You should already be aware, but there is an incredibly active and vibrant user group in Charlotte, North Carolina called Queen City DotNetNuke User Group or QCDUG. These folks were also the masterminds behind the Day of DotNetNuke Charlotte last year. When they agreed to do another event this year, I couldn’t even tell you how excited I was because last year was so awesome! These gentlemen sure did not disappoint when they organized and held their second event, this time branded in a fun way as Southern Fried DNN! What a great way to participate in our community!
Before I get through any of the run-down, I want to first thank the organizers for their amazing super-human efforts at making sure Southern Fried DNN was a success. Allen Foster, Robb Bryn, Fred Ellise, Ryan Moore, and Clint Patterson all worked day and night when their day jobs weren’t in the way. Their families need to be thanked too, because these gentlemen had plenty of family hours dedicated to organizing the event and all of its details.
Also to be thanked are the event sponsors. We need speakers (who deserved to be thanked as well since they pay their own way and donate their time and expertise) and attendees, but there would be no place to hold the event, nothing to eat, and none of the fun or cool things to be had if it were not for the sponsors. Please take a moment and visit and thank each of the sponsors if you can.
Another special thanks goes to the folks that travelled from far and wide… We had attendees from as far as Australia and Peru!
If organizing a full-day event wasn’t enough, the organizers decide to throw in a full day of community based training that focused onboarding people that are new to DotNetNuke. Robb Bryn appeared to lead the charge in doing all of the logistics, including creating and managing over 50 virtual machines in Windows Azure! A staggering achievement of participation that is nothing short of impressive!
Training appeared to go off without a hitch, with a group of excellent seasoned DNN instructors that included: Cassidi Brickner of 10 Pound Gorilla, Scott Wilkinson of DotNetNuclear, Mitchel Sellers of Iowa Computer Gurus, Ralph Williams of Arrow Consulting & Design, and Joseph Craig of Patapsco Research Group. Each of these instructors really have become pillars in the DNN community through their participation and subject matter experts, so it is no wonder that all of the 50+ training attendees unanimously loved the training event!
If you missed training, not only did you miss leapfrogging yourself into a new state of DNN knowledge, but you also missed the chance of winning a free year of unlimited online training. The lucky winner of this prize was Clark Ruhland of the City of Salem – who happens to be a Professional Edition subscriber.
The keynote speech was given by yours truly… Something that I had never before done. For some very odd reason, I didn’t get nervous about it at all. It is several days later now and I still don’t know how to feel about it just yet. I have seen numerous keynotes at this point of my life and they all have been different and had their own spin and style on this kind of prestigious presentation. Being a self-proclaimed presentation expert myself, I took this responsibility seriously from day one. So much so that it did rob me of some community networking time that I normally enjoy at this kind of events.
I decided to re-focus the keynote towards the community. You see, we have literally over a million people in the DotNetNuke community. This is awesome, but where’s all of the activity? There are more than enough downloads for example, but it seems that the only time most people pop-up is when they want support. But where’s their new forge projects, new skins, blogs, forum posts, user groups, and other activity? Probably about 98-99% of the ecosystem use and benefit from the Community Edition of DNN – which is perfectly fine. However, if we are to thrive as a community and ecosystem, we need more than just downloads and a commercial product. We need the community to participate.
In the keynote, I gave numerous examples of how participate can take place, including: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, forums, blog, create videos, create projects, join/run a user group, speak at user groups & code camps, update the wiki, or recruit another community member. You don’t need to be a programmer to participate. You just need to find out where you can help. It can be to help an open source DNN project get documentation or make it pretty. Find your niche and participate how ever much you can – even if it’s 10 minutes here and there. Heck, you could just be taking pictures at events for everyone if that’s what you like to do. :)
There were 25 sessions in total by 18 speakers. The sessions ranged from simple administration and general web practices to some very advanced topics, but there were also some fun ones such as Chris Paterra’s Sharks with Laser Beams where he demonstrated how he built an interactive game on DNN Social that allows website visitors to participate in the game to earn points and achievements such as badged using the Gaming Mechanics API. He even took it a step further and wrote a quick game that emulated the whack a mole concept using DotNetNuke founder Shaun Walker as the mole!
What can I say about lunch, but that it was delicious! I was told by some people that the meal was better than some of the area restaurants. We had some delicious fried chicken, corn, corn bread, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, cole slaw, and hot sauce! And who can forget the sweet tea (or was it syrup)? Hehehe…
Ever since the organizers introduced Ignite to the DNN community last year, it has become an incredible hit… And something I hope to become a staple at all DNN events in the future. Ignite sessions are 5 minute presentations where the speaker needs to be concise and quick to get an idea across to the audience. Like last year, Ignite was hosted again by Gifford Watkins and the speakers that participated in Ignite this year included: Cara Pluff of Applied Innovations, Dan Thyer of Logical Advantage, and Jeff Hardy of PowerDNN.
When it comes to participation in the DNN community, one of the ways you can get rewarded is by being nominated and voted in as a DNN MVP. There were 11 new MVP’s announced by DNN Corp Community Director and co-founder, Scott Willhite. Those that were in attendance include: Allen Foster, Gifford Watkins, Robb Bryn, and Chris Hammond. While two of these folks are co-organizers of this event, all inductees are more than deserving of this prestigious title and I thank all of you for your participation in the DNN community. Congrats to all of the MVP’s!
I’ve said it many times before, the DNN community is my family and this family loves to party! Er, I mean network. Hahaha…
The best things I have seen come from any community event seem to all come from the networking aspect of the event, and DNN After Dark is all about networking. There’s a ton of connections and opportunities that seem to spring up over a beverage and plate of food. This year the organizers figured, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” So DNN After Dark was held at Whiskey River again where we enjoyed Carolina style BBQ, drinks, and mechanical bull riding, all sponsored by PowerDNN.
Whether you’re a trainer, organizer, speaker, or attendee, I can think of no better picture to sum up the event… Here’s Clint Patterson enjoying a nap at the after party… Until next time! See my next blog post to find out about the next event!
Here are some other re-caps and information about the event that I saw while writing my own. Check them out!