Back from Omaha – Post-HDC

Back from Omaha – and just finished all of my online evaluations for the speaker sessions I attended and here is a recap of my HDC experience
 
 

First let it be said that I am a solid supporter of HDC and I am impressed with what they have created here in the Midwest and the talent they bring together as well as their willingness to experiment to improve each year.  Any criticism should be viewed as hopefully constructive. 

So here goes…

Positives

  • Scott Guthrie – love hearing him talk and his enthusiasm for the Microsoft Toolset is more than evident (was abit odd to see his participation in the conference’s Twitter contest where the winner would be given an iPod or iPhone but Scott seems to have a great sense of humor)….his Unplugged talk was incredible, our full room got to shout out different topics or questions that he jotted down and then proceeded to elaborate and explain in that 1 hour period – Total Class Act – find me another person at his level who is completely open to questions and topics coming from an unknown audience – Loved it.
  • Networking – The HDC gang is working hard to help people network at this event by expanding the Pre-Conference Opening Party and the Conference Developer Jam party – I came into town too late to attend the Opening Party but I did get a few wheat beers drank during the Jam party and talked to some new people that I would not have met otherwise – awesome idea – hope it stays.
  • Keynotes – Both days had great opening keynotes – Scott Guthrie & Neal Ford both had great morning keynotes that I enjoyed listening to
  • Speakers – the wide range of speakers and their knowledge was impressive – some very experienced and knowledgeable people in this group and its impressive that you guys can get them to the Midwest like this

Negatives

  • The conference schedule was printed on 8 X 5 inch cards which were barely legible – a full sheet with the session descriptions would have been far more helpful (or at least post it somewhere if cost is an issue) – have a big Conference white board with changes, full descriptions, etc that we can browse and check out changes, etc. 
  • Previous HDC conferences, we manually filled out our evals and dropped them in a box – this year they could only be filled out online which blows if you did not bring a laptop or smartphone with you on your travel   – I filled these out when I got home as I do feel like when speakers ask for feedback, we should give it since they were brave enough (and generous enough) to do the talk in the first place – but conference can make it easier – and the online interface wasn’t the smoothest user interface experience but I guess it follows the KISS practice – I wish I did web design as I would offer to help here.
  • Attendee registration which should have started at 7 AM started after 8 AM – not a huge deal but still feels like the conference is off to an awkward start when everyone is asking each other why no registration yet – the tone was then set as it seemed everything was late then, and Scott Gu keynote was forced to go long (which was fine with me) but then it really screwed the first session speakers who were then forced to cram their 60 minute talk into 45 minutes and we felt bad for them.  If it’s a lack of manpower, I would be willing to help with that – I’m from out of town, not doing anything else – need some people to get something going or manned – send out a twitter pre-conference and you know there would be lots of volunteers – if that would help keep things at all – its a possibility
  • Talks where the title (or duration) did not fit the time slot – they experimented with 30-minute lightning round talks this year in the latter part of the afternoons – I thought it worked great with some topics (Jason Bock did a real cool intro to IL-injection, there was a neat intro to Augmented reality, etc) but other topics were a 30-minute race-like-hell experience on topics where it was crazy to try to do much in 30-minutes like Jarrod’s Intro to WCF talk – he was incredible but that talent would have been far better served in a 60-minute talk than the phrenetic 30-minute walk/run.
  • Content – I would vote that last year’s conference gave me more immediately, applicable information than this years and I have to give much of that blame to Microsoft.  Scott Guthrie mentioned that there was way too much more 2010 information to talk about than he could discuss in his keynote and yet – Where were the Microsoft evangelists to talk on these topics? – especially in light of the recent MSDN Events hiatus earlier this year – one consultant had a very good Agile development with Team 2010 talk but there are so many upcoming C# 4.0, VS 2010, and TFS 2010 enhancements that we hear about and yet no sessions at all on them this year – in my opinion, Microsoft dropped the ball in the Red Zone for this one – here you have all of these eager developers – many of them using Microsoft tools, the 2010 tools approaching Beta 2 with “Go Live” license any day now and the Microsoft evangelists are completely ignoring them – why?  Are they waiting for next year’s HDC by which time 2010 will have been released 8 months prior?  I did not understand this at all.  I appreciate Microsoft helping sponsor HDC and sending the evangelists they did but I would like to hear discussion if anyone else feels like there was a huge hole here.  The few Microsoft speeches were on P2P, Mikes open forum on Typical Software Development challenges, and another talk on why Windows 7 is faster……I did not understand this at all unless they really thought that Guthries 1 hour keynote was all of the detail we would need – very odd gameplan.

So thats it – Hugely impressed with how this conference has grown into the success that it is – that is so very cool – any suggestions are simply that and obviously are just my two cents worth – and hope they are helpful – but regardless, when registration opens next year on HDC – I’ll be pre-registered on the very first day – just as I was this year again.  My disappointments were mostly on the content – specifically centered around the .NET suite of tools and how my hopes were set higher.

Anyone else attend this year that agree or disagree with my thoughts above? – would love to hear more opinions

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About bradosterloo

.NET Software Developer working for Innovative Systems, LLC in Mitchell, SD
This entry was posted in Software Development. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Back from Omaha – Post-HDC

  1. Unknown says:

    Brad, thanks for your comments man! I wish more community members would post likes/dislikes. Believe it or not, it’s really hard to get "real" feedback for HDC. This year we experimented with moving the conference forward by making some changes and while most of them worked, some did not. We’ll ditch the "did nots" and continue to polish the stuff that worked.Lightening rounds, specifically, are geared for 15-20 minute demos, intros to tech, best practices, etc.. Presenteres need to be in a mindset of taking something that works for 15 minutes and making it into a presentation, instead of taking a 90 minute session and trying to cram it into :30 minutes. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to explain to presenters how lightning rounds work until they see them in person. Next year, everyone will have a better idea.Thanks again for the feedback and we’ll see you next year!Joe

  2. JASON says:

    First, thanks for the comments on the injection talk :)I agree with some of your negatives. As Joe has already remarked, some of the things at HDC09 were somewhat experimental. You have to do that to keep things fresh. Some things worked…and some didn’t. I agree with his comments on the 30 minute talks. The speakers have to really prepare well to have their talk down in 30 minutes and not have it appear rushed. They’re really not geared for "introduction to" talks and I think next year that’ll be better.Overall, the positives outweigh the negatives and HDC is a great conference that will get even better in 2010.

  3. Brad says:

    Jason – I fully agree that the Positives far outweight the Negatives – my "negatives" are only listed as my observations/suggestions and probably would have been far better suited if I had labeled them so – this conference has so many good things going for it

  4. Pingback: ROI of Professional Conferences | The View from Office 227

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