Notes on the 2020 PASS Virtual Summit – Part 6

Mostly Friday notes here.

This morning I was the moderator for Continuous Integration with Local Agents and Azure DevOps by Steve Jones. The way the Summit worked this year is that the speaker, moderator, and support staff would all join a Zoom call and then the Zoom call was streamed back to Cadmium and out to users. I also had a private link to the streamed session so that I could monitor the questions and discussions.

I started out by joining Zoom and the public stream, wanted to see the delay first hand. It seemed to be around 30 seconds, but I understand that can vary up to 90 seconds. I only checked a couple times. In that mode I could see the questions but not answer them. It was also – as expected – a confusing experience, because on Zoom Steve was 30+ seconds ahead of what was playing in the public stream.

So, I closed that, joined back with the private link and muted the audio. After that it was watching the question tab while listening to the presentation on Zoom. The technical experience questions were handled by the support team, so I only had to watch for the technical ones. We ended up with two batches, one about half way and toward the end. The first question was a good one, but I had not seen the deck ahead of time and decided to hold it for a slide to see if it would get answered in the flow. Almost, so then just a matter of waiting for a place to interrupt, without interrupting!

I tried to do the following, with mixed success:

  • Pose the question as “Andy asked…” if I thought I could get the name right.
  • Mute
  • Try to capture a bit of the verbal answer and type that in to the question answer. In one case I was able to find a link to the page he was looking at.
  • Mark as answered
  • Go back and mark any technical question as a favorite (if there had been a 100 questions, maybe this wouldn’t have been doable)
  • Repeat, keeping an eye on the time

He ended up with a couple mins to spare at the end after answering all of the questions, so I asked a couple of my own to clarify a couple points and that carried it just a bit over the end time (which is ok).

I checked the discussion tab a few times, but short of a big problem assumed that was attendees chatting and shouldn’t need moderation. The UI for this was just OK. One tab for questions with an option to see all or unanswered, and then the discussion tab. You can go back and forth or set them up side by side. When you answer a question there is not an option to mark as favorite then, you have to go through the all questions list to mark it. Annoying, not huge.

Tried Discord, didn’t seem to land in the right place, then got interrupted and didn’t get back to it. Someone out there, write something about that experience!

A friend mentioned that she wished she had thought to write and publish notes from the beginning and I’m noting that here because we should encourage that. Finding topics to write about is hard and the Summit offers a lot of topics. More than that though, it’s a way to think about and share what works, what’s fun, what you noticed or appreciated that maybe no one else did (and it’s a way to share with those not able to attend). I’d love to see some kind of contest next year related to blogging.

I finished up the day in the community zone, pleased to see old friends and have a chance to talk about this and that. A few miscellaneous notes based on some stuff we talked about:

  • Classroom layouts in general are not great for networking
  • Background music and getting everyone a drink (even if it’s soda) tends to encourage the walk and talk networking (like the opening night reception)
  • Holiday events are good (if hard to do this year)
  • Lots of value in having events that are just Q&A, or just a meal together

That finishes up the week. This weekend I’m going to read back over my notes and think about the week before writing a final wrap up post for Monday.

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