Conference is over, plane is waiting (well, not really, it is me who is patiently waiting in the airport writing irrelevant blog posts) and it is time to wrap-up thoughts that I did not know where to place.
Overall the Oslo Spektrum, were the conference was held, was a cunningly chosen location. It is an indoor arena and sponsors, advertisers, information booths and lunch tables laid in a central area with all conference rooms around it in two levels. It worked out pretty well and it is big enough to host everything and still not enormous for the amount of attendees, so that it did not look deserted.
Some sessions were too overcrowded.
My first session of the conference is a perfect example of that. People standing, sitting on the floor and the ones who were on the chairs were so close to each other that it was a bit uncomfortable and too warm for my liking.
I think it it could have been avoided as there were other rooms with more capacity (although a bit weird configuration, more on that later) that could have been used for those “popular” speakers/topics.
The thing is, there was something called “The overflow” which I later discovered it was a big area with multiple screens where one could sit and watch (and listen thanks to some clever hearing device) all the sessions at the same time. Not the same thing, but definitely better than standing for one hour looking over shoulders. What a clever idea! If only had it been advertised properly…
What I referred before as “weird configuration” is that being an arena, if would happen that the speaker was in a lower position than the attendees, giving the session a flavour of really old times university classroom with the professor inside an inner pit dissecting pig corpses while medicine students seem to pay attention but in reality they are wondering whether washing hands would made any difference to surgery or would the soul of a pig reside in the pineal gland?
Not a problem as screens were equally risen above the head of the speaker, in front of our eyes and there was a really good sound system.
Effectively it has been is a laptop-less conference. I brought mine the first day and was left in the hotel the remaining two days as it was useless. Had you wanted to use it you would have to rest it over your lap and pray for the battery life as there were no power-points inside the rooms. The only plugs were in the lunch area, where proper tables were arranged very away from any action. No whining here, but it would have been useful to know it upfront.
Toilets were a plenty and in very good conditions, as stacking loads of people and giving them drinks and providing few toilets is always a bad idea that ends up grossly.
Food was alright, but I don’t think any prizes will be awarded for serving wraps and fruit salad. It was the right amount, not so much you would feel sleepy after lunch and queues were kept short, kudos for that.
The last day was a bit of a surprise as forceful breakfast with eggs and beans was served (first two days was some light yoghurt or cheese-topped nutty bread) whilst lunch was a mere bowl of soup and a roll. Maybe they expected lots of hangover people in the need of a greasy fuel in their systems.
Fortunately sponsors were providing ice-cream, hot-dogs, pop-corn for the ones that felt like a snack.
Usage of Apple laptops amongst speakers has definitely caught up. I would say there were the same amount of Apple laptops as the sum of all the other brands together (with ThinkPads way behind in the second position). I will have to reflect more on this, since, as much as they look sexy and I have no doubts they are good computers, I do not consider them cost-effective pieces of machinery. On the other hand… what do I know about hardware at all? :-p
Same has to be said about mobile telephony. The crowd was effectively geeky, so do not take the sample as representative, but most people had some sort of smartphone. Of those, most were Apple iPhones although there was a more than notable Android presence, way more representative than Blackberries or any sort of Windows Mobile.
No news here, Microsoft has, yet again, completely lost the battle by letting themselves go.
Not surprisingly, there were not a lot of iPads. But what it was surprising is that I saw no attendee with a tablet pc. The only tablet-like devices were the aforementioned iPads. Is Apple, yet again, going to revive an already existing concept and sell it as if they came up with something revolutionary? May I borrow their marketing team for my company? Pretty please? Oh, and a bunch of fan-boys, just to build quorum ;-p
There were moments I would have been very happy with a tablet device, taking hand-written notes, but, you know what? no matter how small and light they can make tablets, they would never fit inside my jeans pocket. And going bag-less is something I value a lot.
Instead I took advantage of the good note-taking capabilities of my Windows Mobile phone and my trustworthy stylus. And when I was done, I slid the phone inside my pocket. I will have to do some researching on stylus in other platforms, because it is a feature I am reluctant to give away if I change my mobile platform any time soon.
If you have not guessed yet, I am a freaking high-maintenance, hard-to-please bastard of a conference attendee. Always expecting for greatness and whining about less than awesome.
I may sound like a soul-less critic, that does little more than reprobating speakers and topics. Truth is, I am not as displeased as I might sound. With every session I attended (with very, very few exceptions) I learnt something new about the topic at hand and about how to present and deliver content to attendances. But I cannot help pointing out those, in my opinion, weak points. I would not expect otherwise if someone else attended one of my such talks.
With that, I want to say that the conference was superb. Lots of really interesting topics touched and some memorable delivery. I would totally recommend most of the sessions I attended to someone else and I would certainly looking forward to the videos to be released to check out those session I was unable to attend, but canned knowledge is always worse than flesh and bones.
I would probably come back, and that is a big compliment to a well-done job.