Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Southwest Fox - wrap up

I had to get home for a cyber cafe at a conference in Dearborn, so I flew out at 6:00 AM and missed the Sunday sessions and closing sessions.

I did have some overall comments about the conference...

Conference Organizers

Rick, Doug and Tamar did a great job picking up where Bob left off. All three of them greeted us warmly and handed us our registration materials and goodies very quickly.

During one of the pre-cons on Sunday, it was discussed that there was no coffee available for the attendees during the 4-hour sessions. (Not a big deal to me, since I don't drink coffee.) Rumor has it that as soon as the three "walk-in" attendees paid their conference fee, the organizers turned around and ordered coffee stations! They could have easily kept this money in their pockets, but instead turned around and pushed the conference up one more notch.

Bo's Mustang

I had no idea such a thing existed. Bo Durban had rented a Shelby GT-H convertible from Hertz. This was a very cool car, but for some reason my favorite part was the chrome plated Hertz badges on the sides.

Good Service

Rick Strahl mentioned that he had remarkably good service at the hotel right up until he checked out. DJ and I had good service the whole time. The staff we encountered were courteous and friendly, always asking if there was anything they could do for us.

On our first morning there, DJ and I walked into the restaurant at about 9:50 and the hostess said that the breakfast buffet was open for another 10 minutes. After we both chose the buffet, they made sure we had everything we wanted before they tore it down. $9.95 was a good deal for a full buffet including an omelette station! The food was good and the staff was really attentive.

Networking

One of the often highlighted side-benefits of a conference like this is the opportunity to network with other developers. Some of them are experts and/or speakers. Others are just going through the same day-to-day process of learning all they can to be better developer. Some are brand-new to the whole thing. There is something to be learned from all of them. It is always interesting to find out what other people are doing. One day, we had lunch with a guy from Seattle (I think) that works on a vertical market application for health clubs. It was interesting to hear what they've developed and where they are going.

Perhaps the two best conversations I had were those that will impact Geeks and Gurus nearly immediately.

Alan Stevens and I talked about a .NET application we have inherited and discussed some of our stumbling blocks. The next day, DJ had the opportunity to talk with him and a light-bulb went off for Alan. He told us that our application sounded like it might be built on a well documented framework. If this is the case, we should be able to crank up our learning curve a little more effectively.

The second conversation was with Russ Swall about Agile methodologies and business in general. Russ always provides great insight and resources and I appreciate his sharing of his experiences.

Vista

I've been avoiding Vista. I loaded it on a spare machine while it was still in Beta and was really unimpressed with it. Several of my customers have purchased new machines (without asking me first!) and have had painful experiences with Vista and Office 2007.

One of the guys in our local users group spent an evening telling about all the paid he'd dealt with trying to get his vertical market application to play nicely with Vista. Several other people have complained about various issues related to developing on Vista.

So, I was quite surprised to see how many speakers were running on Vista. At very least, Christof Wollenhaupt, Rick Strahl, Toni Feltman, Cathy Pountney, Doug Hennig all presented on Vista - with no glitches that I noticed. I know that Doug and Rick have been blogging about Vista for some time, yet I was still surprised to see them working completely normally in their sessions.

So, maybe I'll be willing to give Vista a try sooner than I expected.

1200 Series New York Strip

When SW Fox was in Tempe, we always went to Grilled Expedition for dinner on a free night. They have this steak that is extremely good. Every time we go there, we have the same steak. (And somehow we always get the same table - near the bar and the TVs. I'm pretty sure we've been able to watch the Wings or the Tigers every time but this time.) On Saturday, DJ and I, Frank Perez, Bo Durban and 3 Stonefield guys all drove to Tempe. We got the same table and DJ, Frank and I had the same steak. I think it was best the first time, but it is still very good.

From the menu: Extra-thick cut strip rubbed with kosher salt and buried in our 1200 degree mesquite coals. served medium-rare

I can't wait for next year!

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