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Gill Cleeren     TechDays     March 14, 2008    

Now that TechDays 2008 (formerly known as DevItProdays) here in Belgium are over, it’s time to sit down, relax and look back on an event well-done!

November 2007 – March 10th 2008

You may be thinking, what the heck is he going back for ‘till November last year… Well, as you may know, I’ve been working for an assignment at Microsoft Belgium since the end of October, and part of my job was the organization of TechDays 2008 in Ghent. As early as November, I started contacting speakers to come talk at the event, and this turned out to be just in time to have everybody that we wanted here, book TechDays in their agenda.

Over the course of December, January and also February, a lot of time was spent at getting everything arranged on the speakers front. We managed to get a great line-up of international and national speakers, including Nikhil Kothari, Matt Gibbs, Ingo Rammer, Roy Osherove and many others.

The weeks before the event itself were very stressful to get everything in order. The team (Tom, Ritchie, Katrien… and myself) worked very hard to get to latest things on track. To give you an example, last week (the week before the event), I did a rewrite of the application that would perform the access control with barcodes. No matter how much time it cost, it needed to be done, in time before the event started.

But we got there. I was glad on Monday evening that everything was ready… Although I still wasn’t sure if everything was done. I had a weird feeling, it felt as if I did forget stuff… Must have been the stress for the days after, I guess.

March 11th: Launch of Visual Studio 2008

On Tuesday, the event took off. I rushed to Ghent very early, and when arrived, I started helping out where necessary. My talk on ASP.NET Ajax was also on this day, so we did a test in the largest room (Room Ballmer) with my laptop to see that everything went well. And it did, luckily enough.

Here's are some pics from the room in which I did my talk.

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My talk was taking place after fellow Regional Director Peter Himschoot did his on Visual Studio 2008.


Once the attendees were coming in, there was no turning back: now everything had to run fine. Below you can also see the "Room Gates", the keynote area, with an exceptional set-up: the below half of the screen was built with thousands little lights and extended the upper half to create an really cool effect.

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After the keynote, it was time for me to prepare my laptop. I had an expected 800 attendees in the room, people had to stand up in the back. You can download my presentation and demo's shortly!
The talk went great: all my demo's worked perfectly, I managed to end my presentation in exactly the time I was given and the feedback I got after the presentation was very positive. I do admit that I'm curious for my scores when they come in next week.

Every attendee got a really nice gift: the "Heroes Happen Here" book from Microsoft, with pictures from "our heroes" from around the world by Carolyn Jones. Only 20.000 copies of it were made, so it's a real collector's item.

Day 1 ended in a pizzeria with my colleagues from Ordina. We went for a drink afterwards, but I left a little earlier than the rest: after a long (and fulfilling) day, it was time to get to my hotel room. I was tired, but happy: my talk went great, the launch event went great, everybody seemed happy. Now, let's open TechDays!

March 12th: TechDays Day 1

After a successful launch (which was a free event by the way), TechDays was about to start. Personally, I was eager to meet all the speakers I invited, some of them fellow-RDs who I would meet for the first time.

I took a taxi to the hotel with Roy Osherove and Bart de Smet. He's a great guy, and the Belgian audience really loves him: he already came to Gent several times for previous editions. Roy was accompanied by his guitar.

The keynote was given by Rafal Luckawiecki. In my opinion, this was how a keynote should always be. It contained a clear message and a vision of the future and was not filled with marketing. Alex Turner, program manager for C# gave a really good demo on the evolution of program languages that fit well in Rafal's talk. The professionalism of Rafal really gave the keynote a boost, resulting in a smashing start of the event.

Here's Alex doing his demo. Rafal can be seen at the far right.


And here's Rafal giving the best of himself!

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After the keynote, I managed to see a part of Ingo Rammer's talk on WCF. It was the first time I met him in real life. I do want to thank him to come to the event, it wasn't easy to get here while doing DevWeek!


Over lunch, I got to meet 2 very important guests: Nikhil Kothari and Matt Gibbs. I first saw Nikhil in Las Vegas on Mix last year. He's a great speaker and he also has a lot of interesting stuff on his blog: Matt Gibbs is program manager for ASP.NET, I first met him at Tech-Ed Barcelona. He's also the author of Professional ASP.NET AJAX 2.0, which was recently published by Wrox.

Below, you can see Nikhil in his talk on Silverlight 2.0. In this presentation, he did an overview of the Silverlight 2.0 platform, followed by the construction of a full-blown Silverlight 2.0/Flickr image browser.


After a busy afternoon with some work "behind the scenes", I still managed to see a part of Yves Goeleven's talk on Team Foundation Server. Yves is very active for Visug, and like for myself, it was his first talk on TechDays. I also got to Nikhil's second talk on Ajax Patterns.


Day 1 was wrapped up in a restaurant, where almost all the speakers gathered for the speakers dinner. It was a very interesting evening, where I got to talk with a lot of interesting people. I also met another RD, Chad Hower. More later!

March 13th: TechDays Day 2

Day 3 started very early: I got at the ICC at 7.30. As you can see, not many other people were up at that time already...

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Except for the guys at the Ask The Experts-booth...


I took the time to go see Matt's session on the ASP.NET MVC framework. I think it was really a good session, with a mix of demo's and slides. The necessary jokes were also present, which was appreciated by the audience.

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New at this year's event, were the "Inspiration sessions", sessions that took place over the lunch. It was an experiment, and given their success, I think they'll be back next year. I attended one, given by Chad Hower. In this session, he showed how you can, using .NET code, use a WII-mote and also fire missiles from a USB-Rocket launcher. Great session Chad!

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In the afternoon, I only squeezed in Roy Osherove's session on "Unit testing in .NET 3.5". The concept of the session was very interesting: he had a list of about 12 topics, and by the raise of hands, he let the audience pick which topics they would really like to see. He told me afterwards that he does that regularly. Something to remember for my own sessions! He finished his session by signing a song: on the music of Mad World, he sang "Bad Test". Really cool!

I didn't see the closing keynote, since I had a very interesting talk with Chad. He showed me some of the things he was working on.

When I went back to the exhibitor area, everything was already being taken apart: some booth were already gone, the big screen in the theatre was gone... TechDays was over... And at that point, I realized it: it was a great experience being part of the organization of such an event. Everything went great. Back home... but with great things and great people to look back at.

I want to thank Tom, Ritchie, Arlindo for letting me be part of this!

If you want to download my pictures in high-res or see many more, go to my Flickr-page.

  Posted on: Friday, March 14, 2008 8:15:56 PM (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)   |   Comments [3]
5/30/2015   6:14:38 PM
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