Keynote and Great Talks Tomorrow at GR DevDay

If you’re not from the Midwest and haven’t been to GR DevDay, you’re missing out. GR DevDay is a great one-day software development conference in the Midwest with quite a range of great sessions and content. Right now I’m riding on an Amtrak train, sipping a massive latte, and headed to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where tomorrow morning I’ll be keynoting and kicking off GR DevDay. I am really excited to be kicking off GR DevDay tomorrow and am excited to share my observations of the rapidly moving tech industry, some lessons from my experiences, and some actionable items that I hope will contribute to career and personal growth.

Transportation Sidebar
For those of you that are wondering why I’m riding an Amtrak train and not driving or flying to Grand Rapids, you likely haven’t experienced Amtrak. I love Amtrak. Now if I needed to go a long distance, like to one of the coasts, or even far south, Amtrak wouldn’t be my first choice. But a four hour Amtrak train ride is great! With Amtrak you can arrive minutes before your train leaves, instead of the 90 minutes that airlines suggest. There are a couple of power plugs at each seat for your laptops and phone chargers. However, in the car I’m currently in, the power plugs are not behaving. The Amtrak trains are rarely packed full like most of the flights I’ve taken recently. For example, the train car that I’m in has 4 people for 12 seats, and yes I have an entire row to myself. Compared to an airline, the comfort of the seats are significantly better. They have good cushions, are wide, probably wider than business class seats on your favorite airline, and I have the legroom of the back seat of a Maybach or Rolls Royce Phantom. The Amtrak is a lot more conducive to getting stuff done than a flight and doesn’t take much more time than driving, which is why I like taking the Amtrak to Michigan. My four year old would be jealous right now.

Interesting Sessions at GR DevDay
Now lets get the post back on track and direct our attention back to GR DevDay! I present at a lot of conferences, but I rarely attend sessions when I’m at a conference. Generally, that’s because I’m familiar with the material being presented, however the lineup of sessions and presenters at GR DevDay has captured my attention and I plan to attend some sessions tomorrow.

I’m not suggesting these are the best sessions at GR DevDay or that these are the sessions that you should check out, but these are the sessions that look interesting to me.

Heather Buchel‘s session on SASS and Compass titled “Better, Cleaner, Front End Development with SASS and Compass” sounds quite interesting to me. If you are doing a lot of work like I do with massive and unruly web applications, this session resonates with you too.

I’m guessing I’m not alone when I say I’m familiar with Git, I’ve used Git, but I typically use centralized version control systems like Team Foundation Server and other solutions like Subversion or SourceGear Vault. However, the buzz around Git is very intriging to me, which is why Dave Brondsema‘s session on more advanced Git features titled “Git – beyond push and pull” is interesting to me.

Much like Git, all the cool kids are doing server-side JavaScript using Node.js. Jay Harris is presenting how to create and distribute Node packages, in a session titled “Make Node.js Package. Become Famous.” I don’t much care about fame, but the Make Node.js Package part is kind of interesting.

It seems like I spend just as much time helping customers create great user experiences as I do helping them solve their deep technical challenges. As a result, Eric McKee session title “The Science & Art of UX”, as well as, Matt Fletcher’s talk titled “Visualization is for everyone” is quite interesting.

And since I’m planning to spend some time hanging out with all the cool kids, I’ll probably check out Brandon Keepers session on how they use Ruby at GitHub, which is appropriately named “Ruby at GitHub”.

Now there are a lot of other great sessions and speakers at GR DevDay. There are sessions on things like Windows Azure, SignalR and JavaScript, but I already know a little about these things. And there are sessions from some friends and great presenters like David Giard, Jennifer Marsman, Michael Perry and many others that I’m sure will be awesome. This is what makes a great conference like GR DevDay challenging for attendees, the menu is difficult to pick from, because there’s so much awesome going on! Thanks for all of the sponsors and organizers who make this possible, and thanks to Chris “Woody” Woodruff and J Tower for inviting me!

If you are registered for GR DevDay, I’m excited to spend the day with you tomorrow. If you are not registered, unfortunately, GR DevDay is sold out. It sells out quick, however, this is a conference you don’t want to miss, so be sure to follow @GRDevDay on twitter to stay in the loop for next year.

I just crossed the Michigan border! Hello Michigan! See you soon Grand Rapids!