DDD South West 3 On The Day

DDD South West 3 was held on Saturday 11th June 2011 in Bristol and I think it went fairly well. There were 257 attendees, 6 simultaneous tracks and 25 speakers. You can see the full set of statistics here. The day went mostly without problems. We learnt some lessons from last year and the queues for food and drink were much shorter this time and the wifi worked much better (but not perfectly). The feedback we received was invaluable as always. For the question on "What did you like most about DDD South West 3 ?" the top answers were:-

  • the food
  • the speakers and the sessions
  • it was free

For the questions on "What did you like least about DDD South West 3 ?" the top answers were:-

  • some rooms were hot and did not have air-conditioning
  • the food
  • the wifi

Another statistic I find interesting is that 27% of attendees had not been to a DDD event previously. This means after 3 years of DDD South West (not to mention the 9 DDD Events in Reading) we are still reaching developers that are new to this format.

The last statistic I think is worth highlight is the increase in word-of-mouth recommendations over the last 3 years. In the question "How did you find out about DDD South West ?" the answer "Friend/Colleague" was 11% at DDD South West 1, 16% at DDD South West 2 and now 26% at DDD South West 3. That's a lot of people spreading a lot of good information on our behalf - thanks, everyone!

Like previous years the highlight of the day was the speakers and the quality of their sessions. I would like to say a huge thanks to all of our speakers and congratulations to our Top Speakers By Knowledge of Subject:-

  1. Steve Sanderson (Getting Started In ASP.NET MVC) 8.88
  2. Richard Campbell (Why Web Performance Matters) 8.85
  3. Richard Parker (Getting Started In The .NET Framework) 8.56

and to our Top Speakers By Presentation Skills:-

  1. Richard Campbell (Why Web Performance Matters) 8.73
  2. Richard Parker (Getting Started In The .NET Framework) 8.33
  3. Steve Sanderson (Getting Started In ASP.NET MVC) 8.30

One of the features of 'regional' DDDs is that they allow the different DDD teams to innovate and try out new ideas. One of the ideas we tried out at DDD South West 3 was lunchtime micro-presentations. It is a long running theme of DDD events that the lunchtime is spent listening to grok talks (10 minute presentations). We followed this approach at DDD South West 3 as we did at previous DDD South West events but this year we asked presenters to give micro-presentations instead of grok talks. Micro-presentations (aka pecha kucha, aka 20/20, aka lightning talks) are 20 slides of 20 seconds each. They are a particularly tough presentation format but I think it can be safely said that our speakers took the challenge and were superb. You can watch videos (slides with the live audio) of these presentations:-

Another idea we tried out was the "+1" Repeat Track wherein the most popular sessions get repeated. This is an attempt to mitigate the 'problem' of having so many great sessions. The repeated sessions were determined by the public voting on which sessions to repeat after seeing the agenda for the other 5 tracks. The feedback on this track was that it was a good idea and much welcomed. Thanks to all of the speakers who repeated their sessions (not only for repeating them but also for missing out on seeing other presenters sessions twice).

Yet another idea was the re-interpretation of the Speaker Room. In general the idea that attendees had a place where they could find the speakers and could sit and chat worked quite well. I think we still need to do a bit more in terms of breaking down attendees' resistance that speakers 'should not be disturbed' but it is something to work on.

At DDD South West 2 we introduced the "Getting Started In .NET" track which was an attempt to help non-.NET developers get into the community and get started in .NET for free. It was back again this year and like last year it was well attended and well liked. Thanks to the trainers who provided their services for free again.

You can catch up with what others have blogged about DDD South West 3 below:-

As I am sure you know DDD South West is a free event and I am sure people have heard me say many times before "free means someone else pays". And specifically this means our fabulous sponsors. Thank you to our platinum sponsors AspDotNetStoreFront, UWE, Microsoft and Telerik and to all of the sponsors who made this event possible and who gave us such great swag to give away to attendees (60+ quality pieces of swag valued at over £9000). And the swag fest isn't over yet. If you attended DDD South West 3 you will have found in your attendee bag a DDD South West 3 "I Was There" sticker. We are running a competition to find the best photo of this sticker stuck somewhere. The winner wins a Kinect (thanks, Microsoft). Details are here. The competition ends at midnight on 31st July 2011.

So finally I would like to thank the army of people who made this event possible: room monitors, helpers, speakers, sponsors, catering staff, attendees, everyone. One of my enduring memories of DDD South West 3 and previous DDD South West events is the large number of people who came up to me throughout the whole day and said "can I do anything to help ?". The UK .NET community does indeed rock.

And very finally DDD South west is run by a team of people: Martyn Fewtrell, Chris Myhill, Ross Scott, Jose Simas and myself. A massive thanks to my team mates who don't stand centre stage but nonetheless do a ton of work that doesn't typically get seen but has to happen somehow.

You can see photos of DDD South West 3 from Jose Simas here and Craig Murphy here.

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Posted by: GuySmithFerrier
Posted on: Monday, July 11, 2011 at 3:05 PM
Categories: DDD | Events
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Emotiv Scan Of Emotions Whilst Listening To Music

Recently I have been showing the Emotiv EPOC neuroheadset in a presentation called "Mind Control Your Computer In C#". The neuroheadset scans brain waves and interprets facial expressions (Expressiv), emotions (Affectiv) and cognitive thought (Cognitiv). During my presentation I show all three of these but demonstrating emotions live is quite difficult because it is tough to force yourself to be interested or excited on demand. Listening to recorded music doesn't produce a significant emotional response from me either. So I seized an opportunity at the weekend. I attended a music festival and recorded the Affectiv output whilst listening to two different types of music.

The first is a slow blues by Patrick Smet. I like slow blues and I like Patrick Smet's performances but you can see the effect that the slow blues has on me as the piece progresses. In particular watch the black line (Instantaneous Excitement) and the red line (Engagement/Boredom). After 2 minutes you will see a considerable drop and a stability in both lines. Also note that the red line starts around 0.8 and drops to around 0.6 or lower for most of the piece.

The second piece is a fast boogie by Big John Carter. I like fast boogie and I like Big John Carter's performances. Again watch the red and black lines. In particular notice them after about 1 minute 40 seconds. The red line (Engagement/Boredom) averages around 0.8 often peaking at 0.9. The black line (Instantaneous Excitement) frequently hits 1.0. Also note the plummeting of the black line at the end of the piece.

I found this experiment very interesting. Clearly it is not without its flaws. For example you can't see what I was looking at whilst I made this recording and this would have an effect on the fluctuating emotional levels. I also can't explain why my Frustration levels (the blue line) go up sometimes when I'm clearly enjoying the music.

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Posted by: GuySmithFerrier
Posted on: Wednesday, July 06, 2011 at 12:52 PM
Categories: Emotiv
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