I came back from this year’s SouthWest Fox DevCon last October 24, 2012 in Papua New Guinea but has to do a lot of fixing and troubleshooting back in several offices first so this delay in posting. Since some of my friends are curious about my experiences with the DevCon, I decided to create this post instead of repeatedly answering their questions one by one, LOL! What is SouthWest Fox DevCon like, to me?
Well all I can say right now is attending this event has been very fruitful and my experiences very rewarding. I won’t be too technical yet about these though as I haven’t begin reading thoroughly the white papers that I have received. So allow me to just sort of tag you along with my journey.
My Time & Money’s Worth!
The main reason why one would want to go to SouthWest Fox DevCon is to learn new things. But then, attending such convention will require some of your time away from your work or business plus will involve expenses for the trips and the seminars. It is a given fact. The main question in most of our minds then would be is “is it worth it?”. I will say “absolutely” that it is definitely worth every cent and seconds you will pour into attending such conference. Although Ceil Silver Funds financed my trips, should I be spending my own money then my conclusion will still be the same, it is absolutely worth it! But make your own conclusions after reading.
What I was able to gleam from sessions are existing technologies I am not aware of and new ones that I only heard. And because of my being there, I was given the chance to sort of “sample” or "assess" which of these new technologies will “suit my future needs”. For instance, I attended iPhone/iPad sessions because I want to know if IOS app developing in the future will interest me. Then I also attended HTML5 and Automation without Office; all delving into web development.
Those brief seminars gave me a clearer path now to where I would want to go next on my developing career and therefore not wasting my time on something I will later find out anyway to be not suitable for me or for my target market. Should I have not attended such seminars, honestly I would still be confused where to go next because there are plenty of roads to choose from.
People Within and Behind it
DevCon is spearheaded by top gurus namely Tamar Granor, Doug Hennig and Rick Schummer. Then seminars are also headed by them and others who are again without a doubt experts in their own fields. Therefore, learning is more direct and faster because there is never a need to go around in circles during each session. And to spice things up, attending with you are some other top caliber developers as well.
What I do in most cases is whenever I sit beside someone new to me is I introduced myself shaking with that other fellow’s hand and so he/she can introduce him/herself back to me. And every now and then I will get the surprise of the hour because I will suddenly realize the person is someone I knew referred to in blogs or wiki, some are members of foxite while others entirely new to me. But what I can say here is that everyone is very accommodating and is friendly. Hierarchy seems to be a foreign word here. Everyone treats everyone as equals and is given respect. You will never ever feel being looked down by anyone and that is a wonderful feeling.
Every day, sessions are held from morning to the afternoon. Some lasts an hour, some more than that. All seminars are just in the same building with rooms adjacent to each other, plus the current session posted outside each room. There will be, most of the time, 5 sessions held on the same time slot. Attendees are free to roam and choose which session they find interesting most and attend it. However, since the goal of the DevCon is to make the experience as fruitful as it can be for any attendee, should you attend a session then later realized that it is not suited to your needs, then you can go out of the room and jump into another you thought is more appropriate for you.
If by chance you missed one session because two highly interesting topics are done on the same time slot, never fear. Each topic is repeated twice but on another date.
What if on the next date, there is still another topic that interests you as well which in the end will result for you to completely miss attending a specific topic? Then that is where the “white papers” and CD will come into picture.
White Papers & CD (Speakers Notes)
All of the sessions, whether you were able to attend it or not, are in a form of reading materials explaining in details the topics discussed and not discussed. Those also include samples so you can follow and test those even after when you are back in your own place. Every attendee is given the username and password for the FTP site so they can download those into their unit. In addition to that, a CD of Speakers Notes is also given to attendees. These alone is worth your money!
Show Your App
This is the portion of the convention where attendees may show their own app. And while this does not involve showing the codes because the time allotted is only 10 minutes for each presenter due to the number of attendees who wanted to show their app, it is enough for you to gain ideas of the great things others have done on their end. And your imagination will be riper and you will be inspired to implement the same things as well on your end.
Well I have said above, the atmosphere is very accommodating; both from attendees and those doing the seminars. There is no hierarchy based on developing skills. Attending this DevCon can be compared to attending a family reunion or friends get together occasions. The camaraderie is very tight and solid. And this is among the reasons (aside from what we can learn) why once you have attended one DevCon, you would want to attend more each year.
Met some Foxite folks like Joel Leach, Matt Slay, Jim Nelson, Barbara Peisch, Kenneth Tamayo, Matthew Olson and some more. Met also some non-foxite guys like Dan Lauer, Phil Sherwood and Erick Selje. Made friends with everyone I mentioned and were not able to mention. To me this is a huge bonus. And it is fun talking to these guys in person sharing both technical views and personal matters.
Every night, another fun starts because that is the time to unwind and talk about anything out of the blue. Most of the time though; I am with new-found friends Dan Lauer or Joel Leach.
Majority of course are residents of America but some also came very far like from Bulgaria, Canada, England, Germany, Puerto Rico, Serbia, South Africa, and PNG. The travel will involve miles and miles via air or land but everyone is happy and feels that it is worth the trips made.
Free Wi-Fi !!!!
Darn, this is among the things that I enjoyed in full, LOL! Because out here in PNG, internet is very slow and very expensive that I actually got tempted to download 3 movies while inside my room then watched those afterwards. And the speed is magnificent. I was able to download one movie with the size of around 1.2GB for only around 3 minutes! How fast is that considering I am on a wireless, huh?
And free wi-fi is extended not only in the hotel where we are staying but also almost on every store you will go into. That seems to be the case in every state of the country. Well I have been only in two, Phoenix and San Francisco. But in SFO I travelled into a lot of places and it is the same on each city we went so I will presume it is standard for the country.
I already said that the convention is like a family reunion to all attendees because that’s what SouthWest Fox DevCon does to every attendee. You will feel like you are seeing your close friends or family members whom you have not seen for a long period of time.
In my end though, this trip really made it possible for me to reunite with my cousins in San Francisco because I flew early so I can stay and meet them for 5 days before SWF DevCon starts. And the experience being with them is a memory that will last me a lifetime.
I have seen two when I was still 16 years old, Jennifer and Kenneth. The other two, Michelle and Michael, I have seen only in pictures when they are still kids. I am now 41. Each has their own family now but the lost years are easily bridged back. And I come to know their wonderful partners in life as well who are Cesar (Mexican), Joshua (American), Reena (Filipina) and Fanny (Chinese). Wow! My family-race has instantaneously expanded there and then, LOL!
Each took a day(s) off from their job just to show me around. So one day I am with Jenni, Cesar and my wonderful nephew Antonio, then with Michelle and Joshua, then with Kenni and Fanny plus my very cute niece Samantha, then with Michael and Reena with my 2 wonderful nephews, Noah and Nikko; and sometimes with all of them.
To all of my cousins there, I enjoyed each and every day with you guys! And Michelle, hope you’ll get well soon.
Well I can make this very long (actually this is already long to some readers) and I hope I have not bored you to death. And there are lots of things and names that I have not mentioned here and I apologize for that. I treat every one of you I met there as my new friends. But I would like to thank these people in particular:
- Tamar and wonderful husband Marshall Granor, Doug Hennig, Rick and lovely Therese Schummer, Rick Bean and Christoff Wollenhauft for bringing me there and giving me these wonderful experiences.
- Joel Leach for looking after me, thank you man!
- I was planning to meet though Andrew McNeill in person (AkselSoft) but the guy seems to be very famous that he was always spirited out by someone before I have the chance to talk to him in person, LOL! Anyway, I actually would want to thank you personally for referring my blogs under your own, thank you very much.
- Dan Lauer (safe and wonderful trip to Fiji), Kenneth Tamayo, and Phil Sherwood.
- The inseparable duo, Jim Nelson and Matt Slay, co-recipients of VFPx Administrators award. Thanks guys for your wonderful tools. And do some more. You deserve the award!
I will be keeping in touch……