Just finished off TechEd Developers – some rants

Just finished off TechEd Developers…

I just returned from Orlando, Florida where I attended the TechEd Developers conference. I thought I’d share some thoughts.

First of all, the sheer size of the convention boggles the mind. 6,000 developers, probably more brain power combined than Einstein, the logistics of making something like that happen is enough to scare off anyone. Thanks to Orange County Convention Centre and Microsoft, it all went incredibly smooth. Kudos for that.

TechEd is highly recommended for anyone who seeks to learn new stuff. For those who already know a fair bit it can seem difficult to find interesting topics unless you want to dive into completely new territory. I did not and found a great deal of the SharePoint stuff far too easy.

The rest is more or less as expected, except for the stuff I am about to say. I still believe that growth comes from overcoming deficiencies so I’ll just write about what I want improved. Perhaps someone reads these posts and, well, improves 🙂

The depth of the topics, completely pointless. A 400 break-out session, supposed to be the deepest there is, is barely hard for anyone with more than a month of experience in that particular topic. It seems that 400 means ‘narrow’ more than ‘deep’. Increase the complexity, guys and gals, or at least provide a 500 level that can challenge those who have worked on the topics before.

Second, pre-screen presenters for plain presentation skills. Some of the sessions I attended were so boring and so horribly presented that I left, even if the topic itself should have been interesting. Actually, that happened ‘only’ twice, but with about 20 sessions in my attendance record, that is actually 10% of the presentations.

I’ll take an example. And I am not changing the name of John Holliday to protect anyone. Now, Mr. Holliday is incredibly skilled in SharePoint. I read his stuff as often as I can and he is the only presenter that I found that manages to both find topics that are interesting and at a level from which you actually can gain some knowledge.

And then he begins to speak. Sorry, Mr. Holliday, but you need to include something to keep the audience awake, if nothing else, just change the tone of voice, for crying out loud. Tell a joke. Swap a slide for a picture of your vacation. Something to break the seemingly, at times, endless tirade of technical information streaming from the podium. You pick such great topics and you know so much, but you need to practice getting that info to the people.

On the complete opposite hand, look at Andrew Connell. most of the stuff he talks about, while very interesting, is too basic. You pick up a hint here and there, but it is just too simple. Even so, through sheer presence he manages to keep me on the tip of my chair, begging for the hour-or-so not to pass. I’ld probably learn more new stuff from reading 15 minutes of my daily round of SharePoint RSS, but boy I would swap it for the MCA fee.

My thought… Have Andrew Connell present John Holliday’s sessions. That would be a definitive killer.

Oh, and just for the record, I attended all the sessions of both presenters.

Second rant on TechEd. HOL, or Hands On Labs. I really didn’t get that this year. I mean, there are hundreds of computers in the HOL, divided into separate color coded areas depending on what labs you wanted pre-loaded on the computer. However, all of the labs are available online, why limit which ones are available offline rather than just put the computers online?

It may be because of the added features of the HOL, for instance saving a session. Which worked horribly, by the way, taking anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes to complete a single save session. I don’t see the point of limiting the options just to get a save session feature, though. Complete pointless. I did my labs online on my laptop insted but then lost the dual-screen setup, of course. Very bad choice, Microsoft. Skip that next year, or put the labs online instead.

Third rant, offers. I mean, we take a week off work and _pay_ to do so, the very least you can do is make it worth our while, in, say, a complimentary and upgradable license to Visual Studio Standard, or perhaps an MSDN subscription. Give us a DVD with a selection of PDF e-books. It doesn’t cost you a dime but is valuable to us. All the trial software included in the bag is freely downloadable and pretty much useless. The limited edition t-shirt costs less than $10.

Or even really good offers in the conference store. Books there this year cost more than they do on Amazon, which really makes no sense.

I do recommend that people attend TechEd. I rant about things I do not like, since the rest is pretty much very good.

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Bjørn Furuknap

I previously did SharePoint. These days, I try new things to see where I can find the passion. If you have great ideas, cool projects, or is in general an awesome person, get in touch and we might find out together.

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