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?
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!
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!
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!
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!
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
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.
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!
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!
On January 25th I travelled for the 2nd time this
year to London. I really love London and the variety of conferences this
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 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!.
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
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:
This blogpost is the first
blogpost about accessibility and inclusive design. It’s about naming.
Case 1: Enabling
I started submitting for
conferences and user groups in 2016 and in my first slide I called ‘it’ – with ‘it’
I mean a way for making applications for people with disabilities – enabling
apps, enabling design. The vision of enabling apps is clear and concrete: ‘apps that enable’. Apps that let people
do things that the are not used to do before the use of the app.
The vision comes from the
verb: ‘to enable’: to make tings possible. If you dig deeper in this approach,
make things happen that are not able before. I give you some examples: let people
who cannot read digest information. Inform people about x or y. Help people to
get information via mobile.
Case 2: Accessible
Accessible apps / make
things accessible. The most know term about accessibility is like accessible
websites. The basic concept of accessibility is: you have something that works
for people without disabilities, make it also work for people with disabilities.
In websites it can be bigger fonts, it can be the use of headings in a way that
narrators can read. .. Accessibility is hot on the web. In 2018 I gave a talk
Accessible apps in Xamarin:
The biggest advantage
with accessible apps in stead of enabling apps is: more and more people know
what accessibility is. The biggest disadvantage: in apps it is not used a
lot and the apps I am making is more to
make things happen, to enable than just making things accessible.
Case 3: Inclusive
I did a few times a
talk called: the power of inclusion. Inclusion
is he fact more and more different kind of people are using pc’s, smartphones
and apps and software. But inclusion is big. Where I got in contact with
the fact inclusion it was only about people with or without disabilities. These
days inclusion is more about all different kind of people. This means
Also people with a different gender, people with language barrier, migration
background and also people on the LGBT spectrum. At least the last
part of LGBT is more about inclusive working environment. At this time I haven’t
heard about LGBT apps or software and the need. But you aren’t allowed to think:
something is not needed and if you do, some developer find a good use case.
Like I am saying in
all of my talks I really strongly believe that the right apps can improve and
Case 4: Empowering
Do we need to change
to another term who encapsulates making things happen and accessibility. Do we
stay with accessibility? Move to inclusive apps?
Some things are sure: I make thing that change lives I strongly
believe it’s more than accessibility and inclusion. But at this time there are
some buzzwords do we need a new one?
So this was my first
blog on the accessibility spectrum. Please comment on Twitter, here on this
blog or everywhere you want.
Last week it was a real blast, call it a rollercoaster but a special rollercoaster. A rollercoaster with different speeds and power but only going up higher. Only hills, no deeps.
It was the NDC London week. NDC London is my first conference I spoke 2 times in a row. My flight to London was at Tuesday. Everything wend well and I love flying. When I arrived I’ve got my first peek: I’ve got an invitation for a conference to do a keynote talk. (I cannot say which conference at this time of writing). Being invited for a keynote was one of my big dreams.
When I’m arrived at the speakers hotel I was welcomed by other speakers and I had a real big family feeling. Nice hotel, the blast was started.
Wednesday at NDC was a lovely day, I reunited with Mads Torgersen, saw a nice talk of Troy Hunt and his 9 year old son and saw inspiring sessions from Tim G Thomas (on Icons on the web) and from Tannaz N Roshandel and Line Moseng about diversity in tech.
Of course a NDC Wednesday ends with a lovely boat cruise! I like it!
On Thursday was the day for my talks! I also took the time to learn about ASP.NET Core and I was inspired by David Neal and Jim Bennett (a hero BTW) (both hero’s don’t speak about ASP.NET but are really great)
My talks went well. It was a good audience and I loved the given questions. I really love to introduce autism and accessibility into the world of programmers! Will keep going on with this!
The NDC Party was magical. I got so much energy from Dylan Beattie about developing the Rockstar Language! It was so inspiring that developers besides their day jobs have the courage to develop more in their spare time. For myself (as person with autism) I have the feeling that developing what’s needed for my work at DDSoft takes effort. But Dylan (and also Clifford Agius on the Friday) inspired me so much to try to develop more hours and also make time again for side projects. This goes the same for blogging / professional social media… Let’s say: Dennie you do a lot, but you can do more!
Friday had big hills and huge climbs in this positive rollercoaster: The keynote from Scott Hanselman was magical. And the session (again from Scott) about Solving Diabetes with an artificial pancreas where really inspiring. To put the magic to the limit: just before lunch time I received a magical mail from NDC Minnesota that I was accepted for NDC Minnesota and then I knew “my life dream: visiting the states” will happen this year in May, for all this I made the hashtag #7ThYearMagic by the end of last year. I knew It must happen in 2019
Friday evening was PubConf and I partied a lot. For me it was the PubConf celebrating your life dream editions. Infuses by fantasizing about how to travel from Minnesota to Seattle and put the magic to the limit.
Now I am back in business, very thankful for last week and more inspired than ever! #DreamingIsBelieving! Let’s put my effort to the next limit.
As my main business is software for people with disabilities I was very happy that Accessibility was put high in the agenda of Microsoft Future Decoded in London. I travelled for the third time in a row to Future Decoded, and I really had blast!
For me Future Decoded was separated in 2 parts, as any good conference should. The first part are the sessions and technical learning. The 2nd part is the networking and getting in contact with the ‘big people’ at Microsoft and other companies. I call them ‘Big People’.
When I say: “two parts that any good conference has to have “ I mean the following: As some of you may know me I am diagnosed with autism. In the past, the technical sessions were the only part where I got something from. Getting in touch with the others was difficult for me. Since I am also speaker at conferences myself I learned to network!
First I cover the sessions.
Keynotes Day 1:
The morning keynote started with a history of Microsoft and also a history for Future Decoded. I am really happy with my attendance at 3 of 5 FD’s! Then it was time for the focus of this year Future Decoded! AI, AI, AI! I really do love AI for Good, and the investments in AI for Accessibility!
In the afternoon keynote I really loved Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE. I really love talks about people with our without disabilities that makes their dreams come thru! This was my most loved keynote of day 1. Congratulations Dr Maggie! Keep doing what you do and love most!
Keynotes Day 2
Satya Nadella and Jenny-Lay-Flurrie, a real dream team! Satya was talking about Tech intensity and inclusion. Of course he also covered a lot of the Microsoft stack. But this 2 are the most important to remind if you ask me! Jenny ‘s talk was an overload of accessibility and a view into the Microsoft’s Autism Hiring Program, for me a childhood dream. But #DreamingIsBelieving! Metthew Syed talked about Growth Mindest!
I went to a session about Microsoft Teams from Keith Hudgell, I really like what Microsoft is doing with Teams! I try to visit often a session about Microsoft Teams – yes I do a lot of conferences! – In the future I plan to give also talks about Teams. It was a good talk! Has the content that it has to have!
DevOps, DevOps, DevOps!
Rik Hepworth, for me a well-known speaker and one of my favorites presented a session about Azure DevOps! To the point, with the latest news about the name shift and so on! Rik, I love it! I also really do love Rik’s famous quotes! In each talk he put his own and right quotes!
Future Technology Trends Explained
Michael Wignall rocked the stage about new hot topics. Really relevant and to the point. Always a clear explanation about the newest topics.
Here I write what I learned in the breakouts and theatre sessions about accessibility. First a big shout out to Hector Minto! I knew Hector via Twitter, I really love his effort on accessibility he shares in his talks! I learned a lot about accessibility baking into Windows and Office 365.
I develop new apps for people with disabilities but Hector showed me what Microsoft already has baked-in in their own products. Even things I really didn’t know! Now it’s time to start to use this features.
At conferences I take a lot of pictures. Also a lot of pictures from slides. Hector hammered on the fact to take pictures with Office Lens! It’s really accessible! Honestly I knew this feature but never use it! Since the first talk of Hector (he did 3 talks! In 2 talks he was co-speaker. One talk he did on his own) I started to use this feature!
A word about dyslexia.
In many talks about accessibility there was a link to dyslexia. As I focus on mostly people with intellectual disabilities I really have to expand to people with dyslexia. For me an business eye-opener.
Part 2: Networking!
I had awesome talks with other speakers like Rik Hepworth, Stephen Haunts and Shadid Iqbaal and with organizers like Dave Evans. I did take the time to discuss the hottest topics! I liked it.
And I am really happy that I got the opportunity to meet Jenny Lay-Flurrie in person A real life-dream! Thanks a lot Jenny to put your time to discover my ideas! And after Tweeting for a year (I guess) I had the time to discuss accessibility with Hector Minto! Thanks for you time and the given opportunities.
So Future Decoded 2018 really had a blast! Thanks to all!