This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 5th annual Orlando 'Code Camp' seminar in Sanford, Florida. It was help at Sanford Community College, which if I must say has quite the impressive campus for only being a Community College. The facilities there were quite adequate and it was a beautiful Florida spring day, so all in all you couldn't do much better for the setting.
I have been a member of the Orlando .NET User Group (a.k.a. 'ONETUG') for a couple of years now, but this is the 1st event I have been able to participate in with the group. Unfortunately depending on where in Orlando an event takes place, I am anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes away, so getting to event during the week is difficult. However, this was held on a Saturday, so I was able to make it no problem. The event is organized by group leader Esteban Garcia, who I applaud for doing a great job.
The event consisted of 70+ sessions spread out by topic (.NET, Silverlight, Services, etc) that went from 8:30am to 4:30pm. Each session lasted 1 hour, with a 15 minute break in between. PERFECT! I like this format of 1 hour on the nose. To be honest, most the attendees have at least a little knowledge on each subject and attend sessions to be further informed or maybe pick up a few new ideas. At this time limit it is difficult to learn an entire topic, but when classes begin to go longer than 1 hour, I sometimes begin to look at the clock. And the extra 20 minute to .5 hour (say 90 minutes total instead as a comparison) are still not enough to learn an entire subject. Therefore I think an hour on the nose is perfect. I never felt like I was looking at the clock ready to move on to the next session.
I have had the privilege of going to some of the pricey training events like VSLive!, and I must say that Code Camp offered a day on par to that of a single day at VSLive!. Except you don't have to pay the $1900 per person like at VSLive! This is because Code Camp was FREE!! The presenters were area authors, consultants, Microsoft MVPs, and experienced professionals so the content was of quality like a VSLive! in my opinion. Topics ranged from "What's new in ASP.NET 4.0", "LINQ 4.0", "jQuery vs. AjaxControlToolkit" to "Silverlight Databinding and Validation" plus much, much more. To top it all off, a nice boxed lunch was included for FREE, and a slew of raffle items were given away as well. It is quite impressive that all of this could be done without charging for it. The sponsors helped with that and did a nice job.
By the end of the day everyone was waiting around to see who would win the 'Xbox 360", and to get to that you had to wait over an hour of announcements, sponsor speeches, and other raffles, so they also had this planned well to help get the sponsors some more exposure. I unfortunately didn’t win any prizes, but the overall day was a success.
If you live in Florida or another are that has a .NET user group, I highly recommend attending your local .NET user group sessions and Code Camp activities when you can. These are wonderful opportunities to help keep us current in this ever changing industry of software development.
For more information, check out the following link:
Orlando Code Camp