous sessions of content streamed live via Silverlight. But how do you bring that to the community? Especially with a budget that is about the tenth of the size.
Thanks to Worktank Online Events Services (and some Microsoft funding) streaming live community content became a reality this weekend. We started out small (10 sessions) and made sure we had a group of folks who were ok with being recorded. We also have made them available online for offline viewing (which you can access below). Please keep in mind you will need to install the Microsoft Live Meeting client to view them but this way you will get the presenter walking through the slides instead of just a deck.
If you find this is something valuable to you please send me feedback. This took a lot of work to pull off (including time by community volunteers) but we all think it is worth doing. If the streaming of community events is something you find valuable please make sure we know. Whether that is to me directly or on the CodeCamp Feedback Evaluations the more we hear from you the sooner it can happen again. My hope is that in the future we will have all of our usergroup and codecamp community content available on demand and for everyone. Be sure to check the MSDN Live Events website and the local MSDN Flash Newsletter I will be posting details there as soon as things are finalized.
Alex’s Lemonade Stand – local developers getting behind a really important cause
I wanted to mention one last thing that happened at Philly.NET Code Camp yesterday. Thanks to Nick Berardi Philly.Net partnered with Alex’s Lemonade Stand and was able to donate $500 to the organization to help fight the battle against Childhood Cancer.
Watch the video below for a short description of how many children die from childhood cancers each day. I was so proud to see the local .NET Developer community come together and donate for such a great cause.