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D³: LIVE & INTERACTiVE Monthly, 1st Wednesday
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A presenter at the front of the room, a projector, looks like just another session at TechDays doesn’t it?
But this session is a hands on lab. If you take a step back you notice a room full of computers and lots of attendees writing code
This is the hands on lab area at TechDays Vancouver, something we are trying for the very first time this year at TechDays. It’s great to see everyone getting a little hands on experience with the products and hearing all the great questions and discussions they start up with the presenters and proctors. You would think a presenter has nothing to do in this session, but that’s not the case! The presenter and proctors are constantly moving around the floor helping out when people get stuck or when they have questions about the lab or the product. You can bring your own laptop, or use one of ours, but the labs have been sufficiently popular that every laptop we have is in use so if you are joining us in Montreal please bring your laptop! If you aren’t attending TechDays you won’t miss out because when we launch the new TechDays website we’ll have all the labs we offered at TechDays and more available! Loving the labs in Vancouver! Next Stop Montreal! Then we go live for all of Canada!
I happen to be one of the people in that picture and unfortunately the lab was awful, the session was something like "Basics of application development for windows azure".
The VM it was running in was so slow it was hard to do much (the people to my left and in front of me were complaining about it also). Also the instructions were outside the VM so you were constantly switching back and forth to see what you were doing.
The lab itself had a lot of typing of boilerplate code which was supposed to be helped by snippets, but all the snippets for a bunch of labs were in one folder in the hierarchy so it was a matter of right click > insert snippet > my snippets > scroll through hundreds of snippets to find the right one.
Most of the people around me gave up on trying to do the lab as it wasn't possible given the conditions and the amount of time so they were just reading the source code and running the completed examples provided.
I like the idea of labs and I've done them at other conferences but this was a failure and I was quite annoyed to have my time wasted on something that obviously hadn't been thought out. Hopefully they will be better when launched on the website.
The challenges of trying something new. We are still learning how to make sure the labs deliver value, so although we did our best up front, running through each lab beforehand, testing our portal, and trying to select labs we thought would be of interest, in a way you and the others have been helping us with the beta testing of instructor led labs at the show. There are still ways for us to improve the experience. I promise you we do listen to and appreciate your feedback. We made changes to 3 labs between Toronto and Vancouver based on feedback we received during the show and we even modified the way the labs were presented to try and provide a more effective hands-on experience in Vancouver.
The labs you see at the show aren't created by our team but are created by the product teams, we don't control the content, so these are the same labs you see at conferences like TechEd and PDC. I will pass on your feedback to the lab owner. I think we are also learning which labs are more effective for the instructor led lab experience. The Azure lab does contain a lot of code, so it may work better when you can do it at your own pace rather than trying to fit it into a 75 minute timeslot.
As part of our learning, we did get changes made to the internet connections from day one to day two in Vancouver in an attempt to improve the performance of the labs, but even day two was slow. We are upping the bandwidth again in Montreal.
I am very interested in getting feedback on whether the labs are something we should continue at TechDays, this is the first year we've done it, I realize your experience was far from ideal, this is our first time doing labs and we are learning too. Please feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to give me your thoughts on whether this is something you want to see next year. I extend this invitation for feedback to others who attended the labs as well!
Will the labs at TechDays Online be better?
-Launching the labs will take a little bit longer because we have labs pre-launched for TechDays and connect to existing instances.
-Once the lab is launched it may be faster depending on the speed of your internet connection. You won't be sharing a conference wireless connection with 50 others.
-There are 50 labs that will be available online, I am sure some will be better than others, you do have me thinking now, that it would be nice to have some sort of comment or feedback system so if we have a lab that isn't as good as another we can remove it and replace it with a different one...or if we have a really good lab we can let you know about it, time to go talk to the website team and see if we can figure something out...