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Stir Trek 2014 Talk Recap

Stir Trek LogoI did it! Mission Accomplished (and I don’t mean in that ironic “banner on an aircraft carrier” way).

A few months ago, I submitted a talk to Stir Trek and it got accepted. I had wanted to speak at a conference again, but I was super stumped as to what to talk about that would be interesting enough to stand out. There were only 40 speaking slots and hundreds of applicants, so it had to be good. Part of the selection this year was done blind (based on nameless abstracts), so content really needed to be key.

Thankfully, my co-worker Jey came up with a great idea. He suggested talking about how to do push notifications in iOS. I wanted to really think big, so I expanded it to include Android. Another co-worker, Jeff, thought that if I included Win Phone 8 I would really increase my appeal. So, I submitted this:

Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You: Push Notifications in iOS, Android, and Win Phone 8

Mobile is the future and one-way-only conversations are boring. Find out how to keep your app’s users in the know with push notifications. In this session, we will evaluate the push notification landscape, see why push notifications are useful, and how you would send and receive them to iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 8 devices. Then, we’ll take a look at writing a push server, and evaluate the pros and cons of rolling our own versus leveraging a Notification as a Service platform such as Urban Airship or Parse.

As I mentioned in my talk, my original idea was that writing the native push servers would be a really bad experience and then the cloud providers would wipe all of my tears away. Nothing could have been further from the truth. I mean, the native push servers (especially iOS) definitely had their challenges, but once you write them, they are done. The cloud providers don’t protect you from the worst parts of setting up the push servers, anyway. Their benefits aren’t ease of development, but rather their reliability and extra features that they offer that don’t show up in a simple push demonstration.

Preparing for the talk was a lot more difficult that I originally thought and took at least twice as long. I wrote an iOS application, an Android application, a Windows Phone 8 application, and a .Net REST service to push to them. I deployed the .Net service to an EC2 instance so that it would be available everywhere.

The code to make the application do what it needed to do at its core wasn’t difficult (on purpose). However, the amount of yak shaving that I had to do to get things rolling in iOS, configure the EC2 instance, and get the Windows Phone 8 environment running inside VMWare were really painful.

I did learn a lot, though. Thankfully, all of my demos went off without a hitch. That was my biggest fear, but I was very fortunate to have had no problems at all. My next biggest fear was that I’d get questions that I had no idea about. Fortunately, I got great questions from the audience and I was able to speak to them with some degree of intelligence.

I had a lot of friends turn out to see me talk, which helped a lot. It was also an amazing experience to present on such a huge screen and in such a large room. Add to that the way that the speakers were treated by the amazing organizers (see our speaker room spread here), and it served to make the entire day very special for me.

As promised, all of my code and slides are up on the Stir Trek Github Repo under the Mobile track, so check them out.

If you were at my talk and would be so kind as to rate the talk (and give any optional feedback), I’d really appreciate it. You can do that here.

My Pittsburgh Code Camp 2011.1 Slides and Links

I just completed my talk, “Git for .Net Developers” and – as promised – here are my slides. I’ve got them up on SlideShare and also a straight Powerpoint Download.

Links pulled out of the Powerpoint

Download msysgit (I recommend downloading Portable Git)
Git Extensions
GitHub’s Setup Help
Git Immersion
Why Git is Better Than X
Best Git Cheatsheet Ever

If you were there, please Rate My Talk

A question came up about tools that can help you migrate, or use as a bridge.

SVN-Git Bridge (Read this Stack Overflow Q&A (SVN-Git is included in certain downloads of msysgit)
TFS-Git Bridge

Speaking at Pittsburgh Code Camp 2011.1

Last Saturday, I got the news that I’ll be speaking at the Pittsburgh Code Camp at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, PA. Being from the area, it is kind of exciting to have the first place that I get to present be my hometown.

My talk is called “Git for .Net Developers” and my preparation is already well underway. I’m really excited about sharing this topic with others. At first, I was a little nervous about filling up the entire hour and fifteen minutes, but now I’m wondering if I’ll need to cut some things :). I plan on running through this about a million times before April 30, so I’m sure I’ll figure it out!

Here is a copy of the schedule as it is laid out at the time of this post (click for larger version):
2011 Pittsburgh Code Camp Schedule

I’d really like to get into presenting to the community in a big way, so I’m definitely excited for both this opportunity and for the opportunity to get feedback so that I can be the best speaker that I can be. If you are anywhere near Pittsburgh and are free on Saturday, April 30th, you should definitely come out to the Code Camp. Use this link and sign up. It is free, but they want your registration so that they are sure to have enough space and enough lunch! I hope to see you there.

Code Mash

January 10 and 11, I will be in Sandusky, Ohio at the Code Mash conference. “What does that even mean?” you might ask. Glad you did. From their site:

CodeMash is a unique event that will educate developers on current practices, methodologies, and technology trends in variety of platforms and development languages such as Java, .NET, Ruby and PHP.

The event will be held at the Kalahari Lodge (an indoor waterpark) and our lodgings are there also. The organizers have arranged a special rate of $88.00 a night for event-goers. Add to that bargain the cost of only $175.00 a person to attend the two day conference (that does have events on check-in night, as well – so 3 days) and this conference is a VALUE!!! Even now, with only a few days left, registration is at $250.00, but I don’t know how many conferences you’ve shopped, this is a steal. Even if your department doesn’t have a large IT training budget, this is priced to fit anywhere.

Let’s be real though. It is only a value if the cost to benefit ratio is weighted heavily on the benefit side. Let’s review, then. Sessions are broken up into several categories: Architecture & Design, Dev Processes & Methodologies, Languages, Rich Clients, Web Frameworks, and the catchall, Other. There is something for everyone with excellent opportunities to learn about things that are outside of your normal work domain or are emerging technologies (like Silverlight – a talk given by Jesse “Freaking” Liberty Jeff “Freaking” Blankenburg!). You can find out about Code Mash’s sessions here.

I am going to have the most trouble deciding what to attend. Luckily, I am going with my boss, so we can split up and catch more information for our company. I’m very interested in the architecture sessions as well as the sessions on new technologies like C# 3.0, Silverlight, Windows Workflow Foundation, and LINQ.

I also think this is going to be a great chance to meet a lot of developers from this area. So many other conferences are in places like Florida, California, or Las Vegas. The chances of me meeting someone from this area are slim to none. However, at CodeMash, I already know of at least 10 Columbus-area people that are going, and I assume there will be many more.

To be fair, I was planning to blog about CodeMash anyway, but Jeff Blankenburg’s contest certainly added some incentive to get this thing in the books 😉 If you are going, I hope to see you there, if you aren’t yet planning on going… get your butt to the site, register, and I’ll see you there!

Stay tuned, as I will post pictures and a recap of the event. And if I’m not too tired, I’ll try to post an update or two while I’m there.