It's been a while since I've written a .NET Oxford blog post, choosing to replace the detailed blog posts with summarised "show notes" on the new .NET Oxford website (you can read about my reasons here). However, last month, we had an additional 'weekend' meetup with guest James Montemagno(!!) flying into the UK especially to talk at our little old' user group! So I thought this was definitely worth a blog post!
James is a Principal Program Manager for Mobile Developer Tools at Microsoft, and he co-hosts one my favourite podcasts, Merge Conflict. He also co-hosts the Xamarin Podcast, plus a few others! As well as live coding on his Twitch stream, and much more!
He very kindly joined us to talk all about Xamarin. I won't go into too much detail on the content of the talk itself, as thanks to Pusher, it was recorded, so you can watch the real thing! (see below). I'd highly recommending watching this - it was an amazing talk, not only going into what Xamarin is and why you'd want to use it, but also delving into plenty of code showing how to create Xamarin apps both with and without Xamarin Forms.
So, let's start at the beginning - how on earth did a humble little user group like ours end up with a big name like James Montemagno flying into the UK especially?! Infact, this is something I ask myself about other speakers we've had too - eg. Jon Skeet (Oct 2018 and Oct 2019), Uncle Bob, Marc Gravell, and many other awesome speakers! So we must be doing something right! For James though, it all started with a Tweet...
I have a free night on October 26th to present in Europe at a user group! I am flying from Cologne Germany in the AM and need to leave for Netherlands on the 27th. If you have a user group that is easily accessible for me to get to that night ping me! <3— James Montemagno (@JamesMontemagno) September 16, 2019
Yes, you read that right - "a user group in Europe". Europe is a big place! But, it was worth a shot, so I replied saying that we'd be happy to host him in Oxford! Luckily, he'd never been here, and the lure of the City of Oxford won him over!
I do want to thank Clifford Agius for bringing that Tweet to my attention, as I wouldn't have spotted it otherwise! I certainly owe Clifford a beer or three!
The venue I was expecting to use, unfortunately (even after saying that they could host us), got back saying that they couldn't actually get cover for the Saturday. This was after James had already booked his flights and hotel! I luckily don't normally suffer from stress, so let's just call this a mild discomfort - but I was certainly strongly aware that I needed to find a venue, and quickly!
There was talk about using the building of one of my main clients' at the Oxford Science Park, but unfortunately that didn't work out. Luckily though, after a while of ringing around a few venues, I discovered the Blue Boar House, which was ideal! We're actually going to use it for some of our events moving forwards. It was certainly a relief to get this booked in!
Another small worry I had was the numbers. Given the speaker, the RSVP count was surprisingly low! I was strongly aware that it was not only a Saturday, but a Saturday during half-term! Also it unfortunately coincided with the DDDEM conference. Given James was flying in especially, it would have been rather embarrassing if only 15 people turned up! Fortunately, the numbers weren't too bad on the night, which was a relief!
On the day, I arrived early in town and settled down in a coffee shop to get a bit of work done. A bit later, I got a message from James about meeting up, and he suggested the Art Cafe, which coincidentally enough is exactly where I was! It was a bit strange meeting up for a coffee with someone so well known, especially someone who I'm used to hearing a lot on podcasts I listen to. But it was also great fun geeking out with him over things like functional programming, laptops, podcasting, etc!
We then headed off to the venue, and met up with some of the others. Both John Parkin (who does our photography and very kindly sponsored the food and drinks this time), and also Alex the cameraman (from Pusher) were already there. Guests started to arrive, and then I kicked off with the intro-talk. In the intro, I pretty much said what I said above, then did the usual news items, prize draws, and upcoming events. Then it was over to James! As I mentioned above, I won't go into the talk itself, as it was recorded and the video is embedded earlier in this post - but I will again, highly recommend giving it a watch! :)
With the meetup being an hour earlier than our usual meetups, we'd also reserved a table at Cafe Rouge for afterwards, where the tech geekouts continued!
Before I wrap up this post, I'd like to end by saying a massive thank you to our sponsors!
For this particular event, our usual primary sponsor, Corriculo Recruitment couldn't get the cover for the weekend, so they decided to not sponsor this one. Which is fair enough, as it was an additional event ontop of the two meetups they sponsor every month anyway! However, they've been so amazing from the start for both .NET Oxford and Azure Oxford, I couldn't not mention them both here and at the event itself. So a massive thank you to Corriculo for everything they've done!
Taking their place for this event, local software company New Orbit very kindly sponsored the venue cost. A massive thank you to their CTO, Frans Lytzen for sponsoring this for us. They've actually also recently been sponsoring one of our prize draws, handing out Raspberry Pis!
Our secondary sponsor in all our events has been my own company, Everstack, providing a lot of my time to manage and organise .NET Oxford - even though that time does tend to be evenings, weekends, and lunchtimes (but who's counting!)!
I'd also like to thank John Parkin from Ocean Software for covering the food and drinks for this meetup, as well as doing the photography for most of our meetups! And also for being a great person to work with, as he also works at one of my main clients!