Yesterday, I had the honor of speaking about DotNetNuke® at the second annual South West Florida Code Camp. Code camps are a great way to meet new people that you can network with about technology. Last year, I missed my opportunity to do this at this particular code camp. This year, I was making up for it with 3 sessions about DotNetNuke®. As it turns out, it was a good thing I was there.
The South West Florida Code Camp is organized by John Dunagan. If you haven’t met John, enjoy your time with him when you do. He is a .Net community machine. Even though this is one of the smaller code camps in Florida, he put on an outstanding event. They topped off their attendee count at 150, which is a 50% increase over last year. I don’t think any other code camp in Florida can boast such a stat. His diligence at recruiting speakers and registrations has paid dividends.
For the first time, I brought my 9 year-old son with me to a code camp. We decided to have a father/son weekend trip. We spent the first part of that in a 3.5 hour road trip, which he slept through. The trip down was long. I am beginning to realize that I am no longer enjoying the scenery in Florida. Everywhere you drive, it’s the same tree and off-ramp, over and over. There’s nothing interesting about driving here. I miss California. We arrived at our hotel about an hour before the speaker party began.
The speaker party was held at the Islamorada Fish Company Restaurant, inside the Fort Meyers Bass Pro Shops. My son LOVES Bass Pro Shops, because it has a very fun atmosphere, fish tanks, and other cool things like paintball guns.
We arrived a bit late to the speaker party, but just in time for the shirt distribution. Soon after we arrived, some food was brought out. It was mild buffalo wings, and cajun shrimp. Both were very delicious.
The Islamadora was a great place to hold this kind of event, as we were on a private side patio with a cash bar and plenty of privacy. With great food, and decorative deep sea fishing gear adorning the walls, it was truly a fun place to hang out. However, I must complain that the bar didn’t serve Newcastle Brown Ale, so that was disappointing.
This code camp was held at the Florida Gulf Coast University. Unlike many venues, this one was easy to find. Many code camps also do not clearly mark parking when the event is held at a similar facility. This time, the parking was clearly marked. Big win there!
However, once you got out of your vehicle, and began walking to the buildings, it was not clear which building was which. I know the e-mails and website told us the building numbers, but not everyone remembers that information when walking away from their car at 8:00 in the morning.
Check-in was flawless and quick. But I did arrive a little bit after the morning announcements from John Dunagan had already begun. But I was early enough to get settled in before the keynote speaker took the helm to get everyone started.
The keynote was done by the Microsoft Developer Evangelist for our state, Joe Healy, who opened up telling us how he doesn’t like to do keynote presentations. Though, he then led us through a history lesson of how the .Net community in that area became what it is today. It of course ended with Joe talking to us about how John Dunagan has turned everything around. Great job, John!
I spent the rest of the morning following the keynote going over my presentations, making sure that everything was going to run as planned. Following lunch, my 3 presentations would begin, back-to-back. The presentation files are already on this site, on the Sessions page.
During this time, my son was having fun playing on his Nintendo DS, and receiving compliments from everyone about his Day of DotNetNuke® shirt that he was wearing. I was calling him my little sandwich board. Hehehe… Joe Healy even made sure to take a couple pictures of him in the shirt.
It’s been a while since I presented this “introduction” session. However, it’s always a fun one to do, as it is a critical moment for those in attendance. They are often in a state of mind where this presentation will either push them into being motivated to use DotNetNuke®, or push them away from it. It is completely up to the presenter. Depending on how the presenter provides the information and how the technical demonstrations go, the attendee will forever have this initial impression of DotNetNuke®. No pressure! ;)
This presentation went very well. However, I didn’t get to all of the information that I wanted to. I covered the installation and upgrade of DNN, as well as discussing the installation of modules. But I barely got to touch on things like administration, creating pages, and so on. This type of session really should be two sessions to be 100% effective.
I have given this session about widgets 5 times now. This is the first time where I really felt that it well. I went through all of the same demonstrations and information as before, but something really clicked this time. That being said, I did rework the demonstrations in the morning to include some updated information and pictures. I am still reflecting on this one though. I am not sure what made this one better. Even though I felt it went well, I still think that there is a problem with the flow of the presentation. Not sure yet what the fix is there either. Despite my previous concerns, I did get several compliments on the session.
I have only given this jQuery session one time before. In that demonstration, I fielded so many questions that I didn’t really get a live run on the demonstration (as it was planned) in front of an audience. I did this time, and quickly learned that I need to make some changes in the demonstration if I have beginners in the audience. I only had one module developer sitting in this session, so I am unsure of how much the others got out of my presentation. I ended up spending the end of my session showing various selector techniques and walking through the jQuery documentation site.
My son and I took of a few moments early from the end of the day raffle, and went to the Islamadora Fish Company Restaurant again for the after party. This time, we were on our own for the food, and that was fine. It allowed us to get our hands on the menu, which looked impressive. I ordered their Fish Tacos, and they were delicious!
Service was slow though. I do not think that the staff there were expecting that many people to be there. We had nearly 1/3 of the code camp attendees show up.
I spent a lot of time with some fellow DNN’ers in the area. I want to thank them for some great conversations. My son was having a great time. At one point, he ordered a root beer. Once he got it, he was full of amusement for the rest of us. He stood up, propped on foot on the chair he was sitting in, and held his (root) beer bottle by the neck and drank with us. It was funny!
Stan Schultes asked my son if he had a good time. Kohen of course answered, “Yes.” When Stan asked what his favorite part was, my son answered, “the root beer!” Hahaha!
We had a great time hanging out with everyone, but since we were going home the same night, we had to leave early. Though, quite a few people were leaving early. I was surprised. After another 3.5 hours, we arrived home, safe and sound.
Thanks to all of the sponsors, organizers, and volunteers that made this event possible. We cannot wait until next year!