NRW06 – Going Home…

Returning to the UK was not as trouble-free as the journey to Dusseldorf. The situation I am about to describe was exacerbated by the fact I had enjoyed a lot of beer – we drank small beers until 0400, which meant we had only a few hours of sleep before breakfast finished! Fortunately, hunger was not a issue as we found ourselves in a McDonalds at 0100. Like Tenerife, there’s at least one thing on the McDonald’s menu that we don’t’ get here in the UK…I had a bacon jalapeno big mac thing – it was wicked, the jalapenos really set it apart from the tastelessness of big macs in the UK.

I travelled by British Airways so I enjoyed the benefits on on-line check-in, 24 hours before departure. I was able to choose my seats and print my boarding passes at home. Luckily, the Dusseldorf IBIS hotel that I was staying in offered free Internet access. So, after the conference and after copious quantities of beer, I made sense of the German keyboard and printed some board passes for my return journey. That was at around about 0105 on Friday 28th. At 0242, British Airways “eService” sent me a text message advising me that flight from Dusseldorf to London Heathrow had been cancelled. British Airways were pretty good and got me booked on a later flight to Heathrow and managed to change my “unchangeable” ticket such that British Midland would take me from Heathrow to Edinburgh. Anyway, I suppose it was good of them to send me a text message, albeit I did not receive it until 1100.

Killing time at Dusseldorf Airport
So, I had five hours to kill in Dusseldorf Airport. I could have jumped on a train back to Dusseldorf and taken some time over a few of the sites, however the weather was looking threatening (visions of angry clouds waving fists at us springs to mind). I chose to stay in the airport, there are plenty of shops, it wasn’t too hard to kill a couple of hours window shopping. Some of the remaining time was spent just people watching and typing up the text of a few blog entries. Which reminds me, I must get myself an offline blogging tool such as BlogJet or w.Bloggar (as recommended by Scott Hanselman over here.) Of course, I also had my generic MP3 player loaded with tunes – the DJ, Andy Kafouros, at the after-show party last night played Juanes, which happens to be on my playlist. As it happens, I’m also listening to Summer Holiday Hits which contains a great selection of late 80’s and early 90’s tunes that take me back to Malta: tunes like Culture Beat’s Mr Vain, Laura Branigan’s Self Control, Balitimore’s Tarzan Boy (yes, for real, that was a super summer tune) and the epic Life is Life by Opus.

Baggage on another airplane
My baggage did not follow me home. It decided to get on the British Midland flight that left Heathrow after mine. No major problem, I can live without a bag of laundry! The bag was couriered to me on Saturday…annoyingly one of the compartments had been opened and the contents had vanished. Whilst the item that is missing is of little monetary value, it would be nice to get it back – it was the lanyard for my first international conference.

Slide deck and simple product backlog, don’t forget the movie!
Code/Demonstrations, including my crib notes.
TDD and Code Coverage – the slide deck.

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NRW06 – Conference Day

Today saw me deliver two sessions at The Community Conference NRW06 in Dusseldorf. Originally, I was only delivering one session: Test-Driven Development (and Code Coverage). Knowing that speakers occasionally have to cancel or pull out, I offered a second session to cover this eventuality – that session was a re-run of my Managing Iterative Development Using Scrum presentation. The Scrum session enjoyed full attendance – my room was full. The TDD session also enjoyed a large turnout – it was in the keynote speech “halle” so there were some empty seats. I didn’t perform a head count, but I reckon I had 35-40 attendees in both sessions. Not a bad result, although I say so myself. I must have done something right, praise for both sessions from Vinzenz can be found here! Vinzenz danke.

Apart from meeting Dan again (Dan has spoken at DDD community events in the past), I was able to catch up with is stage partner Michael Willers. But where was Christian Weyer? Christian promised me an Indigo t-shirt when he came to Scotland in July 2005…did he cancel his appearance because I was on the same agenda? Had I come to Dusseldorf to “get him”? Had the image of a mad kilt wearing Scotsman put fear in to the heart of Christian?

Speakers were given these rather cool polo shirts to wear:


I particularly liked what was printed on the back of the polo shirts:


Oliver Sturm and Stephan Oetzel

A roadie waits to be let it…yes, he is wearing a Metallica t-shirt!

Weather was good – we sat outside

Caption contest for the gentleman with the black t-shirt in the middle?
— “The invisible beer bottle?”


Crowd scenes – room 4 was packed

Stephan writes about NRW06 over here whilst announcing the existence of NRW06 – The Movie!

I will post the slides and code in the next blog entry in a few hours time – the demonstrations have a crib sheet, so you should be able to replicate them.

One thing this event confirmed for me, if you want to learn a language, live the language, immerse yourself in the country that speaks the language.

Community Rocks!

NRW07 promises to be a good one!

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On the way to NRW06

On Thursday 27th July, I delivered two sessions at The Community Conference NRW06 in Dusseldorf. The travel started today!

This was my first visit to Germany, I was lucky enough to have a trouble-free journey to Dusseldorf: Edinburgh to London Heathrow then on to Dusseldorf. There was a little excitement on the runway at Edinburgh Airport. We taxied out to the runway and stopped at right-angles to the runway itself – if we looked left and right we could see the entire length of the runway. The captain announced a brief delay and hinted that we should look out to the left of the aircraft…where we saw a couple of military jets bobbing their way through the skies. The captain went on to tell us that they were “low on fuel”.

Arrival in Dusseldorf was remarkably similar to my previous ventures to mainland Europe, most notably Vienna and Amsterdam. The efficiency of the German railway system was obvious from the moment I set foot on the platform. Vandalism of trains in Europe seems to be kept to a minimum, perhaps this is because the Europeans keep their trains moving as much as possible, a trick that we should pay credence to here in UK. And what about the prices? I paid 2€ each way for a 10 minute train ride from Dusseldorf airport to Dusseldorf HBF. How much did I pay to get from Inverkeithing to Edinburgh Airport? £4.50, each way…nearly a tenner.


I enjoyed dinner and drinks with Dan (aka Lennybacon). We drank “alt” beer, brewed locally. No pints were available, instead, beer was delivered in small glasses. An attentive barman ensured our thirsts were quenched, as soon as our glasses were nearly empty, he brought over two more small glasses. A nice trick, the beer was always cold – think about the latter (bottom) half of a pint, it’s starting to warm up. And small glasses mean we actually drank less – “just one more pint” often brings with it an excess of liquid!

Dusseldorf sits on the river Rhine. I was fortunate enough to be given a very brief tour of the Altstadt (Old town including the river front) by the NRW06 conference host, Lenny Bacon. They’ve done a super job making the river front a social hub. There’s even a fake beach, with sand! In the distance we could the cranes dismantling what was one of Europe’s largest roller-coasters. This was a shame as I do like roller-coasters and would have been “up for it”.

Anyway, we had a reasonably early night – as mentioned earlier in this post, Dan had informed me that I was now presenting two session! Sleep was in order!

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TDD, Code Coverage, .net debugging, tracing and instrumentation

The £10 early bird period for this Scottish Developers event runs until the 15th of July – from that date, the cost rises to £25.

There are still a handful of places available, if you’d like to see two Microsoft MVPs talk’n’code about TDD, Code Coverage, .net debugging, tracing and instrumentation and save £15 at the same time, book now!

If you’d like a chance to win a copy of JetBrains’ dotTrace code profiler, be there!

And one lucky person will take home a copy of ReSharper!

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What’s a Prodcast?

Update, 09/06/2011
As luck would have it, there is now a startup called prodcast! If you arrived here looking for, please feel to mosey on over there and have a look around!

Prodcast is a website where you can comment on the products you love and share them with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Read more:

I’m a little confused. I like the sound of the word Prodcast as used by The IW Center here. But over at the QSNews/BCIS here, it seems it’s something differently completely.

To me, I believe that a Prodcast (if we must have another word for it) is something akin to a product demonstration delivered using the same technologies as a blogcast (i.e. a mix of audio and video).

Comments or thoughts?

NxtGenUG podcast 3

NxtGenUG podcast no.3 is now available.

Show #3 – The one with added security Saturday, July 01, 2006
Episode 3 – Dave turns up late, Rich reveals his secret Halo 2 gaming style, gets his knuckles rapped over security and Dave mentions his trip to Office DevCon. Featuring Steve Lamb on Security and TechnoTotty solves another problem.

Featuring: Steve Lamb on security

Dave and Rich chat with Steve Lamb, ITPro evangelist at Microsoft and self-confessed security geek. Dave may be shot and Rich gets a security rap on the knuckles. [Transcript]

Steve Lamb is an IT Pro Evangelist for Microsoft,UK, specialising in Security Technologies. For the Past 11yrs, he has worked solely as a security professional and during this time architected and implemented technical solutions for many FTSE 100 companies throughout Europe the Middle East and Africa. In addition Steve has worked with the military and governments of various countries.

Steve is well known on in the security community for the entertaining way he approaches a serious subject and most importantly, the impact he has in enabling people to do more with less risk. Security is not just about technology and can be far more complex however, Steve’s specialty is translating “Rocket Science” (deep technical) into Common Sense advice. His favourite topics are combating Malware, embracing PKI and Cryptography in general, Secure wireless networking and strategies for user awareness and dealing with social engineering.

Outside work Steve is a keen Freestyle Windsurfer, Teaches White Water Kayaking and occasionally gets to rip on a Snowboard – more often he wipes out!