Get on the Bus Y’all!

Have you heard about DevLink? It’s a can’t miss conference happening on the campus of MTSU in August. What’s that you say? You live in a more northern climate, and you don’t want to fly or drive? Well, listen up now, ya’ hear?

You can ride the DevLink Bus from as far north as Michigan and enjoy the company of your fellow software developers. Details and costs are still being finalized, so please register your interest by submitting the form so we know how many people to plan for.

Happy trails,

++Alan

Speaker Idol Talk at TechEd

While I was in Orlando for TechEd developers earlier this month, I participated in competition called Speaker Idol hosted by Carl Franklin. Contestants had to give a five minute presentation on a topic of their choice. I chose to explain Test-Driven Development (TDD). I also made the decision not to give a demo in such a short time.

I made it to the finals where I came in as the runner-up and won a BlackJack II Windows Mobile phone. Eric Shupps won a speaking slot at next year’s TechEd with an excellent talk that included a well executed demo.

I have embedded a clip of my talk below. You can watch the entire Speaker Idol finals here.

Cheers,

++Alan

Agile Development Birds of a Feather at TechEd Developers

As part of the TechEd Developers conference this week in Orlando, Fl, I’ll be facilitating a discussion of the pros and cons of eXtreme Programming and other agile development practices. We’ll be discussing what has worked for us, and what hasn’t.

BOF857 Agile Development, Tenets of XP: eXtreme Programming

Wednesday, June 4 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM, N330 D

Using various tenets of XP can provide the impetus to make your development process more agile. Agile is a discussion point: what do you do or want to try to do to add Agility to your development process? We throw around a few ideas regarding processes such as SCRUM, Continuous Integration, Pair Programming, regression testing/tracking metrics, code generation, Team System, and others. Everyone can share whatever has worked and what they are working on. This is a forum to exchange workable solutions to faster development with near perfect execution on fast development cycles.

Birds of a Feather (BOF) sessions are interactive discussions rather than presenter-focused lectures. This is perfect for me because I am not an agile development expert. I am an imperfect practitioner of agile practices. I’ll be moderating the discussion, but I fully expect there to be smarter, more experienced people in the room to enlighten the rest of us.

If you’ll be at TechEd Developers this week, please join me on Wednesday evening at 6:30 for what I hope will be a lively discussion.

++Alan

TechEd Developers Tweetup

It’s time for TechEd 2008. This year the conference has been split into separate weeks for IT Pros and developers. I will be attending the developer edition next week in Orlando. This is my fourth consecutive TechEd conference, and the first I’ve paid for personally. That’s right, this conference is so valuable, I’m willing to pay out of my own pocket to attend.

This will be the first time I’ve been to a large conference since joining Twitter. Twitter has been a great tool at smaller events for meeting up with people and spontaneously organizing outings to restaurants, bars etc.

Hunter French created a Twitter group on the TechEd Connect site. If you will be attending either week of TechEd, I encourage you to join the Twitter group so other tweeple at the event can keep up with you during the conference.

In the group, I have created a Tweetup (Twitter Meetup) event for Wednesday, June 4 at noon in the dining area. Everyone interested should join us. I’ll print up some signage, but if you just look for the people obsessively typing on their phones, you’ll find us. Use this link to add the event to your calendar.

Here are the people that I follow on Twitter that are planning on attending TechEd Developers. If you are attending and I didn’t list you, please add a comment with your twitter handle.

@wbm @bencarey @jfollas @dcampbell @pandamonial @jmcwherter @mhouston @lespaulrob @aaronlerch @keithelder @arcanecode @gblock @dougt @glengordon @jeffreypalermo @joefeser @ardalis @saraford @darcy_lussier @OdeToCode @MobilityMatters @shanselman @jjulian @careypayette @scottcreynolds @laurelatoreilly

I look forward to meeting the people behind the 48×48 pixel avatars. See you in Orlando!

++Alan

How I Found My Tribe on Twitter

I’ve been using Twitter since 11:04 PM October 25, 2007. I quickly found it to be useful and entertaining, like a group IM client or IRC. But Twitter is different than previous “group chat” tools. I’ve been struggling with what exactly is different, and I think I’ve finally put my finger on it.

The people I interact with on Twitter are my tribe. I like the word “tribe” because it connotes a shared identity. My Twitter Tribe are a “we” and an “us”. I suppose this is how sports fans feel about their fellow fans, but I’ve never had this experience before, or at least not to this degree.

It was Rands who introduced the idea of tribes in Twitter to me. He does an excellent job of explaining some of the game-changing social networking hacks that Twitter provides, but he misses something that I’ve been trying to come to grips with. Twitter has provided a new sense of belonging in my life.

Because Twitter is an “opt-in” social network, it self selects for like interests. I don’t follow people because they are “famous”, but because I’m interested in what they have to say. What was unexpected at the start was that I became engaged with the people themselves, and not just their insights and wit. For instance, when I got into Joe O’Brien‘s minivan this weekend, I immediately realized it was the same vehicle that had been stolen and recovered. I only knew this piece of Joe’s personal history because he had twittered it. I remember the feeling of relief I felt when he announced, on Twitter, that the police had recovered his family’s primary vehicle.

Beyond all the productivity, entertainment and publicity benefits of Twitter lies this fact: I love the people in my Twitter Tribe. If you’re uncomfortable with the “L Word”, then please accept that I feel emotionally connected to them, even if I’ve never met them. When I do meet people after following them on Twitter, I have an urge to hug them like a reunited friend.

Twice now I’ve had the opportunity to meet up with members of my tribe that I hadn’t met previously, and the experience was seamless. I didn’t “think” I knew these people. We knew each other. We were already an “us”; a tribe. At the Indianapolis Code Camp last month I met around ten people I knew through Twitter and it reinforced my feeling about the power of Twitter.

This past weekend at the Cleveland Day of .NET I met easily twenty people that I knew through Twitter and followed that many more new people I was introduced to. This was a very emotional experience for me. You see, I am part of a small demographic of social or extroverted computer nerds. There aren’t that many people like me who are geographically close. Not enough to call a tribe, anyway.

Through Twitter I can connect with this demographic of people all over the world, and maintain constant contact. Twitter bridges the gaps between conferences etc. where people in my niche gather socially. Because of Twitter, I am in touch with “my people” all the time. The sense of belonging and acceptance is unprecedented in my experience.

There are many ways to use Twitter. There is no “right” way to use this simple service. I have stumbled into one particular habit of use. I am not resorting to hyperbole when I say that the effect has been life changing. Your mileage may vary, but from conversations I’ve had, I know I’m not the only one experiencing these effects.

I always demo Twitter at the start of my presentations these days as a way to encourage audience members to continue the conversation and learning outside the session. Perhaps I should include a warning “This service could lead to serious emotional attachment and meaningful relationships resulting in a fulfilling sense of belonging. Proceed with caution.”

Peace,

++Alan

Introduction to TDD with MVC Slides and Code

I have given this talk several times recently, and I still have more dates scheduled. I created a Google Code repository to host my presentation downloads. You can find the relevant files here:

Introduction to Test-Driven Development With The ASP.NET MVC Framework

If you would like to catch this talk in person, I’ll be doing my song and dance at these events:

Cheers,

++Alan

Getting My Mojo Back

I just finished spending over 60 days without a steady gig. I did some contract work, but nothing long term.

I’m happy to report that I have a steady development contract with a Chicago based company.

I’ll be working remotely with regular trips to the office. This opportunity plays to my strengths while still providing opportunity in new technologies.

The most significant change I’ve noticed after starting this contract is that I feel more outgoing. Looking for work wears me down, and I had started to withdraw without realizing it.

I actually gave four presentations during the first quarter of the year, but I never felt motivated to blog about them. I’ve been having a great time showing people the ASP.NET MVC framework, and the support for test-driven development that it provides.

If you’re interested in hearing me talk about these topics, you can come by the NashDotNet meeting tonight. I will be giving an intro and a deep dive on TDD with the MVC framework at the Indianapolis Code Camp so mark your calendar.

Cheers,

++Alan

No NuSoft Solutions For You!

For the last week, I’ve been listening to Al Green and attempting to grok the ASP.NET MVC Framework in fullness. I have not been looking for a job. You see, on Monday of last week I had a three hour dinner with a hiring manager which ended with us agreeing to work together.

Because I have been around the block before, I did not crow from on high that I had found a job. Nothing is real until it is written up and signed by all parties. I know this, but NuSoft Solutions had been very forthcoming with me, to date. Prior to our dinner, this hiring manager had met with his superiors to confirm that my travel needs were acceptable. He called me to confirm that we were all on the same page regarding travel before scheduling our dinner meeting.

This morning, eight days after our meeting, I received word from my HR contact that I would not be hired. When I asked the reason, I was told that my travel costs would be too much. I find this scenario totally unprofessional, disrespectful to me and my family, and thoroughly unacceptable.

I am disappointed this morning, not just because I’m unemployed, but because this opportunity was such a good fit for me. I want, most of all, for my next position to be a good opportunity for my employer as well as for me. I know that I would have made very positive contributions to this organization, while working on a personally satisfying variety of solutions and technologies.

I will not slander NuSoft Solutions, but if any of my contacts in the developer community ask me about the company I will relate my experience and have them draw their own conclusions.

With all that said, I am still looking for a challenging and fulfilling new opportunity. Please have a look at my resume and contact me if you know of any appropriate opportunities. Finally, if you are reading this because you are considering me as a job candidate, please perform thorough due diligence before offering me a position.

Cheers,

++Alan

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