I'd like to preface all this by the fact I've been up since 4 a.m. and though I have showered numerous times have not actually napped. My hair may be coiffed but the brain inside is a tangled mess.
Nevertheless I feel honor bound to report that I've made it to the Gold Coast, to the Student Day there (where I managed to catch a killer presentation about Dystopia, this first person shooter based on Valve's Half Life and the lead dev ("My girlfriend makes sure I eat" ) who looked perhaps 20 at the outside, *learned C++* by using Visual Studio, reading the Half Life engine's SDK, and trying to make stuff morph and break. Two years later, he's lead coder on a project that has Valve's scrutiny. I love stories like that. :)
I also managed to give my "Power of Blogging" preso with Frank Arrigo Frank is this man you instantly trust. I am not sure if itis because of his good disposition, wavy hair or what. He seems kindred to Eileen Brown to me - they would make good drinking buddies but they also share that blogging evangelism spark that you really need, all around the world. Frank was the "Swag King" - while I droned on, he gave away Xboxes and Gotdotnet t-shirts.
In moves reminiscient of Orlando, I saw people clamber over seats and people's heads to get these things. Yeah, I know the site doesn't look that way - yet. :) We are working on it.
I have after numerous emails finally met the unflappable Chuck Sterling, and brought him a large bottle of A-1 steak saauce. That big bottle made it through customs in NZ (Or "N-Zed"), through customs in Brisbane, largely because it is not an egg or other organic biohazard that would bring pests into either country. Chuck is a man of beef. And diving apparently, you will see his mug on the "Deep Diving" poster all around.
I have been inundated with hiphop music and gaming food (potatoes covered in nacho cheese and hot dogs and pizza) at the Student Day reception. There is actually - and we will see if I can get this up in a later edition of this blog post - a BOXING ring, inflatable, where grown men are currently beating each other up with helmets and inflatable boxing gloves. If we Americans ever wondered whether we were pure wusses next to the Aussies - well, this proves it.
It's been actually neat to talk with students about blogging. I told both Student Day audiences that this is the first generaiton of student bloggers - they will be the ones telling ME what it meant to them to have a blog and go out into the world and get a job. One fellow in NZ came up to me and asked what to write about, how to make it human, and I gave him a few ideas including - think of a first year student in your area you could mentor. What would you tell him or her? I have been amazed at the reception to my "VB Newbie" articles has been. I'm still to be honest a lame programmer hands down. But what I struggled with others do too, so if we all learn together...I think he secretly thought I was nuts but oh well.
Today one fellow asked about podcasting and what Microsoft was doing about it. I pointed out that our employees are already doing podcasts (and there's the video blogging of channel 9 of course) but pointed out there were many areas to specialize..the "podcatching" software, the RSS feed/enclosures, the blogging engine that produces those feeds, and the audio engineering, the video mastery that is needed.
I need to do a shoutout to my fellow University of Washington MFA comrades - all of us who came through the creative writing program - because I got to use you as an example today in two ways. One was, answering the question - "Do you have to have a degree in computer science?" and I pointed out that I did not have one though I DID work in a computer lab while completing the poetry thesis. The other was about writing skills and blogging and voice, and while I can't remember all I said in the inspired adrenaline rush, I know I egged them on to find their voices and not give up. That you should take heart if you are a good writer because you can do anything. I have morphed through several careers because I can write, and its a skill that always serves you.
Need to do one more shoutout to the CodeZone people - thanks to you I can blog this, because my Brookstone adapter for Australia has mysteriously vanished, and only the "universal plug thingie" that the CodeZone lead gave me in Amsterdam was left to serve. It is doing great and my laptop has not expired but thrived. I only exist through the kindness of strange geeks. Thank you, one and all.
JD Meier, I have not yet seen a kangaroo, but the trip is young. :)