Thursday, March 29, 2007

Made it to ETech 07

Better late than never. I've managed to make it out for the last two days of the conference. Missed the Wednesday keynotes but caught the afternoon sessions and the Make Fest. I actually was able to get my son in the door. It should be conference policy to us parental-type geeks get their kids in. (Many thanks to Patrick at the registration desk for giving me a green light and giving me his name to use in case someone gave me guff.) That being said the Make Fest was a bit anemic this year. Last year's event was much better. The third and fourth day session quality has been inconsistent but there have been some really interesting talks. Marc Hedlund and Brad Greenlee gave a joint presentation on some of the underlying privacy techniques used in the development of Wesabe. While some of the techniques were not unique there were some interesting point brought up about log data scrubbing and retention which I found useful, especially since I'm a user of their service. Don MacAskill's talk on how SmugMug uses Amazon Web Services as a back end to his photo sharing service was also worth attending. His details on the cost analysis and practical tips to integrating S3 into your site were valuable. The 1/2 Baked session was a surprise. The game is a good exercise to build your pitch skills and I'm interested in using it as a fun exercise to foster creativity in my staff. Joshua Schachter gave a talk on his lessons learned building and maintaining I thought it was a good primer in what to do right and more importantly what not to worry about when building a large scale social site. One word of advice was not to sweat the spam question in version one since the people that want to cheat to attract attention to themselves are going to be craftier that you will so watch and monitor their behavior then try to react to shutdown or more importantly dampen the behavior. Not many low points although the Adobe Apollo keynote was a straight, rather dull, product pitch. Thankfully the IRC back-channel made it bearable. I know the sponsors need to get airtime for their contributions but they really should be limited to the sessions. This conference is usually pretty good a segregating these kind of talks so they can be easily avoided which is why when a product pitch happens during a keynote the negative effect in my mind is magnified regardless of whether you think the product is useful or not. I paid a lot to be here. I don't want to be pitched.

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