Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Southwest Fox 2011, Days 0 and 1

I was up early on Tuesday, October 25, to catch a 7:00 am flight to Phoenix. Rick Schummer’s wife Therese picked up Rob Eisler, a co-worker, and me at the airport and we met Rick at the hotel to start assembling conference bags. Normally we arrive on Tuesday when the conference starts on Thursday, but with it starting on Wednesday this year, we’re actually a day later because, in our fifth year of hosting this conference, we’ve got the preparation down to a science. Tamar and Marshal Granor arrived a little later, and we all met with the conference center staff late in the afternoon to finalize preparations. After setting up projectors and power strips in the session rooms, we went out for dinner at Brio, a nice Italian restaurant at the nearby San Tan Mall, then came back to the hotel and hung out in the bar for a while with some friends.

Wednesday morning, I was up at my usual 6 am, only I was in Phoenix, so that made it 5 am. That way pretty much the way the conference went: up really early and to bed late. Definitely in full conference mode. After getting the registration room set up, we were open for business at 8:00. Registration is always a fun time, because it’s a chance to see old friends again and put faces to the names of new attendees. Pre-conference sessions started at 9:00 so we were fairly busy until then. During quiet periods, I chatted with Rick, Tamar, and people coming to register, and catch up on email. During lunch, I had a chance to meet Dimiter from Bulgaria and talk about software development and the economy in his country. To me, that’s one of the best things about going to a conference: meeting new people and finding out what they do and where they’re from, as well as renewing and strengthening friendships.

The afternoon was similar to the morning: greeting attendees as they came to register and chatting with folks. I had a long chat with Ken Levy about a variety of things, including the fact that he and Randy Brown thought it was a surprise than Randy was coming to SWFox, but in fact Rick had already made up a badge for Randy because he saw his name on the hotel room list. Rick, Tamar, and I also finalized who was going to do what in the keynote that evening.

After the pre-con sessions ended, we held a short speaker meeting to go over logistics with everyone. This also gave us a chance to meet the new guy, Tuvia Vinitsky, and for everyone to say hi to Steven Black, who hasn’t been a SWFox for several years. (Sorry we didn’t give you a chance to say hi to everyone before we started, Steve, but we were on a tight schedule.)

Tamar, Marshal, Therese, and I went to Paradise CafĂ© at the San Tan Mall for a quick dinner because we had to be back before 7:00 for the keynote. Rick, as usual, did not accompany us because he can’t eat before the conference starts.

We had a few surprises at the keynote this year. First, we awarded the VFPX Administrators’ Award to Joel Leach for his work with FoxTabs and ParallelFox. This turned out to be fortuitous, because ParallelFox ended up being a huge part of SWFox this year. The second surprise was the announcements of the 2011 FoxPro Lifetime Achievement Award recipients. I almost blew the surprise for this: during the setup, while there were fortunately a small number of people in the room, I connected my laptop to the projector and navigated to the folder where the keynote PowerPoint presentation was located. In that same folder were photos of Drew Speedie, Steven Black, and Toni Feltman, and it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why. I was horrified when I realized that (shades of the infamous “Babe of the Day” incident from years past) and quickly pulled the plug before anyone else saw the evidence on the big screen.

Our part of the keynote went smoothly and quickly. We then introduce Steve to do the keynote presentation on Niche Marketing. What a bang-up job did! I suspect many attendees had never heard Steve speak before and were blown away by his session. That’s OK: the rest of us were too. I heard attendees talk about his session for the rest of the conference.

After the keynote, we held a reception in the trade show area. It looked like the exhibitors had their hands full with all of the attendees coming to find out about their products. I had a great chat with Frank Perez and Paul Mrozowski over a few Coronas.

After the reception closed, many people headed to the hotel bar. I had a fun time catching up with Phil Feltman and reliving the good times of past conferences. Joel Leach said his face hurt from laughing so much.

I hit the bed about midnight and took all of 4 seconds to fall asleep.

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