Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Southwest Fox 2011, Day 2

Thursday started at my usual time of 5 am. After setting out sign boards for the session rooms and registering a few newly-arrived attendees, I had breakfast and went to the first session, Eric Selje’s Lightswitch for VFP Developers. Eric did a great job explaining what Lightswitch is (a tool for rapidly developing Silverlight applications) and showing the basics of developing a Lightswitch application.

I was going to go to Steve Bodnar’s jQueryUI session next but ended up chatting with a couple of the new exhibitors, Basis and Alpha Five, about their products. Fortunately, I’d seen Steve present this session in January. In fact, his presentation inspired me to add new features to the SWFox web site, including the menu and the accordion control on the session pages.

My Developing VFP Applications for Windows 7 session was next. The first half of the session was similar to the Windows Vista session I presented four years earlier, but updated for Windows 7 and with more things I’ve learned about Windows security and virtualization since then. The second half focused on how to implement Windows 7 features in your VFP application, especially related to the Windows 7 Taskbar. I showed how I’ve implemented these features in a real-world application (Stonefield Query) using Steve Ellenoff’s Win7TLib VFPX project, including the actual code to implement those features.

After a very tasty lunch (the food at the Legado is so good, several people commented on Twitter recently about how much weight they gained!), I went to Steve Black’s Looking Back session. Although I don’t work on the type of applications Steve does, it was still interesting hearing his perspective on software development and process management techniques.

At every conference, a common phrase you’ll hear is “that session (or tip) paid for my conference”. Last year, it was Steve Ellenoff’s Win7TLib session for me. This year, it was Kevin Ragsdale’s Easy Multi-Threading session. Kevin is a great speaker: funny, great examples, and well-paced. He showed how to use a DLL created by Christof Wollenhaupt to add multi-threading to VFP applications. Like Steve’s session last year, my mind was abuzz with ideas about where in my applications I can make use of this technique. I know others felt the same way because that was a major point of discussion at every meal I had for the rest of the conference, and even on the taxi ride back to the airport on Sunday. You know you struck a chord when someone as advanced as Rick Strahl is inspired!

By a very happy coincidence, Jody Meyer’s session on ParallelFox immediately followed Kevin’s session. ParallelFox uses a different technique—out-of-process EXE servers rather than in-process COM objects—but has a similar purpose: allowing multiple tasks to be performed simultaneously to take advantage of multi-core processors common in today’s computers. The combination of these two techniques was on everyone’s mind and I saw a lot of very excited people after seeing these two sessions.

The speaker dinner was Thursday night. It’s our small way of thanking the speakers for the enormous amount of time and effort they put into preparing sessions and white papers. As Tamar pointed out at both the keynote and closing sessions, without them, there would be no conference. I had the pleasure of sitting with Rick Borup and his wife, Eric Selje, Menachem Bazian, Steve Ellenoff, and Kevin Ragsdale. Kevin was uncharacteristically quiet; I think he was still in a daze after the dynamite presentation he did in the afternoon. Menachem and Steve were like a tag-team comedy duo; rumor has it they’ll be playing Vegas soon. The food at the Gordon Biersch Brewery at the San Tan Mall was outstanding, as was the hand-crafted beer I tried. Good company, good food, good times.

As usual, we headed back to the hotel bar. Toni Feltman had planned an informal party to celebrate Cathy Pountney marrying Jim Knight this summer. However, she also found out that Alan Griver had recently married Allie (hope that’s the correct spelling) so she quickly picked up a second cake. There was tons of champagne and apple cider to celebrate with. I had an 8:30 session to present in the morning so I headed up just before midnight.


Kevin Ragsdale said...

I was uncharacteristically quiet during the speaker dinner because I was literally in awe of the folks I was with.

It was an honor to spend time with all of you. I kept asking myself during dinner, "Why are *you* here, Kevin?"

Thanks for an awesome conference!

Doug Hennig said...

Dude, you definitely deserved to be there!