Prairie Dev Con 2011 Call for Speakers

prairie dev con call for speakers

D'Arcy Lussier throws his "luchador" look and says "speak!"There is no shortage of developer conferences in Canada’s “MTV” cities, where MTV stands for Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. That’s not surprising given their population densities, but they’re not the only place where developers live.

We do what we can to cover the country, and we also do what we can to help other people make sure that Canadian developers get the sort of face-time, up-close-and-personal, you-had-to-be-there experience that only conferences provide, as nice as doing stuff over the interney is. That’s why we’re happy to hear that Winnipeg’s own D’Arcy Lussier is holding another Prairie Developer Conference, a.k.a. Prairie Dev Con, this summer on Monday, June 13 and Tuesday, June 14 in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Prairie Dev Con will feature multiple tracks with sessions hosted by Canadian developers covering all sorts of topics in different styles, from lectures to panel discussions to chalk talks to hands-on coding sessions. If you’re based in the Canadian prairies or always wanted to visit, you’ll want to catch this conference!

Better still, you might want to speak at this conference. They’re currently looking for sessions in the following general areas:

  • Microsoft tools and technologies
  • Java tools and technologies
  • Ruby tools and technologies
  • Mobile development
  • Agile development
  • Developer fundamentals

The conference will cover two nights’ accommodations for selected out-of-town presenters. All presenters will be treated to the speaker dinner which take place on the evening of Monday, June 13. Travel costs are the responsibility of the speaker.

The deadline for speaker submissions is January 14th! If you’d like to speak at Prairie Dev Con, download the speaker submissions form and send it to D’Arcy as soon as you can!

The are also sponsorship opportunities! They have a multi-tiered sponsorship model, as well as track, prize and booth sponsorships.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Toronto Area SharePoint Saturday: Saturday November 13th at Microsoft Canada HQ

SharePoint Saturday: Saturday, November 13th - Mississauga

“Want a job? Learn SharePoint!” said the article in O’Reilly Radar last year. The U.S. and Canadian federal governments, banks, businesses and all manner of organizations with lots of people, projects and collaboration love SharePoint and are looking for developers. The natural follow-up to “Want a job? Learn SharePoint!” is Want to learn SharePoint? Come to SharePoint Saturday!

SharePoint Saturday takes place on Saturday, November 13th at Microsoft Canada’s headquarters in Mississauga (1950 Meadowvale Blvd., just off Mississauga Road, just north of Highway 401 and just south of Highway 407). It’s your chance to meet architects, developers, and other professionals who work with Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and 2007 and learn about it. SharePoint Saturday will be an educational, informative and lively day filled with sessions from respected SharePoint professionals and MVPs, covering a wide variety of SharePoint topics. Better still, SharePoint Saturday is FREE (you should register to attend), open to the public and your chance to immerse yourself in SharePoint!

For more information about SharePoint Saturday, visit the SharePoint Saturday site. To register, visit their registration page.

Click here to register for SharePoint Saturday

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


What I’m Up To This Week

It’s going to be a busy week for Yours Truly…

Monday: Windows Phone Deployment Clinic

monday - windows phone deployment clinic

On Monday, I’ll be helping out at the Windows Phone Deployment Clinic at Microsoft Canada HQ in Mississauga (1950 Meadowvale Boulevard, off Mississauga Road, north of Highway 401), where you can book some time to test your apps on a real Windows Phone 7 device. If you’ve got an app and you’re going to be in the area, drop me a line and book an appointment!

(By the bye, that thing I’m standing beside in the photo above is a promo device known colloquially as the “Big-Ass Phone”.)

Tuesday: AndroidTO and TechDays Setup

tuesday - androidto techdays

On Tuesday, I’ll be spending some time at the AndroidTO conference, a gathering of Android developers, where I’ll be minding the Windows Phone 7 booth. Yes, that’s right, Microsoft is a gold sponsor at an Android conference. Why? Because:

  • We feel that if you’re an Android developer, go ahead an build Android apps, but expand your market reach by developing for Windows Phone 7 too! The programming languages and layout markup are similar.
  • If you’re an Android developer, what’s the best OS for doing development? We think it’s Windows 7, which is a great environment for Java. Loads of great Java dev tools run on Windows, and we don’t consider Java to be deprecated.

AndroidTO takes place at the Polish Combatants Hall (206 Beverley Street, just south of College), is free-as-in-beer, and is alas, completely booked solid.

I’ll also be doing some setup for TechDays Toronto, which takes place on Wednesday and Thursday.

Wednesday: TechDays Toronto and Go DEVMental

wednesday - techdays godevmental

Wednesday brings with it TechDays, Microsoft Canada’s cross-country tech conference: two days of great sessions for developers and IT pros who are building stuff with the Microsoft stack. I’m the guy who picked the content for both developer tracks, “Developing for Three Screens and the Cloud” and “Optimizing the Development Process”. I strove for the best mix of both technology-specific stuff like Mark Arteaga’s Windows Phone 7 sessions and Kate Gregory’s Windows API Code Pack presentation as well as practice-of-programming sessions such as “Top 10 Mistakes in Unit Testing” and “Branching and Merging Strategies”. TechDays will occupy me from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m..

From 7 p.m. on, it’ll be Go DEVMental, the student event where we’ll show university and college students what’s possible with Microsoft’s web and mobile platforms. I’ll be doing a presentation on getting starting with game development for Windows Phone with an amusing little live-coded game called “BieberSmash”, starring the bubblegum pop idol of the moment. Go DEVMental is free and open to post-secondary students – just bring your student ID! You’ll get all sorts of goodies, including a DreamSpark token and Visual Studio 2010 Pro.

Both TechDays and GoDEVMental take place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre’s South Building (222 Bremner Boulevard, right beside the CN Tower).

Thursday: TechDays, Day 2

thursday - techdays day 2

Thursday means another full day of the TechDays conference, to be followed by some very strong whiskey-based drinks.

Friday: Coffee and Code

friday - coffee and code

I’ll be running a Windows Phone 7 Coffee and Code this Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Timothy’s at 225 Front Street West (in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre building). I’ll be hanging out at the cafe, working on Windows Phone 7 code on both the emulator and real Windows Phone devices. Want to learn more about Windows Phone 7, see a real-live phone, play some games or test your code? Come on down!

Saturday: ACSE Conference

saturday - acse conference

University of Toronto computer science prof Steve Engels invited me to speak in front of a group of high school teachers at the ACSE (Association for Computer Studies Educators) Conference taking place on Saturday. I’m going to be showing them programming for high school students on Windows Phone as well as with the Kodu game development environment.

…and Sunday?

sunday - zzzzz

Well, it won’t be all sleep. I’ll have to pack for my Monday flight to TechDays Halifax!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


This Saturday: SharePoint Saturday in Vancouver

sharepoint saturday vancouverCreative Commons photo by Jason V. Click the photo to see it on its original page.

Don’t forget that this Saturday, September 25th, is the first SharePoint Saturday in Vancouver!

It’s a FREE public event, and it’s a chance for people in the Vancouver area to dive into SharePoint. It promises to be an educational, informative and lively day filled with sessions from respected SharePoint professionals and MVPs, covering a wide variety of SharePoint-oriented topics.

For more details, see my earlier blog entry on SharePoint Saturday Vancouver as well as the SharePoint Saturday Vancouver site and the registration page.

Thanks to Yaroslav Pentsarskyy for letting me know about this event!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


This Saturday: “Introduction to B.I.” in Montreal (Samedi .NET)

samedi .net in montreal

Don’t forget that a Samedi .NET event is taking place this Saturday, September 25th in Montreal: Introduction au B.I., or as they say en Anglais, Introduction to B.I.. As in Business Intelligence. For the full details, see my earlier blog entry and the event’s registration page. It won’t cost you much to attend; admission to the event is under $10.

Thanks to La Communauté .NET Montreal for putting on the event and to Microsoft Canada Regional Director Guy Barrette, my go-to guy for keeping me in the loop on Montreal geek events!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Scenes from TechDays Vancouver, Part 5: Day 2 and Beyond

Day 0 (The Day Before)

TechDays typically happens on a Tuesday and a Wednesday; we usually arrive on the Sunday or Monday in order to prepare the venue, our speakers and our own presentations. The afternoon of Day 0 is usually spent setting up the computers in each of the track rooms and in the Collaboration Lounge and “Ask the Experts” areas.

Here’s Christian Beauclair taking a tour of the facilities on the afternoon before TechDays.

Christian Beauclair in the hallway at Vancouver Conventioon Centre's West Building

I usually see Samantha Wong at Microsoft Canada’s headquarters in Mississauga, but last week she was with us at TechDays Vancouver, minding the table for the WebsiteSpark program, which gives free development tools available to eligible fee-for-service web design shops.

Samantha Wong, minding the WebsiteSpark table

We made the TechDays venue available to CloudCamp on the evening of Day 0. The Vancouver one was quite well-attended. John Bristowe, pictured below with the camera, took some photos of the crowd:

A crowd of CloudCamp attendees gathering as John Bristowe takes a photo of them

We’re usually quite busy with other things on the evenings of Day 1 and Day 2, so we hold the speaker dinner on the evening of Day 0. We took the speakers to Town Hall, where they got a chance to hang out with us over food and drinks and play with the new Windows Phone 7 devices. Morten Rand-Hendriksen seemed particularly delighted to take WP7 out for a spin:

Morten Rand-Hendriksen smiles maniacally as he holds a Windows Phone 7 device

Day 1

Here’s track host Miguel Carrasco delivering a short introductory presentation for “Developing for Three Screens and the Cloud” track the at the start of Day 1. We have introductory presentations on both days; they ease the audience into the day and tell them what to expect from each track.

Miguel Carrasco delivers the welcome presentation to a packed room

Also presenting in the “Three Screens and the Cloud” track was Aaron Kowall:

Aaron Kowall makes a presentation

Both developer tracks were well attended. Here are some scenes from the other developer track, “Optimizing the Development Process”:

Packed presentation room

Packed presentation room

Day 2

We’ve always got extra goodies to give away at TechDays. This year’s bonus prize was a special Halo Reach edition of the Xbox 360, and Lowell Picklyk was the lucky winner. Here he is, being presented the prize by Barnaby Jeans:

Barnaby Jeans and Lowell Picklyk hold up the box for the limited edition "Halo Reach" Xbox 360

Here’s Anthony Vranic talking about some of the new goodies in ASP.NET 4 WebForms:

Anthony Vranic makes a presentation

And here are Aaron Kowall and Miguel Carrasco watching Anthony:

Aaron Kowall and Miguel Carrasco, seated and watching a presentation

In addition to the usual developer and IT pro tracks, we added a new track to TechDays: the Local Flavours track. Unlike the other tracks, whose content comes from other big Microsoft conferences such as TechEd North America, MIX and PDC, Local Flavours’ presentations are the creations of developers and IT pros in each city.

In Vancouver, the last Local Flavours session was a special treat: a recording of a DotNetRocks show with DotNetRocks stars Richard Campbell and Carl Franklin interviewing Pete LePage, Senior Product Manager for Internet Explorer. IE9 Beta had been released earlier that day, so it was the perfect time to interview him.

Here are Richard, Carl and Pete being introduced to the audience by John Bristowe:

Richard Campbell, Carl Franklin and Pete LePage seated as John Bristowe introduces them

Richard Campbell, Carl Franklin and Pete LePage seated as John Bristowe introduces them

Richard Campbell, Carl Franklin and Pete LePage seated as John Bristowe introduces them

Day 2 Evening

After the end of TechDays, we tore down the computer setups in the session rooms, “Ask the Experts” area and Collaboration Lounge and packed them for shipping to Edmonton, the next TechDays city (TechDays Edmonton takes place on October 5th and 6th).

The day wasn’t over yet: we changed out of our TechDays clothes, dressed up a little and made our way to Glowball Grill in Vancouver’s Yaletown district for an IE9 blogger night, where 604-area tech bloggers, tech press and other notable nerds were shown IE9 in action.

Here’s Arnaud Gabaudan, the consumer lead for Internet Explorer, welcoming the crowd:

Arnaud Gabaudan makes a quick speech to the attendees in the lounge area of Glowball Grill

John Bristowe waits “in the wings” to do his presentation after Arnaud’s introduction:

Arnaud Gabaudan makes a quick speech to the attendees in the lounge area of Glowball Grill as John Bristowe watches

And we’re off! Here’s John’s grand tour of the new, faster, more standards-compliant beta of IE9:

John Bristowe's presentation, as seen from the bar

And tucked off to the side were those of us in the bar. We still had a pretty good view of the presentation, plus we had easy access to drinks!

The scene at the bar

Don’t worry, John; I’m paying attention – I just pay better attention when I’m enjoying a Bloody Caesar:

John Bristowe's presentation, as seen from the bar

Day 3 (The Day After)

We held a Coffee and Code on the day after TechDays at the Take 5 Cafe at Granville and West Hastings, a stone’s throw from our hotel, and the site of the foundings of a couple of Vancouver tech groups and startups. I started Coffee and Code at the beginning of 2009 as a way for Microsoft to be better in touch with and more accessible to developers, it’s been going strong ever since.

The scene at Take 5 Cafe

The faces I know in the pictures above and below, from left to right:

  • Boris Mann (blue jacket)
  • Chris Nicol (red shirt)
  • Christian Beauclair (blue shirt)
  • Morten Rand-Hendriksen (green plaid shirt, far back)
  • John Bristowe (black t-shirt, seated farthest back)
  • Anthony Bartolo (rightmost blue shirt)
  • Mark Arteaga (rightmost in the white shirt)

The scene at Take 5 Cafe

We will be holding Windows Phone 7 Coffee and Code events in all TechDays cities. Watch this blog for announcements about the locations of upcoming Coffee and Codes!

The scene at Take 5 Cafe

The scene at Take 5 Cafe

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Scenes from TechDays Vancouver, Part 3: The Surroundings

Exterior of the Vancouver Convention Centre's West Building, as seen from halfway the East and West Buildings

For the past couple of years, we’ve held TechDays Vancouver at Vancouver Convention Centre’s East Building, but this year, we got to hold it at the brand new West Building. If you followed the Olympics, you might have caught a glimpse of it in the coverage; it served as the media centre during the event.

Entrance to the Vancouver Convention Centre's West Building

The place is huge, covering 111,000 square metres (about 1.2 million square feet). The building and surrounding walkways cover a total project area of 57,000 square metres (14 acres) over land and 32,000 square metres (8 acres) over water. The indoor carpeting is colour-coded brown in those parts that are over land and blue over those parts that are over water.

Sign: "Vancouver Convention Centre / West | Burrard Street Entrance"

The building is one of the greenest convention centres in the world. Among its certifications and designations are:

Burrard Street doors to Vancouver Convention Centre's West Building, with the giant globe hanging from the ceiling visible through the glass walls

The building is topped with a 24,000 square metre (6 acres) “green roof – the largest one in Canada and the largest non-industrial one in North America – housing 400,000 native plants and 60,000 bees. Irrigation for the roof is provided by treating the “blackwater” from the building.

Detail of a wall inside the Vancouver Convention Centre's West Building, made up of the ends of planks of wood

There’s a great “log cabin” smell to the place as soon as you walk in. It comes from the walls, which are made of wood from trees that have fallen on their own rather than ones that were felled. Photos don’t do it justice:

TechDays registration area -- the large hall on the west side of the building -- as seen from the staircase

The place is huge. There were city block-esque distances to cover between the farthest rooms. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – programming is a sedentary job, and a little moving around is probably just what the doctor ordered.

TechDays registration area, with the giant "eggs" made of hockey-stick-length pieces of wood hanging from the ceiling

Being by the water, there are some great views that most cities’ convention centres simply can’t offer:

A silhouetted TechDays attendee takes a phone call against the north windows of the Vancouver Convention Centre's West Building, with the oceans and mountains in the background

And hey, mountains and ocean make a great backdrop against which to play Kinect games on the Xbox 360!

A group of TechDays attendees playing Kinect games on the Xbox 360

While we nerds are famous for enjoying the great indoors, it would be a waste not to enjoy the promenades surrounding the centre, with their views of the scenery and a piece of outdoor art named Digital Orca, the pixelated killer whale statue just outside the Centre:

Promenade of the west side of the Vancouver Convention Centre's West Building, with "Digital Orca" in the foreground

Believe it or not, you might be familiar with some of the other work done by the artist behind Digital Orca – it’s Douglas Coupland, who in addition to doing industrial design, fashion design and sculpting, is also a writer. You might have heard or even read his stuff: Generation X, Microserfs, JPod, and many other books.

People posing by "Digital Orca", a pixelated killer whale statue

Looking past Digital Orca to the northwest, you get this view:

View of a promenade facing the water and mountains

And looking south towards the city, you see this:

Downtown Vancouver buildings, with Digital Orca in the foreground

Here’s a view from the second floor windows facing north – a lovely thing to see during a between-session break:

View of the ocean and mountains

Turn your gaze slightly to the left and you’ll see this:

View of the ocean and mountains, with an island with a large sign on the left

Take a closer look at that island on the left: it’s a Chevron station. I was half-tempted to swim up to it and ask to use their bathroom:

A floating chevron gas station, with a couple of boats moored to it

The sessions were programmers were in rooms on the second floor, opposite windows that faced east and provided a view of the Vancouver Convention Centre’s East Building. It’s where the Pan Pacific Hotel is and where the cruise ships are moored. On Day 1, we were treated to a view of a Princess Cruises ship – yes, that’s “Princess” as in Love Boat:

Princess Cruises liner, moored to Vancouver Convention Centre's East Building

On Day 2, we saw a Holland America ship set sail:

Holland America liner, moored to Vancouver Convention Centre's East Building

Holland America liner, setting out for sea

All in all, I enjoyed working in and looking out of our first TechDays venue of the year.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.