Registration for DunDDD 2013 is now open

Grab your ticket for DunDDD quickly so you don’t miss out!

The call for speakers at the Scottish Community Event (organised by the Scottish Developers) known as DunDDD has now closed and the registration has opened.

DunDDD is now in its third year

This will be the 3rd DunDDD, built on the popular foundation of the Developer! Developer! Developer! conference series which has spread to all corners of the UK and the international arena.  DDD conferences are community-run days where passionate and enthusiastic people come together to learn, share ideas, and to network within the many hubs of the development community. Best of all DDD events are free to everyone!

This year DunDDD will be featuring an entire track dedicated to Data Science.

Go and grab your ticket now.

DDD attendance leaderboard, where do you rank?

On the reverse of the DDD North 2 Speaker and Helper t-shirts, Andy Westgarth (@apwestgarth) had compiled a list of all the DDD events, starting back on the 15th May 2005.

The complete list is:

Event Name Event Date
DDD North 2 13th October 2012
DDD Reading 10 1st September 2012
DDD Sydney 3 30th June 2012
DDD Melbourne 3 28th July 2012
DDD South West 4 26th May 2012
DDD Brisbane 26th November 2011
DunDDD 2 10th November 2011
DDD North 1 8th October 2011
DDD Belfast 2 1st October 2011
DDD Adelaide 16th July 2011
DDD Sydney 2 2nd July 2011
DDD South West 3 11th June 2011
DDD Melbourne 2 28th May 2011
DDD Scotland 4 7th May 2011
DDD Reading 9 29th January 2011
DunDDD 1 20th November 2010
* Modern .Net Day (DDD 8a) 23rd October 2010
DDD Dublin 9th October 2010
* Windows Phone 7 7th October 2010
DDD Sydney 1 2nd July 2010
DDD South West 2 5th June 2010
DDD Melbourne 1 15th May 2010
DDD Scotland 3 8th May 2010
DDD Reading 8 30th January 2010
DDD South West 1 23rd May 2009
DDD Scotland 2nd May 2009
* WebDD 2009 18th April 2009
DDD Belfast 1 4th April 2009
DDD Reading 7 22nd November 2008
DDD Scotland 1 10th May 2008
DDD Galway 3rd May 2008
DDD Reading 6 24th November 2007
DDD Reading 5 30th June 2007
WebDD 2007 3rd February 2007
DDD Reading 4 2nd December 2006
DDD Reading 3 3rd June 2006
DDD Reading 2 22nd October 2005
DDD Reading 1 15th May 2005

* These events were not included in the list when first posted to this site.

We got to talking about this before and during the pre-conference dinner, and there was a wide ranging number of actual attendances, to the total number of 34 DDD events.  My own personal attendance count is 6, having really only started in the Developer Community in 2010.  However, on speaking to Chris Alcock (@calcock) he explained that be had attended an amazing 17 of the DDD events!  This got me thinking about how many other people had attended, hence this blog post.  Let me know how many you have attended and I will get you added to the leader board below.  Who will turn out to be the winner?  Maybe Craig Murphy?  Phil Winstanley?  Dave Sussman? Guy Smith-Ferrier? Who knows!  I will keep you posted when I hear from people.

Ross Scott8

Name Number of Events attended
Guy Smith-Ferrier 25
Craig Murphy 23
Colin Mackay 22
Dave Sussman 22
Liam Westley 18
Andrew Westgarth 17
Chris Alcock 17
Andy Gibson 16
John McLoughlin 13
Nathan Gloyn 13
Tom Robinson 11
Paul Stack 9
Phil Collins 9
Rory Becker 9
Alastair Smith 6
Richard Dalton 6
Joel Hammond-Turner 8
Phil Pursglove 8
Adrian Banks 6
Gary Ewan Park 6
James Murphy 6
Niall Merrigan 5
Craig Nicol 4
Peter Shaw 3
Colin B 2
Gareth Bradley 2
Hermit Dave 2
Richard Garside 2
Sebastian Liszka 2

My impressions of dddsw 4

dddsw was fantastic!

There is very little else to say.  The speakers were great, the venue was perfect, the food was amazing, and the geek chat wasn’t to be missed.  If you have never attended DDDSW, or for that matter one of the other DDD events around the country then you really need to think about going.  They are incredible events, and best of all, they are completely free!

In a slight change to the previous DDD events that I have attended, I was presenting a session this time around which meant that the stress levels were on high alert, but overall, this additional pressure didn’t detract from the day, and I had a great time!

first session at dddsw

Although there were a number of talks that I would have liked to have seen in this first session, I decided that I should finalize my demos and slides ahead of the second session where I would be presenting.

second session at dddsw

Presenter: Gary Ewan Park (yes, me, it’s still bizarre to say this)

Topic: StyleCop – Breaking down the barriers to entry

Starting with a brief introduction to what StyleCop is, and what it can be used for, we will then apply StyleCop directly to a real world application.  Then we will investigate:

What breaks?
What doesn’t work?
What techniques we can use to correct StyleCop warnings/errors, and ignore them completely?
What tools can be used to speed up refactoring for StyleCop warnings/errors?

Thoughts: I leave that up to the people who attended my session, but overall, I was happy with how it all went.  There are certainly a couple of things that I would do differently if I were to do the session again (for instance, actually have my slide notes in front of me), but for a first attempt, I was very happy with it.

I did see one tweet that I was particularly happy with, especially since on at least a couple of occasions the demos didn’t work the way I wanted them to:

third session at dddsw

Presenters: Gary Short, Phil Winstanley, Seb Lambla, Phil Collins and running the show Rob Bracken

Topic: Smartphone Wars (Balloon Debate)

Thoughts: This was a really entertaining debate, which saw Blackberry, iOS, Windows Phone and Android being pitted against each other.  The first casualty (being represented by Phil Collins) we Blackberry.  Closely followed by iOS which was being defended by Seb Lambla.  This left Windows Phone (supported by Phil Winstanley) and Android (with Gary Short) left.

As expected (given the number of .Net Developers and Windows Phone owners in the room) Windows Phone came out on top.  All joking aside though, the debate through up lots of interesting arguments about one phone OS over the other, and it left a lot of food for thought!

grok talks and 20/20 sessions

As now seems to be the tradition, there were Grok Talks and 20/20 presentations over lunch.  I was able to catch the last three of these, on MVVMCross, WiFi Access Points around the world, and async.  These were all very entertaining, and my credit goes out to everyone who presented, especially the 20/20′s, as although short, this type of talk is particularly difficult to execute!!

fourth session at dddsw

Presenter: Jimmy Skowronski

Topic: No More Passwords!

Passwords are surrounding us, thousands of websites are asking us to register every day. At some point we tend to loose control over them and start either using the same password everywhere or escape to a password vault solutions. Many of you are building new websites almost every day and you often you need users to log in. Don’t create your own password storage in that case. Save your users from the need to create and remember yet another login and password, and use one of the existing identity providers. It can be Live ID, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo or many other and you can choose one of them or all together.

This session will show you how to get rid of your individual password storage and authenticate your user using OAuth with Live ID, Google and Facebook. You will be amazed how simple it is and your users will be amazed how cool you are.

Thoughts: This was a very interesting talk!  Making use of a DLL which ships with WebMatrix, Jimmy was able to show how you can quickly enable OAuth authentication for your sites, which allows users to register using Google, Windows Live, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Although the source code wasn’t quite ready for sharing on the day, Jimmy did mention that he will be blogging about it going forward, and if you are interested you can find the info here.

For his session, Jimmy tried out a new idea where he used the website that he was constructing as a replacement for a set of presentation slides.  This is a great idea, in theory, unfortunately, it didn’t really work in practice.  The choice of font, style and layout meant that unless sitting on the very first row, it was difficult to read and follow.  With a little bit of work, I could see this technique being really useful, and it certainly given a new meaning to the term dog-fooding.

fifth session at dddsw

Presenter: Nathan Gloyn

Topic: Is your code S.O.L.I.D?

Everybody keeps on about SOLID principles but what are they? and why should you care?

In this session I’ll aim to walk through each principle telling you about that principle and examining why you should use it.

Once we’ve talked about the principle in theory we’ll look to how we can put it into practice refactoring an existing application.

Thoughts: What can I say about this session…. Quite simply, it was the best session that I attended all day.  Nathan is a great speaker, and the demos that he provided clearly spell out each of the different principles.  With the source code downloaded, you can literally do a kDiff between the two projects to see what refactoring were put in place to implement each principle.  Huge congratulations to Nathan for a great session!!  The only thing that I would request, and this is purely selfish on my part, but I would love to see another project added which shows how you can start to include Unit Tests.  I really think that this would go a long way to closing the loop on how “best” to construct your code.

other bloggers

If you are interested to hear what other people had to say about the event you can take a look at the following links (I will try to update this section as I become aware of other posts).

missing friends

Unfortunately, Craig Murphy (@CAMURPHY) wasn’t able to attend DDDSW.  There was speculation whether this was the first ever DDD that he has missed!!  He was there in spirit though…

sponsors and organisers

A huge thank you has to go out to all the sponsors of DDDSW, as well as the organisers!  Without them this excellent event would not have happened.  Thanks!

dddsw 5 in 2013

The day after the event, I jokingly asked Guy Smith-Ferrier if he had already set a date for the next DDDSW, and as expected he said no.  Him and the rest of the organisers are going to take a well deserved break, however, I would definitely recommend that you keep an eye out for the next event, and if you can make it along, you won’t regret it.  I will certainly be in attendance if nothing else gets in the way!  One of the best ways to here about the event would be to follow @dddsouthwest on twitter.

Registration for #DDDSW is now open

DDDSW Registration is now open

 In case you haven’t heard, the registration for DDD South West (DDDSW) is now open.  You can find the Event Registration page here (you will need to login/register first).

This is the fourth outing for this conference, and if it is anything like last year, it will definitely be worth attending.  There are a couple very nice features to DDDSW which makes it very appealing.  The first is the “Getting Started” with .Net” track.  If you are new to .Net, then this is the perfect place to get started.  And the second if the “Repeat” track.  Once all the speakers are confirmed, voting opens on the most popular talks, and they are scheduled to be shown at another time during the day.  This is a great help, as there are normally always two things on at the same time, and with this approach, it means that you will hopefully be able to see both.  For the full agenda, take a look here.

I am doing a talk

One surprising (at least to me) twist to the story of DDDSW is that I am going to be doing a session!  I have been debating for a long time now about whether I should submit a session to a DDD event.  With a little gentle nudging from Guy Smith-Ferrier, I decided to take the plunge.  The sessions that I submitted can be seen here.  The one that actually got picked is “StyleCop – Breaking down the barriers to entry”.  The abstract for this talk is:

Starting with a brief introduction to what StyleCop is, and what it can be used for, we will then apply StyleCop directly to a real world application.  Then we will investigate:

  • What breaks?
  • What doesn’t work?
  • What techniques we can use to correct StyleCop warnings/errors, and ignore them completely?
  • What tools can be used to speed up refactoring for StyleCop warnings/errors?

I have done this talk before at the Aberdeen Developers .Net User Group, and I am looking forward to doing it again, there have been a couple releases of StyleCop since I did the talk, and a couple extra features have made their way into the product.

Mobile application

Last year at DDDSW there was a Windows Phone 7 Application (you can see it here) that proved to be very helpful on the day for looking up session information.  The Mobile Application(s) for DDDSW 4 haven’t been released yet, but I have it on good authority that they are in the works, so I would advice you to keep an eye out for them.  I will update this post once I know exactly where it is, and how you can get your hands on it.

Helping out

In the same way as last year, I have volunteered to help out at this years DDDSW.  Since I am going to be doing a talk, I don’t know exactly what this will mean, as I might not be in the right frame of mind to help out (depending on how many boo’s from the crowd I get) but I am sure that Guy Smith-Ferrier (@GuySmithFerrier) will keep me right.

A review of #DunDDD

The DDD series of conferences in the UK is growing!  Firstly, with a new conference in Sunderland called DDDNorth.  Unfortunately, I was not able to attend that one this year, however, I was able to attend the other new conference; namely DunDDD.


Brought to you by the people who organised the NoSQL Autumn Conference in Dundee last year and Scottish Developers, this event was a three track event, with five sessions spread over the course of the day.  The first track was dedicated to “NoSQL”, the second was “The Web” and the third was a general track.

At the start of the day, Colin MacKay asked if I would manage to help out as a room monitor which I agreed to, which resulted in me spending most of the day in the General Track, however, the majority of the sessions that I wanted to see were in this track, so that worked out quite well.

Session 1

Data Mining The Social Web – Gary Short (@garyshort)

First up, I decided to attend Gary Short’s session.  I have had the opportunity to see this talk on a number of occasions, at a few different conferences, but due to clashes with other sessions that I also wanted to see, I have never been able to attend.  I thought it was about time that I fixed that, and I am happy to say that I was not disappointed.

Gary presented a very clear picture of how analysing information from Social Media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, can provide some very useful and pertinent information for marketing purposes within your business.

For instance, you can use data analysis techniques to find out information like:

  • “When Do My Customers Talk About Me?”
  • “How Fast Do They Start To Talk About Me?”
  • “What’s My Share of The Buzz?”
  • “When Is The Busiest Hour”?”
  • “What Words Do They Use?”
  • “Who Are The Influencers”
  • “Most ReTweets”
  • “What is The Lexical Diversity?”

With this information at hand, companies can then decide on a social marketing campaign to make decisions about when is the best time to make a tweet about your product and also which words to use.  Unfortunately, Gary ran a little short of time and was not able to show the sample code that he uses to produce the analyses.  I am hoping that Gary will make this information available, and if he does, I will link back to it from here.


Recommended Books:


  • “A professional speaker would have learnt how to spell Analysis” – Craig Murphy to Gary Short
  • “How many people here are programmers? Excel VBA doesn’t count Craig!” – Gary Short to Craig Murphy

Session 2

The Philosophy of Unix – Craig Nicol (@craignicol)

There was a slight change of title for this presentation before it kicked off.  It was changed to:

“The Philosophy of Code”

This was actually a very well put together presentation!  Using a number of quotes from various people throughout history (you can see a full list of quotes below) Craig was able to establish some “rules” that can be applied to your day to day development work.

The one thing that I would say is, this presentation could do with some “polish”.  After speaking afterwards, this was the first time that Craig had done this talk, and with some additional practice I think this could turn into a fantastic session that is a must see!


Recommended Books:


  • “UNIX is simple, it just needs a genius to understand it’s Simplicity” – Dennis Ritchie
  • “Simple things should be simple and complex thins should be possible” – Alan Kay
  • “The cheapest, fastest, and most reliable components are those that aren’t there” – Gordon Bell
  • “Any fool can write code that a computer can understand.  Good programmers write code that humans can understand” – Martin Fowler
  • “Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live” – Rick Osborne
  • “debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place.  Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it.” – Brian Kernighan
  • “What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing.” – Aristotle
  • “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning” – Bill Gates
  • “..I’m a strong believer in being minimalistic.  Unless you actually are going to solve the general problem, don’t try and put in place a framework for solving a specific one, because you don’t know what that framework should look like” – Anders Hejlberg
  • “Premature optimization is the root of all evil in programming.” – C. A. R. Hoare
  • “Working ten hour days allows you to fall behind twice as fast as you could working five hour days.” – Isaac Asimov
  • “Code becomes software and people become users only when they interact” – Mark Rendle
  • “On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], “Pray, Mr Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?” I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question. – “Charles Babbage
  • “When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty.  I think only of how to solve the problem,  But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.” – R Buckminister Fuller
  • “The best performance improvement is the transition from the nonworking state to the working state.” – J. Osterhout
  • “While I don’t claim to be a great programmer, I try to imitate one.  An important trait of the great ones is constructive laziness.  They know that you get an A not for effort but for results, and that it’s almost always easier to start from a good partial solution than from nothing at all.” – Eric S. Raymond
  • “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.” – Einstein
  • “Walking on water and developing software from a specification are easy if both are frozen” – Edward V. Berard
  • “People will realize that software is not a product; you use it to build a product.” – Linus Torvalds
  • “There are two ways of constructing a software design: One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies, and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies. The first method is far more efficient.” – C.A.R. Hoare
  • “A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any other invention in human history, with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.” – Mitch Ratcliffe

Session 3

“The Happy Developer” – Is It a Myth? – Andy Gibson (@ARGibson)

This session led on very nicely from Craig’s session and attempted to answer the eternal question… “What makes a happy developer?”  It is reasonably simply to answer the opposite question, “What makes a developer unhappy?”, in fact, Andy asked this question to the members of the audience, and this is what we came up with:

  • Have to work on Sundays
  • When you ship crap
  • Bad specifications
  • No specifications
  • No change controls
  • When Managers don’t respect your schedule
    However, what makes us happy?  This lead into a reasonably heated discussion into whether it is our environment, our co-workers, our equipment, our responsibilities, or a combination of all these things that make us happy in our job.  This was the third time that Andy has given this presentation, and you can see how the talk is maturing, and I am sure that there will be some take away points from this conference that will make it into his next presentation.

During the talk, Andy also asked another question, “What does a developer in 2011 need?”, this is what the room came up with:

  • Peace
  • At least two large monitors
  • A desk with drawers
  • No phones (distraction)
  • Comfortable chair
  • Donuts
  • Program Specification
  • Good Development Tools
  • Testers
  • Creative Outlet
  • Problem solving tools (whiteboards, post it notes, etc.)

For me, a couple of take away points were:

  • Record your estimates.  Even if you don’t have a formal process, record them for your own records.  That way, when you have to estimate something else, you can look at this estimate, compare it against how long it actually took, and that way you will make a better estimate.
  • What it boils down to is… Respect.  Respect is earned in both directions. Much the same as trust.

Lunch and Grok Talks

Hmmm…. Pizza!! This was kindly donated by NCR (one of the sponsors of DunDDD).  Although the agenda mentioned that there would be some Grok Talks, I ended up in a conversation with @CAMURPHY, @ARGibson, @leggetter and @craignicol, so I couldn’t actually tell you if there were any Grok Talks.  It was a very interesting conversation though Smile

Session 4

Open Discussion on Software Requirements – Craig Murphy and Craig Nicol (@CAMURPHY and @craignicol)

What Makes Good Requirements?  This was the question that the two Craig’s (they reminded me of the two Ronnie’s) were trying to answer in this open discussion.  The reason for this discussion was that Craig Murphy is actually going to be doing a talk at the Aberdeen Developers .Net User Group in December, and this session was to act as Market Research to find out what sort of problems other people have run into when trying to establish requirements for a project.

This was a very lively session, with lots of good discussion.  There were not a lot of people in attendance, but I think that helped the flow of the conversation, and the end result was a lot of food for thought!  I am now very interested to hear Craig’s session in December.

During the presentation Craig Nicol was creating an XMind Document of all the points, which you can find on his blog, so if you are interested, you can go and grab it.

Session 5

Jedi Mind Control 101 – Rob Lally (@roblally)

I had never had the opportunity to see Rob do a presentation before today, but I have to say that I was very impressed.  He is a great speaker, and the subject matter did drive home a few important points about when you are interacting with colleagues, managers etc.

Although the title seems a bit cryptic, this session is well worth attending, and I would thoroughly recommend attending if it comes up at another conference.

For me, some of the take away points were as follows:

  • In terms of trying to interact with your colleagues and managers, bottom line is, “Nothing works if you’re a ^*”£%$”.  This seems fairly obvious, but it is also something that is easy forgotten in the middle of a discussion/argument.
  • Within your team, you need to get into a cycle of positive feedback, and not negative feedback.
  • Teams gel when they lose track of favours” – better when everyone (either across a single team, or across teams within a company) is just willing to help each other out.
  • “Do Not Diminish Your Efforts”.  Don’t say things like:
    • All part of the job
    • No problem
    • It was nothing
    • It was easy
    • It was nothing
    • It was easy
  • Instead, make it clear that you have helped the person and here are the reasons why, but also don’t rub it in their face. Be concrete about what effort was expended, and verbalise that a favour was done.

P.S. Sorry for messing up the timing queues at the end of your session Rob, don’t know what happened there.  All I can say was it had been a long day! Smile

Book Recommendations:

How To Win Friends And Influence People


  • “Yoda Is Not Credible” should have said “Credible Yoda is not” – Audience member when talking about one of Rob’s slides.  This audience member was later identified as Alan Graham (@Alan_A_Graham)

Other Bloggers

If you are interested to hear what other people had to say about the event you can take a look at the following links (I will try to update this section as I become aware of other posts).



As always, Craig Murphy was wielding his camera.  If you are interested in seeing his pictures, you can see them here.

Upcoming Events

Andy Gibson of Scottish Developers announced that a provisional date for DDD Scotland 2012 would be the 5th May 2012, however, this is still to be confirmed.  At the minute, there is still debate about whether it is going to be held in Glasgow or Edinburgh.  For more information on this, be sure to follow the Scottish Developer Blog, or follow @scottishdevs or @dddscot

Almost time for #DunDDD

It doesn’t seem that long ago since the last DDD Events in October, but it is now time for another one!  This time it is DunDDD, a DDD event in Dundee, Scotland.

After the success of the NoSQL Autumn Conference that was held in Dundee last year, Scottish Developers have teamed up with them to bring you a 15 session event spread over 3 tracks is to be held on the 19th November 2011.  One of the tracks is solely dedicated to NoSQL.  Have a look at the session information and agenda, for full information about what will be happening on the day.

Best of all, as with all the DDD Events, DunDDD is completely free, so there is really no excuse not to attend.  If you are interested in attending DunDDD make sure you visit the website to register to ensure that you will get a space.

More information about this can be found on Craig Murphy’s Blog here.

#DDDBelfast – Call for speakers

Hot on the heels of the announcement from #DDDNorth that they are accepting submissions from potential speakers, I have just found out the #DDDBelfast are doing the same thing.

This conference is set to take place on Saturday 1st October 2011 at the University of Ulster.

For the same reason that I will not be able to attend #DDDNorth, I will also not be able to attend #DDDBelfast, which is a great shame as I would have loved to attend.

October is shaping up to be a very busy month for conferences/events:

  • Saturday 1st October: DDD Belfast
  • Saturday 8th October: DDD North
  • Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd October: GiveCamp UK
    Throw into the mix the fact that the Microsoft BUILD conference is going to be held on Tuesday 12th September and you can see that there is a lot of stuff happening in the near future Smile
    As someone who likes to try to attend all conferences and events in order to learn as much as I possibly can, I do think that 3 events back to back in October might be a little bit too much.  It might perhaps be better to space these out so that there is only 1 per month, but at the same time, given that these events are put on free for the community, we really can’t complain too much.

#DDDNorth – Call for speakers

In case you hadn’t heard the DDD Conference, which this year has visited Reading, Glasgow and Bristol, is now coming to Sunderland.  This is going to take place on Saturday 8th October 2011, at the University of Sunderland.

Unfortunately, I am not going to be able to make it to this event, I have already committed to going to GiveCamp UK later in October, and I can’t make both.  However, if it is anything like the other DDD Conferences then I would highly recommend that you go along!!

Registration for the event is not open yet, however, they are accepting submissions for speakers on the day, so if you have a topic that you want to talk about, now is your chance to get a foot in the door.

To find out more information about the event check out the website or you can follow @DDDNorth, or you can use the #DDDNorth hash tag.

A review of #DDDSW by a #DDDSW Virgin

Following on from the very good DDD Scotland, this past weekend, I attended the 3rd DDD South West.  This event was organised by @GuySmithFerrier, @RossDScott, Martyn Fewtrell, Jose Simas and Chris Myhill, and a lot of credit has to be given to all of them for the amazing work that they did!

I debated for a long time as to whether I was actually going to attend this event, but in the end, I am very much glad that I did!

After seeing a Tweet from Guy asking for volunteers to help, I decided that I was going to offer my services.  As a result, I ended up being a room monitor for the day.  This involved ensuring that the speaker had everything that was required, as well as giving out and collecting the speaker feedback forms.  I “think” this went ok, as I didn’t hear any complaints.  I quite enjoyed doing this, and I will be volunteering my services going forward, especially if they continue to offer up the same free t-shirts Smile

Getting there…

As explained in my previous blog post I ended up getting a lift to Bristol from @CAMURPHY who was also giving a lift to @chriscanal (getting picked up in Edinburgh), @colinmackay (getting picked up in Glasgow) and @apwestgarth (getting picked up in Carlisle).  This meant getting up at 0420 in order to be at the pick up point for 0800.  All in all, it was a long day of driving (still not quite sure how Craig was able to do this, I know I couldn’t) to get there, but there was plenty of “geek” chat in the car to make it pass relatively quickly.

Session 1 – Kanban? what is it and how can it help?

Presenter – Nathan Gloyn (@NathanGloyn)

My first session as a room monitor, woot!

I was particularly looking forward to this talk, as I really do believe that Kanban is a useful approach, and I am certainly going to be using it in my next “pet” project, whenever I get the time to get started.  Having attended Chris McDermott “Introduction to Kanban” at DDD Scotland, I was familiar with the basics of Kanban, but I was interested to hear Nathan’s take on it.

I very much enjoyed this session, especially the use of the animated slides which showed how Kanban cards moved across the Board.  This really helped to drive home the approach, and how (based on your needs) the Kanban board can be altered to include different columns and buffers, which can help increase the “flow” across the board.  Would highly recommend this talk to anyone interested in getting started with Kanban.

Session 2 – Computer, earl grey tea, hot

Presenter – John Price (@johnnyjp)


John Price has a very unique presentation style, that has to be seen to believed.  I won’t spoil it in case people haven’t seen it, but let’s just say that the introduction included the opening credits to “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and a special visit from Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

This talk was based around the use of Home Automation technologies such as X10, and how these devices can be interacted with using software, including to my surprise, Windows Media Player.  A very interesting example that was provided was the ability to dim the lights in a house when a video being watched through Windows Media Player was started, and brought back to full brightness when paused/stopped.

The only slight criticism of the talk would have to be that, initially, the demonstrations of the hardware involved didn’t work.  Towards the end of the talk, John was able to reboot his machine and show each example working.

Session 3 – Getting Started With ASP.NET MVC

Presenter – Steve Sanderson (@stevensanderson)

I have really only “toyed” with MVC, you can see the fruits of my labour here.  Pretty isn’t it?  The eagled-eyed amongst you will recognise it as the out-of-the-box MVC 3 application that ships with Visual Studio 2010 deployed to my web server Smile.  As a result, I was very much looking forward to seeing how MVC could be used properly, from the person who quite literally wrote the book on MVC (with the new release available here).

The talk started off slowly, and quickly moved onto using the new MVC Scaffolding capabilities of Visual Studio.  Of special interest was the separate installation of an additional scaffolding project (via nuget) which allowed the creation of a repository pattern for data access.  This is definitely going on the list of things to check out.

Overall, a very good talk!

Micro Presentations

At lunch time there were a set of Micro Presentations.  The format of which was 20 slides, each one lasting 20 seconds.  To ensure that this was adhered to, each slide automatically transitioned to the next after 20 seconds!  This made for some very interesting presentations, as each presenter tried to cram as much information as possible into 6 minutes and 40 seconds!

The presenters were @benjaminarroyo (an introduction to NCrunch), @Costall (a talk on Silverlight functionality), @FatherFil (Continuous Integration Build Monitors), @garyshort (Asymptotics and Algorithms), @markrendle (what you as a developer should be doing, i.e. reading books, blogs etc), and @RossDScott (the making of the web site). 

What was great about the Micro Presentations was the variety in which they were delivered.  Everyone had a different take on how to best use the 20 seconds for each slide. 

I particularly liked the idea of the “20 Sliders in 20 seconds” by @Costall, a very unique way to showcase the different capabilities of Silverlight, as well as the making of the using jQuery Mobile Framework and HTML 5.  I am definitely going to be taking at look at NCrunch having seen it in action, and I am waiting on a copy of Mark’s slides to see what books and blogs were recommended reading as I didn’t have time to write them all down. 

And special note has to go to Gary’s presentation.  Having only had 45 minutes to prepare (he was travelling from NDC to DDDSW) his presentation went off very well, and gave lots of food for thought!

Session 4 – Minimalist Software Development

Presenter – Mark Rendle (@markrendle)

I was particularly intrigued by this talk.  At work, we don’t often have the option to switch frameworks, and pretty much stick with what comes from the core Microsoft Stack.  To see WebMatrix and NancyFX being used in action to create the same fully functioning site was very interesting. 

In addition, to see Simple.Data in action was very useful.  I have heard @stack72 say a lot of good things about it, but I had never seen it used before.  It is definitely going on the list of things that I have to check out. 

Also, harking back to Mark’s earlier Micro Presentation with regard to good developers learning other languages and frameworks, the point was very much driven home in this presentation.

Session 5 – Steps to reduce the friction in ASP.NET MVC

Presenter – Rob Ashton (@RobAshton)

Unfortunately, for reasons that are best left to be discussed elsewhere, this session was cancelled.  Which is a great shame as I was really looking forward to this talk having seen Steve Sanderson’s earlier talk on getting started with ASP.Net MVC.

Instead, I went down to the Sponsors room and had a very interesting chat with @stack72, @chriscanal and @richardadalton

Geek Dinner – Water Sky (Chinese restaurant)

After a quick stop at the hotel to drop off bags and get changed, it was onto the Geek Dinner.  Thanks to @welshboy2008 for the lift to the restaurant, even though we did at one point end up going the wrong way round a roundabout Smile.

The food at the Geek Dinner was really good.  There was a strange request from the staff that drinks were ordered/paid for separately, which caused an initial bit of confusion, but after the first couple of rounds, I don’t think anyone cared.  After the food and drink it was back to the hotel for a quick drink and some more banter, and then an early night ready for the long trip back to Scotland.

Overall thoughts of DDD South West

Simply put, it was very good, and I would recommend anyone to attend it next year.  Guy and his team did an amazing job putting it altogether, congratulations!

Looking ahead…

It was announced during the opening session of DDD South West that there is a brand new DDD event happening on the 8th October, in Sunderland.  For more information on this event make sure that you follow @DDDNorth on Twitter.

Almost time for #DDDSW…

There are now only 5 sleeps until I start my travel down to DDD South West!!

Looking forward to the day

I debated for a long time as to whether I was actually going to attend this event, but in the end I decided that there were just too many good sessions to pass up on.  As is always the case though, there are just too many to pick from, and a number of the ones that I was hoping to see are on at the same time, so I might try to catch them in the Repeat Track.  The Repeat Track is not something that I have seen at the other DDD events, and I am very curious to see how it works out.

Getting there

Rather naively, I thought that getting to Bristol was as easy as getting to London, and I left the organisation of the hotel and travel to the last minute (two weeks ago).  When I came to try to book travel I was shocked by how much a flight was going to cost.  It was going to cost something like £350-400 to get from Aberdeen to Bristol, and Train’s were not much better.  As good as the sessions were, travel costs of that much was a bit steep and I started to wonder whether I was going to be able to make it at all.

Then I spoke to Craig (@camurphy) and Colin (@ColinMackay) and found out that they were planning on driving down, so I asked if I could grab a lift, and luckily for me, they said that I could.  As the driver, Craig did mention that he would have to:


adopt a RyanAir baggage policy


Sorted!  So, now all I have to do is travel down to meet Craig for the first leg of the journey to DDD South West.

Windows Phone 7 Application

In case you haven’t seen it, there is a Windows Phone 7 application for DDD South West (you can find it in the Marketplace by searching for “DDD SW 2011”.

The original version of this application simply listed any tweets on twitter that included the #dddsw hash tag, however, a recent update to the application now includes the agenda for the day.  Screenshots below:


I for one will be making extensive use of this application when I am trying to decide which sessions I want to go to.

Helping out

I have also volunteered to help out at this years DDD South West.  I don’t know what exactly this will mean on the day, but I am sure that Guy Smith-Ferrier (@GuySmithFerrier) will keep me right.