Yesterday I presented the keynote at the 2012 Tcl/TK North American conference held here in Chicago. It's a smallish but awesome group of people in their 19th year of meeting, and it hit me a bit harder than I expected. Today is the first time in my career that someone outside of the company I actually work for has seen something I've done/written and not only sought me out, but offered to bring me out and put me up to have me attend and present. F5 wasn't paying them for the time slot and Clif Flynt who runs the Tcl Con originally found me early this year out of the blue based on some writing I've done and approached me. That was a pretty darn cool experience in and of itself.
Fast forward a few months and I'm on stage presenting to some of the most hardcore programming geeks you'll ever meet, and suddenly I'm not the biggest Tcl expert in the room, like I normally am when talking about iRules, by a long shot. The 90 minute slot went by in a flash, and I had a host of questions for quite a while after, and throughout the day. They were truly interested and impressed with our technology and, seemingly, my part in it and their conference. When previous keynote speakers have been recognizable leaders of technology sectors and Nasa engineers working on little things like the Mars rover, I was a bit nervous as to the reception I'd get. Turns out I work with some darn cool technology too. To their credit F5 did support this experience and event for me. They happily sent me on company time and Jason even drove 10 hours round trip just to see my short little preso. What a guy, right?
These are the geekiest geeks I've ever been around. True programming nerds, calculator watches, 65 year old grey pony tails and all. Let's be very clear about that - I say it with respect and a bit of envy. These are people that have forgotten more about programming than I've ever learned, and it's pretty awesome to get to rub elbows with "my people". They are working on obscure technologies like nano magnetism fields, naval simulations for boat building including chamber by chamber fire analysis and response, and even some work for Nasa. They are also damn intelligent. This was the first time ever I've had someone from the audience call out my code and tell me how I could optimize it while I'm presenting. I laughed pretty hard and then explained that it was absolutely awesome to have that happen, and how I'm always the most programming savvy person in the room while presenting for F5, since I'm not usually talking to software people, let alone hardcore coding geeks. They liked that and we all got a good laugh out of it.
As if that weren't enough, I've also gotten to not only watch some other really killer presentations, proving even further how much these people are far better programmers than I'll ever be, and absolutely monster Tcl'ers, but had some really killer conversations, seen some demos of amazing things written in Tcl, made some friends and connections in the core team and community surrounding the technology, and even got invited to give the keynote next year at the German Tcl Con. Apparently they liked what I had to say.
So, the moral of the story? If any of you out there ever had a doubt that F5 deals with wicked cool technology, or doesn't speak to the architects and programmers with the deeply powerful technology we offer, or doesn't "get it" when it comes to what app developers are doing these days? Think again. If I can stand for almost two hours talking about F5 technology and how amazing it is and keep the attention of this audience to the point that I get invited across the pond to do it again, well, there's no doubt in my mind that the gear I get to play with on a daily basis is pretty darn powerful.
It was a really fantastic experience in just about every way, and I'm really honored that I got to attend, let alone present. In case anyone in attendance or organizing the event stumbles across this - thank you very much.