It’s New Years Eve here in the Philadelphia area, and like many others, I’m reflecting over the past twelve months. 2012 has been an amazingly great year for me. I’m going to count down the top 6 moments that affected me over the past 12 months.
6. QUnit-Metro launch
I challenged myself then and there. I took the evening after one of these training events and attempted to utilize the qUnit test framework with Windows 8. After some tinkering, hacking, and a bit of luck, I got unit tests to run inside of the Metro environment. I cleaned up my changes and published them as a fork of the qUnit framework that I called “qUnitMetro”. This was the first project that I successfully forked and shared source code for. The amount of attention that this little project would get over the next few months was astonishing.
5. Joined Telerik
After a long journey that spread across the US East Coast from Orlando to Philadelphia, to Boston and back, I started my employment with Telerik on December 3rd. This journey to join Telerik was an amazing ride, meeting and interviewing with people that I knew from Code Camps, User Groups meetings, and some that I had never met but had heard on podcasts. I was genuinely excited to be counted as one of their peers and join this amazing organization.
I’m now a month into working at Telerik, and you should be seeing my name starting to appear more and more around the Asp.Net community. I promise you, I have a lot more to share and show. Over the next year, you should see me at a number of large events and perhaps at a Code Camp or two near you. Keep up with me here and on my Telerik product blog at: http://blogs.telerik.com/AjaxTeam
4. Code Camp NYC
At the beginning of September, I attended and spoke at Code Camp NYC. This was the first big code camp that I was traveling to speak at. Furthermore, I was spending my own money to get there. By financing the whole trip myself, I made myself more critical of my experience. I wanted to really figure out if this was it, if I was ready to do more as an INETA speaker.
The trip to New York was simple, a train ride from Philadelphia to Penn Station. As I was disembarking the train, I coincidentally ran into another Philly area speaker who was attending the event: John Petersen. Our discussion during the walk to the Microsoft office in Manhattan was refreshing and really opened my eyes to what my place could be in the developer community. The day I spent at that event, meeting the other speakers and interacting with the New York area developers helped convince me: I can travel and present technical content anywhere.
3. My June Trip to Vermont.Net
In June, on the Monday after Tech Ed 2012 in Orlando, I travelled to Burlington, Vermont to speak to the Vermont.Net user group. This was my first “INETA trip” to speak to a user group. I flew out of JFK airport in New York, landed in Burlington and took a brief walking tour of some of town. After an ice-cream at Ben + Jerry’s, I rode to the user group meeting in nearby Winooski. My topic for this meeting was a (very brief) introduction to the concepts of CQRS architecture. I was nervous that evening, and rambled through the complex content a bit fast for my own liking. After some re-enforcing words of confidence from some of the attendees like Julie Lerman, Rachel Reese, and Rob Hale as well as some of the other attendees, I felt confident that I could do this type of travel and speaking again.
It was at this point, that I decided to give the autumn code camp circuit a try. I booked my September event to Code Camp NYC, the September monthly meeting at Philly.Net, and Vermont Code Camp. These three events in 6 days were an amazing confidence booster to me, one that I will never forget.
Honorable Mention – Vermont Code Camp
After I submitted my talk for September at Vermont Code Camp, I arranged for it to be a nice vacation weekend with my wife. I sent the kids off to my parents for the weekend and found a nice hotel to stay at. What was most amazing for me about this weekend was not just the time I had to wander around Vermont with my wife, but the speaker dinner on the evening of the event.
Here I was, at a dinner table with these other volunteers and personalities from the .Net community, and my wife was along for the ride. I was entirely shocked and pleased with how quickly my colleagues welcomed my wife and the conversations that continued well into the late evening. A special thank you to Mike Jones, Julie Lerman, and Kathleen Dollard for a great evening of conversation. My wife will never forget discussing hiking boots in Ben + Jerry’s with Julie and Kathleen, one of those cool personal moments that this community has enthralled me with.
2. Speaker Idol at Tech Ed 2012
In May, after my trip to Tech Ed was approved by my employer, I got this crazy idea: Is there going to be a “Speaker Idol” competition at Tech Ed? If there is, why couldn’t I enter?
After a flurry of emails to the organizers, some of which I’m sure made me look like a stalker, I got my invite. They knew of me, and offered me a slot to speak on the first day of competition. I was absolutely thrilled with the opportunity, and was ready to face the judges and whatever issues may come. I worked for a week straight getting content about my qUnitMetro project ready. Windows 8 and Visual Studio 2012 were in beta testing, so I would be demonstrating something that NO ONE had seen before. I could break new ground and set myself apart as a knowledge leader… I tuned and tweaked, wrote blog posts, wrote sample code and slides. A week’s worth of sleepless nights to test and verify and get ready for a competition that COULD put me on the map, gain me significant notoriety in this community in a very short amount of time.
And then it happened… 4 days before Tech Ed, Microsoft released a new beta version of Windows 8. They were so generous in their beta testing release schedule, they released a new version of Visual Studio on the same day.
On this day my local user group was hosting a prominent speaker who was in Philadelphia for one night only. I didn’t take that evening to investigate the new Windows release, but instead attended the guest speaker’s lecture at a local community college. I swapped phone numbers with him, and asked for a few minutes of his time to discuss my talk for Speaker Idol. He was very generous with his time, and I can not thank him enough. It’s my hope that as a Developer Evangelist for Telerik that I can meet this example he set forth for me.
The next evening, I did my download of the new Windows 8 and Visual Studio code. It was then that my heart sank… My code didn’t work, my samples were invalid. I had to verify everything I had written up to that point. qUnitMetro needed to be reviewed, my samples for the Speaker Idol demo had to be verified… all in the course of 3 days.
After 2 days, a case of Mountain Dew, and a bit of cursing at my unknown Windows developer friends at Microsoft, I got my content straightened out. I realized the problems were my own, and got myself set to go for Orlando – site of Tech Ed 2012.
You can search this blog for a thorough retelling of how Speaker Idol went for me. I was as excited as a kid on Christmas morning, awaiting the experience. I spent so much valuable time at Tech Ed with a significant number of community leaders, and really felt like I was stepping up my game as a speaker. I got the buzz.. and was so comfortable on stage, that I started to really embrace the speaker experience.
Over the following month, I was on several podcasts and interviewed by CodeProject.com to discuss qUnitMetro. It was a great leap for me, and little did I know where it was going to take me. Several of the judges and a significant number of my friends who worked at Telerik saw my presentation at Tech Ed and were impressed. Little did I know that this would be the first step in my next adventure with my career.
1. Shipped the First Version of a New Web Application
If you’ve stayed with me through this detail of personal drivel, then I thank you.
I’ve made my number one event over the past year the shipment of production code, the launch of a new software-as-a-service web application. This was a product that I had designed from scratch. We were embarking on the use of dynamic view models, HTML5 offline-mode, and the use of NoSQL databases. We were trying new technologies that were supposed to help solve the business problems my application had.
Any time you ship code no matter how small it is, is a very big thing. If customers are using code you wrote, that’s a very big thing. If you write code and no one (including you) learns from it, no one is using it, or no one is paying you for it, you are wasting your time.
I’m proud of the team that I led that launched this application. We spent many long evenings getting it working properly, and were happy with how it ran. We were a scrum team that ran very well within all of the definitions of the scrum process. Our innovations even led the organization to file a patent based on my designs. That patent application is still pending today.
That’s it.. a whirlwind 2012 experience. I end the year working for a new company that is recognized around the world. I’m writing more and more technical content in blogs for you in the developer community. Next up: my resolutions for 2013 – What exactly can I accomplish in 2013?