Winnipeg Coffee and Code: Thursday, December 9th

coffee plus phone

Since I’m in town for TechDays Winnipeg, I thought I’d stay an extra day and host a Coffee and Code there. I’ll be at the Second Cup at 100 Osborne Street from 11:00 a.m. until at least 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 9th, the day after TechDays. Come drop by, talk about Windows Phone 7 or any other topic that comes to mind!

Map picture

Creative Commons photo (coffee cup) by Ballistik Coffee Boy.

This article also appears in Global Nerdy.


Scenes from TechDays Winnipeg, Part 1

Most of the DPE team (including boss-man John Oxley) are in Winnipeg this week to run TechDays. In between my responsibilities as the guy in charge of the developer sessions, I’ve been running around snapping photos and thought I’d share some with you. Here are my pics of the presenters in both developer tracks, "Developing for Three Screens and the Cloud” and “Optimizing the Development Process”, with some extra shots of the hallways between sessions.

We had Mike Diehl presenting Real-World Patterns for Cloud Computing:

01 Mike Diehl

Meanwhile, in the “Local Flavours” track, D’Arcy Lussier talked about Windows Phone 7 development:

02 Darcy Lussier

And over in the “Three Screens” room, Kelly Cassidy showed his audience how to Jump into Silverlight and Become Immediately Productive.

03 Kelly Cassidy

For the second session of the day, Mark Arteaga shared his Windows Phone 7 knowledge in the first of a two-part series of sessions on Windows Phone.

04 Mark Arteaga

And in the back were these troublemakers:

05 Speakers

Out in the hallway, Rick Claus and Damir Bersinic chatted with Jason Miller:

06 Rick Damir Jason

Over in the “Optimizing” track, we had Aaron Kowall dropping TFS science on his audience:

07 Aaron session

08 Aaron Kowall

Rick and I walked the lunch audience through Windows Phone 7’s features:

09 Rick Lunch

After lunch, Miguel Carrasco showed people how to Build Web Sites Fast Using Visual Studio 2010:

10 Miguel Carrasco

Should “Tron Guy” ever retire, I nominate David Wesst to take his place:

11 David Wesst PowerGlove

Here’s Dylan Smith, talking about Branching and Merging Practices:

12 Dylan Smith

Dylan was followed by Bruce Johnson, who covered Getting Your Return on Investment with Microsoft .NET Framework 4

13 Bruce Johnson

14 Bruce crowd

David, who was still wearing the PowerGlove, talking about Windows Azure:

15 David Wesst

Amir Barylko covered the Top Ten Mistakes in Unit Testing:

16 Amir Barylko

And at the same time, my coworker John Bristowe presented Visual Studio 2010 Tips and Tricks:

17 John Bristowe

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Donate to the Food Bank at TechDays Winnipeg, Get a Free T-Shirt!

food bank

winnipeg harvestWe Microsoft Canada evangelist types love a good cause, and we can’t think of a better cause than feeding people, especially during the holiday season. That’s why we’ve had food drop-off boxes at all TechDays events, including TechDays Winnipeg, which takes place tomorrow and Wednesday. Bring a non-perishable food item to TechDays, and we’ll collect it and give it to Winnipeg Harvest, the local food bank.

Better still, we’ll sweeten the deal: if you drop food off at our donation box, we’ll give you the much-in-demand “I Have Standards” IE9 t-shirt! Do some good, and get some swag – that’s a pretty nice deal, isn’t it?

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


TechDays Winnipeg / Coffee and Code Winnipeg This Week!

Winnipeg skyline at duskWikimedia Commons photo courtesy of "Wpg Guy". Click to see the original.

This week, the gang and I will be in Winnipeg for TechDays (Tuesday, December 7th and Wednesday December 8th) to bring the knowledge from TechEd North America 2010, MIX10 and PDC and to catch up with our developer, IT Pro and manager friends.

If you’ve been meaning to meet the “field specialists” on Microsoft Canada’s Developer and Platform Evangelism team, TechDays Winnipeg is the perfect time and place to do so, because all the evangelists will be there:

  • Christian Beauclair, ISV Breadth Evangelist based in Ottawa
  • Damir Bersinic, Platform Evangelist based in Toronto
  • John Bristowe, Developer Evangelist based in Calgary
  • Rick Claus, IT Pro Evangelist/Destroyer of Worlds based in Ottawa
  • Yours Truly (Joey deVilla), Developer Evangelist based in Toronto
  • Frederic Harper, Developer Evangelist based in Montreal
  • Ruth Morton, IT Pro Evangelist based in Toronto
  • and John Oxley, our manager/cat-herder based in Toronto

We’re also holding a Coffee and Code on Thursday, December 9th at the Second Cup at 100 Osborne Street from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.. Come on down, meet up with me, talk Windows Phone 7 or anything else that comes to mind!

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Scenes from TechDays Winnipeg

It’s hard to believe, but the seven-city cross-Canada tour known as TechDays 2009 is over. We had the last one – TechDays Winnipeg – on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week. Here are some photos I shot during the event.

The Day Before TechDays Winnipeg

Of all the TechDays venues, I would have to hand the “swankiest speaker prep room” award to the Winnipeg Convention Centre, with its wood panelling, private washrooms, loads of closet space, plentiful tables, very comfortable leatherette couches and all-round 1980s styling. I can imagine a young Flock of Seagulls or Duran Duran hanging out here after a show, entertaining groupies:

00 speaker room

During the holidays, many people like to decorate their storefront and home windows with fake spray-on frost. In Winnipeg, where the temperatures were hovering around –35 degrees C (-31 degrees F), you don’t need that stuff – they’ve got the real thing! Here are the side doors on the ground floor of the Winnipeg Convention Centre:

01 frost

Here’s a closer look:

02 frost

And just for kicks, an even closer one.

03 frost

I must tip my hat to the people of Winnipeg for toughing out those kinds of temperatures, year after year.

The Convention Centre had a secret stash of Christmas trees, ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice:

04 decorations

One of the perks of being a TechDays Track Lead is that nobody asks questions when you rearrange the signs for an art shot:

05 art shot

Day 1

John Bristowe, track lead for the green-shirted Developer Fundamentals and Best Practices track, just had another baby, so he was tied up with Dad duties (congrats, John and Fiona!). I donned a green shirt took over as acting track lead for his track and recruited D’Arcy Lussier to host my track, the orange-shirted Developing for the Microsoft-Based Platform track.

The first speaker for Developer Fundamentals and Best Practices was Jeremy Wiebe, who presented the very popular Tips and Tricks for Visual Studio session:

06 jeremy wiebe

How popular was it? Popular enough that people were overflowing out of the rows:

07 green track audience 1

…and we even had to drag in some extra chairs to create a new row at the back:

08 green track audience 2

This was an attentive crowd. There were a lot of “I didn’t know you could do that in Visual Studio!”-type reactions.

09 green track audience 3

The second session of the day was given by Dylan Smith: Test-Driven Development Techniques:

10 dylan smith

Once again, a good crowd.

11 green track audience

During lunch, my coworker, IT pro evangelist Rick Claus and I did a presentation on some of the new features in Office 2010, with me showing off some of the new graphics goodness in PowerPoint 2010:

12 lunch day 1

The sessions resumed in the afternoon with Uwe Schmitz talking about Patterns for the Rest of Us. I was a bit surprised at how few hands went up when I asked how many people had read or even attempted to read Design Patterns by the “Gang of Four”.

13 uwe schmitz

Most of Uwe’s audience was in the same room as he was:

14 inside audience

But one guy, whose back was made sore by the conference room chairs, took a clever approach. We broadcast all sessions’ projections and audio on a monitor outside every room, so he took one of the comfy chairs in the hallway outside and set himself up for some living room-style viewing:

15 outside audience

I told him that with his sunglasses and the way he was seated, he reminded me of the old ads for Maxell tapes from the 1980s:

old maxell ad

After Uwe was Dave Harris, who presented A Strategic Comparison of Data Access Technologies from Microsoft:

16 dave harris

Day 2

The outside temperature improved for the second day: it became a relatively balmy –20 degrees C (-4 degrees F). What a difference 15 degrees makes!

The first session was Practical Web Testing and was delivered by the team of Tyler Doerksen and Robert Regnier:

17 tyler doerksen robert regnier

I stepped out to drop in on the track which I had put together, my orange-shirted Developing for the Microsoft-Based Platform track. While the Developer Fundamentals and Best Practices track typically had big draws on Day 1, Day 2 is when the Platform track brought in the crowds:

18 orange track audience

The session was the popular Introducing ASP.NET MVC, and in Winnipeg, it was delivered by Kelly Cassidy:

19 kelly cassidy

An unfortunate set of circumstances speaker shortages and cancellations means that Rick had to deliver all the presentations for day 2 of his track, Servers, Security and Management. That’s 300 minutes in total behind the lectern. It’s quite fortunate that he knows his stuff and that his theatre training makes him an excellent presenter:

20 rick claus

Meanwhile, back at the green track, Aaron Kowall presented Better Software Change and Configuration Management Using TFS:

21 aaron kowall

During his session, he presented a very important truth: Build automation is not just merely pressing “F5”:

22 aaron kowall

At lunch, Rick hosted a demo showdown between me (representing developers) and my coworker, IT Pro Evangelist Rodney Buike, trying to determine who could do the better Windows 7 demos. I won, thanks in part to my demo of the most obscure Windows features: the Private Character Editor.

23 lunch day 2

Joel Semeniuk needs no introduction. I simply told the audience that “Joel has forgotten more about Team System than I will ever learn. Besides, what I know about Team System can be summarized in the two words ‘jack’ and ‘poop’.” Here’s Joel in action, presenting Metrics That Matter: Using Team System for Process Improvement:

24 joel semeniuk

I love this shot of Joel – he looks like a general addressing his own private banana republic:

25 joel semeniuk

A closer look:

26 joel semeniuk

The most popular afternoon snack was served between the third and fourth sessions of Day 2: Canada’s favourite snack – donuts!

27 donuts

My SD card corrupted the photos of the last speaker of the day, Steve Porter, who did a fine job presenting his session, Database Change Management with Team System. My apologies, Steve!

And finally, to make up for the fact that I did not properly capture D’Arcy Lussier’s hair — an asset in which he takes great pride — in yesterday’s video interview, I now present a close-up shot of his coiff:

28 darcy lussier suave

My thanks to everyone at TechDays Winnipeg – attendees, speakers, staff and organizers – for making it an great way to close out the tour!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Next Stop: Winnipeg!

winnipeg skyline

At long last, we come to the last city in TechDays’ seven-city conference tour: Winnipeg! The combination of venue availability and perhaps a little masochism puts me and my coworkers in a city notorious for brutal winters in mid-December. Take a look at the weather forecast for the days I will be there:

winnipeg forecast

(If you’re American, the high for Monday translates to –9 degrees F; the low is –26 degrees F. There’s a reason the city has the nickname “Winterpeg”.)

Fortunately, we were given our official TechDays-branded winter jackets at the Ottawa conference last week, and when they’re worn with the fleece lining, they’re incredibly warm. In fact, I found myself boiling in my jacket in Ottawa’s just-below-freezing temperatures when I wore it with the lining, which means that it should keep me toasty in Winnipeg’s deep freeze. Still, I’m glad that the walking route from the hotel to the conference venue can be done mostly indoors, with the notable exception of one street crossing.

In spite of the temperatures, I’m looking forward to the trip to Winnipeg later today. See you there!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


TechDays Canada Roundup

TechDays Toronto Wraps Up


TechDays Toronto took place last Tuesday and Wednesday, and it was a success! Over 1200 people registered to attend, and based on the attendee comments I’ve received, both face-to-face and online, people found their experience there both valuable and enjoyable.

As much as we hope the attendees learn at TechDays, we learn a lot at TechDays too. By holding events where you get to meet us face-to-face and talk to us, we learn about what you need to boost your knowledge, skills and career. If you have any questions, comments, concerns or suggestions about TechDays, please let us know! Leave a note in the comments or feel free to drop me a line.


When Halifax got added to the cities in TechDays Canada’s cross-country conference tour, there was some concern about how many people would register. It’s the first time we’ve held a conference of this scale and scope in the Maritimes, but it turns out that we needn’t have worried: as of Thursday, every available seat for TechDays Halifax’s venue has been sold.

Thanks for being so enthusiastic, Halifax techies, and we look forward to putting on a worthy event!

TechDays Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa and Winnipeg Coming Up


The early bird pricing – that’s $299 Canadian – is still available for the other TechDays Canada cities:

  • Calgary (November 17-18)
  • Montreal (December 2-3)
  • Ottawa (December 9-10)
  • Winnipeg (December 15-16)

With over forty intermediate- to expert-level sessions covering Windows 7, SharePoint, ASP.NET MVC, SQL Server, Expression Blend, Windows Server 2008 R2, WCF, Visual Studio, Hyper-V, System Center, Silverlight and more, TechDays Canada is your chance to learn about how to make the most of the Microsoft tools and technologies that are available right now. Register today!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.