Title: Kansas City Developers Conference (KCDC) Date: 2013-05-07 Tags: training, conference

This past weekend, I attended the KCDC event in Kansas City. I signed up for a “pre-compiler” on Thursday, plus attended a lot of the sessions on Thursday and Friday.

Overall Opinion

I was extremely impressed with this event. Thursday, there was a slight hiccup with the Internet access in the morning, and then they took the coffee away before 9:30!!! But other than that, the event just flowed and I didn’t think twice about anything. When you do not have to think about it and you don’t notice any difficulties or pains, that means that the organizers had the operations under control.

I also had great luck in choosing the sessions to attend. There were at a minimum 2 per timeslot that interested me; often there were 3-4, so I needed a strategy. My strategy was pretty simple:

  1. Mark the ones on the chart that interested me the most.

  2. Going through each time slot, read about the sessions and the presenter.

  3. Using that information, rank the order of the ones I selected. This was important in case the chosen session happened to be full, which happened to me twice.

  4. And favor ones that offered advice, input and discussions over how-tos or instructional sessions (thanks to Greg Melton for recommending that)

One Area for Improvement

This event was made possible by a lot of volunteers, as well as a lot of sponsors. Not only did the sponsors donate money, they also donated the time of some of their employees or representatives to staff information booths at the event.

To help support them, the event organizers put together a stamp card. Each event participant received one, and if they collected stamps from all of the sponsors, they were entered into a drawing for some pretty nice gifts at the end of the event.

So that was really cool, and I thought it was a clever way to give support back to the sponsors. However, we had 10 minutes between sessions. And for every timeslot, there were at least 2 and usually 3 events that I really wanted to go attend.

That left me with basically lunch time to complete my card, but lunch time was also the best time to socialize and network with other attendees. To me, it made completing the Bingo card very difficult. I could just go up to the sponsors and ask for the stamp and move on, but they spent a lot of time and money to make this event possible, so I felt that I needed to at least put some effort into learning about them and thank them for their efforts.

As a result, I ended up with a card 3/4 full on Saturday afternoon, scrambling to talk to the rest of the sponsors, only to find a few had left early. It was snowy and rainy in May, I don’t blame them.

I do not know how to best resolve that, other than possibly extending the lunches or possibly scheduling a 30-minute break mid-afternoon.

Sessions I Attended

I learned something in every session I attended, and I would like to think I retained it too! There was no real theme to what I attended, other than they were topics that interested me. One bit of advice I received from Greg Melton was to prefer sessions that offered opinions and experience over how-tos. Get the whys, not the hows.

I won’t post on them all, but you’ll see a few upcoming posts for sure:

  1. Practical DevOps & Continuous Delivery by Alex Papadimoulis more
  2. Creating scalable node.js appslications by Doug Martin more
  3. Infiltrating .Net/Java Shops with Ruby by Dusty Burwell more
  4. Going Independent 101 by Michael Eaton more
  5. Implement your next feature with node.js: JavaScript in polyglot systems by Andrew Dunkman more
  6. Transitioning from Developer to Manager by Boon Lee
  7. Behavior-Driven Development: Turning User Stories into Executable Specifications by Stephen Bohlen more
  8. Open Sourcery: Using Open Source Powers for Good by Vanessa Hurst more
  9. RabbitMQ - The Polyglot Messaging Platform by Tyrone Groves

Many thanks to the presenters!

Closing

Overall, this event rocked. I knew I would get some value out of it, but it far exceeded my expectations.