ailon's DevBlog: Development related stuff in my life

Notes from DevReach

10/24/2011 5:42:54 PM

Last week I’ve visited Sofia, Bulgaria. I was attending DevReach conference. I’ve decided to visit at least one international conference this fall and DevReach was pretty much the best possible choice judging by the caliber of speakers and sessions. And combining that with the total cost to attend, it was THE best possible value.

The Conference

The conference was held in the Arena Mladost multiplex and was very well organized. Aside from putting too much trust into Google Translate for the intro slide I have no complaints whatsoever ;)

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FYI, you can hardly translate “Welcome” into “Pasveikinti” in Lithuanian in any normal situation. The real translation in this case would be “Sveiki atvykę”. But Kudos for the effort ;)

Other than that minor minor thingy, organization was pretty much flawless. Conference WiFi worked like a charm. Something you don’t expect from a developer conference. The fact that it was held in a cinema meant that sitting was top notch and by the end of the day my ass and back had no complaints.

Speakers were great. Obviously there were no big reveals or announcements, but the fact that there were tons of great speakers and most of them weren’t from Microsoft and weren’t doing a boring “read material prepared by MS evangelism team while showing slides someone else made”, more than compensated for the lack of big announcements.

I’ve already seen, heard or read most of what Scott Hanselman had to tell, but the experience could be compared to seeing your favorite band on video and then watching them live. You don’t complain that they’ve played your favorite songs.

A special checkmark goes to participating in the live recording of an episode of DotNetRocks podcast.

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That was great, but considering the subject of “starting your own software company”, it was pretty strange not to see the founders of Telerik on the panel. I’ve expressed my surprise on Twitter and Richard Campbell admitted that this should be fixed and we can expect a DNR episode on the subject. Do I get a mug? ;)

As for Windows Phone, unfortunately Bulgaria is in the same situation as Lithuania – they can’t buy apps and they can’t submit apps directly. So interest in the subject is relatively low. I have no special arguments for Lithuania, but Bulgaria is a home of one of the biggest .NET vendors in the world, so, really MS, WTF!?

Another interesting observation – there are lots of female developers in Bulgaria.

Extracurricular Activities

I’ve arrived on Sunday (conference started on Monday). So I had a couple of hours for sightseeing. Sofia is a beautiful city, but unfortunately the weather was pretty crappy (I’ve travelled 2000km south and it was colder than back home and it was snowing!), so I couldn’t enjoy it properly. I guess I’ll have to return :)

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And what’s up with the homeless dogs? Are they some kind of sacred animals or just friendly habitants of the city?

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They can be seen in all parts of the city and it felt pretty strange, even though they looked sort of friendly. I like dogs, but I almost shat my pants when a huge black dog emerged from behind of a container right in front of me. Luckily the dog almost shat his pants too.

The location of the venue is relatively remote and there’s only one hotel next to it. So all the speakers and most of the international attendees stayed there. I had a great pleasure of meeting awesome people despite being a shy (read stupid) person: Scott Hanselman, Jesse Liberty, Stephen Forte, Joel Semeniuk, Gill Cleeren, Maarten Balliauw, Todd Anglin, Phil Japikse, Michael Crump, Tomislav Bronzin, Chris Eargle,  etc. (sorry, if I forgot to mention you personally!)

Pro tip: never try to save on the accommodation when traveling to a conference. Stay where speakers stay. It’s worth every penny.

After the second day of the conference there was a party for speakers and VIP attendees where I finally got a chance to meet great guys from Telerik: Vassil Terziev, Valio Stoychev (thanks for the ride!), Vladimir Milev and others. And it was great to reconnect with Emil Stoychev.

Conclusion

I liked it. I’ll be coming back next year. Hopefully as a speaker(?) ;) If you are looking for a great MS technology related conference in Europe which doesn’t force you to break your bank, look no further. DevReach is it.

P.S.: special thanks to Natalia Dimitrova for planning all of this and answering my stupid questions ;) And thanks to Ina Toncheva (sorry we had only a short chance to chat).

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Slides from My Presentation on “Marketing and Monetization of Windows Phone Apps”

10/10/2011 3:43:06 PM

Presentation slides without a narrative always seem funny/strange to me, but many ask to see them, so here goes. Last week I gave a talk on Windows Phone app marketing and monetization at Microsoft Partner Conference in Lithuania and Latvia. Here are the slides:

I’d be honored to talk on this subject at your conference, user group or other event. Email me and lets talk!

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What user groups are for?

6/4/2008 4:23:55 PM

lt_dotnet_usergroup For the past half a year I've been watching (from a distance) the creation of Lithuanian .NET User Group in it's initiator's - Sergejus Barinovas's - blog (both sites in Lithuanian). I couldn't get the purpose of this "movement" from what I've read. Then I've read reports about the first 2 meetings and still I couldn't see any serious reason to attend (except free beer or was it free?).

Then last week I've listened to the DotNetRocks podcast - Show #344 Building Communities at Dallas TechFest. Half way through the show I felt the urge to go to the next LT .NET User Group meeting but then as the show continued I found myself back in the skeptical mood.

So I decided to outline here what uses I can see for the "user group" concept and try to see if any of them appeal to me:

  1. Socialize with geeks. This could be hit or miss. I like or dislike people individually. I can't relate to a person automatically just because he/she is of the same ethnicity, color, likes the same basketball team or programs using the same language.
  2. Find a new job. I think these groups could be a powerful tool in finding a new job by meeting people working in other companies. Unfortunately (or rather fortunately) I'm not looking for a job and hopefully wont ever look for one.
  3. Find an employee. This could work too. If I ever look for employees I'll think about going to a group meeting to check if there's someone there on a mission #2
  4. Establish yourself as a local authority in the subject. For someone looking to achieve this goal user group could be a starting point but you have to actively participate rather than just "attend".
  5. Learn something new. I don't think so. I mean you could learn something new there for sure but in the same amount of time you could learn a lot more by reading technology blogs, articles and books. Unless group meeting is the only "excuse" you have to learn something.
  6. Solve your technical problems. These meetings are too far apart to be a useful medium for discussing issues with smart guys. You can solve your problems faster by asking questions in appropriate forums, newsgroups, blogs, etc.

So, from my point of view there's not much to gain from this type of activity: I'm introverted (like most developers) and not seeking to meet random people for no apparent reason, I'm not looking for employers or employees, I'm not looking to become a technology speaker or something and I can learn much more by spending the time wiser.

I'm ready to accept that I'm wrong if someone has really good arguments in favor of user groups. For now the concept sounds as bullshitty to me as "team building" - something for some "social scientists" to justify their existence and, probably, some statistical analysis tool for vendors of technologies in question.

Do you go to your local "... user groups"? What for?

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