The first annual Day of DotNetNuke® was less than a week ago. We had been thinking about this event for over a year, but only planning it for about 2-3 months. I have been blogging about it for most of the 2-3 months as well, so you can look forward to me returning to my usual DotNetNuke® blog content following this post. Before we can get there, I need to let you know my perspective of how the Day of DotNetNuke® went!
First of all, the night before the event was a special gathering offered to volunteers, speakers, and sponsors, which is mostly meant to show appreciation to the volunteers and speakers. All of our area events do this. Ours is the only one that invites the sponsors too, as the DNN community is very unique. Our sponsors can also be an attendee, volunteer, and speaker – all rolled into one. That went very well. We had a great time, handed out shirts, and ate some delicious food. Once the food ran out, we finally advertised our location on twitter, to let attendees know where we were so they could hang out if they wanted to.
The morning was my most hectic and draining time of the day. I probably learned more in the morning than during any other time of the day. I arrived early with a LOADED van, eager and wanting to set-up right away. Unfortunately, due to the security of the building, I had to wait until some of the volunteers showed up. Once they did, I soon learned how valuable and overwhelmingly talented the volunteers would be that day. On a side note, the event was at the Microsoft Sales Office in Tampa, and they have a few of these gamer areas, complete with XBox Elite (image) and games in it. Can you believe that?!
Michael Wasson and Jace Weiss were the first to arrive, and boy were they “lucky” to be first. Not! I immediately told them of how lucky they were, by recruiting them to help me unload the van. I wish I had snapped a picture of the loaded van. It was a 15-passenger van that was loaded nearly to the roof with tables, prizes, chairs, shirts, drinks, food, and so much more. The seats were removed, and the only place that someone could sit, was in the passenger seat. Some more people began to arrive afterward, and worked very hard, but Michael and Jace did so much that morning. They worked harder than nearly any other volunteer I have seen at any other event. We were wearing only sweat – for sure! Ewww… I cannot thank these two enough.
We all continued to work so very hard in the morning to set up rooms, tables, chairs, signs, registration, power, breakfast, coffee, drinks, and prizes. We had everything put together in just over an hour. We of course had a few hiccups that the average person wouldn’t have noticed. For the most part, our volunteers took care of everything and made some great decisions without needing me at all. Don Vickers took a huge burden off of my hands by printing out our attendee badges. Thank you Don!
I really have to take a moment to thank my woman, Kim Rausch, and my daughter, Kariann, for all of their hard work too. Kim made sure that the food, drinks, and coffee was taken care of all day long. She even went as far as to take coffee orders and bring coffee to people while they were in their sessions! Wow… I couldn’t get her to stop. At one point, I got her to finally go back to the hotel room, but I doubt that she rested.
Some of the other volunteers that really worked hard to get us up and running in the morning were: Erin Morgan (Ryan Morgan’s real boss), Scott Michie, Darren Neese (found out that he’s a DNN author too!), Charles Teague, Mike van der Meulen, Bob Vargas, Zina Cochran, and of course, my right hand man, Fabio Honigmann. We are really going to miss having Fabio around. He does so much for the Florida developer community, but he is moving to Arizona. I am sure that I am missing some others from the morning set-up. I am so sorry that you are escaping my mind right now. Please publicly bash me in the comments below so I can include you.
We began the event 20 minutes late, and this meant that Joe Brinkman, a DNN Corp co-founder and our keynote speaker, also began 20 minutes late. That is typical of any code camp though, but registration went extremely smooth, and I have our sponsors to thank for that. I couldn’t find our pens and markers right away, and they picked up the slack big time! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I should have paid them double. ;)
I didn’t get to see or hear a whole lot of Joe Brinkman’s keynote (image), as I was in and out, taking care of things. The room looked like it contained the who’s who of the DNN community (image). We had quite a crowd! I did happen to walk in right when an exception happened on his DotNetNuke® build. The entire room was quite amused. We do love to see problems in demos, don’t we? :) My favorite part of the keynote was two fold… First, Joe took credit for the Fake Stan Schultes twitter account, and second he also included this wonderful image on his slide deck (a funny reference to make fun of Chris Hammond, a self-confessed M.C. Hammer and Vanilla Ice fan).
Concluding the keynote by Joe Brinkman, our sessions began. During the first session, I found out about the only real problem that I know of for the entire day. (That is really saying something for a first time event, much less me running any community event for the first time.) I asked our registration volunteers to hand out one half of the raffle tickets, and we kept the other half. Those tickets would then be put into prize boxes to pull for software and other prizes. The problem is that when the ticket is pulled, no one would have any idea who owned the ticket. Luckily, this was caught very early by an ODUG member, Walt Williams. We were lucky to have a spare roll of raffle tickets on-hand and catch this during the first session, so the volunteers once again came through for me. They separated the raffle tickets into the predetermined number, and we had the attendees come back to the registration desk at their leisure to trade out the tickets.
The sessions went on throughout the day without a hitch, and in between sessions, I was very happy to continually hear the excitement and praises from attendees, sponsors, and speakers alike. It felt really good to see all of my hard work pay off exactly how it was intended. The community was getting an all day injection of DNN goodness, and it was better than good!
We continued to work hard during the day, managing lunch, managing prizes, helping speakers and sponsors, and making sure everything remained organized for the moments when the halls would once again fill with attendees. Towards the end of the day, you could begin to see some of the volunteers begin to get worn down. I even caught Fabio Honigmann sleeping at one of the XBox gamer areas. Everyone was getting worn down from so much of the DNN goodness all at once.
He wasn’t the only one losing sleep… Joe Brinkman was one of the boxes on our “bingo” cards that were used for the end of the day grand prize raffles. At one point, the attendees were having a hard time finding him to get a signature for their card. Some of our volunteers were under the impression that he had left. I accidentally found him a little while later, catching up on some much need Z’s. :)
Overall, the day went very, very well. I honestly was expecting for so many things to go really wrong. I used many hours the few days before the event to simply brainstorm and walk the event through my head to hopefully think of things that I had not yet thought of. DNN Yoda would be proud of my DNN meditation methods. :)
There was more DNN networking at this event than I could have imagined could happen in one place. I saw pow-wows of people at every turn during every intermission, where you could clear see the DNN-wheels turning in people’s heads. I wish we could somehow have had a count of business card exchanges or something to measure the networking success. That was easily one of my largest compliments on the event. People loved meeting new faces in the DNN community.
At the end of the day, we had our big raffles. We raffled for all kinds of prizes, including software and our grand prizes, the HDTV and HP laptop. Megan Hopkins from KForce raffled off a Zune, which was won by Rick Jardine of Sarasota. I only mention this, because he also won the HDTV as well! Talk about luck! His only concern was to get the TV home, because he rode a Harley to the event. Stan Schultes lives near him, and offered to drive it back for him.
At the after party, I joked to Stan Schultes about getting a picture of Rick with the HDTV on his Harley. Unknown to me, they decided to do just that. The picture is hilarious!
Speaking of the after party… We completely filled the back room at the Green Iguana at Westshore. The DNN After Dark party commenced at 6PM, immediately following the end of the Day of DotNetNuke®. My family and I really needed a refresher, so we stopped by our hotel room on the way to the Green Iguana. We each took a shower and got dressed. It took longer than I wanted, a whole hour. I was getting DMs on twitter and text messages the whole time. We were probably the last to show up at DNN After Dark. What happened when I walked in was the highlight of the entire year so far for me. What happened was a moment that Norm from Cheers could only wish for. As soon as people noticed us walk in, the entire room literally erupted in a yelling roar of “Will!” If I was prone to crying at emotional moments, that would have been the moment.
I cannot thank everyone enough for everything that happened that day. We had so many people helping behind the scenes at the Day of DotNetNuke® that made the event run as smoothly as it appeared. First of all, our Day of DotNetNuke® Board was responsible for the quality and major decisions that formalized the event. They are:
I also cannot thank our volunteers enough. I could not have recruited a better group even if I had a year, and an unlimited budget. You cannot pay people to work as hard as they did. You have to have an incredible amount of passion about something to work that hard. Here is a list of our volunteers. Please take the time to thank them if you can.
Once again, I apologize if I missed anyone. Please use my comments below to publicly (and rightfully) blast me, and I will put you on this list. You all did an incredible job. Without you, I don’t know what would have happened to the event.
That’s basically it, in a nutshell. [Insert clip of Austin Powers here] The event took a lot of planning, and plenty of attention in it’s execution, but thanks to the volunteers, it happened, and I couldn’t have hoped for anything better. Now, we are looking forward to next year! :)