Tulsa Tech Fest – It’s a wrap!

Caleb Jenkins relaxing at the TulsaTechFest 2008 It seems that every year the Tulsa Tech Fest gets bigger AND better. This year was no exception. I’ve been to three Tulsa Tech Fest’s now, and each was has been simply amazing to me. Amazing that they can fit so much in to two days, amazing that the crew in Tulsa can pull so many big name and high quality speakers together, and amazing that each year they run the event so smoothly that it truly feels like a MUCH LARGER conference.

The first year over 450 people attended, last year it was moved to a 2 day event that over 700 people went to, and this year… over 1,000 attendees between two days. This year the cost of entry was 2 cans of food or $2. They raised 469 pounds of food (that’s 360 meals) for local Tulsa food banks. Awesome!

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First, my hat goes off to David Walker and the Tulsa Developers for putting this together.

What is a Tech Fest? It’s sort of like a Code Camp, but where Code Camps are usually smaller with 1 or two tracks and usually only focus only on .NET. A TechFest is usually much larger, with some as many as 20 tracks at a time,  and they usually include a larger range of technologies and topics. (.NET, PHP, AJAX, SOA, JAVA, Designers/UX, Business Development and Process, ALM)

This year’s TulsaTechFest was definitely a huge success! My favorite moment?

The closing keynote was the highlight for me. What a great way to finish of the event. Jef Newsom held everyone’s attention talking about “improving”. Some of which was highlighted by CommunityCast.tv (I blogged about that here)

Jef Newsom - Closing Keynote at the Tulsa Tech Fest 2008

Jef’s talk was on Improving. Not Improving, the company, but on improving in general… or more specifically, improving yourself, improving your code, improving your team and your company. You know, Kaizen.

Jef did a hilarious “Improving the Movie Preview” that grabbed everyone’s attention (staring Jef Newsom as Darrel Hannon impersonating Sean Connery as “the Professor”; also staring Jef Newsom impersonating Seth Meyers impersonating Matthew McConway as “the Level 2 Support Guy”) and then went in to some real practical steps that people can take. Improving/Kaizen - Jef Newsom's closing keynote at the TulsaTechFest 2008

  • Refactoring User Stories
  • Work on one thing at a time
  • Time Box yourself and your work
  • Retrospectives (pluses and deltas)
  • Dealing with positive and negative feedback
  • Be willing to stop the line
  • Conflicts and Compromises
  • Responsibility Redefined

 

Other great moments?

I loved the UX Track. Although I ran out of time on my session on Databinding and Templating in Silverlight (too much databinding… not enough templating)

Rob Howard’s Day 1 Keynote on Enterprise 2.0 really showed how companies across the corporation spectrum are embracing social media concepts from within to connect their people and help them find the resources and answers that they need to be productive. Something that his company Telligent, Microsoft, and many others are now starting to enable and embrace.

Prizes. I’ve never been to a community event before that gave away so much. Including a 50″ Widescreen Plasma TV (each day), a Laptop (each day), a fully loaded work horse desktop(each day), MSDN Team Suit Premium (each day), a couple of Zunes and XBoxes(each day). Plus a TON of XBox games, books, software, Incredible Pizza giftcards, etc.. etc.. etc.. truly amazing.

I got to catch up with old friends as well as meet a TON of incredible people from all over the US the flew out to this event (to speak and to attend). I shot a ton of “bumber” video that we will probably use at the Agile.NET conference in Dallas in November. Buddy Lindsey and I went around one of the after conference meet ups (at Dirty’s Tavern) with a video camera and asked people about Agile development. We didn’t just stop at TTF attendees… we asked everyone. As you can imagine, we got some creative answers from the tavern patrons!

Improvements?

A couple things that I hope David and company will consider changing for next year:

The speaker’s dinner was awesome, but there were a TON of amazing people at the dinner that nobody knew (at least I didn’t know them) and most people (or just me) are probably too lazy to look them up on the web site… a quick intro around the room would have been nice.

Attendee party. Last year we all went to the Tulsa October Fest one of the nights. That was a lot of fun with everyone, this year we played Rock Band and ate Subway in one of the conference rooms. Rock Band was fun and all (epic moment: Seeing Tim Rayburn beat our Claudio’s 99% score on drums with a 100% win on vocals. Epic!) but I think that we’d get more participation and interactions if we bring back the October Fest next year (it is Tulsa Tech Fest after all)

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All in all… a great time and I’m looking forward to next year!

Related links:

All photos curtsey Les Stockton and Brent Ozar

About Caleb Jenkins

Caleb Jenkins is an international speaker, author and 6 time Microsoft MVP award recipient, he currently works for Solera as a Director of Software Development. An entertaining and informative speaker who approaches software from a fresh perspective that spans UX, agile practices and technologies for enterprise customers from across the globe. Leading UX product design teams, coaching multi-team agile transformations and architecting and mentoring at some of the largest companies in the world, As a long time community leader and former Microsoft Developer Evangelist, Caleb is well known for his engaging speaking style, depth of knowledge and creative energy. Founder and Principal Mentor of Proaction Mentors, former UX Manager and Agile Coach, Senior Architect for Six Flags Corporation, Product Architect on a Cloud Marketing Platform, Caleb has made a career out of empowering others while building products and teams that delight customers and solve business needs. You can follow him on twitter (@calebjenkins) or his blog, DevelopingUX.com and if you're still reading this, then you could also subscribe to his blog RSS feed or sign up to receive updates by email