Cross platform application development with Xamarin

I recently had the opportunity to speak to the Aberdeen .NET user group about developing cross platform applications with the Xamarin. This was my first talk of 2015 and it was a fantastic experience, starting with the drive up to Aberdeen, the majestic view I enjoyed while drinking coffee in front of ther river at the university canteen and finally speaking to like-minded people about how to get started with mobile apps development.

In this blog I provide links to the videos and slides from the talk and also a retrospect of what I thought went well and what could have gone better. I will start with the fun part:

Material

The slides can be found on SlideShare or can be viewed below:

The first video was recorded by BCS Aberdeen and unfortunately for most of the talk I am hiding behind a giant monitor. As a result, you can see the slides and you can hear me but visibility is not perfect. Lesson learned :)

The second video is my personal recording and the goal was to capture on camera how I sound, move, speak etc. It is my educational material to help me improve as a speaker. It is rough around the edges and although the content and visibility and sound are both good, there is definitely area for improvement, as you may notice yourself.

Retrospect

The good things

The organisation of the whole talk was excellent. Both Gary and Doug were fantastic in the run up to the event. They organised the venue, posted it online, created buzz around the subject, replied to every question I had and made me feel at ease.

The equipment was also fantastic and the hardware state of the art. I was able to connect both my MacBook Pro and Surface 3 with a couple of adapters but the huge benefit was the fact I could easily switch from one machine to another and project the right screen while doing the demos. There was a large monitor on the podium but nothing that cannot be worked around. I thoroughly enjoyed the setup as it made my life so much easier.

Preparation was a major key to success. For the first time I bought new kit to use for my talks and conferences. I invested in a new laptop bag that can easily carry 2 laptops, all my cables, adapters and chargers and my camera with its tripod. Since I will be using it a lot, I went for medium to high quality stuff after reading many reviews online. I was really happy with my purchases and it helped me come prepared for almost all eventualities.

The venue space was brilliant. We were fortunate to get one of the bigger rooms at the School of Computing at Aberdeen University which, in itself, is state of the art and very modern. The room was large, the lighting was good and the temperature perfect. There were 3 projectors to cover the whole room so nobody felt left out, or so I hope.

The not so good things

Nothing was particularly bad. On the contrary, the whole talk went pretty well, the setup was smooth and the demo gods were kind to me, apart from wheny they sneezed and broke one of them :). So what could have gone better then?

Internet access was a let down but so is in every other talk, conference and meetup I've been. It's hard to get it right so you better be prepared. Even though the university provided us with guest accounts to the network, the fact that I had to configure proxies on both machines wasn't ideal. Since Xamarin requires a Mac to act as a host for compiling the iOS solution, I needed a small private network to facilitate this. In the end, I resorted in using my phone for tethering and that worked as expected. I've done this in the past and it works a treat, unless you have to download tons of data. For some funny reason it seems that wherever there is technology meeting, an invinsible forcefield gets developed and kills all mobile signal. What you end up with is 1 or 2 bars on GPRS. But I was already prepared for no internet access and so should you if you are planning a demo.

Talking in public is not easy. As a matter of fact, many people have a deep fear or hatred about public speaking. I'm not an orator, as you many notice on the video evidence, but I get by - just. I'm actively trying to improve my speaking skills by attending a Toastmasters class. The class should, in my opinion, be taught at schools and not wait until we become adults to suddenly get up and speak about a subject. I understand how some people may find this hard, but if there is one way to conquer your fears, is by confronting them. If you love what you do, go out and do it. Back lets focus on me for this one. I have a long and steep way ahead of me and I found so many flaws on my talk that I wanted to throw my laptop on the floor and break it in hundreds of pieces. However, this would have been extremly silly, firstly because I value my laptop and secondly because I need to improve myself. It's a very hard thing to look and listen to yourself and I didn't like it a bit. But it's necessary

Travelling to and from Aberdeen in one day was quite a bit. By the time I finished and wrapped things up with the excellent organisers (Gary and Doug), it was almost 9pm and I had a 3hr drive back home. It was a challenge and now that I think about it, I could have stayed overnight and drove back in the morning.

Conclusion

My first of many talks for this year started with a buzz. It was an good introduction and everything went smoothly thanks to Gary's and Doug's help. They were great hosts and the audience was welcoming and engaging. Here's to the first of many more to follow.

P.S Make sure you follow me on Twitter @christosmatskas for more up-to-date news, articles and tips.


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