ThatConference 2014

For the past three years, a group of very smart and very generous people, have hosted a wonderful summer camp themed conference in Wisconsin titled ‘That Conference’.   It’s hosted at a giant indoor/outdoor waterpark and convention center, Kalahari Resorts.  The number and quality of the sessions is impressive, and may shock you a bit when you consider the entire ticket cost is currently under $400.

Most of the presentations I attended were put on by Microsoft MVPs, people who are recognized by Microsoft as leaders in the community and have demonstrated a strong ability to teach and inform others about the technology stack.

Each day starts off with a keynote.  Day 1 was Elizabeth Naramore,  who artfully spoke about how destructive FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) can be.  Day 2 was Tim Huckaby, a long time Microsoft collaborator  turned entrepreneur and founder of Interknowlogy, who spoke on the importance of design.  Day 3 was Mike Mcgee, who is the co-founder of Starter League, a rapid learning school hosted in Chicago.  Mike gave us his inspiring story of how he took risks, turned down offers, and maintained a focus on his business until it reached success.

Some of the favorite talks I participated in were:

SDK for your API by Wade Wegner

Understanding OWIN by Keith Dahlby (author of Posh Git)

RavenDB for the .NET Developer by Judah Himango

ORMs – You’re doing it wrong by Jimmy Bogard (founder of Automapper)

Building a Flexible Client API Library by Darrel Miller

Full Stack Web Performance by Nik Molnar (co-founder of Glimpse)

In addition to all the wonderful technical presentations, there were great opportunities to meet other like minded individuals.  There was a meet & greet for early check-in attendees, a happy hour with great food the first night, a full pig roast the second, and plenty of chances to interact and reflect on the final day.

Generous sponsors brought technology for everyone to experiment with.  Omni Resources brought an Oculus DK2 which I thought was amazing, Skyline Technologies made a flappy bird clone that utilized the Kinect to wave your arms to move, another company brought Google Glasses for people to try.   All the sponsors were developer focused, knowledgeable, and polite to the “campers”.

ThatConference will be 8/10/15 to 8/12/15 next year and I already have it noted on my calendar.


Kyle Ballard