My Secret Life as a Spaghetti Coder
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Let me start out by saying the NFJS conference was incredible! I went in with the intention of blogging as the sessions and days went on, but I was incredibly busy, and felt like my notes didn't do justice to the presentations. So I'm going to review the slides and flesh out my comments, and hopefully do a good job at letting you know what went down.

For this post, I just wanted to give an overview of the symposium in general. As soon as I walked in and found my name badge, I knew these guys were a seriously professional conference, and they would pay attention to the small details to make our experience great.

Why? The badge was inside a nice, hard plastic (think something you might store a baseball card in, but bigger) and worn around a neck clip - the kind you used to see people wearing to hold their keys around their necks. But that wasn't the impressive part - the most impressive was that they put the schedule inside too, upside down on the back side, so all you had to do was flip over the badge and you could read the schedule and room assignments easily.

We also got a nice laptop backpack, a leather notebook where we could store pre-printed slides and code samples from the sessions we attended, as well as a CD with all the presentation material from every session.

Now, that's all useful for going back and having something to reference, but it's also great to have so you can flip through and see a good overview of sessions before you attend, so you know if it will be valuable for you.

The rooms were outstanding. We stayed in the Marriott Austin Airport South. I got the feeling the hotel staff greatly appreciated us being there - I got even better service from them than I normally expect from Marriott. Now, I'm not sure of the weekend rates there, but Thursday they wanted 200 dollars (US), and Sunday they wanted $189 (if I recall correctly). But NFJS was able to negotiate $99 rooms for us for Friday and Saturday. It was certainly nice to get such great service at such a bargain. Of course, it would have been even nicer if the hotel provided free wireless Internet access. NFJS provided it in the conference rooms, but that didn't reach all the way up to our rooms. I'm getting free wireless next door in another Marriott-owned hotel for over 100 dollars less than I would be paying at Marriott proper tonight!

The food was amazing as well. Just good all-around, and even included options for vegetarians that didn't include side-dishes only. I was fairly impressed by that. Also, I think the hotel bar is the cheapest bar in Austin. =)

Everything went extremely smooth from what I could tell. Jay Zimmerman and any other staff (including the hotel) did an excellent job of ensuring that. Oh yeah (read: "most importantly"), the speakers were awesome. They really knew how to entertain and be informative. But, for being a Java-based conference, it was interesting (exciting?) to see how many bashes Java got - and not just from the speakers. I'll probably blog some funny quotes later.

The first night most of the speakers made themselves available (aside from in-between sessions) at the hotel bar. I had dinner with a friend of mine (who I didn't know was going to be there) and Scott Davis, who is an amazingly charismatic guy. The second night a lot of people went to Bruce Tate's house. Someone later told me the group I was hanging out with in the dynamic languages BOF had been invited, but by that time we didn't feel like going to crash the party (not to mention a second-hand invite of "I heard" isn't that strong a thing to go on in the first place).

Also, one of the presenters had Sean Corfield's blog on his bookmarks toolbar, so that was exciting to see (I'll have to go through my notes to remember who).

In any case, I've got tons of sessions to blog about, some of which may contain useful information for you. I'm staying another night in Austin so I won't start tonight (other than this one), but keep a look out for more detailed posts about the actual content of the conference in the coming days.

PS: I'm also looking forward to catching up with all the other blogs and seeing how CFUnited went. But if I see one more post about the iPhone I'm going to have to duct-tape my head like a mummy gets wrapped to avoid exploding.

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Glad you had a great time. CF United was good as usual - mainly for the networking - as Sean put it, the content is appropriate for the audience. Looking forward to seeing your postings!

Posted by Peter Bell on Jul 02, 2007 at 09:24 AM UTC - 5 hrs

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