Just finished the second day (of four) of ETech.
I've heard some complaints that it's not as "good" as it used to be. The problem may be that a lot of this stuff isn't "new" anymore. When they're writing about stuff in mainstream magazines then you know it's no longer cutting edge.
I was signed up for the tutorials on Monday, but Kathy Sierra's was canceled (see her blog for more on the craziness behind this). They offered the option of upgrading to the Executive Briefing at no extra charge so I decided to do that since the alternatives to Kathy's tutorial didn't excite me. I was sorry to miss out on the other tutorial by Avi Bryant since DabbleDB seems to be such a great product. On the other hand, the briefing included a lot of speakers and topics that I enjoyed. However, a number of the briefing speakers were also included in the regular program so there was a certain amount of duplication.
Today (Tuesday) was the start of the actual conference. From experience I've learned that the best way to pick sessions is to go by the speaker rather than the topic. That doesn't work when you've never heard of the speaker, but it's a useful heuristic. For example, I'm not all that interested in TPM and DRM but I knew that Cory Doctorow would be interesting and he was. On the other hand, a session on Haml that looked really good (but I'd never heard of the speaker) was pretty mediocre. I also enjoyed Jeff Jonas in the briefing and his keynote so I made a point of attending his session, although again there was a certain amount of redundancy. And it was good to hear Jeff Hawkins, since I'm a long time fan of Palm and Handspring, and recently read his On Intelligence book. Unfortunately, I heard criticisms of his sessions from people who don't seem to see the same importance in his current work.
At lunch (great food, by the way) I sat with some guys from Sun. When I said I had a small company that developed software for the trucking industry one of them said they were surprised that someone like that would be at ETech. At first that seemed to make sense - I've never run into our competition (or other similar vertical software companies) at ETech. But then I started to question it. Isn't it just as important for small companies to be aware of emerging technology? I guess if you're really small you can't afford to go to conferences like ETech, but I don't think that's what they meant. And doesn't a lot of the emerging technology come from small companies? Maybe it's because they see ETech as an opportunity for big companies to come and see what the startups are coming up with. In any case, I think I can learn more, and more importantly, have a better chance of applying it, in my small company than they have in their big company.
So far, so good. I'll post more when I get a chance. I refuse to be one of the many people who spend the sessions with their heads down typing on their laptops. At times, the clicking of so many keyboards gets to be cumulatively loud enough to be annoying. Who are they chatting with? About what? Of course, this is from probably the only person there who didn't have a cell phone (if not two or three) and who asks the same thing about everyone on their cell phones - who are they talking to all the time? About what? I realize I'm not the most social person, but nor, supposedly, are many of these geeks. (Of course, this conference isn't all geeks.)
The trend towards Apple Mac laptops continues to grow. I would guess Apple has 60 to 70 percent of this particular market.
For pictures see Flickr/etech07