Posts Tagged ‘Southwest Fox’


Last week I saw Jim Nelson present his two Southwest Fox sessions, and one of Jody Meyer’s sessions in Grand Rapids and Detroit. Yesterday I had the pleasure to listen to Cathy Pountney and Jody Meyer rehearse both of their sessions at Chicago Fox User/Developer Group (CFUDG). The two groups were also kind enough to listen to the real rough beginnings of my sessions too. I thought the three meetings were terrific and the hosts did a magnificent job.

Special thanks to Jody Meyer and Cathy Pountney for putting on the special August meeting in Grand Rapids last weekend and thanks to Bill Drew and Jeff Simon and the CFUDG gang for putting on the special meeting yesterday! And thanks to everyone who came out to listen.

These sessions are invaluable to speakers as they figure out what works and what does not work in front of a live audience. At least for me, I know I present differently in front of developers interested in learning than when I sit down in front of the dog in the office and run through my sessions.

Cathy finished her second session of the morning making it obvious to me she is serious about defending her #1 speaker status as she is already in top conference form. It was at that time someone made the comment (and I am paraphrasing here): “There is no need to waste your money on expensive conference fees and outrageous hotel costs when you see this quality of session during rehearsals.”

Now I am sort of being kind on the paraphrasing, because what I really heard is: there is no need to support Southwest Fox or other conferences when speakers do the session rehearsals for almost free at user groups. Mind you the group who showed up made a generous donation for the food and covered some travel costs for the speakers, so the event was not free. Yet, the comment really rubbed me the wrong way. As an organizer who commits to 200-300 hours of volunteer time to put on Southwest Fox each year, and another 80-130 hours preparing sessions for the conference, I don’t appreciate the sentiment that was expressed. It simply hurts.

There is something I believe is too important to be overlooked. It is something I have known for a long time and probably have not expressed out loud enough. Southwest Fox depends heavily on FoxPro user groups. We depend on them for marketing and we depend on them to provide venues for the speakers to rehearse their sessions. It is something the organizers of Southwest Fox have recognized from the very beginning. Two of the three organizers started and run local user groups and the third organizer presents at them regularly. We all understand how important these groups are for the community to share and learn together. One of the first things we figured out for Southwest Fox was the user group discount we offer and giving money back to the community to support the groups.

But this is not a one way dependency. FoxPro user groups depend on Southwest Fox and other FoxPro conferences. You see, the Chicago group has been blessed more than most groups because they draw lots of conference speakers to present to their group. CFUDG invites speakers to come and share. They proactively call speakers to visit. They are a terrific group to present to and are open to learning all kinds of new things. The Detroit Area Fox User Group, Grand Rapids Area Fox User Group, and LA Fox User Groups also have been blessed with regular meetings being filled with conference-level sessions. I know there are other Fox user groups around, but these groups really fill their schedules packed with presentation rehearsals.

So what exactly is the real dependency? Conferences need well prepared speakers to draw people to the conference, speakers need to rehearse, and user groups need speakers to draw people to meetings. So if the presenters are not rehearsing the conference suffers and people are not as likely to return next time. If there is no conference, speakers are not likely to spend 40-80 to prepare one session. User groups won’t have conference-level sessions at their meetings and as a user group leader I know the “big name, conference level sessions” draw more than the core regulars to a meeting. It would be a downward spiral. I prefer the upward spiral where conferences exists and draw the best speakers and attendees, where user groups get more rehearsals, and the perpetual motion goes in the right direction. For conferences to exist, people must come. So now you understand why the comment felt like a dagger in my chest.

I know some people are unable to come to Southwest Fox because it conflicts with personal events, or live to far to travel at a reasonable cost, that the economy has affected some, or they have some project deadlines to meet. But to not come because you can see some of the sessions before the conference really doing yourself a disservice. You are missing most of the session you can benefit from seeing, not to mention the networking, the comradery, and talking to vendors who have some terrific products to demonstrate for you in person. Getting outside of the office and talking with other developers of like mind is an experience you will find extremely beneficial.

At the same time lots of people have asked me about 2010. Will there be a Southwest Fox 2010? I can only say maybe. We have not signed a contract at this time for a venue, and have not set any date. It all depends on how the community supports the conference.

So support your favorite conference (I hope Southwest Fox is high on your list) and support the speakers who are hard at work preparing to help you learn some really cool and useful stuff. There are upcoming rehearsals in Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Lansing, LA, and Philly. I personally will see almost half the sessions before we arrive in Mesa and hope to see more at Southwest Fox and German DevCon.

This past week I saw six of the sessions and I already learned enough stuff where it is entirely worth the effort I put in to make Southwest Fox happen. I think you will find out the same thing when you attend our conference.

, , , ,


Months of preparation come to a climax today as we announce our speakers and sessions, and get rolling on the registration for Southwest Fox 2009. Even though this is our third year doing this, it is still exciting and still fun. We also added some new wrinkles into the event.

  1. Sleep in a little more in the morning – 8:30 start times instead of 8:00.
  2. “Green option” for registration to skip the conference binder, but still get materials in PDF before the conference.
  3. New registration application to electronically send in the registration.
  4. Super-saver, early-bird, and regular registration levels and times.
  5. New “Technology” track looks at tools and technologies to make life as a developer easier or more productive, including such things as virtual machines and source control.

There still may be a few surprises to come too.

We also worked very hard with the budget to ensure people had the opportunity to register for the same price as last year. We are doing the best we can to continue to make Southwest Fox fit into your budget this year. The conference center hotel rooms are the same price as last year, and the conference fee is the same price as last year if you register before September 1st.

Topping the first five Southwest Fox Conferences is not an easy task. Coming up with new ideas while retaining the best of the past is a challenge each year. Still, I think we have put together the foundation to make this year the best ever.

One of the other new things is our first ever Ceil Silver Ambassador. Cesar Chalom is coming to represent the Fox Community from Brazil and South America. We made this announcement a couple of weeks ago. Since the announcement I have heard from a lot of people who are really excitied to meet Cesar in person. I know I am one of his fans and look forward to seeing him in Mesa.

Over the last six months or so we have been working very hard to encourage some new people to share their knowledge with the Fox Community. This has been a goal of the organizers since day one. Over the last couple of years we had a few speakers who have not spoken in a while return to the speaker circuit and have introduced a couple of new people, but not to the level we initially hoped for. This year is completely different though and I am really excited that we have what I am refering to as the fab five freshmen (Steve Ellenoff, Walt Krzystek, Jody L. Meyer, Paul C. Mrozowski, and Jim Nelson) speaking for the first time at Southwest Fox. Jim and Walt took part in the “Show Us Your Apps” session last year, Steve spoke at Fox Forward a couple of years ago, and Paul and Jody deliver regular presentations at their local Fox user groups so they are not really rookies. I think this is super important moving forward to grow the speaker community and this is a huge step in the right direction.

Naturally we are also bringing back some seasoned favorites too. Menachem Bazian, Rick Borup, Craig Boyd, Mike Feltman, Toni M. Feltman, Tamar E. Granor, Doug Hennig, Cathy Pountney, Rick Schummer, Alan Stevens, and Christof Wollenhaupt. A terrific line up.

Some of the great things you already expect from Southwest Fox:

  1. Terrific selection of sessions from great presenters.
  2. 28 regular conference topics, 4 simultaneous sessions, 4 pre-conference sessions, and a keynote will pack your days with learning opportunities and inspiration.
  3. White papers from every session (mandated by the organizers) so you can read about sessions you can’t fit into your schedule, or review material you saw at the conference when you return home.
  4. Lunch Thursday if you register for two pre-conference sessions
  5. Lunch Friday and Saturday for all attendees
  6. Dinner Friday night

I hope you take some time to review the sessions when you have a chance. I also hope you will consider joining us in Mesa this October.

All the details are posted on the Southwest Fox Web site. Watch for more news on our conference blog and follow us on Twitter too.



Today is the day the session proposals from potential speakers are due. If you sent topics in for consideration and did not get a response from Tamar, please resend them to speakers AT swfox DOT net. You can also copy to info AT swfox DOT net if you want to have a backup submission.


Finally to the wrap up. Based on feedback given to me at the conference, emails received since, and scanning through a third of the evals handed in, I can say we are getting the same positive vibes about Southwest Fox 2008 as we did in 2007. Many people have noted that we did an even better job this year, which I honestly thought was going to be tough to do. We are also getting lots of suggestions for improvement and I can assure you we take each suggestion and give it serious consideration. I hope those who attended Southwest Fox 2007 noticed several improvements in 2008 based on ideas submitted.

“Bring a FoxPro Ambassador to Southwest Fox 2009″ – $1161 (collected and pledged)

All I can say is WOW! There are a couple of things I want to mention about the fund. The first is 100% of donated money will go to the travel costs for the ambassador. Not a single penny will be used to cover administrative costs. The conference fees will be covered by Geek Gatherings (Rick, Doug, and Tamar). All time managing the fund and working through the selection process will be donated. No one will be paid for their time. So if you want to donate to the fund, please send a check or we can arrange non-credit card PayPal transaction so we don’t have to eat unnecessary discount fees. Checks can be made out to Geek Gatherings, LLC. Please note the “Ambassador Fund” in the check memo even though it will be obvious. All checks can be mailed to:

Geek Gatherings, LLC
Ambassador Fund
42759 Flis Dr.
Sterling Heights, MI 48314

We definitely will share more in the coming months as far as the nomination and selection process. We will be consulting others in the worldwide Fox Community to define the selection process and hopefully get something in place around the first of the year.

Southwest Fox Final statistics

9 countries (more than last year)
37 US states (more than last year)
135 attendees registered
58 people attending their first SWFox
28 people attending first Fox conference
16 speakers
10 vendors (more than last year)
3 staff
164 in total

SWFoxTV – I have heard a lot of positive feedback on the live broadcasts. I was amazed how people from around the world watched this live and provided feedback in the chats (which is unfortunately lost once the live feed is done). The VFPX session was particularly interesting as it turned out to be sort of a teleconference with questions being posted from those watching. I think we need to expand a little on this next year.

Our bribe for evals worked. 78% of the people turned in evaluations this year vs. the 60% from last year. A huge THANKS! I was hoping we would get 80-90%, so close enough. If you accidentally or even intentionally took your eval home and still want to help us out, please drop it in the mail to the address above. I already received one via the postal service so be assured you won’t be the only one. The more the merrier. If you prefer to send us ideas without the eval, please email them to me, or drop me a letter in the mail if you want to remain anonymous.

I want to finish up by thanking a few people. First our core “staff”: Therese and Marshal. These two individuals know a little about our community, but have nothing to do with software development. Their real affiliation is to be married to one of the organizers. Yet over the last couple of years they handled and solved many of the behind the scenes issues that pop up during the conference like making sure the chairs in the back of the room were distributed as needed based on popularity of some sessions. They just handled things and I am sure to this day there are things I don’t even know about. I am grateful for their help and support of our conference. Without them we would be even busier during the conference.

To our speakers – we are once again in debt to you. I know how much work and sacrifice it takes to put together your sessions. Some of our speakers have to take vacation time to come to Southwest Fox, or give up billable hours to be there. It absolutely is not easy even though they might make it look like it is. For my readers: each session averages between 40 and 80 hours of planning, writing, assembling and rehearsing. Some obviously spent more, and some probably spent less. I know one of our speakers this year put 200 hours into one session. This is five man-weeks! They do not get paid for this. They do it for the love of the community, and it is in their genetics to share with others. While some of the speakers have threatened to retire, I already look forward to seeing what the rest offer us for next year. I have already seen some ideas proposed and it is exciting. Our speaker community is one of the best around and I look forward to hearing from new people too, so get inspired and consider submitting ideas next February when we make the call for speakers for 2009 (we will post the announcement on the conference blog, personal blogs, and on the forums so watch for it).

To Doug and Tamar – I cannot say enough about these two. The success of this conference is highly dependent on the partnership of the three of us and our workload distribution and areas of expertise. It is absolutely good to know I can rely on my partners. When something gets delegated I know it will get done and done well. Each time I felt the water level raise around my neck one of these two stepped up and made sure to pull the stopper out so the water level would stop rising. I already posted some where that Doug may be the single most organized person I know. I thought I was pretty well organized, but Doug is light years ahead of me. His handling of our vendors and door prizes, the Web site, our conference booklet, and marketing was terrific this year. Tamar handles all the speaker details once the three of us make the selections. I am not sure the schedule of sessions could be any better, and I doubt there is a speaker out there that does not know when our deadlines are and what our expectations are for materials. We know how important our speakers are; they are the reason most people come to the conference.

Finally to the people who attend Southwest Fox. Your support for this conference over the last couple of years has surpassed our expectations both times. THANKS! Without people like you this conference would be fading into the sunset as many people have predicted. When I told people I was taking this over from Bob after the 2006 conference I was told by some I was crazy. Wasting my time. Conferences are on the down slide, people will not support it, the Internet has destroyed the business model. Me thinks not. The networking I observed during this year’s conference may have surpassed the networking I have seen at any conference I have attended. My Twitter list has grown significantly since the conference finished as many of the attendees discovered it is not a complete time sink, but another way to connect with colleagues. I met a lot of new people in the community this year. I also have seen the interest in VFPX swell over the last couple of weeks. All of this would not have happened if the conference did not occur.

So thanks all for your support and please look forward with great expectations for Southwest Fox 2009 being held in Mesa October 15-18th, 2009.

Only 354 days until we gather in Mesa! {g}



The final day of the conference. People are dragging after two or three full days of sessions. The dreaded Sunday 8:00am session slot is feared by speakers and attendees alike. Amazingly though, more people showed up for the 8:00am slot on Sunday morning than the 4:15 slot on Saturday. I guess I should not be real surprised since people are dragging just as much by the end of Saturday’s sessions.

I volunteered to do the APEXSql vendor session because APEX does not have the resources to send people to every conference. No one showed up even though I had door prizes to hand out (which we gave away at the closing session). I hung out until 8:15 and then bailed. Based on the other speakers (Bazian, Wollenhaupt, Hennig, and Granor) I was not the least bit surprised. I used the time to get some breakfast and made one more pass through my Data Explorer session, which went well.

I had to sit in on Cathy Pountney’s Customizing Your Vertical Market App session to see how she adjusted it for the new go-karting times. You see, part of her customization to “Rick” app was to show how I prefer to rank the racers by average lap instead of fastest lap. Cathy actually stayed up until 3:30am entering in the scores and was gracious in her loss the night before. I bailed right after she demoed the apps. Well done Cathy, well done.

Last up is the closing session. We like to have a closing session because the conferences we have attended in the past that don’t have one feel like they end without closure. Kind of end flat. So we try to end with some buzz by giving our some final prizes, announcing next year’s conference, and a call to action to end on a positive note. I think we accomplished this.

The closing does not mean we are done. We have lots of things to pack up and clean up, break down the White Light Computing booth and the registration table, make sure the vendor monitor rentals are packed up. After that we are off to meet with the conference center staff to review our bill, and discuss some of the good things that happened and address any issues we may have. Overall it was a very positive meeting. I feel the conference hotel had a few minor glitches, and there were minor issues with some of the service, but they did a terrific job ensuring our guests were comfortable during their stay and our sessions did not have problems from a facilities point of view. I honestly cannot say enough good things about the staff. They jumped on every request and when things weren’t perfect they tried to correct the issue.

After that meeting Doug, Tamar, Therese, Marshal and I meet to discuss the conference while it is still fresh in our minds. We note things we think we can improve on for next year. I have 14 items in my notes for things we think we can improve on or tweak. Some are really simple and some will take some brainstorming. The biggest problem we had in my opinion was the wireless. Some people had real problems getting connected and some of us had no problems getting connected. We rebooted the routers each morning and at lunch which helped, but not for everyone. The conference center is in process of implementing free wireless throughout the facility, and actually started rolling it out the weekend we were there. We could not count on it and when I tried to connect it would not let me. Hopefully next year they will have it working and we won’t have to use the routers we used last year and this year.

Sunday evening was a blast. Normally Therese and I head out to Sedona for some rest and relaxation, but this year decided to leave Monday morning instead of Sunday afternoon. We went to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory which was delicious. Afterwards I hung out with a group of people who congregated at the Feltmans’ place. I think I left around 2:00am as I could not stay awake any longer. I am not sure I have laughed any harder in months. What a great way to end a terrific week in Mesa.



Saturday morning comes way too early. I am still stuck on Eastern Time so I am wide awake at 5:00am. Once again, take a moment to catch up on email before heading over to the conference center to get things rolling by 7:00am.

The hot breakfast hit the spot before I gave the first discussion on Extending the Sedna Data Explorer. I notice the attendance is a little light so I go and check out who is speaking in the other rooms (Hennig, Boyd and Peisch). I was lucky to get close to 20 show up with this lineup. No matter, it is one of my favorite sessions to give because the Data Explorer is a fun and productive tool to use. I had to change my session a little bit on-the-fly because I asked how many people in the room were using the Data Explorer and barely anyone raised their hand. At first I was not sure if it was the 8:00 session, but the session was active and lively. So I tried to give a brief overview of the tool as I showed off what was added in Sedna. Thanks to everyone who made suggestions and enhancement requests during the session. I have always said that I learn more about the topics I present during the sessions so you are not the only one who has this opportunity.

Next up was Christof’s Optimizing and Debugging session, which was packed. Christof is brilliant and this session was high up on my list of sessions I expected to be popular. I was right on. Christof discussed many opportunities for debugging and baffled several people with his demonstration of a messagebox coded in the Init of the form, but not running when the form was started. I cannot recall the exact issue, but it had to do with Vista and some code he had in the DataEnvironment. I have to say, Christof delivered the quote of the conference for me: “If it is cool – fix it.” Great session.

I skipped the sessions during the next slot to prepare more for my Sunday morning APEXSql vendor session.

Lunch was Trip to Italian and included stuffed shells and chicken cutlet with marsala sauce, breadsticks, and canollis for desert. I sat at the Visual FoxExpress Birds of a Feather table because White Light Computing uses VFE as our primary framework. Mike and Toni Feltman detailed some new stuff they are working on and some plans they have for developers to contribute to the framework.

I got a chance to sit in Craig Boyd’s VFP Studio session, followed by my second session of Using VFPX Components in Production Apps session (which went well from my perspective).

I spent the last session of the day talking with others in the foyer where we started planning some VFP-guy, .NET-guy commercials patterned after the I’m a PC, I’m a Mac commercials. We have several ideas and it is only a matter of time before these get formalized and recorded. I am so looking forward to this. Just one small hint, watch for the VFP-guy to run circles around the .NET-guy in one of them.

The afternoon break was the Screamin’ Sundaes (ice cream or frozen yogurt) with toppings. Perfect on a hot day.

Most attended sessions of the day (all tied with 44 people) included Craig Boyd’s Creating a Professional VFP App, Christof’s Optimizing and Debugging, and my Using VFPX Components in Production Apps.

The evening activities included the official speaker dinner. I always struggle with this because on one hand the speakers like to hang out at the conference center, but as an organizer we like to take them out as a small way of saying thanks for all your hard work and efforts to make the conference the success it is. Dinner was excellent.

After dinner was the much anticipated go-kart race. In case you were not at Southwest Fox 2006, Bob Kocher organized an unofficial offsite activity for those who wanted to race go-karts. According to the house rules, the person with the fastest single lap is the winner. In the race I was in Cathy Pountney had the fastest lap and I was second, followed by Doug. Cathy beat me by 0.03 seconds. She pretty much reminded us of this fact for the next year. Last year we tried to go but we did not get reservations and the wait was too long. So we heard about how she beat us for another year. The trash talk got notched up just before the conference this year. All in fun, but revenge would be ours. We headed over to the course and made sure the three of us were in the same race. It was a race inside of a race. It did not matter who finished where except for the three of us. The racing was absolute fun and in the end Doug had the fastest lap, followed by me, and then Cathy. For the entire night I had the fastest average lap so in my own mind I was the winner. If you include everyone else, Rick Strahl is the man with the fastest lap. He drives like he codes! I am looking forward to doing this again next year.

Back to the hotel where we had to stop by the bar and let the others know who won, but I had to get to bed because I had an 8:00am vendor session and the 9:30 session on the Data Explorer.



Friday is the start of the full day of sessions. People are walking around the center with high energy levels and are generally excited for the start of the conference.

As an organizer I make a pass through each session room to ensure the projectors are working and the room is set up properly for the speakers and those attending the sessions. There are always a couple of tweaks I have to make on Friday because the walls were put in place late the night before. Our facilities people are right on any changes we need, and normally things are all set by 7:30 or so. I also make sure the session signs are set up for each of the rooms. This year we added the fifth room for vendor sessions so I have to remember to set this one out each day too.

Someone else handled the remaining registrations from folks arriving later Thursday. As I mentioned in discussions with someone during the conference, it runs mostly on auto-pilot once things get rolling. When I say auto-pilot, I mean things happen and they get taken care of by our staff or the facilities people.

Off the breakfast which was one of the bonuses we offered again this year. We state up front we will provide lunch on Friday and Saturday, but based on attendance this year we were able to offer the breakfast and afternoon snacks again this year. I know people really appreciate it because they noted on evals and in feedback that they did not like the “bagels only” Sunday morning offering {g}. Breakfast was good. I love scrambled eggs. I also enjoyed the discussion at the table I briefly sat down to wolf it down.

Back to the registration booth where I rehearsed my Using VFPX Components in Production Apps session one last time. Determining the length of this session was nearly impossible because of the variety of questions I got during the user group rehearsals. This session also was one of the most difficult to prepare because all of the components are still being developed. I always wondered how the speakers at the Microsoft DevCon in 1995 pulled off their materials for VFP 3.0 when it was still under development. First they had to learn all new material and then had to work with an ever changing target. I have always had a high level of admiration for those speakers. I know my VFPX session was not to the level of the VFP 3.0 beta difficulty wise, but in many ways there are parallels.

I had to skip all the morning sessions unfortunately because of my duties at the conference, and the last minute prep for the session.

Lunch was Deli Meats and Cheeses, salad bar, and Italian pasta salad. Desert was brownies and cookies. We also introduced Birds of a Feather topics for some of the tables. I sat at the Future of VFP table and really enjoyed the discussion, and offering my perspective on the subject. People should not be surprised by my positive outlook on the future with respect to VFP and VFP projects in light of tools like Guineu, the eTecnologia compiler and extender, and VFP Studio.

I left lunch a little early because I had to print out my slides for my session. I had a heck of a time printing them for some reason (most likely Murphy’s Law). It took close to 20 minutes to print them to a PDF file so I could print them on the kiosk computer. I almost ran out of time and the stress of the situation gave me a killer headache just before my session started at 1:15. I definitely should have planned better.

Normally I am not nervous for my sessions, but with the headache going I kidded with the audience that I wanted to set the expectations lower. Fortunately I completely feed off the energy in the room and the room filled to capacity with people standing in the back. I was hoping this session was going to attract a lot of people and thought it was going to be one of the more popular session attendance wise. It was the driving force behind my decision earlier this summer to do this session instead of the session on the Upsizing Wizard. 40 people showed up and was the most attended session on Friday! My headache disappeared about 20 minutes into the discussion. I brought some White Light Computing “ninja” mousepads to pass out to some of the folks who asked really good questions. You see, I love interactive sessions and try to make all my sessions have audience participation. Some speakers understandably don’t like overly interactive sessions because it is hard to gauge how much material you can cover. I prefer to adjust my material on-the-fly to get other people involved and gain their perspective as well. The session went well and I have had a lot of positive feedback from those who came, including some emails from a couple people in the room before the next session started. Talk about instant feedback. Very cool, and thanks.

Snack break in the afternoon was titled “At the Movies” and included popcorn and lots of candy. I made sure to deliver chocolate candy bars to Cathy Pountney because of her obvious addiction to the stuff, and as a kind gesture before we kick her butt on the go-kart track Saturday night. {g}

During the afternoon I got a chance to briefly sit in on Rick Borup’s Hidden Treasures of the FFC, and Cathy Pountney’s Customizing Your Vertical Market Application, and Rick Strahl’s Using .NET with VFP for Reliable Web Services. I enjoyed the parts I was able to listen to. Each of these speakers are always well prepared and their materials are top notch. I am looking forward to reading their white papers.

Friday evening was filled with new things. First up was the Dinner Party. One of the things we got in the evals last year was to have a dinner to help people network more, and to give people additional opportunity to meet with vendors. The plan was to host the dinner outside in the courtyard and for people to eventually mingle into the vendor area if they felt compelled to do so. During our pre-con meeting with the conference center we got the news that the dinner was going to be inside because a wedding party wanted to use the courtyard. I think it worked out well. The food was really good (NY Strip Steak, Atlantic Salmon, baked potatoes with the fixings, fresh vegetables, rolls, and desert) and the discussions at the table was fun. We also pulled more names for door prizes. Ken Levy showed up with some old copies of FoxPro and Visual class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_27">FoxPro to give away. Boudewijn Luterink won a FoxPro for PowerMac which he turned around to auction for the “Bring a FoxPro Ambassador to Southwest Fox.” Thanks to Andrew MacNeill for being a good sport when he “accidentally” raised his hand when the price went to $30. Overall the feedback is overwhelming “do the dinner again next year.” I have no doubt this will be the case.

One problem with the dinner we did get feedback on is the cost for a spouse/SO/friend to attend. We charged $50, which I agree is outrageous. Unfortunately we actually lost a few bucks on each additional person. People might not understand, but this is hotel catering, and as Whil and Bob were kind enough to tell us a couple years ago – “hotel catering” is Latin for “thief.” I am not sure what we can do about this next year, but some people have made some suggestions. If you have some ideas, please let me know.

After dinner was the bonus sessions. The Show Us Your App session was the overwhelming favorite followed by the VFPX Meeting (recorded live and available on The user group meetings for Stonefield Query and Visual MaxFrame (VMP) were well attended by the dedicated user base too. I did not get a chance to peek into the EPS VFP to .NET Migration strategies meeting. I do know that the VMP meeting has the most legs though as I had to kick them out after 2.5 hours so the hotel staff could go home. {g}

It was a long day, but I made a quick pass through the patio area where the gang was hanging out for a quick lemonade before heading back to my room.



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:

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.