Counting Down

In just six days, I’ll be head­ing down to San Fran­cis­co to attend Apple’s World­wide Devel­op­ers Con­fer­ence (also known as WWDC). After all of these years, I’ve nev­er been to one of these. I’ve been to more Mac­World Expos then I can count, and even attend­ed 2 or 3 years of MacHack, the annu­al code-all-night-and-show-off-your-clever-kludge-in-the-morn­ing event in Ann Arbor, Michi­gan. I’ve had pro­gram­mer friends sug­gest I go to this, but it always seemed to come at a time where I was either on vaca­tion or just return­ing from/just get­ting ready to go on vaca­tion. Now, with San Fran­cis­co being a lot clos­er, and my luck this time (or bad luck, depend­ing on how you look at it) of not work­ing, I can final­ly see what all the fuss is about.

Boy, this year there is a lot of fuss. WWDC is entire­ly sold out. Accord­ing to Steve Jobs’ keynote from 2007, there were over 5,000 atten­dees that year, 159 ses­sions, 94 hands-on labs and 1,200 Apple engi­neers on site. Jobs will be doing the keynote again this year, and the sched­ule for ses­sions already says there are well over 150 this year, in 3 tracks, iPhone, Mac, and IT. I plan on going to most­ly the iPhone and Mac ses­sions, and there are a cou­ple of key ses­sions on Wednes­day morn­ing regard­ing User Inter­faces on the iPhone that I’m real­ly look­ing for­ward to.

Tips from a Past Attendee

I noticed an entry online from some­one who had attend­ed last year, and they rec­om­mend­ed, among oth­er things:

  • Be Pre­pared
    Bring a water bot­tle. The Odwal­la juices on offer are *real­ly* sweet and run out quick­ly, and there’s no way you are going to stay hydrat­ed from drink­ing that and coffee/tea all day. There are plen­ty of water refill sta­tions all over the Moscone.

    Bring a jacket/jumper. Unless you come from Nor­way or Siberia, you’ll prob­a­bly find the weath­er in San Fran­cis­co real­ly chilly when the wind gets going. Dress in lay­ers. Even if you don’t plan on get­ting out much, the labs and lunch areas are *real­ly* cold at times too.

    Bring extra cash for food…Unless you’re on a tight bud­get like me, bring extra cash for get­ting food out­side of the Moscone if you want to keep your spir­its up through­out the week. All food at the Moscone is cold, includ­ing break­fast. Lunch is served in plas­tic boxes.

  • Get to San Fran­cis­co ear­ly.(He includes some info about jet lag — not a prob­lem for me, thank good­ness).If you plan on sight­see­ing around San Fran­cis­co, do it before WWDC instead of after. If you’re a devel­op­er, WWDC will give you a huge buzz and you won’t be able to resist quick­ly fly­ing home after the con­fer­ence is over to start work­ing on the new stuff you’ve learned.
  • Have a blog or web­site? Put a pic­ture of your­self or your team online.
    There are loads of peo­ple who would love to talk to you about your prod­uct, your blog or your site dur­ing WWDC. The first step in mak­ing sure that peo­ple can even find you dur­ing the con­fer­ence is to make sure they know what you look like in the first place.
  • (This one sur­prised me): Don’t waste time plan­ning your sched­ule far in advance.
    The ses­sion and lab time-sched­ules change dur­ing the con­fer­ence. You may also change your mind about attend­ing cer­tain ses­sions dur­ing the week itself, so don’t waste too much time plan­ning your sched­ule too far in advance. Just plan a rough guide dur­ing the plane and you should be set.
  • Par­ti­tion your lap­top hard dri­ve before you leave.
    If Apple is going to give out a new devel­op­er seed dur­ing the con­fer­ence, you won’t be able to resist installing it on your lap­top. I’ve per­son­al­ly heard of two fel­low atten­dees who, in the excite­ment of it all, installed the devel­op­er seed onto their exist­ing Mac OS X instal­la­tion with­out first back­ing up. Ouch. (Good thing this isn’t an issue for me).
  • Live close to the Moscone.
    Attend­ing tech­ni­cal ses­sions and labs all day is tir­ing work. Com­mut­ing for a long time after each day at WWDC will quick­ly sap your ener­gy. Do your­self a favour, and don’t bum off your friend’s apart­ment on the oth­er side of the city to save a few bucks. Get your­self a room some­where close to the Moscone and get a lot more ener­gy through­out the con­fer­ence. (Check. I’ll be stay­ing only about 4 blocks from Moscone this time.)
  • Busi­ness cards.
    When­ev­er you receive a busi­ness card, write a descrip­tion about the per­son on the back of the card as soon as possible.

    You’ll thank me lat­er when you’re on the plane, sort­ing through the huge stack of busi­ness cards you’ve received, and you’re try­ing to recall whether “Johnny Foo­bar” was the guy you met dur­ing lunch with an awe­some new idea for your app, or the guy that you’re sup­posed to send a review license to. (I learned this one a long time ago)

  • Make use of the labs.
    Your mileage may vary with the labs, but per­son­al­ly, i’ve got a huge amount of val­ue out of the labs. Bro­ken code got fixed, new fea­tures got imple­ment­ed *on the spot* and mag­ic devel­op­er dust was giv­en out. It’s been awe­some. (Again, prob­a­bly more use­ful for a coder)
  • Talk to every­one around you.
    The food at the Moscone may be trag­ic, but the lunchtime con­ver­sa­tions are awe­some when you man­age to find the right group. If you’re an indie, you know how hard it can be to get a good tech­ni­cal dis­cus­sion with any­one in real life, so you real­ly owe it to your­self to find a good lunch group. The amount of ener­gy and buzz you get out of it can car­ry you for a long way through­out the week.

    Don’t lim­it your­self to lunch either. There’s great con­ver­sa­tion to be found just stand­ing in line. Just try not to do that at the long queues for the male restroom. (duly not­ed)

So there you have it. Thanks, Joe.

2 Replies to “Counting Down”

  1. Cool, a whole (?) week of geek­ing out and learn­ing stuff!

    Joe’s list of tips here reminds me of the “next year, we’ll…” state­ments I’ve heard from many a music fes­ti­val goer when they came home from a music fes­ti­val rich on experiences.

    Oh, an obvi­ous addi­tion: Com­fort­able walk­ing shoes 🙂

    I know you’ll have lots of fun.

  2. Have a great week David. Two peo­ple from Mt. Lehman CU are going down also. There should be enough iPhone knowl­edge there to keep every­one happy.

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