# Saturday, March 5, 2011

Last year, I was awarded a Microsoft C# MVP Award and this week, I attended the Microsoft MVP Summit for the first time.

Before attending, I signed a non-disclosure agreement, so I am restricted from talking about much of the content of the conference. However, I can talk about my experiences and impressions.

Geek Give

I arrived a couple days before the conference in order to attend GeekGive – a charity event organized by Steve Andrews and others. Dozens of MVPs and their friends worked at the Northwest Harvest food bank, packing food into boxes for distribution to the needy in the Seattle area. It was a great way for people to give back to the community and to connect with one another.

Sunday was the Summit registration and several groups organized mixers in the evening. I attended a gathering put on by the Microsoft Developer Platform Evangelism team, at which MVPs had the opportunity to meet with evangelists across the region. I know the evangelists in the Heartland very well because they do a great job connecting with the local community. But I also got to know some of their counterparts in other parts of the Central Region. Afterward, the summit held a social gathering for new MVPs, welcoming us to the program. Finally, the good folks at Telerik invited me to an excellent dinner, where I was able to talk with many people smarter than me. I didn’t know in advance that Bill Evjen would be there. Bill is editing a .Net 4 book to which I am contributing and we were able to talk about that project. It was the first time we had met in person. Although we had exchanged e-mails, it was the first time we had met in person (a theme that would repeat itself with many other people throughout the week). The evening concluded with Party With Palermo, which was hosted at a local Red Robin restaurant by Jeff Palermo and is apparently an MVP Summit tradition.

Me and the Gu

Meeting people smarter than me was the theme of this summit. On Monday morning, I tweeted “Day 1 of #MVP11. Looking forward to being the dumbest guy in every room.”. This was quoted by Mary Foley of ZDNet. Microsoft speakers delivered content in several rooms, but I stayed in the largest room that day and watched some very good presentations, including an interesting talk by Scott Guthrie on some things coming up from Microsoft.

Monday evening, I gave a presentation on Visual Studio Database Tools at the Redmond .Net User Group on the Microsoft Campus. It was a great audience and I received a lot of positive feedback. There was an attendee party Monday night, but I arrived at the very end. I did enjoy two nearby parties hosted by Pluralsight and by the DeepFriedBytes podcast. At the Pluralsight event, I had a chance to meet K Scott Allen, who is scheduled to speak at the Great Lakes Area .Net User Group in August. The DeepFriedBytes party was still going strong when I left to get some sleep. I stuck around long enough to hear Keith Elder lead the crowd in singing Happy Birthday to Chris Woodruff and to me.

Steve Ballmer

Tuesday morning featured keynote speeches from Microsoft management. I heard Steve Ballmer speak for the first time. Mr. Ballmer is a very energetic and engaging speaker and I recommend you see him, if you get a chance. In the afternoon, I heard a series of talks from both the product team and from other MVPs. I had dinner Tuesday with a friend I met last year at Codestock. After dinner, I received a call from a colleague I worked with 4 years ago, so we had a chance to get together. Tuesday evening, I met up with all the Sogeti MVPs before heading over to Ted Neward’s house for a party filled with even more people smarter than me.

Wednesday, we met with leads from the product teams who showed us what they were working on in future versions and solicited our feedback. In the evening, Microsoft rented 47,000-seat Safeco Field for an attendee party. Before I left, I had a chance to meet Scott Hanselman, who invited me to the ASP.Net Insiders Summit the following day.

Me and Hanselman

The ASP.Net Insiders Summit Thursday was excellent. The content (also covered under the NDA I signed) was more concentrated than at the summit. Exciting things are coming from Microsoft in their web tools and we saw a glimpse into this. Many thanks to Mr. Hanselman for the invitation as this was the most educational day of my trip. At the ASP.Net summit, I also had a chance to meet Glenn Block in person. Glenn was the main driving force behind the Managed Extensibility Framework and now leads the WCF team and we have been corresponding for over a year, but never met face-to-face. I’m working to get him to come out to my user group as well.

The content of the sessions was very good, but the best thing I got out of it was the connections with other MVPs. I had a chance to reconnect with old friends and to meet meet many new people. Often, the people I met were people that I already knew by reputation. After a week in Washington, my brain and my belly are both full and I am ready to go home and digest what I consumed.

And in the all the rooms at the MVP Summit, I don’t think I ever found anyone dumber than me.

More photos

Saturday, March 5, 2011 7:26:39 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)