Tag Archives: sanfrancisco

WWDC moves back to San Jose

I have a tradition when I go to San Francisco for WWDC. I arrive early on Sunday before the conference, drop my bags at the hotel, and take a cab to the Presidio. The weather is usually beautiful. I visit the Walt Disney Family Museum, maybe sit in the grass with a coffee, then go for a walk to take in views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I’ve done this the last handful of years. It’s always a perfect reset to whatever stress was happening with my own coding projects and business. You can find blog posts and tweets from past years.

I attended WWDC in San Jose a few times. Moving WWDC back there will probably end up being fine. If you’re at the convention center, or hanging out with attendees at a restaurant, or taking a break to work at a coffee shop around the corner, or even going to a party — many cities will suffice for that. I’m sure the conference will be great.

I’ll still miss San Francisco. I know it’s not a perfect city. But it’s historic and unique. That’s why I recorded a podcast episode about it over 10 years ago, and I’ve learned much more since. I always get something out of the trip.

Don’t give up on WWDC

There’s a nice sale going on across several smaller, regional developer conferences right now. I think any of these conferences would be a great experience, so if you’re considering one you could save $100 by acting now.

I wanted to comment on something Joe Cieplinski said about WWDC while linking to this promotion:

Folks say that WWDC is the one time where everyone in our community can get together, but frankly, the price of hotels in San Francisco has made that statement a bit disingenuous. Many—if not most—of us can’t afford to make it to this party, so maybe this is no longer the party for “everyone.”

Curtis Herbert also echoed some of these themes in a post:

While it’s a shame to end the WWDC tradition, it makes sense to follow all the other technical communities out there and rely on smaller, more accessible and distributed, community-run conferences throughout the year. It’s a sign that our community growing up and leaving the nest. One city can’t hold us all anymore.

I think it’s possible to go out to WWDC without spending a fortune. You can attend AltConf, find an Airbnb room for $150/night, and stay a few days instead of all week. I downgraded my expectations for WWDC and booked a cheaper hotel room a couple of months ago. It’s about how much you want to be there.

In fact, I’d still argue that it’s less expensive to “attend” WWDC now because it has been proven how much you can get out of AltConf and other events without the $1600 conference ticket. When I went to my first WWDC back when it was held in San Jose (and the same could be said for the early years in San Francisco), hotels and flights were cheaper but it was pointless to attend without a ticket.

I can’t go to every conference. This year I’ve picked 2: WWDC (probably without a ticket) and Release Notes (in September). I wrote about Release Notes last year and highly recommend it again.

But I stand by the opinion that WWDC is worth preserving as the best place for everyone to go — with or without a ticket, with or without a fancy hotel room — because there’s room for thousands of more developers than at a small conference. I hope that Apple’s change of venue for the keynote and Monday sessions means they are trying to expand the conference to even more developers.

I’m so excited about Monday’s new venue that I’m actually thinking about trying to get a ticket in the lottery, to experience what it’s like and what it means for the conference going forward. The main thing holding me back is that it seems wasteful if I’m not staying through Friday, when another developer — maybe someone who hasn’t attended before — could get that ticket instead.

Startup life and Medium

Pretty hilarious guide to San Francisco startup life from Padlet on Medium. Here’s just one small part:

“Markets are chockablock with these desk+gym hybrids — standing desks, treadmill desks, cycling desks. This is why I feel bullish about my swimming desk idea — a big water tank with an infinity pool and a computer bolted on one side. Noise cancelling scuba masks, snorkels, and fins come as standard equipment.”

I’ve been fascinated with Medium lately, and have cross-posted a couple recent posts over there to better understand it. Is it a blogging tool? Sort of. Is it a social network? Not exactly.

While you can follow other users there, I find that even with the 100+ people I’m following, the posts I see on Medium are almost exclusively popular essays written by people I don’t know. They’re recommended enough that they show up in Medium’s daily emails, or on the home page, or linked from other blogs I read. But it’s like if you signed in to Twitter and only saw retweets.

This may explain Medium’s design changes to encourage quick, microblog-like posts, in addition to full essays. Longer blog posts just aren’t written often enough to make for a meaningful social network.

The third era of WWDC

“This is it,” a friend said to me as we were walking up Market Street with other developers, late at night as WWDC was winding down several years ago. The iPhone had hit. The conference was getting bigger. Apple was on the verge of becoming a giant in the industry and you could feel it in the air — a coming change that was obvious only from a distance because it disappeared as you reached for it, like San Francisco fog rolling over the bay. “This is the height of the conference and it’s never going to be like this again.”

Looking back it perfectly captured what I think of as the second “era” of WWDC. It was a kind of golden age for Mac and iOS developers, with a new generation of successful Mac indies and before the iOS race to the bottom was much past the starting line.

From my perspective, learning Mac development in the mid 90s, there are three distinct eras of Apple’s WWDC. My first WWDCs were at the San Jose Convention Center. The developer base was small enough that you consistently ran into everyone, companies like Metrowerks and even Adobe seemed to have an influence on the conference, and Apple frequently showed off new APIs that might not actually ship soon or ever. It was an exciting time to be a Mac developer but the rest of the world didn’t care. This was the backdrop for the failed Copland project, for Steve Jobs coming back, for the clash between Carbon and Cocoa, and the acceptance of Mac OS X.

The next era was at the move to San Francisco. The conference was getting bigger but Apple attempted to keep the events and themes that made WWDC the same, even for a while busing attendees to the beer bash in Cupertino. This is the time when the iPhone SDK arrived and the conference exploded. I think most developers will always look back at this time as something amazing. It’s the backdrop for that walk up Market Street and a dozen similar conversations.

Now we’re in the third modern era of WWDC, with one undeniable characteristic: a small percentage of developers can get a ticket to the conference. The community, however, is as strong as ever, and there’s still a desire to have WWDC be that “one place” that developers can meet each year. It’s a need that smaller, regional conferences, no matter how important they are, just can’t fill.

I like this post from James Dempsey because it starts with the assumption that not getting a WWDC ticket is the new normal:

“Once something changes from being dependably available to rarely available, you begin to form alternate plans and take alternate paths.”

He’s right. Since it’s likely that Apple will continue to iterate slowly instead of making major changes to grow the conference, we’re better off adapting. By adapting we can focus on preserving the community aspects of WWDC that are arguably just as important as the technical tracks.

And change comes slowly to WWDC. I realized while watching (https://developer.apple.com/tech-talks/videos/) recently that Apple just doesn’t see a big problem. John Geleynse described a situation where only one person from a team is at WWDC; the rest of the company is back at the office watching videos and sending questions to their coworker at the conference to ask in the labs. Getting videos out the same day makes the conference more useful for both those without a ticket and actual attendees (and their team) too.

(I still have complaints about how WWDC tickets are distributed and why Apple doesn’t attempt to grow the conference a little more, but the lottery is an improvement over last year. See Core Intuition episodes 132 and 133 for a full discussion.)

I’ll be in San Francisco for a few days next week — at AltConf, at the Cartoon Art Museum fundraiser, catching up on session videos, waiting in line for coffee, hiding in my hotel room writing code, and getting some good food and drink with fellow developers. WWDC means something different now, but it matters just as much as it always has. Hope to see you there.

Reflecting on WWDC 2006

WWDC 2006 was great. (Yes, it was two weeks ago. Finally making time to blog again.)

I won’t dwell on the announcements too much, but I generally agree with some that there was nothing earth-shattering. We have only seen a part of what Leopard will become (an improved Finder and some unification of window and control types seem inevitable). The most exciting stuff is new APIs for developers, not flashy end-user features.

I had a great time hanging out, catching up with people and meeting new folks too. Buzz Anderson’s “Monday night party”:http://weblog.scifihifi.com/2006/07/23/party-time-excellent/ was excellent.

In addition to the new Leopard goodness (hello Core Animation and Interface Builder), I also came back with new excitement for a side project that I have been working on: an email client. I had stopped active development until hearing what Apple had planned for Mail.app in Leopard, but now I can safely say that they are going in a completely different direction than what I want to focus on.

Threads like “this one on Hawk Wings”:http://www.hawkwings.net/2006/08/21/can-mailapp-cope-with-heavy-loads/ (via “Steven”:http://stevenf.com/mt/2006/08/big_mail.php) also confirm that there are a number of users out there who want the same kind of things I want in an email client. Of course it has to be fast and scale, but I think I have a few twists on the old formula as well.

In San Francisco we also stayed an extra day and visited the Oakland museum, drove up to Point Reyes, and saw a great musical Friday night: “Putnam County Spelling Bee”:http://www.spellingbeethemusical.com/. I recorded a bunch of audio for an upcoming podcast, although not as much as I probably should have. There were a few times in particular I wish I had taken my microphone out.

San Francisco walk

It’s Sunday before day 1 of WWDC 2006. Willie and I took a walk this afternoon, down Market Street to the bay, following the water around to Pier 39, then up Lombard and meandering through quiet San Francisco back streets until we come through the middle of Chinatown and back to the hotel. Along the way I recorded some pieces of audio, hoping I could use them for a podcast I’m preparing about the city. Willie snapped pictures, almost all of which came out looking really good. I like this one of me trying to get the sound from underneath the cable car track.

I accidentally left the MiniDisc recorder going for a part of our trek, wasting a bunch of disc time. The UI is so bad on these devices that I don’t know how to cut out just part of a track, so I went off searching for a new disc. Over lunch Daniel Steinberg had showed me his M-Audio, which I had considered earlier and now pretty much regret not purchasing. Maybe I’ll eBay the MiniDisc recorder at some point.

Tomorrow morning is the keynote.

Muybridge panoramas

In 1997 I walked into Half Priced Books to browse and left with a copy of “Eadweard Muybridge and the Photographic Panorama of San Francisco, 1850-1880”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=as2&path=ASIN/0262581213&tag=mantonorg&camp=1789&creative=9325 for $5. I had been familiar with Muybridge through his series of photographs of humans and animals in motion, which have been a classic reference for animators for nearly a century.

Now, I’m coming back to his San Francisco photos as I prepare a podcast about that city. I am very excited about this one, and hope to have it finished soon after I return from WWDC. The “video games podcast”:http://www.manton.org/2006/07/video_games_podcast.html was a lot of fun, but it had some problems that I hope to correct this time around.

I’ve tweaked this weblog design again, adding one of Muybridge’s panoramas to the header and experimenting with some different fonts and colors. I’ll switch the image out from time to time.

Book cover