Buenos Aires, September 17, 2003 - Sheraton Hotel
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The event started with great expectation. Almost 1,800 developers were registered, and once we arrived to the Sheraton Hotel, we find a crowded registration area (shown in the picture). The final number of atendees was close to 1,500. The biggest assistance ever to a Microsoft related event in Argentina.
Response was higher indeed, as the previous day the event had been held in Cordoba (another important city in Northern Argentina) were hundreds of attendees had already enjoyed the show.
The big auditorium at the Sheraton was packed-filled, with three giant screens prepared to support the speakers presentations.
The welcome note was made by José Berrios (right on the picture), Ineta Director for Latin america. He briefied the audience about Ineta's goal and programs, and highlighted the importance of user groups (the main force Ineta is pushing).
Then he thanked the two local user groups that worked together on the event organization: Club de Programadores and Microsoft User Group (MUG), and introduced Angel "Java" López (left on the picture) from Club de Programadores to talk about his group activities.
Angel is well known in Latin America for his contribution to the Java community, and he's also a Microsoft MVP and is teaching and writing about .NET with a fresh and independent perspective.
He recalled the Club's history and development, and stated its current program based on courses and seminars, email lists and an upcoming e-learning initiative.
Next came Antonio Castaño, MSDN Regional Director for Argentina, who stepped to the stage to present the MUG. But this time, as almost anybody on the event already knew him, and also the MUG, whose services were printed in brochures that anybody had, he choosed to talk about the MUG from a personal standpoint, recalling how it all started and talking about the many people he met at the group and become good friends, beyond the professional exchange.
He also cheered the audience up by calling a cameraman onto the stage to shot the atendees and let them watch themselves onto the big screens, letting them feel what he felt in front of such a huge audience. His introduction was pure motivation.
After Antonio's long introduction, the first featured speaker started his presentation: David Chapell, one of the "Software Legends" group. If you never attended a Chapell session, you should do it.
The guy is pure fun, and one of the best speakers I saw in my life. He made an hour plus long speech full of wit, wisdom and sheer intelligence.
The core of his speech (called .NET Secrets) was properly setting .NET fundamental ideas and its relation with the rest of the industry (specially its main adversaries Java and Linux) but from a fair and independent perspective. He highlighted its best features, but also pointed at its current shortcomings, as well as upcoming challenges and initiatives to keep in mind.
Chapell also expressed some ideas about the main issues related to succed on a .NET oriented career, beyond hype, and preserving fundamental concepts that can be applied to every technology. But the tone was so fun and perfectly timed, that it was truly inspirational, and nobody could distract for a single moment.
After a coffee break Mike Amundsen presented his session on ASP.NET and Message-Oriented Architecture. It was the more technical and hands-on session, and it even while showing code into the Visual Studio IDE, Mike transmitted perfectly clear concepts and valuable architectural advise. He's also a seasoned speaker, and being a really technical presentation, it was fun, too.
After that, Daniel Seara (Argentina MSDN Regional Director) and David Garza (Mexico MSDN Regional Director) presented the funniest session on the event (if you didn't noticed, this was a funny event). They set up a comedy show in which Daniel began doing the real presentation about optimizing code in Visual Basic .NET, while David appeared walking around the stage and sat beside him and started asking questions as a newbie.
This duo could actually move to Hollywood soon, but the presentation, specially geared to traditional Visual Basic developers and full of tips to avoid when programming on .NET, was really good and useful, while nobody had chance to get bored, no matter the real interest on the topic.
The event closed with a ruffle with lots of prizes including dozens of books, software, training courses, pens, t-shirts, and much more. And to pick and announce the prizes the whole staff of Ineta members, MVPs and Microsoft people involved in the event got over the stage.
One of the great features of this event occurred outside the sessions, and it was having the chance to meet and talk with so many people from different parts of Latin America. Many of us have being in contact with each other for years, but never had the chance to talk face to face.
Walking around the hotel one could find people from Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile, some Miami-based Latin Americans, etc.
I specially liked meeting José Berrios and David Garza, seeing again Federico Raggi, and specially meeting my good new friend Willy Marroquín, who has an incredible record to gather and train 75 people to attend the MCP certification exam in a single day, achieving a 100% of succes! (you can read the whole story -in Spanish- here). He's currently working on an enhanced version of this effort and trying to involve several Latin American countries to make it even bigger. The project is called .Netland.
I'll close this coverage with a final picture of two good friends, Willy Marroquín, and Adrián García (from Argentina). They were both fellow trainers on the Five Stars Developer program of MSDN Latam, and they also met each other at the event.
Martín Salías, September 25, 2003.