360Flex – A conference with a human face

Three days of the best conference for Flex developers went by fast. I “ve been attending this great event for the first time, and in the future, I “ll try not to miss this #1 gathering for Flex developers. While Adobe MAX is a lot larger, the Flex world is represented better at 360Flex. Bigger is not always better, if you know what I mean.

People selected the faculty. They voted online for every submitted presentation. No BS. There were 5 tracks, and sometimes it was difficult to pick a session because the competing ones looked interesting too.

These are some of my observations regarding 360Flex Indianapolis:

– The venue selection is perfect. Historical downtown of Indianapolis is a picturesque place, but I had an impression the people of this town were born for eating steaks and drinking beer. Every block has at least one steak house or a brewery.

– My hotel room had two wide beds that could easily accommodate a family of 2-4 Flex developers.

– Beer at the Rock Bottom brewery was great. I met there a couple of people I knew virtually.

– To my surprise, I met Steve, our O “Reilly editor at the conference. Steve is a top notch professional, and I “m sure he “ll be contacting some of the presenters about writing for O “Reilly.

– During the registration, each participant was given a memory stick with most of the presentation materials. People could browse the slides and make an educated decision as to which presentation to attend. It “s pity that some of the presenters didn “t respect their audience and couldn “t find time for sending in the materials before the show.

– This was my first conference where Twitter shined. Just do a search on #360flex. People were helping each other trying to share the latest news in a near real-time. For example, I was listening to a talk on Mate and got a twit, “Rich is about to show how an AIR application can start another AIR application. ” It took me only a minute to get there.

– Doug McCune was the star of this show. He “s a technically savvy and friendly guy who “s is not afraid to speak up. These are some photos from his talk . He showed some complex augmented reality software. The pinnacle of the show was the part when Doug took off his T-shirt and started his belly dance in front of the webcam and the software generated and “attached rdquo; virtual women “s breast to his naked chest and was moving synchronously with Doug “s body. I “d love to see the same demo again especially if Doug would invite on stage a young female Flex developer from the audience. Any girl would go topless for his autographed book “Flex 3 for Dummies rdquo;.

– One presenter asked the audience to raise hands if their mobile device supports Flash Player. No hands. I see this as a very serious problem that Adobe “s facing now. After pronouncing “Mobile First rdquo; at MAX 2008, I “d expect

– to see at least some hands in the air. Having Flash Player on 98% of the desktops and notebook is still impressive, but ten years from now half of the people will use mobile devices as their main or only computer.

During this event I took notes about the presenters, that might be used as basic presenters ” do “s and don “ts:

1. Reboot your notebook right before your talk. This way during the presentation you won ‘t be making comments like, “Hmm, why my machine is so slow today? ” The audience is politely yawning. Remember, you are a professional developer and not a customer service representative of an airline. You “d better know why your computer is slow today.

2. Some presenters ask, “Raise you hands if you don “t know how to do XYZ? OK, 10% don ‘t. Let me explain. rdquo; Why even bother asking? When wouldn “t you explain how to do XYZ? If 2% wouldn “t know it or maybe 1%? Just explain the damn thing if it “s a must to know and don “t waste your time asking.

3. Quit Skype or any other instant messaging program before the presentation.

4. If there is a speaker presenting after you, give him 10 minutes to hook up the notebook and the mike. My preso was scheduled at 4PM, and the guy who gave a talk before me finished at 4:01PM. Be fucking nice to other people too. Don “t steal time from them.

5. A presenter announces, “We ‘ll run some examples live. They are new to me too, let ‘s see what happens. rdquo; WTF? You have a very short time to deliver your well-researched technical topic. We didn “t fly across the world just to participate in your experiment. Get prepared at home.

6. Here “s another statement I “ve heard from the same presenter (he was wearing shorts and flip flops – I guess, this attire makes you look cool?), “I didn “t have time to try this ndash; was to busy doing billable work. rdquo; This is just a spit into the face of the audience. Why did this prima donna even come here? Did he think that just seeing his naked hairy legs should make us happy? Not me. Next time just stay on billing. Don “t bother coming here. We “ll survive.

7. One speaker said, “This is how I do things, but Joe Shmo published a blog with a cooler way to do this. I just didn ‘t have time to check it out. rdquo; If there is a cooler way to do this, don “t we deserve to learn about it instead of hearing about your way?

But these little things didn “t spoil the overall ambience and the technical quality of the event. My hat off to John and Tom ndash; I can only imagine how much efforts it took to put this show while keeping a day job.

This was the first of the 360 conferences when they made a tiny bit of money, and I wholeheartedly wish them to make some serious bucks out of all upcoming 360 events. They deserve it.

Finally, one more suggestion to John and Tom – do not order Wi-Fi Internet for your future events. Firstly, the attendees will stay focused on the presentation instead of browsing the Internet (who needs to be online wears Blackberry or iPhone anyway). Secondly, it “ll allow you to keep the price low.

Rock on, 360Flex!

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