My First Week as a Developer Evangelist

I thought it would be fun to share what it was like my first week making the transition from Redmond to Silicon Valley in my new role. And more importantly, I thought it would be fun to explain publicly to my uncle back in Mississippi that my job isn’t to pray for the developers of the world. =D

Last weekend

I got off the plane from Seattle on Thursday afternoon, so Friday and Saturday I attended Dare2BeDigital with Lynn Langit and her crew from Southern California. (Yes, my new team put me right to work!)

Two cool things I learned from Dare2BeDigital were Small Basic and Scratch.

Small Basic is basically a super lightweight IDE, similar to Visual Studio but for kids. We coded against a Turtle object to make it move in certain directions and with certain colors, kinda like a glorified etch-a-sketch. This IDE even comes with its own IntelliSense.

Small Basic was one of the coolest things I’ve seen in quite some time, but then again I’m bias towards anything Visual Studio-like. Definitely check it out if you have kids at home.

Small Basic IDE

Scratch is a programming environment where kids can drag and drop flow logic (instead of having to write the code themselves) to program an object (aka a “Sprite”) as shown below from their getting started guide. The default Sprite is the yellow cat you see below.

What really makes Scratch really cool is how many games/applications built with it are out there to explore and “remix” (as they say on the website), especially since the scripts for the games/apps are provided as the download.

Scratch IDE

Again, another “must check out” if you have kids at home.

I also got the chance to meet a lot of folks like Sunshine Mugrabi (we’re going to have lunch sometime), Van Riper (who is helping to organize CLS this year!!!), and Peter Kellner (a MVP who is giving me lots of cycling tips for the area), and Tammy Kellner (who got me animal balloons to make for the kids).


I spent Sunday disconnected from work exploring Santa Cruz. It reminded me of home, minus the surfers and big waves and salsa dancers.


I had a house hunting trip to explore the areas I wanted to live in. The bad news was that I got food poisoning from lunch that day. The good news the food poisoning didn’t hit me until several hours after training at my new karate dojo that night.


I made it to the Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus for the first time. I had my Mid Year Career Discussion with my new manager that morning. It was kinda ironic to have a mid-year career discussion on your first day at the office (recall this was an internal transfer within Microsoft). But considering the mid-point is really to talk about career goals, it gave me a chance to explain to my new manager what I want to do when I grow up.

I met my officemate Joel who is focusing on startups in the area. And after a quick trip to San Jose Airport, I retrieved my lost reading glasses from the plane. (Thanks Alaska Air!) When I got back, Joel also gave me a tour of the campus. It was surreal to be on a very mini version of the Redmond campus that is warm and sunny in March. It was also surreal to see a Google security car driving down the street just a few blocks away.

Joel introduced me to the Hacker Dojo later that evening. It is a non-profit that runs a house for folks to go hang out and code, including free wifi and power. The organization runs purely on donations. There are lots of events that happen there. I was invited to an event upstairs, but considering the food poisoning event of the night before, I had to decline so I could go home and sleep.

And for the record, I’m okay with this being called a “Dojo” since it is a training facility. See! I’m not unreasonable! =D However, just be careful if you ask me if I’m going to the dojo tonight, because if you do not specify an adjective, I will default to my karate dojo.


Finally, after a full night’s sleep and my reading glasses with me, I had my first almost 9-5 day at the office (it was really a 9am-midnight day, but who is counting?) The morning was spent mostly responding to email from the past week. But I have to say, I’ve gone from 250 emails a day as Program Manager of CodePlex to less than 10 a day in my new role. But everyone around me keeps laughing, saying “Just give it time.”

I left the office at 4:15 to head to East Bay .NET, which is located in “East Bay” (and for the record I live and work in “South Bay”). This was my first experience with a GPS Navigation system. OMG, how have I been functioning all my life without one?!! Thank you Kenny (an Academic Evangelist for the area) for letting me borrow yours. I purchased my own GPS Navigation system this weekend. It has improved my quality of life by 10x, if not 100x.

I made it to East Bay .NET at 6:10pm, just a few minutes late. It was my first introduction to Silicon Valley rush hour. We had an insane about of famous geeks in that room, which included Beth Massi, Robin Shahan, Ward Bell, Kathleen Dollard, and Julie Lerman.

I had a great time meeting folks, like Peter Tweed and Deborah Kurata (who runs East Bay .NET).

I got home well after midnight.


After working on some upcoming conference planning (OSBC, EclipseCon – I can’t believe i get to go to these conferences now as a part of my day job! I’m a very lucky and happy geek.), I spent the afternoon being tutored 1-1 on using Entity Framework and SQL Server. I have *a lot* of technologies to get ramped up on.

That afternoon, I was on a conference call with Jono Bacon planning the upcoming Community Leadership Summit in July the weekend before OSCON. (And yes, that’s me in the photo playing close attention =). I had a great time last year, so I leaped at the opportunity to help organize the event this year. And of course, since my life is the mathematical proof of Murphy’s law, my cell phone decides to stop working in the middle of the conference call. I’ve never had a BlackJack II stop playing audio while at the same time freeze the UI so I couldn’t hang up. I had to cold reboot the phone (yes, cold reboot as in removing the battery) to dial back. But, still no audio, so I picked up a landline phone. I was so embarrassed, but everyone on the call was cool with giving me a quick recap.

I was invited back to the Hacker Dojo for an Ignite get together, but I declined because I made a commitment to go to karate at least 2x a week. Not knowing too much about Ignite, I figured there would be other Ignite talks I could attend in the upcoming months. Nothing like trial and error first week on the job.


I got to work only to realize I left my power adapter in East Bay earlier in the week (an hour’s drive away, if not more). And since everything I own is in storage, including my 2 other spare power adapters, I once again conceded to Murphy’s law. Fortunately, the IT folks here had an extra power adapter to loan me for the day, so these guys here totally rock.

I spent the morning installing Visual Studio 2010 Release Candidate, but when I fired it up, I hit the rainbow bug. 

Visual Studio Rainbow Bug

I about had a heart attack. Fortunately, I guessed it was something to do with the VS color service, and then I realized I had been using the Color Theme extension for Beta 2. And sure enough, the extension’s blog post listed the workaround.

I spent the afternoon reading Professional ASP.NET MVC 1.0 (I figured I needed to start somewhere getting ramped up, instead of wasting time trying to figure out where to start.). I’m using VS 2008 to follow along step by step, which is really making me miss some of the new features in VS 2010.


Considering I was practically gone the entire month of February, from leaving CodePlex, watching the Superbowl, celebrating Mardi Gras holidays back home, attending MVP Summit, and relocating to CA, I’m a bit behind where I want to be for my DevDays Netherlands talks at the end of the month. I need to write a completely new talk, so that’s my Sunday night project.

But, I made sure to spend all day Saturday and Sunday in the nice warm California sunshine. Natural skin tone, here I come!