CloudDevDay – A Geekishly Good Time

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Originally posted 2011-06-12 22:49:11. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Let me start by saying I immensely enjoyed yesterday’s CloudDevDay event.  It was informative and enlightening on a few different levels.  It let me catch up with some familiar faces, and get acquainted with some new ones.  A lot of great information was put out…some of it possibly against the intention of the presenter in at least one case.  I want to thank David McKinnon of the Detroit Java User’s Group for inviting me to the event – I really do appreciate the reach out, and I’m glad that we were able to help get people there.  Plus, to be perfectly honest, it was really nice to just be “at” an event for once and have absolutely no responsibilities other than learning and enjoying myself.  I may also pirate a few of the concepts you had in place for our own future events…but in return, I promise that I will make it my mission to take you under my wing and teach you to be comfortable projecting your voice…

…yes, you had to be there to get that.  Deal with it.

In many ways, things haven’t changed all that much since high school when it comes to attending conferences.  I still sit at the back of the class and crack jokes…except now I’m not just leaning over and whispering, but I’m being snarky via Twitter and getting chuckles from the person next to me…and across the room…and who aren’t even there.  I still immediately wander until I find one or two people (yeah, I’m looking at you g33klady and dburton) with whom I share a common sense of skepticism, sarcasm and a willingness to not give a damn what anyone else thinks, form the Voltron of Mocking (Mocktron?  Maybe.  Then again…maybe not.) and let the chips fall where they may.

Speaking of falling, let’s start with the Amazon Web Services guy…

There are a lot of things that I’m willing to forgive when it comes to presenters.  I mean, we all know that 99 times out 100, you’re not going to get the geek that truly understands the ins and outs of how things work up there clicking through Powerpoint slides to a crowd of hundreds.  It just doesn’t work that way.  No, you usually have someone that knows the basics, maybe even enough to be dangerous, and they’ve been given a laser pointer (even if it’s so faint that it can’t be seen unless the room is pitch black…and you’re three inches from it…and you have eyes like Marty Feldman…), a microphone and a clicker and off they go.  Even with all of that being known, understood and accepted, that doesn’t mean that you should:

1.  Set yourself up for mockery.  Dude, you’re there to present about Amazon’s Web Services.  We all know what just went down (everything!  ha ha).  We’re geeks.  You took out huge swaths of the internet when the product/service you’re there to talk about fell down and went “boom”.  So your slides should not contain the phrase “Design for Failure” as a headline.  Did you not hear the immediate, collective snark that took place?  That was the sound of a hundred geeks stifling back laughter and insults.

2.  Avoid reality.  When someone (like, say…oh…perhaps me) asks the question that’s hovering over the room like a wet blanket and wants to know about lessons learned from the recent outages…don’t dissemble, and most importantly, don’t lie.  You said you’d get to it later.  You said you’d dive in and discuss it.  You never did.  You know what that makes me think?  It makes me think that Amazon’s Web Services are still as vulnerable to whatever happened that took them out to begin with, and so I shouldn’t trust them.  Or you.

3.  Be unwilling to admit gaps.  If you’re not the right person to answer a question, then don’t try.  If you don’t have the foggiest idea where a question is going, move on.  Don’t do what you did…which is to give a bad answer that immediately got ripped to shreds by the person asking it…who flat out told you that you need to do some more research before your next presentation as a result.  That doesn’t look good.

4.  TURN IT INTO A GOD DAMNED SALES PITCH.  I don’t think I really need to say any more.

Okay, so enough about Amazon Web Services guy.  Or so I thought.

Because the next session I walked into was for a really cool tool called CloudSleuth, a pretty cool little free gadget put out there by Compuware (thanks for hosting the event, by the way!) that shows you a ton of great information about various clouds in use and offered around the web.  Now, I learned that about 20 minutes in to the presentation, because up until then it was pretty much a running track of everything that I had just had going on in my head about the Amazon Web Services guy and their problems.  Sweet!  A presenter who’s not afraid to be honest and real.  I’m in.  And when I say “I’m in”, I mean “I’m in with both feet”…so when you, Mr Presenter, start liberally sprinkling the phrases “performance anxiety”, “performance issues”, “pulling out”, and “be ready when they are”, I am not only absolutely convinced that you wrote this presentation while watching a half hour Cialis infomercial at 3am, but I am also respectful enough given your opening statements that I will stifle my laughter…even though you and I both know what’s going on here…and even if it should happen to give me an aneurysm from holding back the outbursts of maniacal giggling.  You, Mr Presenter, are awesome…intentionally or not,

And g33klady thinks you have an awesome tool.  (ha ha, see what I did there?  Thank you, I’ll be here all week.  Try the veal, and don’t forget to tip the waitstaff)

Next up: Panel discussion.  It’s being moderated by Bob’s favorite person in the whole wide world, Matt Roush (of GLITR…which, if you’re not reading, you’re an idiot)  And oh look, it’s Jim Vitek from Domino’s!  I know him.  Seems like I run into him everywhere these days.  In case you’re unaware, Domino’s…well, yes, they sell pizza…but they’re selling pizza on the web in a very cool manner.  eCommerce is apparently about 25% of their revenue (would have never guessed that…that’s awesome), and their cloud based architecture is seriously cool.  They’re very dedicated to open source, and are even working with Microsoft to make open source work effectively in the MS environment.  He has some great insights, ideas and lessons learned about cloud development and computing (granted, I know that mainly because of my earlier conversations with him), and I highly recommend getting to know him and chatting with him if you get the opportunity to do so.  Paul Czarnik from hosting Compuware obviously knows his stuff as well, and seems to be a great tech evangelist for them…even if, in his own words, he spends more time as a cheerleader than evangelist in trying to get companies moving in the right direction.

In fact, the only thing that went sideways with the panel discussion…were some of the people in the audience.  You’re not here to waste everyone else’s time by auditioning for Technology American Idol.  Nobody cares how smart you think you are.  You’re not on the panel, so don’t pretend like you want to ask a question…and then as soon as you get the mic in your hand, turn around and start addressing the crowd like you’re giving a keynote address.  Sit down.  Shut up.  Give the microphone back, and don’t ever grab it aga….dammit, who gave That Guy a mic again?  Stop it.

You have a question?  Ask a question.  But nobody really wants to hear your long winded theory about why the word “cloud” is the wrong word to describe the technology and that’s why it’s not being embraced and so that’s why people really shouldzzzZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz….

What?  Huh?  Who?  Where?  Oh, sorry, I totally dozed off just from thinking back on it to recap it for you.  Seriously, people need to be cognizant of their surroundings and the others in the room.  There were a lot of really, really smart people in that room…and, honestly, you just annoyed a lot of them.

…and don’t misunderstand…I’m not even saying that they were wrong…in many ways, they’re not…but I am saying that their timing sucks.  Let’s have that conversation over a few drinks, not in a room full of a couple hundred people that are there to hear what the people at the front of the room have to say, not you.

Which, for the record, is why I didn’t keep pushing the Amazon guy about the outage.

Even though I totally wanted to.

Not that I’m cynical or bitter about it or anything.

For reals.

ANYWAY…the balance of the presentations were really quite informative as well, both from my own observations and the feedback that I gathered from Those Who Also Snark (again, yes, looking at you, g33klady and friends), and I would definitely call it an overall success.  Well worth the time, and certainly a great excuse to head downtown.  As I said up in the opening, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the event, and it was nice running into the variety of people that I did – folks that have been at our events in the past, one of the attorneys from the IT Section of the Michigan Bar Association that was at our Post Bar event, and a ton that I had never met before but now look forward to keeping in touch with in the coming days and weeks.  If you’re interested in another recap, g33klady’s got one here.

I highly recommend keeping an eye on any future Detroit Dev Days events that come up.  Because I certainly will be.

Unless this post gets me banned, of course…

Oh, and in closing – Fungible.  Fungible fungible fungible fungible.

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