Posted by Dave Klein (March 14, 2012, at 10:04 AM)
Feedback is a valuable thing. As developers, we rely on feedback all day long. Our editor, compiler, debugger, unit tests, and simulator all give us feedback. Feedback helps us to know if we’re on the right track, and if we’re not, it helps us to get there.
Well, just as you and I continue to work at becoming better programmers, our speakers are continually striving to improve their presentation skills and fine-tune individual presentations. Feedback is just as helpful to them in this endeavor as it is to us in our coding. As an attendee, you give feedback — whether you know it or not — while a presentation is being delivered. This is helpful, and a good speaker will make use of this feedback even as he’s continuing his presentation.
But even more helpful — in the long run — is written or verbal feedback after the presentation. Did the presentation help you? Was it what you expected? If not, was that in a good way or in a bad way? Suggestions, ideas, and even complaints can help a speaker to do better next time.
That’s why we ask all of our attendees to fill out session evaluation forms at the end of each session. The best time to fill out these forms is right after the presentation is done — while it is still fresh in your mind. The evaluation forms have a few number ratings for your convenience, but there is also space for comments. Comments are much more helpful than numbers, but both together are very much appreciated.
When you give feedback, you’re helping our speakers to win, and you are helping future CocoaConf attendees to win, but you can also be helping yourself to win! For each evaluation that you turn in, you will receive an entry in the drawing that we will be holding during the closing session. The more evaluations that you turn in, the better your chances of going home with one (or more) of the awesome prizes that we’ll be giving out — such as hot-off-the-press dev books from Addison-Wesley, the Pragmatic Programmers, Apress, and Wiley. Or one of 5 licenses to AppCode, the Objective-C IDE from JetBrains. Or one of several $50 gift cards to the Apple Store. Or our grand prize: one of only 120 available prints of the famous photo of the unveiling of the first iPhone, by James Duncan Davidson. There is a lot to win at CocoaConf, and it all comes down to feedback. Feedback for the win!
Conference Advice for Beginners
Posted by Dave Klein (February 28, 2012, at 05:52 AM)
With forty people signed up for the iOS tutorial on Thursday, March 15th, and all but two of them staying for the rest of the conference, the question has come up several times: What are good conference sessions for beginners (or those with minimal Objective-C experience)?
This is both a difficult question and an easy one at the same time. It’s difficult, because even in the “beginner” stage, there is a wide range of skill and experience levels. But it’s not difficult, because even beginners can learn from any session if they are willing to put their minds to it. I’ll say more about that in a moment, but first, since this question has been asked many times, I passed it on to our speakers and asked them to identify sessions that they thought newer Objective-C programmers (or even newer programmers) would most likely be able to glean something from. Here are the sessions that they came up with:
Storyboards — Daniel Steinberg
iTest My Code — Eric Meyer
MacRuby — Jonathan Penn (Ruby experience would be helpful)
Styling And Composing UIViews — Heath Borders
Blocks — Jeff Biggus (covers very important concepts that new developers should understand)
Keeping Secrets For iOS Developers — Randy Beiter
Painless Localization — Whitney Young
As I compiled this list, I realized that several of these sessions are in the same time slot. We’ll be working to adjust the schedule and make these sessions more accessible — stay tuned. But now, back to my earlier point.
There are two reasons for why I think that newer programmers can benefit from any session at CocoaConf. First, as a self-taught programmer, I can attest to the value of immersing yourself in information that may seem beyond you at the moment. Learning a programming language is not all that different from learning a spoken language: the fastest way to do either is to “drink from the fire-hose.” The things that you hear and see but don’t currently understand will come back to you as you continue to learn. This knowledge is like building materials that you don’t need yet, but soon will. When you do need it, it will be there for you.
The second reason is that in a conference session, unlike in a hands-on tutorial or multi-day class, the main goal is to learn concepts and gain direction for further study. After you take in a presentation on a given topic, you are not likely to leave the room as an expert in that topic, regardless of your current experience. But you will leave with a better understanding and clearer idea of the concepts involved, as well as renewed motivation to dig in deeper. I say this also from experience. Years before I began speaking at (and then organizing) technical conferences, I attended as many as I could. I’ve been to dozens of conferences over the years, and I’ve found that I benefited the most when I didn’t limit my exposure to the things that I knew I could easily grasp. When I stepped out of my comfort zone, I found the most interesting things to learn more about. I learned what I needed to learn. And that’s always a step in the right direction.
So, if you are new to Objective-C and Cocoa development — or if you are new to programming in general — I would encourage you to find topics that sound interesting to you, and to not worry too much if you don't “get it” all at first. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Our speakers are experts in their fields, and they have a passion to pass on what they’ve learned to others!
CocoaConf Chicago Twitter Give-away
Posted by Dave Klein (February 20, 2012, at 10:56 AM)
On Saturday, February 25th, we will be giving a free pass to our Chicago event, along with three nights’ hotel accommodations, to one of our Twitter followers.
We did this for our Raleigh conference, and it was a lot of fun. (Just ask @fablednet!) Here's how it works. From Monday, February 20th through Friday, February 24th, anyone who follows @cocoaconf and retweets an @cocoaconf tweet will be entered in the drawing. Every retweet is another entry, so the more you retweet, the better your chances of winning.
It’s as simple as that: Follow, Retweet, and (maybe) Win! If you’ve already registered for CocoaConf Chicago, you can join in the fun: if you win, we will refund your registration fee.
We will try to give you as many opportunities for retweeting as we can during the next several days, but it’s up to you to take advantage of them.
Have fun, and may the best tweeter win!
Win a piece of history at CocoaConf Chicago!
Posted by Dave Klein (February 14, 2012, at 10:53 AM)
When the original iPhone made its debut at MacWorld 2007, James Duncan Davidson, a photographer, software developer, author, and entrepreneur, was there. As people gazed in amazement at this phone from the future, Mr. Davidson made this photo. It perfectly captures the sense of awe and wonder brought on by this device that changed the world.
Last year, for a limited time, Mr. Davidson sold high-quality prints of this historic photo. The last day to purchase one of these prints was October 14, 2011 — the day the iPhone 4S went on sale. Only 120 of these prints were ever produced, and if you didn’t order one when they were available, there is no way to get one now — unless you attend CocoaConf and win one.
That’s right: We will be giving an 8 1/2 x 11 print of this photo to one lucky winner at CocoaConf Chicago. During the closing session we will have a drawing, and one attendee will get to go home and hang this beautiful photo on their wall.
As if there weren’t already enough great reasons to attend CocoaConf, there is now one more. Don’t miss your chance to win a piece of history. Register today!
CocoaConf Chicago Twitter List
Posted by Dave Klein (January 26, 2012, at 11:36 AM)
If you registered for CocoaConf in Chicago and gave us your Twitter username, then you’re on this list:
Twitter lists are a great way to see who you know among other conference attendees, as well as a way to meet other attendees. And the Chicago list is growing fast — it has already passed up the Raleigh list. If you're not on the list, then you either didn’t give us a Twitter username when you registered, or — worse yet — you haven’t yet registered!
Don't worry: both of these problems are easy to fix. Just head over to our registration page and sign up, making sure that you give us your Twitter username. If you’ve already registered but are not on the list, send us a message on Twitter ( @cocoaconf ) or email us, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, be sure to follow the @cocoaconf/chicago list. There’s a lot of very interesting people coming to Chicago in March!
Posted by Dave Klein (January 19, 2012, at 13:22 PM)
Although we don’t have room for a vendor hall and refuse to fill the walkways with vendor tables, we do still have great opportunities for organizations that are involved in the iOS and OS X developer community. If you have products, services or other opportunities of interest to iPhone, iPad, and Mac developers, we have affordable and unobtrusive ways for you to deliver your message.
In Raleigh, RoleModel Software and Appsolute Genius helped us to put on an excellent training event for about 80 developers. In Chicago we had over 100 iPhone, iPad, and Mac developers joining us and we expect the same in the DC area.
If your organization would like to help us to make this the best developer conference the DC metro area has ever seen, contact us: email@example.com.
Still time to save on CocoaConf Chicago
Posted by Dave Klein (January 16, 2012, at 09:05 AM)
The Chicago schedule is finally up! It still has a few open spots (which we’ll be filling soon), but there’s enough there to convince anyone that this is going to be a great conference, and we are very excited about bringing this quality technical content to the Chicago area!
Early Birds, super and otherwise
For those brave souls of you that signed up without even seeing a schedule: Thank you! Now that the schedule is up, the Super Early Bird rate is over, but we still have our regular Early Bird rate available. The purpose of this discount is to thank those individuals that don’t wait until the last minute to sign up. Early registrations help us to do a better job of planning, and result in a better conference experience for all. So take a look at the awesome schedule and sign up right away.
If you register by February 10th, you can take advantage of the Early Bird rate of only $400 for the conference, $200 for the full-day iOS tutorial, and $550 for the combo.
You’ll be kicking yourself if you miss this great opportunity, and we would hate to have that on our conscience. So sign up today, and we’ll see you in March!
Speakers, Schedules, And The Super Early Bird Discount
Posted by Dave Klein (December 20, 2011, at 21:46 PM)
Today, we opened registration for CocoaConf Chicago. We have some of our returning speakers lined up, including Daniel Steinberg, Bill Dudney, Chris Adamson, and Jeff Biggus. We also have a new speaker who we’re very happy to have to join us: Boisy Pitre, who writes a monthly column for MacTech Journal and presented this past fall at the MacTech conference.
We will be adding more speakers in the next few weeks, as well as getting their presentations on the schedule. But while we finish off these important details, we decided to go ahead and open registration for the early adopters out there — those that can look at our current roster of speakers, see the feedback from past CocoaConf events, and know that this is a conference they want to be at. We like to reward forward-thinking and risk-taking, so we are offering a special Super Early Bird discount until we have the schedule published.
As for adding speakers: Along with our invited speakers that we bring into town for the event, we also like to include some local presenters. This has proven to be a great way to find previously-undiscovered talent.
So while we don’t have a “call for papers,” we do have a call for recommendations. We will be working with Chicago area user group leaders and others in the community to fill out our speaker roster. If you know of someone that you think would do a great job at teaching other developers about some aspect of Cocoa or Cocoa Touch development, send them our way.
If you are interested in presenting and have given successful technical presentations in the past, and if you are either local to the Chicago area or are able to act like you are for a few days, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An Opportunity for Community in Action
Posted by Dave Klein (December 3, 2011, at 12:51 PM)
One of the great things about the Cocoa community is the community itself. Many who gathered at CocoaConf Raleigh had little more in common than the tools and technology that they use and love. But even that provides a bond that can go way beyond the code.
As with any community, there are times when the members of the community come together to help one of their own. This is one of those times.
Christian Miller is an iOS developer, an active member of the Raleigh CocoaHeads, and the creator of Biblicious, the Bible game show app that he showed in the "We Made An App For That" session.
Earlier this year Christian's wife, Joanne, suffered some health problems that have caused her to be in a nursing home for the past several months. It is Christian and Joanne's desire to have her home, and one of the things they need to be able to do that is a van with a wheelchair lift.
This is where we come in. Christian's company, Pariahware, is hosting a Pledgie drive to raise the funds for the needed van. Please check out their website, http://www.vanforjoanne.com/, for details and an opportunity to give to this worthy cause and help a member of the community.
We Made an App For That
Posted by Dave Klein (November 28, 2011, at 20:21 PM)The "We Made an App For That" session is an opportunity for CocoaConf attendees to show off an app that they developed or are developing. Along with showing their app, they are encouraged to tell the developer story to go with it. What did they learn, what technologies did they use, what insurmountable problems did they surmount, that kind of thing. It's a lot of fun and a great way for attendees to get involved in the conference. If you are attending CocoaConf and would like to submit your app, contact us at email@example.com.