vCampus Live 2012 Summary

Blog Post created by RJKSolutions on Dec 17, 2012

It has been far too long since vCampus Live 2012 for me to be writing this summary blog post but I felt the need to anyway.


For those of you who want to summary version then you can simply compile and run the following console application C# code:




If that code is too abstract for you then read on as I decompile the code.


Firstly I decided to travel well before vCampus Live started as I knew all too well that coming from the UK I would be jet lagged for the vCampus Programming Hackathon.  So I arrived on the Saturday before vCampus Live with my family in tow.  That was a challenge in itself, the amount of luggage required for a family of 4 that includes 2 children was unbelievable but, I digress.


Venue & Registration
The Grand Hyatt was in a great location and was a great venue for vCampus Live, strides ahead of last year’s venue.  The 36th floor was a great setting for events so was pleased to see that the Hackathon and Geek Extravaganza were being held up there.  The décor for vCampus Live was spot on, subtle things like the banners running down the middle of the escalators were a nice touch.  Congratulations to the event team and everyone involved for that!  Food, coffees, drinks, snacks, … all seemed to be well stocked and available, which was great.


Registration was simple and painless, seemed to work great.  A little shy on “freebies” that we usually get during registration but no great shame.


The Hackathons
The Hackathons were side-by-side in that they were both run at the same time.  The selfish person inside me wanted to participate in both the Security and Programming Hackathon but I had to choose one so I opted for the programming Hackathon.  Having already been drip fed some details of what the hackathon would entail I was still a little nervous because I just didn’t know what to expect or how I would react as an individual (even though I thrive on pressure) or how as a team we would work together. 

Michael opened the Hackathon and started talking about the data, the rules of engagement, and what was expected.  He touched on the team aspect of the Hackathon and mentioned encouraging others to join a team even if you didn’t know anyone on that team…I liked that idea.  Two of my Wipro colleagues, Zev Arnold and Peter Jackson, were also participating in the hackathon so we needed two more.  A very nice guy called Paw from Denmark approached our table and asked to join, he was more than welcome.  So we needed one more for a team of 5.  Out came my iPhone, I opened Twitter and sent Lonnie Bowling a tweet asking him to come join us on our team in the Hackathon.  Lonnie was presenting the next day so needed some beauty sleep so couldn’t join us this year.  I’ve given him 1 years notice for the next Hackathon to get plenty of sleep.  Then like a scene out of a film, the hackathon room doors were thrown open, a bright shining light filled the room and there at the centre of the light was a shadowy figure.  The room fell silent, footsteps were heard approaching our hackathon table followed by a Canadian French accent “Hi Rhys”…it was Gael Cotett, our French saviour and soon to be 5th member of our team.  Dramatic recollection aside, Gael was the 5th member of our team after joining us a few hours in to the hackathon right when we hit some issues with the “mapping” portion of our application where he helped to get us back on track.  Gael even went to bed, got in to his pyjamas, made a hot chocolate, put his eye mask on (okay, I’m exaggerating again) but then realised something about our application and ran back to the hackathon room to explain.  A great example of team work during the hackathon.


We did experience something during the hackathon that none of our team members were prepared for, something that proved to be the most difficult part of the entire hackathon for us: a team name.  Yep, we could write an application all night long but couldn’t focus our minds on a team name until we stumbled on the team name “01”.  We know, we know, we suck at team names.  We have vowed to go on a 1 week “team names 101” course.


In the end we finished our application, a journey mapping application with fuel efficiency overlays based on Event Frames, and presented to the judging panel.  We were all proud of what we achieved in such a short space of time.  Well it turned out that despite the poor team name, team “01” were chosen as the winners of the 1st Programming Hackathon! 

The cloud based environment seemed to work great on the whole for the hackathon, a few hiccups along the way but small things that will help to shape an even better hackathon next year.


The hackathons are definitely a must for all future vCampus Live events!


Hands-on labs
The hands-on labs this year were great and much improved from last year.  I had a couple of highlights from the hands-on labs, Abacus and OData. 
Abacus looks like it is going to propel AF further in to the laps of customers, not only because it looks like a well put together addition for AF but because it completes one of the most sought after gaps with AF; AF based scheduled calculations.  With that said it was after all a preview of what is coming and not at a beta stage yet.  There were questions that everyone wanted to ask, there were things that didn’t flow nicely (it would help to be able to drag & drop Attributes), and things that I just wanted time to try and break.  Overall I came away with a smile and disappointment, disappointing that I don’t have Abacus right now in a couple of projects.


The OData hands-on was one of my highlights because it was a new area of technology for me, it seemed to work great, had great content in the material and was the one lab I came away with multiple idea explosions in my brain.  It was definitely a light bulb moment for me, suddenly I started to get why the OData service is going to be great for mobile development, Win8 development and Azure (e.g. data exchange).  Great Job OSIsoft.


Keynote speakers
Rob Craft and Stephen Few were fantastic.  Some of the simplicity of Stephen’s work was a real eye opener, I am sure most of us think twice now before we change the type of an Excel chart to a Pie Chart.
Rob Craft had a wonderful presentation style that kept me glued to his every word, apart from the time when I was distracted by the shoes he was wearing.


Being voted as a vCampus All-Star for the 3rd year in a row was an obvious highlight and proud moment of vCampus Live 2012 for me.   I have long been a massive fan of vCampus and the community it has grown (that continues to grow daily!) so it is always a great honour to be rewarded by the very thing you believe in.  Even after 3-4 years of participating in vCampus I still feel the need to participate more each day as newer OSIsoft products are released, as the community grows, and as new innovative ways of using the PI System are materialising.  Looks like there are some changes coming up with OSIsoft communities as a whole, something I want to continue to participate in.   
It was a privilege to share the stage with Lonnie Bowling and Michael Halhead (in spirit ) as community All-Stars.
The OSIsoft All-Star awards this year were a great addition to the All-Star ceremony, after all the community wouldn’t be the same without the active participation of OSIsoft and its staff.  Congratulations to David Hollebeek, Chris Manhard and one of the vCampus founding fathers Steve Pilon.


Geek Extravaganza
The Geek Extravaganza night was a great idea that was implemented after everyone’s feedback from last year.  There was quizzes, drink, food, Jenga, drink, food, multiplayer RPG, drink, food … I even found out the next day that there was a Dancing arcade game.  Now I would have loved to have found that game on the night and thrown down some moves albeit long limbed moves…next year I’m all over it.  I hope this stays for future vCampus Live events.


Developers Lounge
My only disappointment of the event was the developers lounge.  It just didn’t seem to work for what I was expecting.  I was hoping for something like the expo pods at the regular User Conference but only OSIsoft expo pods (Event Frames, AF, PI Server, ProcessBook, ...) that are manned by 1 or 2 OSIsoft employees at a time so you can walk up to a pod, talk about a problem/issue/enhancement or whatever and see it right in front of you.  The room was too big with too little going on – why not have some arcade machines in there, a Xbox, … foster more of an engaging atmosphere.  My opinion on the developers lounge anyway, be interesting to hear other opinions here.


All in all a very successful vCampus Live 2012, thanks OSIsoft!  Only problem you have now is to better it next year.






Here are some humorous comments about my trip to vCampus Live 2012:

  • I forgot to pack my English Tea Bags; literally a “noooooooooo” moment when I realised sat on my flight halfway across the Atlantic Ocean.  Boy was I glad to get a proper cup of tea when I got home.


  • Heading back to my hotel room at about 2 am for “some sleep” during the hackathon only to flip open my laptop and work some more on our application in my room.  About 2 hours later I lied down for my 2nd attempt at some sleep but 2 hours later I was woken by my excited 3 year old son with the biggest smile shaking me saying “did you win Daddy?”  Needless to say that was my cue to get up, showered and back up to the hackathon room to finish off.  At least I could tell him and his younger brother the next day that we did win


  • Being sleep deprived for Day 1 of vCampus Live felt like I was walking around drunk.


  • Tweeting before vCampus Live about my new “Beats by Dr. Dre” headphones for some late night hackathon programming, having that tweet featured on the “new look vCampus” presentation by Ahmad but then realising after vCampus Live had finished that I didn’t even get the headphones out of my suitcase.


  • I was far too excited on the San Francisco 'Ride the Ducks' city tour.


  • Our ridiculously poor attempt at a Hackathon Team Name: “Team 01”.  Surpassed by our even worse application name of “01a”.


  • Telling a fib in Bubba Gumps restaurant on Fishermans Wharf that it was my birthday just so they would sing their happy birthday chant.  (It was my birthday 2 weeks before vCampus Live.)  My son, Ethan, had fish in a boat shaped plate.  He was amazed.


  • My obsession with eating the energy/protein bars from the developers lounge.  Apologies if every time you saw/spoke to me that I was eating one of those.


  • Trying to ice skate with a 3 year old after not skating myself for about 15 years.