I attended the Houston TechFest today, and am now finding it difficult to sleep with all of the new knowledge and relationships filling my mind.  I finally decided to get out of bed and put some of my thoughts in writing.

The Fest was great.  There are a few good reasons to attend an event like this.  It's free.  You get to meet new people with common interests.  Employment opportunities are there if you are looking for them.  You almost certainly learn something (if not many things).  There are lot's of prizes (e.g. tons of books, 22'' flat screens, 1 terrabyte external harddrive, and many others).  Did I mention it's free?

There are a few things specifically I got out of the event that I would like to touch on.

Public speaking takes courage.

Some speakers were okay, some were really good.  When I consider what makes a really good speaker, it's not primarily delivery.  Delivery is important, but, what I think is more critical is mastery of what's being presented.  Nothing is worse than someone presenting theories.  A good speaker will have meaningful examples.  A better speaker can provide examples based on questions from the audience that go beyond the slides.  Regardless, it takes courage to stand up in front of a bunch of geeks who collectively know more than you can imagine.  All of the speakers should be commended for their efforts.

However, I feel confident throwing a couple of names in the "really good speaker" category.  (I hope they'll agree that truly great presenters are rare.)

Dan Sline did a really nice presentation on Oracle SQL Tricks and Traps.  He did a great job engaging the audience.  He even put up with my heckling.  Dan didn't miss a beat and the timing of his presentation was perfect.  I thoroughly enjoyed his presentation.

I attended a couple of John Teague's presentations, the first on Unobtrusive Javascript (UJS) and jQuery, the second on Design Principles.  I was already very familiar with SOLID and have seen Uncle Bob present it first hand.  It's always nice to get a reminder of the things we should hold ourselves responsible for as developers.  Although John didn't get to show off all of his UJS demos, he took the time to answer a ton of questions (perhaps a few too many from me).  But the point really is to get people moving in the right direction when they are learning new technologies.  John understands this and it showed in both of his presentations.

It's hard to beat free. 

Granted, most of the presentations really only scratch the surface.  If you want to learn ASP.Net from the bottom, up, then the TechFest is not for you.  It's really geared toward supplementing what you already know and giving you some insight into things you want to learn more about but don't know where to start.  That coupled with the Internet can take you leaps and bounds beyond where you are now.

Earlier in my career I didn't even consider "training".  I mean, my college degree should be good enough.  Right?  Clearly, I've learned my lesson (perhaps the hard way).  I was really encouraged by all of the yound faces at TechFest.  In fact, I met someone who has only been "doing software" for a year.  Kudos to him for realizing that "continuous improvement" starts with yourself.  And, what better place to improve yourself than surrounded by a wealth of knowledge in your field of study.  We are all students (whether you admit it or not), and in this case, on a full-ride scholarship.

Relationships are everything.

Even if you aren't in the market for a new job, networking is your friend.  What if your company is expanding?  (Perhaps not likely at the moment, but hey... we are preparing for the future, not just tomorrow.)  Building networks will help you find a job as well as find good people to fill an open position.  It's never too early to form relationships.  Any gathering of techies is a great opportunity.

There's another good reason to maintain good relationships.  We all have different experiences.  My experiences take me one direction, while yours another.  Wouldn't we benefit from sharing our experiences?  Meeting like-minded individuals at a tech conference helps to grow our knowledge, making us better at what we do.  This will make our bosses happy and anyone with a vested interest in our careers.

Well, this is gone on a little longer that I expected.  Perhaps now I can get some sleep.  I hope other attendees enjoyed the TechFest as much as I did.  If you were there, leave a comment and tell me what you thought, good and bad.  I'm always interested in alternate points of view.

posted on Saturday, January 24, 2009 11:43 PM
Filed Under [ Oracle Collaboration Design Principles Career Training ]


# re: Houston TechFest Review
on 2/22/2010 1:49 PM
Glad you enjoyed it. We are hoping that the next one on Oct. 9, 2010 will be even better. Hope to see you there

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