February 11, 1998

Good Content

A very good day, all in all. It started a little oddly, but has gone quite swimmingly since and has ended very, very well indeed. The USA men's team beat Brazil in Gold Cup competition!! My.

It started with a minor household disaster, but Bryant and I did manage to get out of the door by 7:35, which meant that I was only five minutes late in meeting Bob Hamilton at the Registration desk for the conference. It turned out that the conference had actually sent me my real badge, so all I had to do was pick up the holder and a bag of Stuff and off we went.

Unlike the Microsoft conferences there is very little advertising at the Software Developer's Conference, instead, surprise, surprise, it's a conference that's filled with useful seminars, speakers that really know their stuff, and talks that give practical and useful information on how to develop real applications. Rather than lots of technical evangelists with very slick presentations that don't really teach you squat. Am I being harsh on Microsoft's Development Conferences? Perhaps, but then that's been my experience.

I'll refute it the minute Microsoft actually gets better at teaching and presenting technology than it gets at marketing it's varied and numerous products. But I doubt that it'll happen in this or the next century, they're too interested in profits to actually help anyone else do better software as anyone else could be competition. Or, perhaps better put, everyone is the competition.

The one completely useless presentation I went to today was one given by Microsoft, does my bitterness show? And to think that the MS Dev conferences cost just as much as this one.

In just the first two sessions I attended today, I got a superb mapping of what I really need to do for the next gen product requirements. It was something that I'd been vaguely thinking of 'writing up' without any clear way of doing it. I knew that i had to go out and talk with customers, and while I had some general questions about what they needed, what they were doing and what they might want from an application I really didn't know how to present those questions other than in some kind of survey or ad hoc discussion. The very first session gave me a good, concise, clear way of presenting the information as we had it and in a form that would make for excellent communication to a user as to a first model of how we were looking at things. And it was in a form that would allow for instant feedback, for a user to say no, it's actually this way.

The second session showed me that it was possible to go to a real design from those communication documents. That was really, really keen. It also gave me a way to model all the UI's we had right now and to find out what the actual organization is and made for an easy way to see just how convoluted it was to do something that our users needed to be able to do.

Two sessions. The third was an okay one on Intranet Web standards and UI design, the fourth was a really, really lovely talk on the usage of most applications of various tools or devices for the communication of concepts. What was very keen was that they used the fruit fly life of tax software as the standard by which concept communication could be measured against. It's software designed for non-software designers and not-accountants and is mostly used by those types of users. How to get across both tool knowledge and tax/accounting/domain knowledge was the central question of the talk. That last one still has me thinking a lot about what we're doing and how we're doing it and why we're doing it the way we are. Always good things to consider.

Bryant picked me up at 6pm from Moscone and we went to a comic shop to get comics, and I also wandered into a body care shop and got some bathing salts. We also visited a bakery and got desserts and then we got back to Bryant's house, where I cooked potato, broccoli and steaks and we watched the Gold Cup while eating. Yum. Simple, relaxing, no problem. My first session tomorrow isn't until 9am, and I have the bath salts to take a bath. Life could not be much better. Well, okay, it could if I had myJohn with me. *grin*

Bryant also fixed the whole minor disaster during the day, and so things are good.

Sadly my knee is a bit swollen from yesterday's stumping about, but the bath and the salts should help that along with the painkillers and plenty of sleep tonight. I'll likely get to sleep before 10pm and that should put me in good stead both for the conference and for staging for DunDraCon immediately after.

And since there's a fairly late start time tomorrow, I should be able to go with Bryant to this lovely diner that he's found and have a real breakfast. That will be absolutely awesome. And maybe I'll actually remember my Starbuck's mocha tomorrow morning.

So, it's a real turn around from the time when I was afraid. I'm glad. Bryant has taken good care of me and it's good.

© 1998 by Liralen Li.

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