Highlights from Tulsa Tech Fest 2007

I spent Friday and Saturday at the second annual Tulsa Tech Fest, a gathering of IT & software professionals from Tulsa and the surrounding area.

Overall, it was a good event. Friday’s attendance was incredible, coming in somewhere around 700 attendees according to some reports. I got a chance to meet and talk to a bunch of interesting people. It was great to see evidence of a vibrant tech community here in Tulsa.

Sadly, the attendance on Saturday was way down from Friday. Down to something like 400 people. There are several ways to interpret the difference between the two days, but I’m not thrilled by any of them. It would appear that more people were able (and willing) to take the day off work on Friday than were able (and willing) to spend a sunny weekend day geeking out with their fellow technologists. Being as passionate as I am about technology, and having worked with the people that I’ve worked with, that makes me more than just a little sad. Just goes to show that we still have some work to do in making The Silicon Prairie all that it can be.

Microsoft got the opening keynotes both days, and spent both of them talking about their recently released Silverlight rich internet application development platform. I’ve been watching Silverlight for a couple of years, and as you could all predict am among its biggest fans. There remains a bit of skepticism about it among some of the guys from Vidoop, but a few of the others really dig it. I think it does an enormous number of things right, and I think we’re going to see it used more and more on the Internet to do some incredible stuff. For example, the MSN Election Guide has helped me get caught up on the pre-primary politics, and Popfly is a pretty slick toy.

I spent Friday morning at a talk about certain psychological pitfalls and their applications in security by Pieter “Mudge” Zatko. Cool guy, great presentation.

I heard good things about most of the other sessions that people went to, but not everyone had good luck in choosing sessions. At one point on Friday, I went to a talk that had been rescheduled without enough of an announcement (I expected “Enterprise Architection for Everyone”, but the talk was going to be on how to transition into a Solutions Architecture role). The audience members trickled out as they learned that they missed their shot at the talk they were expecting. The room was down to 3 people when we decided to scrap the slides and just chat. I spent some quality geek time chatting with Dennis Bottjer (the good sport whose talk got disrupted by the schedule change) and James McGovern (thanks for the props to Vidoop in your blog, James). We covered topics in enterprise security, ASP.NET, IBM’s WebSphere, and a bunch of other things. A cool guy named Evan from Nashville joined us part way into our chat.

Kudos to Michael Oglesby, Jerry Dawkins, et al from True Digital Security for putting together their fun puzzle event. Apparently there are rumors around Tulsa that I’m a puzzle ringer, so they called me in for some initial consulting while they were gearing up to write the event. I seeded them with a few puzzle ideas, and they did an excellent job of putting them into practice. I tried (and failed, from what I hear) to recruit some of the Vidoopers to help them out by testing their puzzles. From what I saw, their puzzles were well debugged and fun to solve even without our help. Sorry about that, True. I just hope that what help I did provide was useful. I’d be happy to help again next time.

I guess the bottom line is that I’m looking quite forward to Tulsa Tech Fest 2008, and would love to help make it even better next time.

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