Will "the Mighty" Strohl

My Sessions at Day of DotNetNuke 2010

You heard of that little event that has been traveling around and sprouting in various places around the world, called the Day of DotNetNuke, right?  Maybe you haven’t.  The most recent one just concluded in Chicago yesterday.  I won’t give you a run-down here though, because I already did that on the actual Day of DotNetNuke blog

Day of DotNetNUke Chicago 2010 Recap

As a selected speaker at the event, I was responsible for bringing in content for two of my accepted sessions.  My first session was Installing, Upgrading DotNetNuke and DNN Modules, and the second was Programming Your Way into Designers Hearts

While most presenters in DNN understandably tend to stray away from beginner content, there’s still an inherent need to have that content available at events such as these.  I always meet people at every code camp, Day of DotNetNuke, and other events that haven’t even heard of DotNetNuke, much less used it. 

We all live under rocks or some sort.  Ours happens to just allow us to silo ourselves away from those that haven’t heard of DNN before very easily. 

One thing to note is that I have been doing a lot of additional research on presentations.  This includes watch TED talks, reading books by Garr Reynolds, Nancy Duarte, and Scott Berkun.  Each of these authors have an incredible amount of knowledge in the area of public speaking.  There is so much to being a truly wonderful speaker and since I will be speaking at DotNetNuke Connections this year and presenting to customers for DNN Corp, I want to be the very best I can be at it.

The Day of DotNetNuke Chicago would be my proving ground on whether the new techniques that I learned would work well with a real audience in my style of presenting.

Installing, Upgrading DotNetNuke and DNN Modules

Once I saw that this session was accepted, I already knew that due to its content, it would be slated in the first time slot for the event.  That’s fine.  It presented a challenge though, since we had a keynote speech. 

As a presenter, we will often leave early or not even go to a keynote speech so that we can prepare for out session.  If you’ve done a presentation at least once, you know that things can and will go wrong, so preparing early is a necessity.  Nik Kalyani’s keynote was so compelling, that I stayed through the duration of it.  Well, that, and I was filming the entire thing for the Day of DotNetNuke website.  :)

Anyhow, I didn’t give myself enough time to get my timing right, so I started the session late, and it ruined my timing with the demos, which are both cardinal sins for presenters.  As a result, I unfortunately failed to show how to install a module in my demo.  I instead chose to finish the slide deck following my DNN upgrade, because I really feel that it’s highly important to teach new DNN’ers how to properly choose and vet a module before they buy it or roll it into production.

Despite my timing issue, I think my slide deck went over very well, I went over the in-depth information that I required, there were great questions, and I still received compliments.  So, good for me! :)

There was a moment where we discussed troubleshooting and discovering the user account in Windows that Applications Pools run under.  Clark Sell (@csell5) sent me some more information on it which made me realize that I did not cover that segment as well as I should have.

My machine is still able to use the Network Service account for the file permissions.  But since I use Windows 7 which comes with IIS 7 installed, my sites shouldn’t work.  Instead, we are supposed to use the AppPoolIdentity user account for file permissions.

Programming Your Way into Designers Hearts

As far as session content goes, this is by far the most exciting session that I felt I was ever going to give to a peer audience.  I was super excited and nervous about it at the same time.  For a few reasons.

First, this is still a somewhat controversial topic.  Programmers typically have plenty of reasons to not care about designers.  (In my opinion, almost none of those reasons are actually good though.)  Next, I was using my new presentation techniques in this session more than the first one, since the first one was mostly a demo.  Finally, this is the kind of session that can effect major positive change in a company, no matter the size.

If done right, this session would inspire those that attended, and help them to make more money.  You like money, right?

I had yet another reason to be nervous. Nik’s keynote went so well in the morning.  Everyone was buzzing about it.  That is fine on it’s own, but he had a very great session scheduled at the same time as this one, so I wasn’t sure if anyone would show up.  I wouldn’t have blamed them, because I wanted to cancel my own session to attend his myself! :)  Luckily, I had a half-full room though.

This goal of this session was inspire those in attendance to create modules that allowed a designer to completely customize it to fit within the branding and mark-up of an existing or new site – without messing things up or requiring time consuming and inaccessible workarounds. 

I began by giving real world examples of companies that have come and gone, and those that have succeeded due to design.  I wanted to really impart how important design really is, even to programmers.  Next, I followed up by showing real-world examples of modules and code that makes things easy to change by an administrator, or a designer.  Hopefully, the latter more than the former.

The session ended with a loud applause which is always a good sign, despite our culture having become clap-happy.  I’ll take it regardless though! :)

I want to formally thank everyone for attending my sessions.  However, even though I am very grateful for the applause I received, applause is not the only indicator of how a session went.  If you went to either of my sessions, please feel free to leave your feedback in the comments below.

I also featured code from two of my open source projects:

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