Tech Conference CFPs: Where To Find Them

ConferenceSeats

CC 2.0 image courtesy eltpics on Flickr

As a Microsoft MVP, my job is to help people with their technical problems. I also advise people who are looking to get started on the road to being an MVP. For some it could be by blogging or by answering forum questions, for others it could be by speaking at technical events.

Background

I have been asked a few times in the last while about how to get started speaking. Being a technical speaker is a great way to share your knowledge, build a name for yourself, travel, and attend conferences for free. You also meet many people who can help you as you move through your career.

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How to schedule tweets for a presentation using TweetDeck

In my previous post, I talked about the fact that I started scheduling my tweets well in advance when I speak at conferences. This allows me to plan my social media strategy beforehand so that I can concentrate on prepping for my presentation and networking with other attendees on the day of the talk.

I finished my last article by stating that I will be writing next about the tool I used to schedule my tweets and some of the methods I employed. First, I will talk about the methods and then we will look at TweetDeck, the tool I used for my scheduled tweets.

Strategies

The way I approach the idea of queuing tweets is to focus first on the day before the event. I send out a tweet by announcing that I will be speaking at the conference. I also try to include the hashtag of the technology I am speaking about. I have browsed articles on what the best time to tweet is and that is generally early afternoon. By then most people are thinking about what they will be doing the next day, especially if they are going to a conference.

On the day of my presentation, I send out a tweet saying that I am headed to the conference to give my talk. I then send out a tweet 30 minutes before I speak with the session title and room number. I send another tweet with the same info 10 minutes before the talk. By then, attendees are moving to their next session.

Another strategy to employ is to tweet during meal times. Normally, attendees will have some time to kill before their sessions. If your seminar is upcoming then this is a good time to remind people about it. If you have already spoken, then take this time to share your slides or to thank the conference organizers and sponsors.

Be judicious though in your tweets. This article recommends tweeting once per hour and alternating your tweets each time. Make one tweet about self promotion and then make the next tweet about promoting the event. As always, make sure you use the official conference hashtag when tweeting so that your message appears on the conference twitter stream.

TweetDeck

The tool I use to queue tweets is TweetDeck. It is the official app of Twitter and it is similar to Hootsuite (which can also be used to schedule tweets). When you browse to the TweetDeck website you can log in with your Twitter account. There is also a Google Chrome App that you can use if you prefer.

Once you log into the app you can create your scheduled tweet. To do so, create a tweet as you normally would with TweetDeck by clicking the New Tweet button. The New Tweet flyout will appear.

ScheduledTweets01

Once your tweet has been written, instead of hitting the blue Tweet button to send the tweet immediately you can hit the Schedule Tweet button. Choose the date and time you want the tweet to appear and then click the blue Tweet button. As it says on the screen, “Your scheduled Tweet will send even if TweetDeck is not running at the time”.

ScheduledTweets02

Finally, if you want to see your scheduled tweets you can display them in their own column. To do that, click the + (plus) button to add a new column. Select Scheduled to add the Scheduled column to your app.

ScheduledTweets03

Within this column you can see your scheduled tweets. You can Edit them to change the message or timing, and you can also Delete them..

ScheduledTweets04

If you have tips on how you prep for your talks, or if you prefer another tool to schedule tweets, let me know with a comment below.

Related Article:

Scheduling tweets for a conference presentation

I have spoken eight times in 2015 at various conferences and user groups. When I give a talk I want to have as many people as possible at my presentation. Since I speak about development technologies that I find fascinating I want to share them with others.

On the day of a talk, especially at a conference, I am busy scrambling around getting ready for my presentation. This usually means prepping my laptop to make sure all notifications are turned off and that my demos are loaded.

At the same time, attendees are usually checking out the conference Twitter stream. They are reading tweets from organizers, sponsors, speakers, and other attendees. This is a captive audience and if you can convince them that yours is a worthwhile talk to attend then the time spent winning them over is worth it.

However, the last thing I am thinking about at that time is using social media to draw people into my talk.

Experiment

For my last two conference talks in Ohio and Michigan I experimented with something different. I spent time several days before each event scheduling tweets that would coincide with my talks. I sent out scheduled tweets one day before the event, 30 minutes before my talk, and again 10 minutes before. I made sure to provide the location of my talk, to use the official conference hashtag, and I mentioned the conference twitter account using a /cc.

As an example, the Tweets below were scheduled and delivered for DetroitDevDay:

There are all types of things I can do with this going forward. I could schedule tweets about important points I make during the talk, send out links to my presentation resources at the beginning of my address so people could follow along, schedule my thank you tweets to the conference organizers or sponsors, and even remind attendees to follow me on Twitter.

Results

The results of my experimentation? Well, I had the largest audiences for my conference talks when I used this tweet queue method. Perhaps it was the material that drew them in or just good timing on the conference schedule. Whatever it was, I will continue to employ scheduled tweets in future.

In my next blog post, I will highlight the tool and methods I used to schedule my tweets. I will also talk about how to time your tweets. Stay tuned.

If you have ever used scheduled tweets to great effect and want to share your tips, please comment below.

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Free Azure Training Resources

This article is also available on the Canadian Developer Connection blog under the title Get Ready for Global Azure Bootcamp.

In honor of Global Windows Azure Bootcamp, which will be next month on April 25, 2015, I decided to create a list of free Microsoft Azure training resources to help you prepare. If you would like to participate in a Global Azure Bootcamp you can find a participating location near you.

Books

Microsoft Press recently started releasing a series of new Azure books:

However, other free e-books on Azure also exist:

Videos

There are several great sites where you can find Azure video training:

Channel 9

There is two types of Azure video content available on Channel 9.

  • The first are traditional Azure videos which can be found by doing a search for the word Azure on the main page.
  • The second are two weekly shows that cover Azure. Bothcan be accessed from the links in their names or as a video podcast in iTunes.
    • One is Azure Friday, a show hosted by Scott Hanselman, which presents videos on the latest Azure releases in bite-sized chunks. Most shows are about 10-15 minutes in length. You can also download every Azure Friday video using this PowerShell script by Microsoft’s Marc Gagné.
    • The other is the Microsoft Azure Cloud Cover show. This program is more in-depth and the length of a show can range from 25 minutes to one hour.

Microsoft Virtual Academy

The Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) is a traditional video learning environment where you can watch full-length training videos on designated topics. You can either choose to sign in to chart your progress or you have full access without logging in. The videos are not just Azure based but cover all types of Microsoft technologies. The Azure courses are constantly being updated. Generally, the courses are recorded as a live event so you can follow along if you wish or you can watch the recording later. Most courses also have assessments after each module so you can gauge your progress.

Within MVA is a series called Microsoft Azure Fundamentals which contains an introductory course on Azure and subsequent courses on websites, storage and data, and virtual machines.

Microsoft Azure YouTube Channel

Many people may not know there is a Microsoft Azure YouTube channel as well. Here you can find all sorts of videos about things like how to Supercharge your Datacenter to working with Docker in Azure. Subscribe to the channel to stay up to date. You can also find all of the Tuesdays with Corey series by Corey Sanders here as well.

Pluralsight

Pluralsight is a third-party company dedicated to producing high quality videos for developers around the world. They have 40+ beginner, intermediate, and advanced trainings on Microsoft Azure in their catalog. Pluralsight offers a 10-day trial where you can watch an unlimited amount of videos for free.

Podcasts

We touched on video podcasts above but there are also audio podcasts too that cover Microsoft Azure.

  • The Microsoft Cloud Show is hosted by Andrew Connell and Chris Johnson. They offer the latest news on the cloud and how they see it.
  • The Azure Podcast offers insight into different areas of Azure in these short, timely podcasts.

Articles

Hands-On-Labs, Online Training & Certifications

  • Azure Readiness – A repository in GitHub that contains all of the content to run your own Dev Camp. This repository has both the slide decks and the Hands-on-Labs for you to learn at your own pace.
  • AzureConf 2014 – A virtual conference in October 2014 that was hosted by Channel 9. This one-day event had a keynote followed by several presentations. All of the sessions were recorded for Channel 9.
  • Azure IaaS for IT Pros Online Event – A four-day virtual event in December 2014 that was hosted on Channel 9. This was billed as in-depth Azure training for IT Professionals. You can learn all about Azure IAAS in this series of videos.
  • Building Real-World Cloud Apps with Windows Azure – An online e-book designed to walk you through creating an end-to-end cloud app. Although it is from June 2013 it still has some relevant information.
  • .NET Azure Documentation – Contains information on combining Azure with .NET and Visual Studio. Lots of samples here to work with.
  • Learning map for Azure Websites – Follow the guidance on this page for an effective learning path through Azure Websites content.
  • Microsoft Azure Documentation Center – Houses all of the Microsoft Azure information you will need.

Certifications

Tools

  • trywebsites.azurewebsites.net – Experiment with Azure Websites for one hour with your Google or Facebook account —­­ free of charge and commitment.
  • Azure PowerShell – A module that provides cmdlets to manage Azure through Windows PowerShell.

Blogs & Sites

User Communities

Events

Azure on Twitter

Open Guelph Hackathon 2015

Open Data Guelph Logo Two weeks ago I participated in the Open Guelph Hackathon 2015. This was the second year in a row that the City of Guelph sponsored a hackathon in conjunction with Open Data Day. However, this year, instead of doing a 24 hour session they did a seven day online hack which was open to all Canadians.

Details

For this year’s hackathon there were four themes – or data sets – that could be used. For my project I chose the Solid Waste Sorting Tool dataset.

Since I was working by myself I focused on building something using the Lean Startup approach. That is, get something working and then iterating on it. So, I used Visual Studio 2013, ASP.NET, C# 4.5, SQL Server 2014 Express, and Bootstrap to create a functional app in the time that I had. For this theme it was also requested that anyone who searched for items in the waste stream that were not listed, that those searches be tracked so the items could be listed in future.

After the projects were submitted, all the participants were invited to appear before the judges either by Skype or in person at Guelph City Hall. I presented my app to Mayor Cam Guthrie and various other stakeholders from the departments who would benefit from the software.

[tweet https://twitter.com/OpenGuelph/status/573562508805599233 ]

Winners

After several anxious days I was notified I did not win. However, I was glad that I participated and was able to demo my app to the judges. To find out who did win, see this article in The Guelph Mercury.

So, a big thanks goes out to the City of Guelph for hosting this event and to Blair Labelle (@Blair_Labelle), GM of Technology and Innovation for the city, for spearheading the open data initiative in Guelph. I encourage everyone to follow Open Guelph (@OpenGuelph) on Twitter and to participate in next year’s event!

Microsoft Office Sway and Juventus F.C.

Office_Sway_logoThose who know me know that one of my biggest passions is football. No, not the NFL (although I like that too) but soccer. Or futbol. Or footie. Or whatever name you want to call it.

And there is no bigger fan of the Italian football club Juventus F.C. out there than me.

So, when I signed up for the Microsoft Office Sway preview back in November I did so because I like new technologies. I also really like the cool video that was promoting the product. Perhaps the best feature though is that it can run on any browser on any device.

When I was accepted to the preview program in December I knew I wanted to create a tribute to my favourite football team. In the end I had the whole thing done in less than 45 minutes.

I found the interface very simple to use. In fact, the video shows a young child using it to create a school presentation. And yet it is powerful enough to design a prototype of a new product on it.

A sway is built on a “Storyline.” You add content (text, documents, photos, videos, charts, etc.) to build out your story. You can start from scratch or work from an existing document. Searching for videos and photos to add is simple enough with the built-in tools. You can also choose from multiple structures and styles to design your presentation.

Since completing my first Sway the program has been opened up to everyone. Microsoft is still accepting suggestions for making Sway better and there is also a community forum where you can get help.

In the end my Sway turned out OK. The lack of flowing design is the fault of the creator, not the program.

I guess Microsoft liked it though as they tweeted it out as an example of what a sports fan can create:

Have a look for yourself at what I built and see what can be accomplished: https://sway.com/g1BBEIGqtMHFKI7N

My adventures with Pluralsight

Last weekend, Saturday September 13, 2014 to be exact, @Pluralsight tweeted out a teaser for the upcoming Play By Play video I did with John Papa.

I got a lot of congratulations, profile views and Twitter follows from this tweet. But the biggest question was “How did this happen?”.

So, here is the story of how I got to work with John Papa.

Back in the spring of 2014 Pluralsight was running a contest to celebrate their 10th Anniversary. The rules were you had to state what your favorite Pluralsight course was and why through a tweet. I chose one of John Papa’s courses as my entry.

After all the entries were cast my name got pulled from the pile. Needless to say I was ecstatic.

The next step was to choose which author I wanted to meet and where. I naturally went for John Papa in his hometown of Orlando, Florida. The final step in the puzzle was to choose the topic to discuss. After much discussion we decided to do an Intro to AngularJS talk modeled on the excellent introductory Pluralsight course AngularJS: Get Started by Scott Allen.

We then decided to meet in Orlando in August. We filmed the video in a hotel room at the Swan and Dolphin Resort in Walt Disney World. There was a lot of activity that day but Pluralsight arranged for everything to go smoothly. We had three cameras and two lights for our taping. As you can see in the behind the scenes photo below we had a blast making the video.

Pluralsight taping with Ken Cenerelli and John Papa

After the taping was complete we all went out to a fine French restaurant in Disney’s Epcot Centre to celebrate.

Les Chefs de France

Pluralsight dinner

After touring around Epcot we watched IllumiNations, the nightly fireworks display.

IllumiNations

In all John was a gracious host and a fun person to work with. I learned a lot about AngularJS and what makes it a great framework. My wife and I had a great time and we even made it over to Universal Orlando for part of our trip.

Ken Cenerelli and John Papa

So, watch out for my upcoming video from Pluralsight with John Papa with should be available shortly.