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8 Answers 8

I thought this was a great conference! All the topics covered were very interesting and for the most part they were all things I have wanted to learn about but just haven't taken the time.

My only complaint would have to be the model which most speakers followed when presenting their topics... Many of them stayed too basic. I understand the need for a general introduction, but it would have been great if more presenters showed us the full potential of the products they were presenting. The Qt presenter did a great job of this. He showed us the basic presentation across multiple platforms, but then showed us some really cool stuff on his mobile device. I would have been very interested in seeing some of the full capabilities of jQuery, not just that we can change the background color on table rows. Same with Google App Engine and even .Net MVC...

Since most of us in the room were developers, most of us could have figured out the basics. I would have liked to have been shown why I should try these products...

All the presenters did a great job, and I would definitly come back next year. Thanks for the great conference.

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The conference was well worth the $99, althought at first I was a bit unsure.

Joel Spolsky is a very good speaker, lots of interesting things to say and he is very good at presenting his products in a way that makes you want to keep listening. Some marketing is to be expected and he does a good job of mixing in stories.

Scott Hanselman For a .NET guy he was pretty interesting. Good coverage of new features in Visual Studio. Nice to see them trying to keep up with Rails and Python frameworks ;)

Rory Blythe almost made me walk of of the conference. His coverage of ObjC and iPhone development was peppered with uselessly snide comments towards the system and platform. It was almost like he had been forced at gunpoint to write iPhone apps. I would recommend finding someone more enthusiastic (and better at it) to present about the iPhone.

Lunch I had the Roast Beef and it was pretty good. I heard reports from others that the chicken and turkey were indistinguishable from rubber. IT was better than the OSCON boxed lunch from a few years back.

Cody Lindley gave an excellent presentation on jQuery. I learned a couple of new things from him, including the live() method. He also has a really nice site setup for playing with selectors - http://codylindley.com/jqueryselectors/

Dan Rocha talked about Qt (cute) and Nokia. He gave away 2 phones, and did a really nice job of cramming in coverage of Qt, its tools and a couple of demos of cross platform development -- same code on Windows, Linux and one of the Nokia phones. I somehow had missed that Nokia bought Trolltech and has opened up the licensing for Qt so that commercial users don't need to buy expensive licenses anymore.

Ted Leung was the hilight of the conference for me. Being a Python developer I am always interested to learn new things from people smarter than me. One point that caught me by suprise was the prototype() builtin. It has been in the language since 2.2 but I'd never seen or used it before.

Dan Sanderson Gave a nice, if somewhat dry, overview of Google App Engine. Covered the points in detail and even had time for a Java and Python demo of the local development environment. I was dissapointed there wasn't any time to ask questions, I've use App Engine and had a couple of problems with it (data import/export and limited querys).

Steve Seitz was amazing. His work on using pictures from the internet to build 3d models of locations is just incredible. I even memorized their url - http://grail.cs.washington.edu/rome

Overall, a great time. Lots of information, although a large part of it was probably at a lower level than most of the audience could handle. Would I go next year? I'm not sure. For the price I could probably have learned just as much, if not more, by buying a bunch of books.

ETA: WiFi was your typical conference WiFi. Overloaded. I ended up using 3G on my iPhone (when that was working, AT&T seemed to be overloaded at one point) instead of the local WiFi connection.

I'd like to see a conference with wired connections :) 802.11 just wasn't designed to handle hundreds of devices in the same area.

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What did you have to drink? –  random Oct 22 '09 at 14:48
    
Water. Coffee makes me jittery. –  Brian C. Lane Oct 22 '09 at 15:05

My wifi stayed connected just fine, but with almost no throughput a lot of the time.

Having the conference in a space that doesn't allow food or beverages in the talks is a big minus.

Next year, multiple tracks so there's some choice of which talks to go to?

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1  
I agree, multiple tracks would be good –  Matt Warren Oct 29 '09 at 9:59

I want to take a moment to thank Joel and everyone at Carsonified. The conference was, in my opinion, a great success. The venue was great. It was full, but didn't feel too crowded except at break time. The food was very good for conference food. The companies at the event were aimed at the right audience. The speakers were all entertaining to listen to. Each speaker made me interested in his technology.

My only complaint was the wifi which didn't work terribly well. I was using a Zune HD which drops the signal a lot to save power and so had to reconnect often and it wasn't always possible. The DHCP seemed to fail.

Find my extensive review here.

Overall though, a great conference and well worth the $99. I'll be back next year.

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All the speakers were quite good and I had a great time. Benaroya hall was perfect.

Here are some notes/comments I jotted down. This is not complete, these are just the things I cared to note.

Joel Spolsky

Talked about the trade offs between simplicity and power when designing user interfaces. It was a good talk but much of it sounded familiar to me, but that is probably because I've been reading Joel's works and listening to the SO podcast for a while now.

Scott Hanselman

Demonstrated ASP.NET MVC 2 using Visual Studio 2010 beta. I've been using ASP.NET MVC since the beta so much of this was familiar to me, but he did discuss some interesting new features, in particular using code templates to create strongly typed references to resources (such as Jpeg images) in your views (although I admit I sort of lost him in how to actually accomplish this, as he was clicking away).

Rory Blythe

Demoed iPhone development environments using iPhone SDK (objective-c) and Monodevelop (C#). Rory seemed to know both obj-c and C# well enough to draw comparisons between the languages which was useful to me.

Joel Spolsky

Pretty good demo of Fogbugz 7 and Kiln, enough to convince me to try it. Didn't know before this that it was free for startups and students. Kiln/mercurial demo was great but was a bit disappointed that it is currently only available in hosted version of Fogbugz.

(Lunch)

For lunch they had a neat idea of separating groups of tables and labeling them (A-F I think), each with a different topic (e.g. Social Networking, Languages, Startups), so that you could sit and have lunch with those interested in the same topic. I had a pleasant lunch and talk with a group of like-minded people (in my case Startups).

Cody Lindley

Good presentation, I knew much of it already but was good to get reinforcement from someone who knows this stuff. He pointed out some good links I didn't know about:

  • He used jsbin.com for demonstrating jquery. Nice tool for experimenting with javascript and html in general.
  • Web tool on his site for testing jquery selectors.
  • Plugged his ebook: jQuery Enlightenment
  • Mentioned Microsoft was now hosting jquery scripts on their CDN (Google already doing this), I dug around and found more info here.

Dan Rocha

Dan is from Nokia and talked about the Qt framework which Nokia bought from Trolltech and converted to open source. This was interesting to me because it was the only topic of the day I had no prior knowledge of. But after his talk I will look into using Qt for Windows Mobile development as a possible alternative to raw Win32 and .NET compact framework.

A notable link he mentioned was getjar.com, where you can download mobile apps for various devices.

Ted Leung

Provided quick overview of Python. Used Python 2.6.x for examples but spoke about 3.0 at the end. Good talk but the font colors he used in his presentation for the Python keywords were blue on black, which literally gave me headache after a while. Some links to tools he mentioned that I didn't know about:

Dan Sanderson

Demoed Google App Engine dev environment using both Java and Python. I had read about this but actually seeing a live demo and seeing how easy it was to get a quick hello world app going was quite interesting.

Steve Seitz

Steve is a professor at University of Washington (UW) in Seattle and he talked about the research behind Microsoft's Photosynth (I did not know that MS licensed this from UW). This was the last talk and at first I was considering leaving because I was quite tired from sitting most of the day (and also I wanted to avoid the traffic rush out the opera hall).

But his presentation was interesting enough to keep me put. There wasn't much that helped me as a working programmer, but I was impressed with the work Steve and his colleagues have done and his explanation of some of the computer science behind it.

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It was definitely worth the $99. If it had been a regularly-priced conference, I would have thought there was too much advertising (the FogBugz presentation and to a lesser extent some of the other ones were a little bit like sales pitches). But as-is it was fine.

Ted Lueng's talk was great but the slides were not so great with the low-contrast fonts. The Qt talk, jQuery talk, and the Photosynth talk were my favorites but none of the talks were bad.

I appreciate the honesty -- many talks were upfront about the good and bad parts of some of the technologies discussed. Though Scott Hanselman's talk was (IMHO) a little too self-deprecating about Microsoft.

This was a conference which was (as expected) focused on breadth rather than depth about any one topic.

Thanks to MS and the free memory upgrades, and the stackoverflow and Fog Creek teams for putting this on!

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Agreed about Scott Hanselman's talk. He was too down on his own technology. –  Steve Rowe Oct 22 '09 at 6:00

I really enjoyed this. I agree that it was worth the $99, maybe even more.

Positives:

  • [Scrumms]
  • Joel's Keynote
  • Scott Hanselman and his Poop
  • Rory was fun to hear, although I wasn't too interested in the iPhone stuff
  • Cody Lindley's presentation on JQuery made me want to rush home and start coding.
  • Food catered by Wolfgang Puck.

Not as positives:

  • Lots of advertising by Fog Creek
  • Daniel Rocha did a nice job, but it was a little dry for right after lunch and I had to fight the afternoon nap gnomes.
  • Wifi was really hard to keep connected, and then it was slow....

Didn't care for:

  • Dan Sanderson was mono-tone
  • Ted Lueng, What's with the font colors? Blue and Purple were horribly hard to see, even when they turned all the lights off.
  • On the website they're HUGE, but when you get them, the stickers are tiny.

Overall Most Enjoyed goes to Steve Seitz, who gave a wonderful (and upbeat) presentation on the origins and continued development of the Photosynth technologies.

Overall Worst Moment was when I went to get the free memory upgrades (did I mention that MS was filling everyone's laptop to capacity?) and found out that my laptop was too old for the memory that they were giving out...

Definitely will come back for more next year.

[EDIT] Wish they would post the slides for the presentations as there were more than a few URL's that I would like to check out.

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