Swedish Developer Dreams @ Microsoft TechDays Stockholm

In October I attended and spoke twice at Microsoft TechDays in Stockholm, Sweden. As I made the engagement to make a blogpost of each conference that I attend as a speaker or as an attendee I give you a rewrite.

And I know 23rd and 24th of October is a while ago. But Last month I had a lot of conferences (and I love it!) But of course, a day has only 24 hours. So, in the future weeks I will post a lot of conference reports.

Drinking AI invented Whiskey wtih Magnus Mårtensson

For me Microsoft TechDays Sweden was the conference linked to a big huge community feeling. I met a lot of other Microsoft MVP’s that I didn’t met since I am a Microsoft MVP.

I also met my Community Manager Tina Stenderup. I had wonderful talks. At this conference I had more networking and skipped more talks that I am used to do. But I had a great time and build on my Microsoft / Conference / Speaker Network! This is for me also very important.

But to be sure, I attended some nice talks. Here I highlight a few of them.

Work-Life Integration: 7 Effective Ways to Achieve Healthy Balance

As I am active in the Microsoft Diversity and Inclusion Community and the Microsoft Humans of IT Community, I do know Dux Raymond Sy from online life. And even before Microsoft TechDays I was already a big fan of Raymond!

Raymond presented a talk about Work-Life integration. Raymond’s vision fits completely in my vision. My key take-aways is that you must be your whole self. Bring your whole self to work and to private life.

Another key vision is to be real! Be authentic and be real in your complete life.

And mix both with being innovative and use tools like MyAnalytics in Microsoft Office 365 and you are on the good way!

Thanks Raymond!

Inclusive workplaces – a room for all

This was a panel session about inclusive workplaces. Which adjustments at the workplace are needed to be more inclusive? The were board members with gender diversity, people with migration background, LGBTQ+. In this board the board members spoke about the need of inclusive workplaces for this people and what you can do.

I did like the board, but advice that in future board they also invite a board member on the neurodiversity / disability spectrum (like autism). I missed this group in the discussion. But I have good news, I know somebody who invited himself to be in the board next time. (And that’s me!)

And of course, my talks

The Power of Inclusion

I presented my talk The Power of inclusion, the talk that started my speaker career. I did quite a big rewrite. I still see the need of inclusive apps and inclusion of people with disabilities in normal life of everyone else. And I believe the best way to achieve this is via accessible software. So I am proud and happy to share my slides here.

Autism: From Bullying to MVP

I was also invited to do a ‘Tech Talk’ a concept of talks of 20 minutes. I presented my personal life story Autism: From Bullying to MVP. I got a lot of emotion with this talk and I am going to work this talk out to a full 60 min talk for conferences starting 2020!

Wrap up

I had a good time, I really loved TechDays Sweden! I learn nice insights and have new ideas to investigate deeper. Thanks for everyone made this possible.

My 4th Future Decoded was with me!

My 4Th Future Decoded in a Row! I really enjoyed this Microsoft conference. Each year this conference is marked in my agenda months in advance. It’s big! (I know there are bigger conferences in US). At this time Future Decoded was the biggest conference I’ve been to. In November I work on this and go to visit and speak at Microsoft Ignite! and I know it’s way bigger. But I love Microsoft Future Decoded and call it a big conference until November.

This year Future Decoded has some extra magic. I went to the conference with my best friend and General Manager of Scorpius IT Kenny Liard. Nice to know, Kenny is also part of my nonprofit DDSoft. Traveling with your BFF together is always fun!

Like last year Future Decoded was pretty much AI focused. I love it to see what’s possible with AI and how Microsoft is putting input into this field.

Sustainability

I was overwhelmed with the initiatives Microsoft takes on sustainability. Microsoft advised Future Decoded attendees to bring re-usable water bottles. There were no recyclable water cups. In stead of water cups they used cardboard cups if you didn’t brought your recyclable bottles.

At Day 1 Keynote Dr. Lucas Joppa, Microsoft’s Chief Environmental Officer gave a keynote. It made me think. Think a lot. Dr Lucas Joppa told about the actions Microsoft is taking for a more environmentally conscious approach. I don’t know for sure but Future Decoded changed my mind and I am more environmentally conscious since my last trip to Future Decoded!

Beyond earth

If you think beyond earth I loved  the keynotes from Major Tim Peake CMG and Helen Sharman CMG OBE. I love talks form outer world. Talks form outer world does me think at people changing their life completely. The astronauts have to switch their life completely in the 2 year period before the expedition to space. When they return on earth, they life is never the same as before their trip.

This types of talks make me think at attitude, different structure, planned structures. And be honest, as a person with autism this topic is never too far away.

Thanks for inspiring me!

Accessibility

Microsoft’s big efforts on accessibility are also very visible at Future Decoded for years. This year Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft was keynoting for the second year in a row at Future Decoded. I love her way of public speaking. I love her vision

But the keynote for Jenny Lay-Flurrie wasn’t the only accessibility effort from Future Decoded. There were even Braille maps of the expo hall!

Back to the Basics!

Start with the basics! A sentence that’s been said a lot of time. But an important message. At Future Decoded I learned to start with the basics in Accessibility. at DDSoft I am focusing for years on accessibility for people with intellectual disabilities and autism. But there are already a big set of basics accessibility guidelines to include and empower everyone. .The main message at this year’s conference was start with the basics in accessibility. Color Contrast, Dark Mode, captions and subtitles. use POUR principles: make Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust applications and you are inclusive! My mission is to go further on this basic accessibility and include it in my mission! And I am already started to bring this in my mission! As I am!

Power Platform and Power Apps

Microsoft is putting a lot of effort in accessibility in Power Apps and in the Microsoft Power Platform in broader sense. Microsoft is putting a lot of accessibility effort in this platforms. I’m not used to work with this platforms but I love the effort!

Microsoft Office 365

Another Microsoft product where Microsoft is putting a lot of effort for Accessibility is Office 365. Microsoft works with AI to make accessible documents and documentation.

After I said that Future Decoded gave me a drill into sustainability consciousness, Microsoft also gave me a ‘Use Accessibility tools in Office 365 drill! I love this drills.

BTW Office 365 has a great suite of AI solutions, they have even a PowerPoint trainer mode for speakers! I am so sure I am going to start using this tool!

The massive expo hall

And of course conferences mean networking at the expo hall! This year the expo hall was the biggest edition I saw at Microsoft Future Decoded. I loved the expo hall. Some booths were worked out pretty well. With plants, screens, huge screens, coffee trucks and this year the expo hall has 2 floors!

So I (we) really had a blast!

My journey at DevConf

This was my second stop at my magic Fall, my Fall conference season. I had the amazing opportunity to speak at DevConf in Krakow, Poland. A nice conference in an amazing cinema; What means: having the opportunity to project your slide deck on a huge cinema screen. This was a dream for me, and I believe this is an awesome dream for a lot of speakers.

I had good talks with other speakers like Callum Whyte, Spencer Sneidenbach and Dylan Beattie. Meeting the same speakers during conferences throughout the year feels like a family reunion. This all because speakers at conferences are a big family!

I also met a new speaker: Johan Öbrink. I am happy that I met this person! I like his vision. So, starting from DevConf Johan is also part of my family

I like to share you some insights from some of the talks I attended:

Social topics

Privilege as a Technical Debt

Did you consider how people from all over the world use your app? Is your service accessible from all over the world? If you plan to make apps and services on a global scale, then it’s important that you consider that not everyone has a first and a last name. Which gender are you? Male / Female / Binary? Do you realize that some people can being sentenced to death because their sexual orientation?

Amr Abdelwahab is providing us insights how decisions made from our own privileges can cause negative results for other people in the world! Thanks Amr to open my eyes!

A full list of awesome falsehoods developers believe can you find here: https://github.com/kdeldycke/awesome-falsehood#human-identity

My talk: Designing Accessible Apps

I had my talk Designing Accessible apps. I was very happy to see how many people that were interested in this topic! I had a good time while presenting and I love some reactions if I show people how you can make apps for people with disabilities! It was the 3rd time I spoke this talk in specific and the talk had a big rewrite!

My Motivation

Next three talks gave me energy to work within my nonprofit. Made me think why we made which choices. If we made the right choices? And of course, gave me insights into my future both as a speaker, Microsoft MVP and President of DDSoft

Three Rewrites – One Start Up, an Architects journey

Spencer told his story about how he went from a project in a company to a startup and even with a few rewrites in the Start Up. How do you go from Visual Basic 6 to C#? Of course, via vb.net! An important message was sharing is that you must be a consistent learner. Always learn something new. Be curious.

Architecture: In the past I went to a lot of conference talks that always taught me something new. But most sessions covered most technologies as a silo. You learn about Xamarin, about web API… In this session Spencer showed how he architected their solution. I loved these insights on architecture.

From Monolithic Monster to Majestic Microservice App

Another real-life war story was from Callum Whyte. He described how you go from a monolith to a microservice app. Also, a talk with a lot of architecture. Loved the scheme’s and the theory. Loved the insights and was inspired again.

The Art of Code

Dylan talking and preforming on a guitar during his talk.
The last part of Dylan’s talk.. With Guitar!

Dylan showed the beautiful parts of coding. The art parts. Dylan talks about coders making code for fun. Really inspiring! A good coder does not only code for work but codes free time / hobby projects. I love it, it inspires me. Dylan talked also about his own programming language ‘Rockstar’. Of course, Dylan doesn’t only talk about his projects but also about what other coders doing in their free time. Inspiring!

Wrap up

I want to wrap up my talk blogpost about DevConf with saying (again) that I had a really great time. I inspired people and got inspired by other people. As a speaker we were treaded very well, so what do I want more?

#DreamingIsBelieving #7ThYearMagic #MagicFall

 

JavaZone kickstarted my Magic Fall

Last week I had the opportunity to speak at JavaZone in Oslo, Norway. It was my first conference this Fall. And I know.. Officially Fall start next Monday but for me, last week Fall is kicked-off for me. This Fall I do a lot of conferences as a speaker and at least one conference as an attendee.

So let’s talk Java?

Most of you know that I am a Microsoft MVP and developing on the Microsoft stack (in .NET and Azure). Right! I am still the same Dennie, the same Microsoft MVP and developer on the Microsoft stack. But I really want a big reach on accessibility and quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities and / or autism.  At JavaZone I presented a session about autism and communication.

And what for session? My first co-talk with my lovely mom, Ivette Marchand. We have found ways for communicating about work, limits and borders. This starts from my autism and is helpful for a lot of people.

Although even as a .NET developer I visited some talks that are really helpful. Here below I do a little series “What does a .Net developer at a Java conference?” As you will see I learned lot!

What does a .Net developer at a Java Conference:

I went to the psychologist!

Visit to the psychologist with Rosanne Joosten..

What’s better to start the conference with a visit to the psychologist? Rosanne Joosten is a psychologist that transformed into a programmer. Rosanne talked about the link between how developers write code and their personality. Some parts were really confronting…

I learned about Web Assembly

Web assembly is a project started form the browser companies. Web assembly is a way for native code in the browser. Blazor, Microsoft’s implementation of Web Assembly was also covered, of course this was between the other Web Assembly solutions.

Accessibility!

Accessibility hero's Tom, Lotte and Tor-Martin

And yes, there were sessions about accessibility! And this makes me happy! I saw 2 refreshing talks. I like accessibility talks with people with disabilities involved as a presenter. Tom is a person who’s blind. He was surrounded with 2 other speakers (Lotte and Tor-Martin). If I see how a blind person is learning other people how to make the web accessible then I shiver from respect! I saw interesting Aria ideas and other refreshing ideas for navigation.

Another session about accessibility was on the 2nd day from Kamilla. Kamilla did a lighting talk about accessibility. I loved that she was including a variety of disabilities and not just the most spoken ones!

I learned to hack a cat

Hacking a cat with Nail Merrigan

Nial Merrigan is also a Microsoft MVP, he’s a specialist into security. He presented a cross code  /cross platform introduction into security. Where do you need to be aware off? He gave us insights beyond traditional attack vendors. Sometimes the talk was scary, sometimes it was laughing out loud! I like this kind of talks!

I went on a survival

Patricia Aas presented “Survival Tips For Women in Tech”. This talk was my opportunity to go to a talk together with my mom. A no – code talk about woman! As an inclusive developer I like to go to a lot of talks about diversity and inclusion in the broad scene. This talk showed me how difficult it can be for women in tech as a minority. The talk opened my eyes but I saw also equal situations as for me as a person with autism in tech. The way Patricia introduced this talk, and why she needs this introduction is very equal to my intros. I love the openness how she talked about a lot of topics in being different to “white man between 30 – 50 in Tech”!

And then.. Finally.. Our talk!

I presented “How do I help my son?” the inaugural of my mom! Our first co- talk! We had a blast and ended with a standing ovation! I loved it!

In this talk I was very open about my past, why I am a volunteer in tech? We also talked a lot about the fact that I was bullied a lot in the past. How bullying, educational choices and a hard period in a factory lead to a volunteering job in tech?

People love this openness and it feels more comfortable to talk about bullying, maybe just a bit more comfortable because my mom is on my side. Or not? In the past talks I presented a few talks about autism, every time I was also about at lot of things. But being bullied is not always a topic in my talk. With my mom on my side it’s more easy!

So folks, my magic fall is started, up to the next one!

Overview expo

Xamarin Expert Day Munich

The Venue, Microsoft Munich offices
The Venue, Microsoft Munich Offices

Munich, Germany! Beside of USA, visiting Germany was for me a dream destination! Why? I like the German language and the ‘meat culture’. In June I had the opportunity to talk at Xamarin Expert Day in Munich, and.. I had a blast!

I start with the culture. Germany has as I said a ‘meat culture’ and a ‘beer culture’. For me, as a Belgian, maybe I say stupid things if I say: “I like the German beer culture.” Big glasses, beer gardens, and why don’t you combine your IL beers with some meat?

A German beer garden
A German beer garden

Back on topic, Xamarin Expert Day! Start with the keynote! Jim Bennett not a complete unknown Xamarin guy – was really rocking the stage! ‘Xamarin, past, present and future’ was his talk. It was a nice overview of the past, and the present. But the future was more teasing. Of course there are rules about “Microsoft’s’ internal kitchen” and MVP Summits. But for an autistic person, I was thinking the complete day about the future.. But I loved the talk and the energy!

Jim Bennett is rocking the stage!

Luce Carter gave a talk about Xamarin Shell, I really loved this concept and her explanation. I believe Xamarin Visual (a part of Shell) will help me for accessible apps!

Come Out Your Shell with Luce Carter

Ulrike and Sia made another Accessibility Talk, I liked their concepts. It’s nice that the field ‘accessibility’ is so big! In their talk ‘Beyond Accessibility’ I heard a lot of renewing concepts, really helpful concepts and this concepts fit all together with mine concepts. Nice that you can apply different ‘views’, ‘angles’ of accessibility to make the most accessible solution ever!

Beyond Accessibility Wtih Ulrike and Sia

Of course I had my talk, I presented for the first time “Improve People with disabilities’ lives with Xamarin.Essentials”. A talk how you can engage accessibility with API’s from Xamarin Essentials. I covered, Text To Speech, Settings, Device Info, App Info, Connectivity and a few more. Yes, all this API’s improve accessibility!

And my talk, spoke for the first time in a T-Shirt, a Xammagon T-Shirt 🙂

So I liked Munich and I loved the German culture, Xamarin Expert Day Munich as a great conference and  I really had a blast and learned new concepts!

#DreamingIsBelieving #7ThYearMagic

#7ThYearMagic

By the end of 2018, I realized that 2019 will be the year of #7ThYearMagic, I invented this hashtag because I believed my life-dream was going to be reality.

Why was 2019 the era of #7ThYearMagic, there’ s no ‘7’ in 19? Well, well, in 2012, 7 years ago, I made the decision to give my programming talent as volunteer. If you are like me, quite spiritual, 7 is a magic number. It’s going to happen in 2019!

My life-dream was going to USA as speaker and visit the Microsoft Headquarters! But was this my only big dream? What if the dream is over? Last month ‘my dream’ finally happened! I visited Microsoft HQ in Redmond and spoke at my first US conference #ndcminnesota.

THE MICROSOFT REDMOND HEADQUARTERS

While I was living the dream, I noticed: “this is not the end, maybe just the beginning”. Do I have other dreams? Is it over? NO! I’d love to share my knowledge as public speaker. Traveling to tell the world to be inclusive for people with disabilities doesn’t end if I visited US Once!

The Missipi River St Paul

So proud to share next URI, my speaker site! It covers all my past and next talks. In this fall I have already 3 nice conferences! But my #7ThYearMagic dream doesn’t stop here!

http://www.ddsoft.be/speaker

Microsoft Ignite, The Tour London

Microsoft Ignite, The Tour London

On January 25th I travelled for the 2nd time this year to London. I really love London and the variety of conferences this metropole hosts.

This time it was time for a brand new conference: Microsoft, The Ignite Tour. Microsoft Ignite is a big conference in the US. But since fall 2018 many of the Microsoft experts are touring the world.  The concept of the conferences is: no keynotes, but a lot of break-outs straight from the experts.

The conference bought also a nice networking experience. You could network at the Microsoft booth with the experts from The States. I call it Microsofties as you know from other blogposts. There was also a drinks reception, specific booths par division. I liked especially the Diversity in Tech booth. More about Diversity and Inclusion are also covered in my session report.

This conference covered a lot of Diversity & Tech talks and panels. I really liked it. I visited more D&I than tech talks, at a tech conference! Love it!

The technical talks:

I liked the talk Discovering Microsoft Azure form Jim Bennett. I use Azure quite a  long time but Azure expands so fast. When I started by example, containers didn’t exist. In this talks Jim gave a good explanation of containers in Azure. There are also a lot of new compute options. Jim covered them all. But the biggest take-away from this talk is about the Azure Resource Manager. I used it wrong, honestly. With the new knowledge I can configure it the right way right now!

“I have a hammer, a hammer in the morning, a hammer in the evening…” is the song Jim Bennett pushed into my brain in his demo of Microsoft Cognitive Services in the talk Using Artificial Intelligence to augment data. This was a good talk with a very good understanding to get started.

What’s the difference between a picture (file) in Azure Blobs and Azure Files? A big difference! Azure Files are for data storage. The data can be a picture by example, but also a lot more. The files can be used via an external disk. If you are putting a picture in Azure Blobs it’ meant to be shared as JSON. This was one of the lessons Amy Boyd learned me at the session Storing Data in Azure!.

D&I

How were the Paralympics in London accessible to all? What were the first opinions? What happened to the UK people after the Paralympics? The London Paralympics has definitely changed a lot in the mind of people about life with physical disabilities. A view under the hood of the London Paralympics was covered by Dan Brooke, Hector Minto and Kerry Hollis

The Autism Hiring Program is my favorite one in US. Pity it’s not in Belgium. As people know I am autistic and working for Microsoft is one of my dreams. I learned more about the program in the talk It’s Ok to be not ok. Ayeshna Hirani, Marleen Reininger and Rob Ede covered also what Microsoft is doing to support mental health.

The rest of the conference was filled with topics as the LGBT+ Community. D&I islands in corporates and of course a lot of sessions about Microsoft Teams.

After this conference  I needed to make an action plan to get started when I am home. In fact everyone should do this? Which people will you contact first? Which technology to test first. One of my actions of my action plan was definitely subscribing to the Diversity and Tech community online. I am happy with this step.

So this was my report of Microsoft Ignite The Tour London. I loved it! More legs of the  tour here: