After a week away from home and a few thousand miles of travel, I'm finally back in my Lazy Boy, drinking coffee and enjoying being with my wife and kids. I thought I'd share some thoughts about Scotch on the Rocks (and other random things) with you guys. For those who want to skip the boring bits, you can stop here: Scotch on the Rocks == Great. Ok, now for the details.
This was my first year attending Scotch on the Rocks. I tend to look at conferences in two ways - how they handle speakers (when I'm speaking of course) and how they handle attendees. As a speaker, I will not deny that I like to taken care of. That's probably no surprise - but the more details the organizer can take care of, the less I have to worry about and the more I can focus on my presentation. Unlike other conferences, the SOTR folks took a pretty hands off approach. I was asked for a session title and description and thats it. That works fine for a small conference I think - and personally - I kinda like it. Then again - sometimes strong deadlines work real well to forcing you to get organized. Outside of that though - Andy Allan, his wife and the rest of his crew worked their butts off to make things easy for me (and I assume the other speakers :). As a speaker, I was not too thrilled with the actual venue. Unfortunately, and out of SOTR's control, the location had actually changed the layout of rooms after they had booked and with no warning. This won't be a problem next year. Andy has posted details about the 2011 SOTR already and the location looks much better.
As to the conference itself - it was very casual. I'm not sure that would work well for a huge crowd, but I loved it. Andy kept his opening remarks short and sweet (mainly because they were running late), but the focus was on getting the sessions started and nothing more. I can really appreciate that. Again, I'm not sure how casual you could be if you had a thousand or so attendees, but for me, the conference felt more like a large, longer user group meeting, and that was awesome. I'd definitely recommend SOTR 2011. I know it's a bit of a trip for those of us in America, but the hotel prices for next year are darn cheap, and tickets to Europe are pretty reasonable. The pricing structure is set so that the quicker you buy, the cheaper the tickets are. The initial set of tickets, at 50 pounds each, are probably worth the "gamble" even if you aren't sure you can travel. (And heck, if you end up not making it you can always look at it as a donation - the SOTR folks aren't making a profit here so every little bit helps.)
One more note - as someone who "does the rounds" at these conferences, it was truly cool to see a hugely different group of people. Not that I mind seeing the old people (grin), but the crowd here was pretty different from those I see at CFUN and cfObj. SOTR, along with my other stops, gave me a chance to meet lots of new people and that was great.
Ok, so now for some random, not terribly important, fun little notes.
- I'm such a slave to Starbucks. Outside of the few times I found one in London, I hated the coffee. That's completely my fault though - I'm not adventurous at all when it comes to my coffee.
- The flip side to that was the beer and food. Don't ask me to name any names, but I had some great new brews. (The last one I remember was one made in Switzerland with a castle on the front. Awesome.) I also got to try haggis - twice. Take a gander at the wikipedia page on it if you want to see what fun ingredients make up that dish.
- Coming home - I somehow 'tripped' the two security issues. First - the fine folks at Delta seemed truly surprised that I didn't print my itinerary. Seriously. I said I had it in email (and it was in Evernote as well) so it seemed a bit silly to print it - but that concept didn't quite seem to click with them. I refuse to kill a tree when I have no need to. I also somehow managed to trigger a random "agriculture" check in Atlanta. Luckily the cow was well hidden in my luggage.
- Holy crap it stays light late in Europe. I remember one night seeing light still at 10PM.
- We took a train from London to Brussels. I definitely recommend using the trains if you travel in Europe. So easy - so simple. Just incredibly relaxing when you compare it to air travel.
- Holy crap - everyone in Amsterdam is taller than I am. I've never seen that before.
- I think the only reason America is superior to Europe is that our plugins are significantly smaller than the rest of the world. (And yes, that's a joke. :)
- One more point (and I'm writing this a few hours after the initial release): I've never been subject to the "You aren't in America, you can't watch this" crap before. I was trying to watch Lost on Hulu and had to jump through hoops (ie use a proxy) to watch it. Stupid. Media companies are complete idiots. (Ok, so maybe not, but it feels like they want to pretend it's still 1980.)
That's it - thanks to Andy Allan and Fuzzy Orange for having me out there. Thanks to Adobe for extending the tour. Big thanks to the user groups in Brussels, Amsterdam, and Zurich who hosted us.
p.s. I'm going to be giving my CFBuilder Extensions presentation sometime soon to the Online meetup.