Dinner with the CLR team

Words really cannot describe the events that started a few weeks ago with a private invite to dinner with a few cool guys from the CLR team and ended just a few hours ago with a life changing experience for me. In your lifetime, there have probably been several times in your life where you have evaluated your skills and felt you were at the top of your game. Just the same, there have probably been other times where you just felt completely out of your league. Now, I’ve given a few presentations, written a few books and secured quite a few cool jobs in my lifetime so on my way to Atlanta to meet Brad Abrams, Kit George, Jason Zander, and Claudio Caldato from the CLR team, I was feeling pretty solid in my skill set. These guys, however, made this seasoned consultant feel like an end user.

To be perfectly honest, in context I am an end user. These guys are building the frameworks that I use to make money. By all definitions, I’m the guy that uses their stuff — ergo end-user. Now, before anyone gets the wrong idea, these were some of the most approachable and down-to-earth guys I’ve ever met. They didn’t belittle anyone or make any assumptions. They were truly engaging and were very interested in what feedback we had for them. They wanted to know what we were doing with .NET and how they could make our lives easier. The topics that I participated in ranged from talking with Kit about what’s new with security, to talking to Jason about all things memory management and the future of the CLR.

Now you may ask, “why was this a life changing experience?” I would of course have to answer thus: these guys got me excited about learning again. The brought back the same feeling I had years ago when I first started developing and everything was new and exciting. They reminded me about how much I didn’t know and how cool it could be to know that stuff. Two years ago, I caught myself falling down the “developer burn-out” stage that has happened to more than one developer that I know of in my life. I just couldn’t find it in me any longer to try REALLY hard to do my job. I bullied my way through that era and found myself interested in staying alive in the developer game.

But the group we talked to tonight had me more than just interested — I’m still jumping up and down in my heart. I’m excited again and I don’t think I’ll sleep for a solid month trying to play catch-up. I could have talked for months to these guys and I wouldn’t have blinked. If I can talk about a guy and maintain my heterosexuality, let me just say that I absolutely LOVED Jason Zander. Not that the whole team wasn’t brilliant, but this guy has been with Microsoft for 13 years. He’s been working with Microsoft since Windows 3.x and remembers compiling from OS2! As such, this guys has a wealth of knowledge that I couldn’t possibly pick up even if I didn’t have to make a living doing the grunt work.

I’m again looking at these words and finding myself , for once, unable to express even the slightest bit how in awe I am that these people know this much…

… just when you think you understand where the absolute top of the food chain is and think that maybe.. just maybe you could one day stand next to them and converse at their level, they start talking about the guys that “really know what they are talking about” that didn’t come to the dinner!!!

I just so happened to have had an old crappy 1megapixel camera in my truck glove box so I ran out and took the best pictures I could with the equipment I had. I had intended to drive all the way home tonight, get some sleep and blog about the dinner tomorrow. However, I’m so excited that I rented a room in a hotel in Greenville, ran to wal-mart to buy a new wi-fi card (since the motel I’m at has free wireless internet) and also a compact flash card reader. Please forgive the crappy photos, but I dumped them into a gallery for everyone’s amusement. Luckily, I was taking the pictures so I was out of most of them. 🙂

Guys thanks a million for showing up. Thanks a million for answering our questions. Thank you SO much for giving me a new bar to aim for. Thank you, thank you for bringing me back to life.

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