Another year has gone by, and as of last night, the 5th annual Orlando Code Camp has wrapped up. Normally, my perspective of the code camp is much different than this year. It began as a simple attendee, then upgraded to a Speaker, and then a Speaker/Volunteer. This year, I was a Speaker and I helped our Orlando .Net User Group President, Esteban Garcia, run the code camp. So, this time I am blogging from a very different point of view.
I cannot express to you how great it is to have a full crew of people to help with the planning of the event. I more or less planned and executed last years Day of DotNetNuke® all by myself, so I know more than most how much goes into planning a code camp type event – no matter how big or small it is. This years Orlando Code Camp was planned by the ONETUG board: Esteban Garcia (President), John (JT) Torrey (Treasurer), Brian Mishler (Director of Marketing), Darinel Cabrera (Director of Membership), and James (JT) Taylor (Director of Education). Oh, and me too! Together, I think we formed a great team to make this years code camp a success.
Did I say it was a success? YES! Although I am biased, and knowing that there were small hiccups along the way, we indeed had a successful event. We had a registration count of well over 600 people, and the attendee count the day of the event ended up being 587 people! We had plenty of .Net love for everyone that attended too. There were 14 Microsoft MVP speakers, over 70 sessions to choose from, and plenty of food and giveaways for everyone.
I wasn’t able to monitor the twitter traffic this year, but I had in years past. While the all of the previous code camps in Orlando were indeed a success too, I think we did a much better job of communicating and marketing through twitter, so this made the twitter traffic increase. Does that mean anything? Yes it does. This allowed us and others to monitor feedback from those attended before, during, and after the event. We could effectively measure how everything went this way. It also enabled attendees to communicate with each other at the event, and to communicate with others around the world that were attending through our broadcasted LIVE track through Live Meeting.
We were also very happy to welcome and host the first annual Microsoft Speaker Idol state finals, created by Roy Lawson. Our good friend, Russ Fustino, of Russ’ Toolshed was there to document the whole thing. This event took a total of 3 sessions, one for a wild card round. I was very honored to be invited and attend as a judge for the finals. We had some incredible finalists, including the winner, Brandon Kelly. The winner of the wild card round was also the designer of our praised t-shirts this year, Diane Leeper.
Russ and his crew recorded the whole thing. It should be on Russ’ Toolshed and Microsoft’s Channel 9 sometime over the next week.
Despite hanging out with some of the speakers until around 2:30 AM the night before, I was there bright and early at 5:20 AM to help set-up for the day’s events. I am both surprised and incredibly impressed that most of the volunteers that signed up to help out actually showed up between 5:30-5:45 AM. Thank you so much! Once we got security to realize that we were there and what they needed to do, we were in business and began moving tables and chairs, and getting rooms all set-up.
We only had a few glitches in the morning. There were a couple of projectors that needed to be reconnected, and we found out that last years signs weren’t going to make the cut this year. We also had some other minor issues with Internet and projectors, but being the outstanding hosts they are, Seminole State College knocked out everything for us. You couldn’t ask for a better code camp host!
Between having 2 sessions myself, and another 2 time blocks judging the Microsoft Speaker Idol contest, I was absent from the common areas for a good chunk of the day. Luckily, we have a great group of people running the event alongside me, and the best volunteers you could ever find! After set-up was done, the rest of the day ran itself. It went without a hitch.
I was very honored to be chosen as one of the 6 people to be featured on the live streaming from our code camp. We kept the LIVE meeting room in the main common area, while the rest of the sessions were all together, a short walk away. I was of course speaking about DotNetNuke® during both of my sessions.
The first session was my LIVE one, and it went very well, despite having a couple of hiccups, caused by myself. I was able to recover very quickly and easily though, thanks to the way that I manage all of the DotNetNuke® sites on my development machine. It was different though. I am used to either speaking in front of an audience, or in front of an online audience – not both. I had to keep reminding myself to talk to both groups at the same time, not excluding either one. This meant repeating questions, looking into the webcam occasionally, and not assuming where people are in the world. I had some great questions from both the online and present attendees.
With this part of the event being Microsoft sponsored, we had Microsoft folks on-hand to moderate the questions. At one point during the presentation, I was told of an online question that actually was a statement, “Will, this person wanted me to tell you that you’re hot.” This is certainly not expected, and I hadn’t really heard anything like that since high school. I simply said thanks, when our moderator spoke up, “Will, the person’s name is Peter.” Hahaha! I was certainly caught off guard. Funny stuff!
Like I said before, the other session rooms were a short walk away. While it wasn’t that far, some people would certainly disagree with that statement. Regardless, after packing up my stuff and talking to people at the end of my current session, I had to hike it across the way to the next session room. I got all set-up and began presenting about 10 minutes late. The session went great though. This was the second time for me doing this session. The first time was at South Florida Code Camp, and I felt like I bombed the demo, despite being told otherwise. This time was great! Everything went very well, and I think I got across what I was trying to.
After the final sessions, we gave the microphone over the Russ’ Toolshed to allow them do a presentation to the winner of the Microsoft Speaker Idol contest. It was very cool and exciting to see the finalists be introduced and interviewed one final time before the winner being announced. Everyone received $200.00 USD just for being a finalist. Those who finished 3-5 received a Zune, the second place winner received an XBox 360 Elite. The first prize winner also received the XBox, but was also rewarded with a special trophy. Brandon Kelly was the overall winner, and even brought his trophy with him to the Pub Club (after party).
The end of the day is what a lot of people cannot wait for. There are typically some great raffle prizes, and one or more grand prizes that everyone wants. This year, the grand prize was an XBox 360 Elite! That’s awesome! We had what appeared to be over 100 people sticking around through some very boring announcements from the area user groups just to find out who won. Once the XBox winner was announced, people immediately began herding out the doors to their cars.
I have never been to the venue where we held the after party this year. It was at a place called Route 46 Entertainment District. This was truly one of the best venues to hold a social gathering like ours, but it was just a bit far from our code camp venue. (JT) James Taylor was the person responsible for researching and choosing our Pub Club venue, and I must say he did a fantastic job!
This is normally the place and time where some of the best networking happens, but this venue was truly an “entertainment district” as it implies. I thought of it as a mini-theme park of bars. The food was very good, and the drinks came a plenty. The service was top-notch as well, but the impressive beer list didn’t have Newcastle or Guinness. (I just learned the night before that I now like Guinness at the speaker party.)
While we were doing our thing, we couldn’t help but notice an all-girl band warming up on the stage near us. This of course caused a stir of various comments from our group of techie guys. Especially since they were all attractive. Being a local, I couldn’t help but think that this might be the band that a local radio personality is part of, Heroine. I asked a server who was playing tonight, and she told me a band named Rockit Fly. Okay… Must be another band, I thought. But two of the blondes really reminded me of that radio personality, Tiffany Martin.
After all of the day’s festivities, I was worn out, so Kim and I decided that we would leave after we heard the first song from the band. As soon as I heard the singer begin, I knew I was right. This was indeed Tiffany Martin, and her band Heroine. Her hair was done up to where it looked like a mullet, but it wasn’t. It was just a female-rocker-dew. :)
Kim and I are fans of hers and the radio show she’s on, Monsters in the Morning. Knowing this, you can assume that we couldn’t leave without saying hi!
I am still tired while I am writing this post to you. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the end result that gets posted has a ton of typos. I keep having to re-spell words. That being said, I am also missing important details and facts, but I will leave you with the feedback that I left Pub Club with.
By all accounts, I learned that every one really had a great time and thought the event went exceptionally well. The only negative comment I received is one that I always have agreed to as well. The session rooms are way too far from the common area. While I under no illusion that this was said by many people, it only made it back to me once. Unfortunately, this is something we have to deal with for this specific venue. Sorry.
We had over 70 sessions, over 14 Microsoft MVP’s, over 45 speakers, 587 attendees, over 600 registered, over 30 volunteers, 6 LIVE sessions, and by far the coolest code camp shirt ever – thanks to Diane Leeper! The design has the state of Florida mapped out using the session topics and speaker names, along with the top sponsors of the event.
I want to thank all of the volunteers, including the photographers. Even though I wasn’t there every moment to see everything you were doing, I got nothing but the greatest of compliments on the jobs you were doing. I do want to especially thank Jace Weiss and Brian Banville. They both did much more than any single persons share of work. Not only did Jace run the food and refreshments pretty much the entire day, but he also took a spill to the ground in the parking lot at 5:30 AM trying to save the t-shirts box from hitting the ground. I felt so bad, but luckily he wasn’t injured.
Brian was like having a right-hand-man. He helped JT take care of registration, along with a few others – but he also was there and did every single other thing that I needed to have done.
Finally, I have to thank the sponsors of the Orlando Code Camp. Without them, most of everything that we take for granted at code camps wouldn’t be possible. Please take a moment of your day to check them out and maybe even send them a note saying thanks. Their support allowed us to do so much this year. Between them, the volunteers, and the speakers, code camps would not be possible! Thank you!
My only regret is that we were more than fortunate to have Brandon Haynes as one of the speakers. Brandon is easily one of the smartest people I know, and I wasn’t able to attend his session, and I was only able to talk to him for about 10 minutes. :(
My Photo Album for the Orlando Code Camp 2010