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!

Rock, Paper, Azure at Chicago .NET UG was a BLAST!

I want to start by thanking everyone who came out last night and attended the Chicago Cloud User Group and the Chicago .NET Users Group. The attendance was great and the room was packed! I also want to thank Microsoft for providing the space and the local Microsoft DPE guys (Dave Bost) that stayed late to give us access to the facility. Lastly, I want to thank last night’s sponsor, Avanade. The great companies who sponsor events like this make it possible for us to enjoy great food and drinks, and last night’s pizza was great!

Adam Hoffman ( and I really enjoyed presenting Rock, Paper, Azure last night. This is an exciting topic because it’s a lot of fun, while making use of really cool, emerging technology, like the Microsoft Cloud, Windows Azure. Like I mentioned last night, as a Windows Azure MVP and as someone who runs a consultancy (responsiveX) that works with really cool customers building web, mobile and traditional client applications on Windows Azure, I’m a big fan of Windows Azure.

The Rock, Paper, Azure, Re-launch Your Coding Strategy contest is going on until January 25th. This means you have two more opportunities to be one of the lucky $50 BestBuy gift card winners and you have two weeks to get into the Top 10 to win a Surface, XBOX 360 or $150 BestBuy gift card. Get a bot into the contest by tomorrow, Friday, January 18th at 1pm CT and you will have a chance to be one of the five (5) randomly selected winners to receive a $50 BestBuy gift card. It doesn’t have to be a great, winning bot either, you just need to have a bot in the contest. You will get another shot at another $50 BestBuy gift card on Friday, January 25th at 1pm CT. Make a competitive, intelligent bot that gets into the Top 10, and you will have a shot at the Surface, XBOX 360 and a $150 BestBuy gift card.

To get started with Rock, Paper, Azure, you will need to do the following:

  1. Setup a Windows Azure Subscription. You can get a FREE 90 Day Trial at
  2. Download the Windows Azure SDK and Tools at
  3. Download the Rock, Paper, Azure code at
  4. Upload BotLab to your Windows Azure service, browse to it, and set your password
  5. Create a profile on the Rock, Paper, Azure site at
  6. Code your Bot
  7. Upload your Bot to your BotLab
  8. Submit your Bot to the contest

Along with the chance to win some great prizes, this contest is a lot of fun. It’s fun to try to create logic that anticipates your opponent’s next move and then beats him or her to the punch. That is the strategy of building a winning bot. If you have a few minutes to watch a couple of videos from YouTube, these are a couple of great examples of this strategy.

Once you get your bot into the competition, the next step is to tweak your logic to get into the Top 10 or maybe to the top, if you view second place as the first loser. In 1999, Darse Billings organized The First International RoShamBo Programming Competition. In this competition, Dan Egnor created a bot that crushed the competition based on the strategy of anticipating your opponents’ next move and staying a step ahead. He called his algorithm and strategy IoCaine Powder, based on the scene above from “The Princess Bride”. You can learn more about his strategy and download source code for IoCaine Powder to help you get started at IoCaine Power is a great way to learn about and consider more complex strategies.


One of the things that I failed to suggest last night was to use source control. I discovered the hard way, early on in the contest, that source control is extremely valuable. Imagine having a bot that is performing OK in the contest, and in an attempt to make it better, you make some changes that cause your bot’s ranking to fall like a rock. And then you can’t remember exactly what you changed to get back to your previous bot. This is where source control comes in really handy. If you don’t have a good source control solution available to you, you can check out Team Foundation Service at and signup for a free account.

If you would like the presentation from last night, you can get it here.

If you are really good, you might be able to build a bot that can’t be beaten like this one.

Good luck with the contest and I hope you WIN BIG!

Join me tomorrow on Channel 9 at Windows Azure Conf

Tomorrow, November 14, 2012, Microsoft will be hosting Windows Azure Conf, a free event for the Windows Azure community. This event will feature a keynote presentation by Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Scott Guthrie, along with numerous sessions from Windows Azure experts.

Windows AzureConf will be streamed live on Channel 9. This event will allow you to see how other developers are using Windows Azure to develop applications in the Cloud. Community members and industry experts from all over the world will join Scott in the Channel 9 studios to present their own inventions and experiences developing apps on Windows Azure.

At Windows Azure Conf, I will presenting the following two sessions:

Building Cross-Platform Media Apps using Windows Azure Media Services
Applications with rich video and audio are increasing popular, but preparing and delivering this media to consumers has historically required lots of costly infrastructure and setup. Windows Azure Media Services enables you to outsource your media management to the cloud to let you focus on developing your applications instead of this costly infrastructure. In this session, Eric will walk through building a cross-platform HTML5 media application for the web, Windows 8 and other devices you may use day-to-day.

Solving Security and Compliance Challenges with Hybrid Clouds
When considering public clouds, many industries and companies have concerns about security, intellectual property and regulatory compliance challenges. The good news is a hybrid cloud can often solve these challenges. In this session, Eric D. Boyd will teach you how to use Windows Azure and still protect sensitive information and achieve regulatory and compliance mandates, like PCI compliance, by combining on-premise data centers and private clouds with the Windows Azure public cloud. There are a number of ways to achieve this using messaging and networking technologies and during this presentation Eric will walk through the options and provide you with guidance on when to choose each.

Whether you’re just learning Windows Azure or you’ve already achieved success on the platform, you won’t want to miss this special event.

Register and Join Windows Azure Conf
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
10:30am-7:00pm CST

What’s New in Windows Azure Tour Heading to WI

Last month, new and improved Windows Azure capabilities were announced and made available in a Windows Azure Preview. Following the announcement, many focused and deep technical Windows Azure sessions were presented at TechEd North America, TechEd Europe and I toured Chicago user groups presenting and overview of the new Windows Azure features. Tomorrow night, the “What’s New in Windows Azure” tour will cross the Illinois border and make it’s way into Wisconsin at the Wisconsin .NET Users Group.

If you’d like to know more about the new Windows Azure capabilities announced last month, register and come out tomorrow night to the Wisconsin .NET Users Group.

What’s New in Windows Azure

Windows Azure is continually innovating, getting new features, enhanced functionality, reduced pricing and just constantly getting better. Join Windows Azure MVP, Eric D. Boyd for an evening of getting to know what’s new in Windows Azure, walk through and explore the latest Windows Azure features, and get answers to your Cloud Computing and Windows Azure questions.

July 10th, 7pm

SafeNet Consulting
10700 Research Drive
Wauwatosa, WI 53226

Register at

Get Social and Win a Pass to That Conference

On Wednesday afternoon, my company launched a fun giveaway for the tech conference lover. At 7 PM CST next Tuesday, 5/15, responsiveX will give one lucky winner a $350 That Conference pass. That Conference is “Summer Camp for Geeks” in the Wisconsin Dells, August 13th-15th. At That Conference, campers will spend 3 days with over 1,000 fellow campers in 125 sessions geeking out on everything Mobile, Web and Cloud. That Conference is taking place at one of the largest waterparks in the Midwest. So when your head starts to overheat from the flood of great sessions and speakers, you can jump in a pool and cool off.

The good news is, if you’re the lucky winner of the responsiveX That Conference givewaway, you won’t have to fight the digital crowd on Wednesday morning at 8:13 AM CST to get registered before That Conference sells out.

Winning is easy. To get entered, all you have to do is:

  1. Follow @responsiveX
  2. Tweet about #ThatConference and the @responsiveX giveaway before Tuesday, May 15th at 3:00 PM CST.
  3. Encourage others to follow and tweet.

For the giveaway to be on, @responsiveX needs to reach 500 twitter followers, needs to reach 500 Likes, or the responsiveX newsletter needs to reach 500 subscribers.

For more info and details on how to enter, check out the contest page at