I attended and spoke at two .NET developer conferences this past week. The conferences aren’t affiliated with each other but, by a coincidence of scheduling, they were both in Las Vegas at the same time. The DevConnections conference was at the MGM Grand hotel. The Visual Studio Live conference was at the Mirage hotel. I’ve been at both of these conferences before and I always find them a good use of my time and money. The two main benefits I get from DevConnections and Visual Studio Live are, first, I go back to work re-energized and motivated, and second, I always learn something new. The new things I pick up usually happen more by accident, like through an unexpected conversation with another attendee or speaker, rather than by design (through one of the talks).
I especially enjoy conferences in Las Vegas. There are plenty of things to do. For me, I love wandering through casinos looking for new games. Las Vegas is continuously introducing new gambling games. Most do not catch on but every now and then a new game becomes very popular. I like to try and analyze these new games to estimate what the house advantage is. I ran into a really interesting game called Triple Attack Blackjack at Harrah’s casino across the street from the Mirage. It’s a blackjack variation where you can (optionally) increase your bet after you see your first card, and then (optionally) increase your bet again after you see the dealer’s up card. There are several companies based in Las Vegas that create new games and then license them to casinos; this game was created by a company called Galaxy Gaming. Anyway, learning about that game was a nice unexpected side effect from the two conferences.
Here’s a question for you. True or false: most developers are always learning because they have to in order to keep up with technology and so they don’t lose their jobs. The answer is false. Most developers are those people who naturally have a curious nature. That personality trait, combined with some innate technical competency, led them on the path to becoming developers in the first place. Attending conferences and enjoying learning new things are part of most software developer’s personality DNA.