Although I had traveled to Orlando for work many times before, I had never taken the time to go to Disney World. That changed in May, when I found myself attending DEVintersection at Disney World to help staff the SparkPost booth, talk to fellow developers, and generally geek out.

Sparky is All Ears

It was an amazing experience to have hundreds of people come talk with us at our booth, either to learn about SparkPost or tell us about their experience. I greatly enjoy interacting with the SparkPost community. Introducing them to our product and helping them solve problems is really rewarding for me.

There were a few memorable interactions. Some people just wanted to tell us that they really liked our API, both with regard to its quality and ease of use. A few people came to us with questions regarding getting started with SparkPost, but we were able to resolve their issues quickly, even when it involved DNS setup or learning how to use the Postman collection. Other people just wanted ideas on how SparkPost would be useful to them, and it was great to see the light bulb come on when we talked about features like personalizing templates to engage a user with focused content. Regardless, I love it when I can not only solve a problem, but see my work make a difference to people.

We gave out a lot of fun stuff including the very popular Sparky socks with the Wheel o’ Swag, and some lucky attendees won an entry into our Surface Laptop giveaway. If they weren’t lucky on the wheel, attendees could also enter by creating a SparkPost account and sending one of our booth staff an email through the SparkPost API. We had a lot of folks register and send entries, but there could only be one winner: David Nordstedt.

There were some awesome sessions during the week. I especially enjoyed the sessions on using Visual Studio with OS X. The Azure sessions also showed some amazing innovations that Microsoft is making in the way that developers interact with the cloud. Paul Yuknewicz of Microsoft gave a great session on Azure diagnostics and the new tools that have been introduced to Visual Studio to help troubleshoot, debug, and optimize cloud-based applications. The experience is quickly approaching the point where you can do everything locally with confidence that it will translate to Azure production.

The Mouse Can Wait

I had such a great time hanging out with over 1200 passionate developers that Disney World will yet again have to wait until another time. Sorry, Mickey.

Devintersection team photo

If you are running workloads on Azure, be sure to check out SparkPost in the Azure Marketplace, and take a look at our repository on Github.

Also, don’t forget that you can get yourself a cool set of Sparky socks by signing up for your own SparkPost account and sending your first email!

—Nick Zimmerman
Senior Site Reliability Engineer


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conference swag

A Round-Up Of Conference Swag Favorites

The best conference swag I’ve ever received was an extra phone charger battery (pre-charged). As the Director of Online Marketing at SparkPost, I take an interest in the items we choose to give away (and what items resonate with people), as we’ll periodically host giveaways on social media – Jennifer loves any excuse to send out swag to our community members.

Recently I was reading my Twitter feed and another Jennifer (@sigje) who helps organize devopsdays in Silicon Valley, asked a simple question that got some great responses:

She took the conversation further by asking, “Beyond the booth giveaways, what about the specialty items that they do drawings for? So often it’s drones right now. What do people value?

The responses were overwhelming. They ranged from a Macbook Pro with an app store gift card to really nice pens, Swell water bottles or functional USB hubs. I think it really depends on the audience, don’t you? I am a marketer, so I recently dropped my business card in a fishbowl at a conference for a chance to win a 3-D printer – I mean who wouldn’t? Can you imagine what I could make with one of those? I would have dropped my business card in there a hundred times if it had increased my chances!

But the fundamental problem with booth giveaways and raffles is that you know you are going to eventually be nagged by a sales person to buy their product or service. Am I right? So you’re more apprehensive and less willing to let booth staff scan your badge or drop your business card in, unless you really think it’s worth it. I mean if you could just sneak up to the booth without anyone seeing you and snag some swag, that would be the best – but that’s not realistic.

At events we’ve sponsored in the past, we’ve given away various t-shirts, flasks, graph pads, bottle openers, laptop stickers, iPads, iWatches, drones and BB-8s. On social media, we’ve given away Stance Star Wars socks, Star Wars comic books, and recently in an email we gave away limited-edition client library laptop stickers (which you might still be able to score at a future dev event). But we’ve never really asked you, what would you find most valuable? Let us know in the comments below and maybe you’ll see it at a future event or on social.

p.s. Of course, you can always get one of these free dev t-shirts for signing up for a SparkPost account – we have women’s dev sizes as well!