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Southwest Fox: Day 1

Finally, after 10 months of organizing the conference we get to the opening day. I am still on Eastern time so I wake up at 5:00am. I took the opportunity to get some work done that I have neglected over the last couple of days. Caught up on email and then headed over to the conference center to open registration at 7:15am.

The conference center is quiet at 7:00, but things get rolling quickly. I made sure the projectors were up and running and connected two of them in the combined Fairway 3/4. We combined the room because there were 40 people signed up for Andy and Menachem’s pre-conference sessions. All the equipment worked fine.

Back at the registration booth, Doug, Tamar, Therese and Marshal were busy delivering the materials for those registered for the pre-cons. Just before Andy was about to get going he noticed his machine was not cooperating with the projectors and the splitter. So they called in the guy who HATES hardware. Fortunately we got it working by having Andy reboot his machine and getting the output on one screen. Once we got it working on one we were able to get the second projector to work.

Back to the registration area where I had to process a couple of last minute registrations. I have to do this because I run the accounting software, have the merchant account to process the credit cards, and process all the registrations in our database. This is a single-threaded process, and is the only time it really is a pain in the neck.

Thursday is also vendor setup day. More boxes get delivered, and the vendors start to set up their booths. Bo Durban had the best innovation this year with his signs next to his booth. These signs were done up at the UPS Store for under $50 each. Much cheaper than the $1500 to $2000 it costs for one of the standard booths by the more experienced vendors. For those of us who have smaller operations, but still want a professional presence I think Bo found the perfect solution.

Mid-day we found Menachem’s older laptop did not want to cooperate with the projectors and splitter. See the trend starting? No luck this time, we could only get it running with one projector. Yes, this is better than zero, but not as good as two. No complaints from the people in the seats though, which I was thankful for. I appreciate the understanding that bad things just happen. Maybe the majority of the people sitting in the room are members of my “I HATE Hardware Club”?

The rest of the day was spent handing out materials and scrambling to order a last minute monitor for one of the vendors. There always seem to be some sort of glitch that needs to be solved. Later in the afternoon Steve Bodnar arrived so we could test out the technology to broadcast the keynote on the Internet – live. At first we ran into problems getting the camera to talk to the computer. I asked Frank “Mr. I don’t hate hardware” Perez to see if he could work with Steve to get this solved. Fortunately Frank had a different cable to make the connection and everything was up and running.

Keynote time was 7:00pm. Steve had us live as we set up so people could see what was happening. I was testing the equipment and ensuring my FoxCharts demo was working and looked good on the screen. Bo Durban was also testing his computer because he was going to demo VFP Studio with Craig Boyd. Up popped Cesar Chalom (creator of FoxCharts) asking why I was running an older release of FoxCharts (less than a week old {g}). He told me to download the latest version which fixed a couple of bugs. Not going to happen minutes before we go live with the keynote {bg}. Sorry Cesar, but people were still wowed by the older one.

They keynote can be watched here: http://ustream.com/channel/swfoxtv

You will see the whole thing as it happened. Overall I think the keynote went well. The core presentations was known as the VFPX Showcase. We wanted to show people some of the components and tools the VFPX team is working so hard on each day, and how they can be leveraged in the Fox IDE or as part of an application.

We also announced something we initially call the “Worthy Developer Fund.” We know we need a better name for this, but the creative juices are not flowing fast enough. The concept is to bring one or more developers to the conference who normally would not be able to attend for what ever reason. The developer(s) needs to be contributing to the Fox Community in a very significant way such as leading and contributing to one or more projects on VFPX or something else of that magnitude (exact criteria to be determined). What will happen is the three organizers of Southwest Fox will donate the conference registration and the fund will be used to pay for travel costs for the individual(s) selected. We are working out the selection process guidelines in the next month or two. We wanted to get the idea out to the community so they could start funding the fund. If you have suggestions for the selection process you can email those to me and I will forward it to those involved in the process of defining the process. Initial ideas include a nomination step, and then some sort of selection process from those nominated. More details later.

[Edit] Based on some discussions after the conference we have changed the name to “Bring a FoxPro Ambassador to Southwest Fox Fund”. This is brilliant as it really expresses the ideas behind the concept we have for this fund. Thanks to Christof Wollenhaupt for making the suggestion. [/Edit]

Next up was the VFPX Administrators Award for Outstanding Service. This is something new this year and was given to one person who really has given a lot to the Fox Community via the VFPX open source project. While there are many deserving candidates for this award, the administrators felt there was no person more deserving than Bo Durban who leads the GDIPlusX project. GDIPlusX allows you to work with the GDI+ DLL via some well built Visual FoxPro classes. GDIPlusX turns out to be one of the foundation classes as it is used in several VFPX projects and numerous other projects put together by the Fox Community.

Bo and Craig then literally performed some magic. Well maybe not good magic as the team put on a Penn and Teller skit with a sledge hammer, a watch, and a saw (I was a little nervous before the keynote when I heard explosives might be involved in the presentation). My recommendation to the two of them is to stick with better tools like Visual FoxPro and Visual Studio {g}. This magic lead to the real magic which was a demo of VFP Studio. I know many in the Fox Community have been wondering what is going on with VFP Studio and I was glad the two gave us a little peek at the future. From my perspective the future looks quite bright with these two geniuses working on VFP Studio.

The last part of the keynote is the birthday surprise for the Class of ’58. If you don’t know, the Fox Community seems to have a unusual number of people born in 1958 and they turn 50 this year. Two of the organizers turned 50 last month (yes, I’m the youngster in the group {bg}). Toni Feltman did a surprise demo with some stats on aging people, and then brought in birthday cake for all to share. I called Whil Hentzen on the phone so he could listen in as he is one of the Class of 58, as is Barbara Peisch who is speaking at the conference, and Dan Freeman who was visiting us. It was fun to surprise them. Thanks to F1 Technologies (Mike and Toni Feltman) for organizing this and sponsoring the whole thing.

The rest of the evening was the Tradeshow Reception, which I heard went well for the vendors. I did not get a chance to man the White Light Computing booth, but did mingle with the other folks and watched the vendors deliver numerous demos of their products. If I let anyone down by not demoing our developer tools please let me know and I will be happy to do something after the conference to show you what we offer and what they do.


2 Responses to “Southwest Fox: Day 1”

  1. October 24th, 2008 at 09:58 | #1

    Hi Rick !

    Congratulations for another great conference!
    The Keynotes live transmission was really amazing. Thanks a lot for your support !



  2. October 24th, 2008 at 10:56 | #2

    Your welcome Cesar. I agree. There is no doubt we will be doing more of this next year.

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