As you ALL know, this was the last CFUnited ever, and as an attendee, I am certain that this fact was actually a positive influence on how the conference played out. The camaraderie that is always an integral part of this event was magnified by the ever-present fact that we just don’t know when we may be able to assemble ourselves in these numbers again. I know for myself (and I do believe that I am representative of most of my CF brethren), I felt it to be even more important this year to seek out and get to know new faces, and to push myself outside of my hermit-like inclinations and spend good quality social face time. During said face time, we all engaged in the discussions of the subjects that this conference’s demise has brought to the forefronts of our minds. Why was it ending? What did it mean for our community? What would be the ramifications? Was it a sign of anything to come? as confident as we are about the future of the language we embrace and earn our livings with, the demise of the grandest exclusively CF event to grace our professional landscape in the past six years has definitely been a cause of at least minimal concern to many. But, through the process of the fellowship, the sessions, the after parties, and the after parties’ after parties, I gained an absolute reassurance that what we have witnessed is nothing more than the results of an economy that’s been on a downward trend for the past three years and is in no way a prognostication of the future of ColdFusion. In fact, what it DOES mean is that now that one of the larger trees in the forest has sadly fallen, the vacancy it leaves us with is the opportunity and catalyst to allow for the currently smaller, more focused, and/or regional conferences to flourish and fill this niche in our professional ecosystem. I firmly believe this, and have found nothing but reassurance for this belief in the past three days of being immersed among my peers and mentors.
ON THE NEGATIVE (BUT POSITIVE) SIDE...
Having highlighted how excellent the conference was, I feel the need to share a less positive opinion based on my observations this year as an attendee. This particular CFUnited seemed to greatly lack in its administration as compared to those in the past that i have attended. The staff seemed more interested in doing their own thing as opposed to being focused on the details relevant to a conference, such as session start/stop times, ensuring sound levels, recording speakers, ensuring that the doors were closed once a speaker began, giving the speaker cues as to when his or her time was nearly up, and just maintaining a positive, prominent presence throughout the event. Fortunately, and I give HUGE kudos to these individuals, there were those individuals who were in attendance that took great responsibility upon themselves to fill in these gaps. They ensured that the registration desks were properly manned and that the attendees were given the proper attention at registration, they went the extra mile and turned what would probably have been blas’e social events into OUTSTANDING social events, they invested their own time to make certain that the fellowship, the tradition, and the kindred nature that we all share as a CF community was recognized and honored. I would give specific shout outs to those who I am aware were instrumental in making this conference as memorable and awesome as it was, but truth be told, everybody in attendance had some hand in that. Together, we made this CFUnited what it should be, and we can be proud of that fact. On the other hand, the actual organizers of the event...honestly, they couldn’t have seemed more disinterested to me. Oh, and the fact that I was solicited via email to help "save" CFUnited by BUYING THE RIGHTS TO IT??? Man, that's like telling your kid you love him and then putting a price tag on his forehead. That's just wrong in my book. Like I said, just my observation and opinions here.
LOSING MY VIRGINITIES
This conference also happened to be one that resulted in a few major changes for me. Besides the hardly containable inspiration that the sessions were regarding things like alternatives to RDBMS, iPhone development, the exploration of HTML5, and a new found interest in the CF on Wheels and FW/1 frameworks, I also found myself doing things that I was certain I never would do. I, a profoundly staunch PC, discovered that I am now “i-curious”. I want a mac. It stuns me and frankly, freaks me out, every time i hear myself say such a thing, but it’s true: i want a mac. Any of my friends who know me very well are probably picking their jaws up off of the floor at reading that, as I have never even come CLOSE to waivering in my unrelenting despisings (and uninhibited vocalization OF those despisings!) of all things mac. Heck, when they first saw me palming an iPhone they nearly fainted. But after seeing the presentation on iphone development with the Coldbox framework as the backend data services, something just gave up inside of my head and I, for the first time in my life, understood what it felt like to desire a mac. I know, this almost sounds like I’m coming out of the closet, and in many ways it certainly does feel that way to me, too! A strange feeling, like I’m giving in to the thing I shunned for so long...I’m being dramatic, huh?
Oh, the second thing I did that I said I would purposefully NEVER do: I had my picture taken with Ben Nadel. Again, as any of my friends who know me well will attest to, I am in general an “anti-herd” guy; if everybody’s doing it, then to me that’s a sure sign that they’re doing something i do NOT want to do. And, since everybody seemed to be giddy at the idea of having their picture with Ben up on his site, I naturally vowed internally never to do so. But then, I actually got a chance to meet Ben and talk with him a little bit. Gosh darn it, he’s just too nice! :) So, I conceded and participated in a three way with him and Ryan Jeffords. Three way photo opp, that is. :)
So NOW then... let’s all set our sights on the next conference or conferences we’re going to attend, shall we? Our time honored tradition of supporting our community by communally sharing what we all learn individually must continue, and it will do so in the form of ALL of us making it a point to contribute and participate in whatever ways we can. BLOG, y’all. BLOG the things you learn that have made your development life easier. TWEET. Share the tiny 140 character moments of your days that reveal your knowledge, wit, charm, losses, gains, wisdom, and personality to the rest of us. SPEAK. Overcome your erroneous belief that you have nothing of value to offer your peers and mentors and volunteer to speak at your local user group, the online cfmeetup group, other user groups in other cities, and conferences. When you get the word that such and such conference is having a call for speakers, you should be prepared to submit yourself and two or three topics that you have already presented on via the user groups. I know it can be difficult to overcome shyness and such, but believe me, all of us have something of value to offer. Heck, even the very fact that someone who never spoke publicly before is making that effort is in itSELF an inspiration to others, regardless of the topic or how smooth the preso goes!
Oh, let me leave you all with this awesome resource that Charlie Arehart maintains for the sake of his community: http://www.carehart.org/cf411/ There, you can find out about all the latest conferences and other resources whereby a CF developer can get “plugged in” to his or her community and begin partaking and sharing.
This conference has left me with a LOT of new friends, personalities and faces to connect with twitter icons, a boat load of technical inspiration, and the loss of at least two virginities. CFUnited 2010 rocked, y’all! If you missed it, you really did miss a lot.
I look forward to crossing paths with you in the future! In the meantime, if you're not already, let's be virtual buddies, eh? My twitter name is dougboude