My trip to Toronto and Stack Overflow DevDays 2009

On Wednesday, October 21st, 2009 I took the Amtrak train from Niagara Falls, NY to Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  I was going to speak at Stack Overflow DevDays in Toronto on Friday October 23rd.

I got there an extra day earlier then needed because of the time the train was going to get in on Thursday night I would of missed the speakers dinner.  But this extra time worked to my favor as I needed the extra time to work on finishing my slides and example code I was going to demo.  But I really wanted to go to the NHL Hall of Fame since it was only a block away and I had the chance to take my picture with Lord Stanley’s cup.

I spent the afternoon finishing up my slides and I ran through the presentation to make sure the timing was right.  I was able to go through everything I wanted in 50 minutes.

That evening was the speakers dinner.  I was looking forward to the dinner cause this would of been my first opportunity to meet Joel Spolsky.  But this was not to be.  Why? Cause Joel forgot his passport and had to fly to NYC to pick it up.  I did however meet all the speakers and four developers from FogCreek Software.  One of which I learned was the intern (that is now working full time) who worked on (the paid hosting version of Stack Overflow).  We spent a couple of hours geeking out telling stories.  The best story was of the assless chaps but I’ll let Joey DeVilla tell you that story.

So Friday came along and I was really nervous in the morning.  Joel gave his keynote and as I sat through a couple more talks I was starting to relax.  After lunch was my talk.

I’ve got to say Carsonified really made me comfortable before the talk.  They set up my laptop and made sure it worked on the projector system.  They even loaned me a Logitech slide switcher with a laser pointer.  This made it so that I could walk away from my laptop and walk around the stage.  I felt really comfortable after just a few minutes.  I got a couple of laughs where I was expecting laughs in my slides.  The 32″ Viewsonic in the middle of the stage was great for letting me see my slides without being next to my laptop.  It really made it much easier to talk.

In comparing this talk with my jQuery Conference talk I felt I did 200% better.  I didn’t read from my slides like I did in Boston.  Everything flowed right out of me.  Now that’s not to say that I did a perfect job cause there was plenty of room for improvement.

I’ve been monitoring the reviews on twitter and the blogs and I finding people either really got a lot out of the talk or they picked up one or two things.  I’ve only seen a couple of constructive criticism points for my talk.  The point is that I felt I learned a lot from my jQuery Conference talk and I applied it to this talk and I think the results really show.

After the conference I was able to take a picture with Joel Spolsky.

I also took a photo with fellow speakers Joey DeVilla (right) from Microsoft and Reginald Braithwaite (left).

After the conference the speakers, Joel, some attendees and I went to a local bar C’est What? to have a drink and we had great conversations about technology.  I had the chance to talk with Joel one-on-one and got some advice on how to record podcasts, told him I’d love to hear more Israeli Army stories on the podcast and told about how I would love to know what question or answer a badge was referring to when I receive it in Stack Overflow.

I had an amazing time in Toronto and meet some great developers.


Joey DeVilla’s review of the conference