Why I Participate in #PayToSpeak

Over the past few days, I saw a lot of people talking with the #PayToSpeak hashtag, and knowing that some of my followers were curious, I figured I better weigh in.

Community-Run Events

When I know an event is community-run, then I know to expect some degree of #PayToSpeak.  Face it – when a community group is just starting out, sponsorship is a tough thing to get.  I want to see a community be stronger from our community-run events, so if there isn’t a budget for speakers’ travel and entertainment, {shrug} that’s fine with me.  I’ve been organizing community-run events since 2008, so I am sympathetic with those running the events.  I really enjoy seeing communities help each other grow.

Now, if it’s a community event that’s well-established, then that may be a different story.  I may ask for some assistance with travel costs – a hotel room or a place to crash is appreciated.  But for me, I see value in speaking to particular audiences, knowing that it will lead to work.  So I take that into consideration and typically shoulder some of my costs since I know they’ll be recuperated later.

Events and the Distance Factor

If there’s one thing people should know about me, it’s that I’m a family person.  I like being able to talk with my family when I’m on the road and try not to travel far from home.   So you don’t see me leave far from the Cleveland area – usually sticking to Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Detroit.  Sometimes, I can make exceptions for Cincinnati, Dayton, and Kalamazoo.  If it’s a relatively short drive (one I can do in a day sanely) and if I don’t have to stay more than a couple nights, I’m happy.  So I keep fairly local so that if I have to #PayToSpeak even a little bit, the costs are kept down.

If I am far from home but have friends or familiar faces where I am, that also helps.  When I am traveling and knowing something familiar is at the other end, then I feel less anxious.

What About Flying? That’s Expensive to #PayToSpeak!

As long as I don’t have to fly through La Guardia, then I am okay with flying.  Anything with direct flights out of Cleveland or Akron is even better, as I have yet to fly somewhere with a direct flight.    I do fly for engagements at times, but I keep that to a minimum as that gets costly, and that’s a cost I’d rather see the engagement pick up than have to pick it up myself. (I will work with the engagement to keep that cost low.)

This year, there were a couple events that went outside of close distance, and within good reasons.  I’ve known many of the Music City Code folks since pre-parenthood, and many are considered part of my tech family on the road.  Since my husband has been pushing me to get back into conference speaking again, I figured I’d go to a familiar area.  As for KCDC, that was one I had heard my friends mention, and seeing Jeff Strauss involved with it and knowing that my friends Mike and Jay think well of him, I figured I should see what that was like. (Also, I’ve learned that the KCDC crew are just as awesome and are also friends with my friends. So the tech family grows!)

Why Not Ask ALL Conferences for Travel Assistance? Why #PayToSpeak at all?

I’m also an event organizer and not just a speaker.  So when I sign up to speak at an event, I am also considering what the event organizers have to deal with in comping speakers’ expenses.  As Jim points out,  the costs do add up crazily if we – as organizers of small to medium-sized conferences – comp ALL of the speakers’ expenses:

What About Larger, For-Profit Events?

Depending on where those are held, how they align with my schedule, and what is covered, I’m a lot more selective with larger, for-profit events.  These, I typically will not #PayToSpeak.

Why #PayToSpeak?

There are times when I have little hesitation on considering #PayToSpeak some:

  • Helping a new community up off the ground
  • Promoting community alliances
  • Seeing old friends and making new friends

I think David Tanzer captured my overall thoughts well:


So I am okay with #PayToSpeak for the right cases.

The Geekette’s Wardrobe – Featuring Svaha

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated in any way with Svaha Apparel.  It all started with a Facebook ad, and then I noticed them – geeky dresses WITH POCKETS.  So what’s a geekette to do when she finds fun dresses WITH POCKETS and fun geeky pieces?  She blogs about it!

Last weekend, I was busy playing superhero, having fun with some of the behind-the-scenes logistics and social media for Cleveland Space Apps.  Since I had a little more visibility, I figured I’d be fine wearing my geeky outfits – after all, if a geekette can’t be wearing her geeky outfits at a NASA, we have other problems.

Photo courtesy of NASA Glenn Library

Friday night, I was wearing the Gear Train Stripes Sheath Dress.  I have always been intrigued by gears, and I love using them to signify movement, as indicated in my logo for Cleveland Tech Events / Cleveland Tech Consulting.  So when I saw this dress, I knew I had to have it.  Add to it that it has pockets – as a mom and someone on the go, if I can get away with pockets and not a purse or one more bag to carry, I’m going to take advantage of the opportunity.  This dress was so comfortable to wear and work in.  Whether I was moving to unload my van full of supplies for the weekend from one mega Supermarket Sweep like trip at Sam’s Club or speaking at the podium on weekend logistics, this dress worked well for me!

Thank you for flying Air Circuitry!

Saturday was a busy day – fellow space geeks were hacking on NASA’s Space Apps Challenges.  I was working through logistics and social media fun throughout the weekend.  Toward the end of the day, I was going to put snacks out, but then I remembered a few events and instances at prior places of employment where I remember them bringing snacks to us while we worked.  I appreciated that they’d feed us while we worked, with minimal interruption.  So I brought the concept of the snack cart to Cleveland Space Apps.  So here I am, getting ready to set off on an adventure with our snack cart in my Circuit Board Fit & Flare Dress.  I couldn’t resist making the Air Circuitry comment – so much fun!

But it isn’t just about dresses!  I love that Svaha Apparel has so many geeky options.  On Sunday, I was rocking a Pi Spiral Polka Dots Top:

I love how comfortable the material is and how colorful the designs are.  Being a typical geek, a lot of my wardrobe involves black, dark grey, and dark blue shirts.  However, there are moments where I love to add a bit more color and energy to my wardrobe.

And Svaha Apparel isn’t just for adults!  They have A LOT of designs for children, including geeky dresses for the children!   I imagine if I had a little girl that I’d be buying more of those dresses.  However, I am a mom to boys – so instead of dresses, I’m buying a lot of geeky T-shirts. (It also helps that my husband is as much of a geek as I am.)

My husband brought the boys to visit me at NASA on Sunday, and they too were in Svaha Apparel.  My younger one was wearing the Retro Solar System Glow-in-the-Dark Kids T-Shirt, and my older one was wearing the Future Astronaut Kids T-Shirt:

If you’re looking for geeky gear that’s comfortable to wear, I highly recommend checking out Svaha Apparel!

And if you’re Svaha Apparel and you’re reading this, I’d LOVE to see a lot of those kids shirts in adult sizes – so many fun designs, why do the kids get to have all the fun? 🙂

The Work/Life/Community Tightrope Walk…

With work/life balance being a questionable topic for some, I figured I would share what it’s like here.  If you haven’t seen me in the community in awhile, there’s a lot going on at work and also need to spend time with my family every now and then as well.

Between now and the beginning of May, if I seem a little chaotic, it’s because I’m walking on a tightrope as carefully as can be.  The work/life/community tightrope is crazy right now!


  • Onboarding a new team member next week
  • Working on things for a big launch on 4/1
  • Helping prepare for a new cohort on 4/17
  • Eventually preparing for another new cohort on 5/8


  • 2 Birthdays in beginning/mid-April
  • Easter

Work – Cleveland Tech Consulting


I keep “doing” and then look back later wondering “how?!?”  Such is the life of Sadukie!

The Chaos of Being

These past few months have been crazy-busy in the community:

  • Helped host the ever-awesome NASA Space Apps Challenge with the NASA Glenn crew and Brad Nellis of Expedient
  • Coordinated volunteers for Stir Trek – a developer conference in Columbus, OH with about 1200 attendees
  • Sponsored as Cleveland Tech Events (CTE) and represented both CTE and The Software Guild at BYTE, a hackathon hosted at Hathaway Brown

In addition to the community activity, I’ve moved contracting work as a side project, working full-time with The Software Guild as a Lead Instructor – currently teaching Java!  While I love working in Akron, I wasn’t liking the commute.  So my family is in the process of moving closer to Akron as well.  Lots of chaos here!

So what happened….?

NASA Space Apps Challenge – April 22-24, 2016

This was an amazing event – we hit our goal of 150 attendees this year!  NASA creates the International Space Apps Challenge, and communities throughout the world get together to help solve the various proposed challenges.  Our local group in Cleveland has hosted the event at NASA Glenn Research Center, and this year was spectacular.  In addition to roping in various tech communities, we had MakerGear bring in some 3D printers, which were super helpful and busy all weekend.  We also had all walks of life – from as young as pre-high school!  As an organizer, I am pleased with how everything went locally, and I can’t wait to see what next year brings!

Stir Trek – May 6, 2016

What can be said about an event that has 6 hours of technical content, followed by our own private viewing of a movie that opens that day?  This year, the movie was Captain America: Civil War.  It was great to see the lineup – as always, speaker and session selection is rough because we get so many submissions and have to whittle it down to only so many time slots.  Also amazing to see was the adventures of the Stwrap – these things that you can put on your purse, backpack, badge, etc.  It’s almost as bad as Pokemon Go – the Stwraps were also in demand with a “gotta get them all” attitude.  While I wasn’t on the path to get them all, I did bring home some, and I have my favorite Stir Trek Stwraps on my backpack at work.  While I didn’t stay for the movie, I did enjoy listening to all the feedback and look forward to helping make next year’s event better.  (And yes, for those wondering, we really have outgrown that location and their capabilities, and we are hoping to find a more suitable host for next year’s event!)

BYTE – Bring Your Tech Expertise

I had received an email from a local high school student that was looking for sponsors for their hackathon.  My first thought was – “I need to sponsor this!  These are young, impressionable students who need to know about the tech community!” and so I sponsored them as Cleveland Tech Events.  It was great to see local high schools – Hathaway Brown, Orange, Mentor, University School, and another whose name is escaping me at the moment – compete against each other.

Their ice breaker round included being assigned groups with other people from other schools and creating a story with 3 random words.  The winning story was about a Holy HashMap!  (Yes – the nerdery was strong with this group! 🙂 )

After the ice breaker, the students then regrouped into their teams and tackled programming problems from Kattis.  This was my first time seeing Kattis, and I think it’s a great system for hackathons and competing.  They have problems to solve, scoring, and even a leaderboard!

In the afternoon, the students competed in computer science and general computer-related trivia through Kahoot.  Competition was fierce!  Even the team moderators were getting into it and trying to figure out the answers to some of the questions.

So… what’s next?

What’s next on my radar?  Maybe settling down!

Seriously, though…

Stay tuned – more information coming soon!

Microsoft ♥ Linux and Open Source

A long time ago, when I was much younger, I used to see Microsoft as this gigantic, unapproachable power that was popular in homes.  I saw Linux as this operating system that truly hardcore geeks played with, geeks who were anti-social and more like hackers.  This was my misperception as a youngster.

As I got older, my friend Nivex introduced me to Linux – a friendlier, gentler idea than I had perceived.  Sure, I may have had to compile my kernel and install the distro quickly on my own since I kernel panicked in a record amount of time.  But Slackware Linux… it was still totally hardcore in my mind, hardcore and made me wonder “why was I trying to learn to work with an operating system that I felt was out-of-my-league?”

I also saw the flame wars and vitriol in the Linux community whenever Microsoft was mentioned.  Seeing the immaturity of that community steered me away from that.  For a community that embraced open source, they were closed minded, not open-minded.  It wasn’t something for me to dabble in, community-wise.

However, as time has gone on, I have continued to use both operating systems while staying on the mindset that one day they may come close.

Running .NET on Linux

Fast-forward to 2008/2009… I had caught wind of the Mono project.  Mono is an open source implementation of .NET that would bring .NET technologies to Linux, or so they claimed.  I didn’t believe it – Microsoft technologies on Linux without being in a Windows emulator… this idea just wasn’t computing.  I had to try it out for myself.

Being the polyglot that I am, I also heard about running non-Microsoft languages on top of .NET – specifically IronRuby and IronPython.  Again, mixing Microsoft with communities that aren’t typically friendly of Microsoft… I was skeptical of the idea and had to see it myself.

So what did I do?  Since Ruby has a stronger community than Python in Cleveland, I decided to take the road less traveled and venture down exploring IronPython.  But wait… Mono does .NET on Linux, and python runs on Linux…. could IronPython run on Linux?

PyCon 2009 – Showing IronPython on Linux

In my adventures of clearing up my skepticism, I had fun playing with IronPython and learning how to work with it on Linux.  Somehow, I decided it was a good idea to submit a talk to the national Python conference – PyCon – on running this.  What I hadn’t known was that the IronPython team and the father of the language (Jim Hugunin)  would be in my audience.  To this day, I remember this presentation experience clearly – from Jim taking over the Q&A session (politely!) and then waiting for me after my talk to tell me that it was cool to see since Microsoft didn’t let him play with Linux at work.  These are my slides from that conference:

So there I was, in 2009, showing that the community was wanting Microsoft technologies to be cross-platform and friendly with other languages.  But… it was truly at the community level.  Corporate marketing wasn’t there.  So Microsoft had to rely on polyglots and adventurous devs like me to help draw attention to this move.
Fast Forward to Today
Microsoft has come a LONG way since then.  They had CodePlex for their open source projects, but thanks to listening to the community, they have moved from CodePlex to GitHub.  They have moved a lot of their .NET functionality to the open source realm – check it out on their .NET Foundation repos website.
Mono has grown since then with more support and more ported libraries than it did back then. It is compatible with .NET 4.6, .NET 4.5, .NET 4.0, .NET 3.5, .NET 3.0, .NET 2.0, and yes, even .NET 1.1.  Check out Mono’s compatibility documentation for more details.
Microsoft is playing nicely with Linux.  In 2014, OpenShift mentioned that you can run Microsoft .NET apps on their platform.  Mark Russinovich reached out to the Linux faithful to encourage them to send in their resumes – they want to work with people who want to help the two come together.  Microsoft just announced a partnership with Red Hat  for cloud solutions.  Check out this demo of Microsoft .NET over on OpenShift:
They also are encouraging developers to write code for multiple platforms and adding tooling for this. With Visual Studio 2015, Microsoft brought in Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova.  Through this tooling, we can use Visual Studio to write apps for iOS, Android, and Windows via web .  They’re also getting their tools cross-platform, with the introduction of their code editor called Visual Studio Code – which can run on Windows, Linux, and Mac.  Visual Studio  Code has syntax highlighting for a variety of languages.  Below are screenshots of Visual Studio Code with Python, XML, and Java files:
Java in Visual Studio Code
Python in Visual Studio Code
XML in Visual Studio Code
Youngster me thought that maybe one day Microsoft and Linux would get closer together and may one day play nicely.  However, I had no idea it would get to where it is today.  Microsoft has made great strides to get here, and I can only imagine where it will be going in our future.  Youngster me is very teary-eyed and proud of Microsoft and where it’s been going.

Coding 101 on TWiT!

One of my college friends – the ever-so-awesome code warrior Lou Maresca – mentioned that he is a cohost (with Robert Ballecer, SJ- the Digital Jesuit also known as Padre) on a netshow called Coding 101 over on TWiT.  Now I have to admit it … up until this point, I really hadn’t heard much about TWiT, let alone shows.  Anyhow, Lou asked if I would appear on one of their wildcard episodes, and I figured why not!

So I did some research before the show to see what I was getting myself into.

What is Coding 101 all about?

From what I can tell….

Basically… this is my cup of tea!

So… what is TWiT and Coding 101 about?

Well, first of all, we did a live recording on September 21.  I hadn’t realized just what all that entailed on the TWiT side of things.  They have a studio that’s live recording all the time, complete with an IRC chat channel of a lively bunch of people.

The best description of what they do is on their site: What is TWiT.tv?

I’m not going to lie – the first time I logged into the live site, waiting to go live, I had a fan girl moment while talking with Lou.  I had done research on Coding 101 but not enough on TWiT to know that it’s Leo Laporte’s baby.  I had no idea that our live session was following his segment.  I nearly lost it – the “OMG! That’s Leo Laporte! That’s the guy from Screensavers on TechTV when I was much younger!  Wait… we’re following him?!?” moment. *facepalm*

So anyhow… we were recording live on September 21.  I was nervous, as this was the largest Internet recording – podcast or netshow – that I had done, and I hadn’t worked with such a big crew before.  At one point, one of the TWiT crew had said something to me about moving my microphone, and that was the oddest experience ever – having someone else’s voice in my head besides the voices of the show really messed with me. Did I really hear that?  Was there a guy’s voice talking to me to ask me to adjust my mic?!?

Overall, how was the recording live experience?

Introverted me was terrified going into this, but Padre and Lou are awesome hosts who keep things moving along conversationally, which put me at ease a ton!  The chat channel was great too – very much an interactive bunch.

From the feedback I’m seeing so far, I look forward to returning and probably speaking on PowerShell!

So… where is your wildcard episode?  How can we see it?

Check it out: Coding 10184 – Wildcard with Sarah Dutkiewicz

On “My Life for the Code”, Episode 10

I recently was asked by Shawn Rakowski if I would be interested in appearing on his podcast – My Life for the Code. On his podcast, he talks to people of all different backgrounds and roles in tech to find out what got them into code, what they’re doing now, and asked some questions about resources and recommendations.

I had a lot of fun chatting with him about my adventures from back in the day to where I am today.  Check out my appearance on My Life for the Code in Episode 10, In the Community with Sarah “sadukie” Dutkiewicz.

Exciting Adventures at CodeMash – Part 2, Session Days

With CodeMash coming to an end, I figured I better recap my experiences while they’re still fresh on my mind.  I’ve recapped my Precompiler experiences in the previous post.  Now, let’s see how I did on the days with sessions.


I had Thursday figured out early on.  I figured I’d wake up early, catch breakfast and an awesome keynote, and then catch some sessions to inspire me for future projects.  Unfortunately, none of that happened, as I managed to wake up in the middle of the night to turn my alarm off and go back to sleep.  Doh!  By the time I arrived at the conference center, I had time to talk with friends, vendors, and other attendees and then make my way to lunch.  It was a great chance that I got to meet my Microsoft MVP Lead, Esther Lee.  She came to CodeMash to meet up with some of her MVPs, as well as other developer MVPs from other countries.  It was great to talk with her and give feedback on products, knowing that our feedback is heard and taken into consideration.


I managed to make it to one session on Thursday – Carl Franklin’s session on GesturePak, used for creating gestures for Kinect for Windows.  I wanted to sit in on this mostly for my own curiosity.  Now that I have a child in my life who seems obsessed with our XBOX Kinect – only 9.5 months old and already yelling at the XBOX to turn on and try to get it to do things, I want to look into writing programs for him that he can interact with.  When I was younger, I used to write flashcard apps in VB6 for my baby brother, who’s 8 years younger than me, so it’s natural for me to want to write apps for my own little guy.  Seeing how easy it was to create gestures with GesturePak, I can only hope to one day find the time to write some apps for Kinect for Windows for Logan to play with.


I knew I wouldn’t catch much in the way of sessions on Friday.  My goal on Friday was to check out the Arduino session and then relax, as my family was coming.  My dream for Friday came true.


I really wanted to check out Sharon Cichelli’s Arduino talk on Friday.  We have an Arduino here at home that has a bunch of temperature sensors connected to it, so that we can monitor our house temperatures.  We originally had kept our chinchillas in a room on our 1st floor and had to make sure their room stayed within a certain temperature range.  However, once I was pregnant, we moved the chinchillas to our basement (where the temperature would be acceptable) and turned their old room into the nursery, where we could monitor the room temperature for our little boy.  We take the data from our temperature sensors and graph it with Cacti.  Here’s a sample of the output from our Arduino:



Sharon’s talk was great!  It was great to get other ideas on how Arduinos can be used – robots, video games, ambient clock,  greenhouse monitoring, and many more things.  Honestly, the ideas for using Arduinos are endless.  She also has a great list of resources for getting started with Arduinos.  Seeing how easy it is to work with, I am  tempted to play around with Arduinos more at home.  Either that or – after seeing many presentations on it – I may consider playing with a Netduino and using the .NET Micro framework.


While I didn’t catch much in the way of sessions this year – as the session list just didn’t really jump out at me and excite me as much as it has in the past, I still enjoyed the sessions I did catch.  More importantly, I was happy to talk with people who I see sometimes just once a year at CodeMash and seeing friends in general.  The hallway discussions and chatting with friends at lunch really got me thinking about the rest of this year.  CodeMash was my first big conference since having my son, and it’s great to be back in the community again.

Central Ohio Day of .NET this weekend!

The past couple months have been crazy, between wrapping up things for the year at one of my clients and the overall craziness of parenthood, that I forgot to mention – I’m presenting on PowerShell 3.0 this weekend at Central Ohio Day of .NET (CODODN) in Columbus!

What I love about this conference is that it’s purely technical, no soft skills.  If you want a great soft skills conference in the area, check out Kalamazoo X.  However, if you’re looking for super affordable .NET training, CODODN is a great opportunity!  The speakers include published authors, MVPs, Microsofties, and those who are active in the community.  The content is all over the board – including web (HTML5, ASP.NET, JS), cloud (Azure), desktop (Windows 8, XAML), overall (BDD, application security, deployment strategies), embedded (Gadgeteering), and backend (MSMQ, VMs, PowerShell).

Tickets are free or $10.  If you don’t mind giving your email and name to sponsors, then get a free ticket.  Otherwise, if you don’t want to give your email and name to sponsors, pay $10 for the ticket.  Either way, those prices make those tickets a steal – especially if you consider the content and the speakers.

If you haven’t gotten your ticket yet, (updated 12/4/2012 9:40pm) it looks like you may be missing this awesome conference, as tickets are SOLD OUT!

Hope to see you there!

Adventures at Cleveland GiveCamp 2012

This past weekend, I had the fun experience of participating in Cleveland GiveCamp.  This was my 5th GiveCamp overall, 3rd in Cleveland, and 2nd as a project manager.

Why I Love Cleveland GiveCamp

Growing up, my parents raised me to put my skills to work and help others when I can.  Besides being able to put my developer skills to use, I can also take advantage of my abilities to translate tech into plain English by taking on a project manager role, which I enjoy a lot more than developing because it has me dealing with the client more.  While I like writing code, I get more satisfaction in knowing that the big picture is taken care of and that the client’s needs are getting met.  What I love most about Cleveland GiveCamp is that it’s here in Cleveland, my hometown.  It takes place both on a boat and in an airport – no other GiveCamp can claim that.  (Special thanks to LeanDog and Burke Lakefront Airport for giving us space to work.)  The last thing I truly love seeing is that the non-profits here are extremely appreciative of the work and some come back and pay it forward.

Paying It Forward

I have to admit it – I love when previous years’ non-profit representatives come back and volunteer at GiveCamp.  In 2011, we had Sherrie Zagorc from Kiddie City (my project from 2010) helping with the food.  This year, we had three different non-profits from last year come help this year – Tim Smith of Community Greenhouse Partners and Kathy & Rich Wickens of Euclid Beach Park Now and Cleveland’s Euclid Beach Carousel Society.  For non-profit reps to  come back and help out – this is a great thing!  It’s good to see that they not only appreciate the work that was done for them while at the GiveCamp but they remember what was done and come out a year later to again show their appreciation.  I love that they come back like that!

My Team – New Avenues to Independence/Buckeye Industries

I had the privilege of being the project manager for 1 project this year – Buckeye Industries, a business enterprise of New Avenues to Independence, Inc.  They needed a website and were on a Microsoft-based host.

After getting our team together on Friday, we talked about what was out there.  I had recommended that the team get WebMatrix to see what options are out there.  We originally were considering either mojoPortal or Orchard, as that’s what a couple of us on the team were familiar with.  However, since we needed to set up a storefront and wanted something easy to work with, we ended up using DotNetNuke with the NBStore module.  We also used the helferlein_Form extension for creating contact forms.  I’ll update this post with our final site once DNS propagates.  Special thanks to Joe Brinkman for getting us set up with Applied Innovations hosting.  Here’s our team:


Buckeye Industries - Cleveland GiveCamp 2012

Etsuko Dunham, Ryan Marinoff, Karen Knavel (our non-profit contact), me, Matt Lucas, and Toby MacKenzie

This team worked really hard and put together an amazing site over the weekend!  I’m proud to have worked with such a talented team!

The Recap Video

Once again, my awesome husband Kevin volunteered at GiveCamp and took pictures.  You can see most of his pictures on the Cleveland GiveCamp Facebook page.  He also created another recap video.  Check it out:

If the video doesn’t appear above, check it out on YouTube.


I had a wonderful time at GiveCamp this weekend – working with a talented team and helping such a wonderful non-profit.  While it’s an exhausting weekend, it was also quite enjoyable!  I look forward to Cleveland GiveCamp 2013!