Scott Hanselman

Tips on 2007 Conference Attendance

February 20, '07 Comments [14] Posted in Ruby | Speaking | TechEd
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 It's hard to decide what to spend one's training dollars on. It's hard to justify spending US$2000 or more on a conference. If a conference is nearby, or hosted in your town you can save money. I also use my frequent flyer miles a lot to get where I need to go for conferences. Using your own frequent flyer miles and doubling-up/sharing hotel rooms with friends in the Blogosphere are good ways to justify the financial part of your trip to your boss.

Many feel that it's the company's responsibility to pay for everything, travel, attendance, hotel, etc, but if you want to get as broad a view as possible, and maybe attend multiple conferences, being flexible on how you get there, eat, and sleep can make a difference. Also, trying to go to conferences that happen on the weekend, and making sure your boss knows that he/she's not going to lose you for an entire week - perhaps just a few days - can make a difference.

I'm also careful not to think of conferences as vacations, as you're being paid to absorb as much as you can, so I tend to fly in, attend, and fly out, fairly aggressively, unless my wife and son are along and we have explicitly turned it into a Vacation.

  • I'll be at RailsConf, partially because it's here in Portland, partially because my Boss is a RailsHead, and partially because I think that the mantra of Convention over Configuration is an important one that can be applied regardless of language or environment.
    • Cleverly, this conference is a Thurs-Sun deal, so while it takes up a weekend, it only takes up two work days. Again, a way to get virtually a week's content while only encroaching on work for two days.
  • This year, I'll be going to MIX - a User Experience conference in Vegas. There's an early bird discount if you register before March 15th, so the conference itself is $995. If you're going to Mix, let's meet and have a Diet Soda, eh?
    • Mix is a short conference, but very dense in content, and because it's in Vegas the flights are cheap. Plus, because it's a three-day conference you could go and still work 2 days, or possible that following Saturday and get a good work week in as well.
    • Here's some gravy - every conference attendee gets a free copy of Windows Vista Ultimate (this qualifies for the Vista Family Discount, so you can get two more Home Premiums for $49 each, so that's potentially three copies of Vista for $100, or just keep the Ultimate for free).
  • I'll also be at TechEd 2007 giving a pre-conference with Ron Jacobs (of ARC Cast fame) on Architecture. This is the same pre-con we did in Europe last year. I may also do a session on Mobile applications and AJAX support in PocketIE, but that's still up in the air.

Hopefully I'll see you at one of these conferences!

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007 9:20:41 PM UTC
Scott... I'll be heading to RailsConf 2007... Maybe we can meet up again.

I was the guy we sat on the bus (from our hotel at TechEd 2006) and chatted about Rails and embedding Ruby into IIS...

Jake
Tuesday, February 20, 2007 9:28:56 PM UTC
Hi Scott,

Really nice blog You have, giving away so much so, I hope You get rewarded some day:-)

Have You seen this conference..www.expertzone.se/dev.. Today we added Dan North to the speakers list!

If Youré interested, just drop me a mail..
Tuesday, February 20, 2007 10:44:39 PM UTC
Hi Scott,
Love you blogg and the podCast.

Will go to MIX and MEDC. Maybe we could meet up for a Diet Coke.
Håkan Forss
Tuesday, February 20, 2007 10:49:54 PM UTC
No PDC? I'm skipping TechEd for PDC since it is a local conference for me and makes it cheaper (plus I find it more interesting). I was hoping to go to Mix, but my wife is due in Mid-April so that is cutting things to close. :)
Wednesday, February 21, 2007 12:08:47 AM UTC
I should hopefully be at Mix 07. See ya there.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007 1:19:15 AM UTC
Multiple conferences? Your situation is different from most I'd guess (or at least mine).

I was thinking I'd try to get sign off on one conference this year. I've never been to any. Tech Ed, PDC, Mix. They all sound interesting.

Which would you chose if you could only do one?
Wednesday, February 21, 2007 3:04:22 AM UTC
I can't wait to tell my associates that you are going to be at RubyConf! Also, please allow me to invite you to the highly unofficial RailsConf on Beer...it should be fun!
Wednesday, February 21, 2007 6:21:46 AM UTC
Al - it may seem like a lot, but like the point of the post, two of them go over the weekend, so I'm actually not gone from work much longer for 3 conferences than if I went to one long one.

If you've never been to a confernece unless you're into UX or deeply into ASP.NET, I'd go to TechEd. Otherwise, go to Mix.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007 6:47:36 AM UTC
Yep, if you've not been to a conference before, TechEd will give you the full plunge experience.
That or OracleWorld which is also insane.

Be prepared to gurgle from the hose pipe though.
The first TechEd I went to just blew me away - it's an overwelming experience.

I doubt I'll be at any this year, except my companies -I'm presenting on High Availability - assessing,planning and delivering (according to the title I was sent the other day!)

The last major conference (I'm not counting my 2 days at oracle world as I was on booth duty) I was at was TechEd San Diego, where I met Scott at the press party on top of some hotel. If I recall he was demoing his new spot watch and Toshiba m205!
Wednesday, February 21, 2007 10:20:06 AM UTC
>> It's hard to decide what to spend one's training dollars on.

It's easy - books. The best way to learn, and the cheapest.
Andrew Webb
Wednesday, February 21, 2007 12:52:37 PM UTC
Books aren't the best way to learn for everyone... And there is something in a conference that just isn't in a book...

Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to attend any conferences this year. The company doesn't sponsor any (meaning it is a complete "out of pocket" expense, including vacation time). And my personal expense account is running in the negative.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007 7:11:28 PM UTC
Eric,

I know the pain of that. I think my company will sponsor, but from all the information I gathered they won't for Mix, which is the one I want to go to this year outside of DefCon.
Brandon
Wednesday, February 21, 2007 11:28:28 PM UTC
Don't forget your local Code Camps. They're free and generally cover the same topics as the big conferences. Sometimes local user groups will sponsor weekend classes.

I'm still waffling between trying out Mix 07 this year or going back to OSCON. Not sure if I can get work to pony up for both. Might take a vacation for one of them. Railsconf seems too specific to me to be useful.

If your interests vary between desktop and web apps, tech-ed or OSCON are both good bets. Wide variety of topics.
Thursday, February 22, 2007 8:44:09 PM UTC
Portland Code Camp v3.0 is May 19-20 (which overlaps RailsConf, sorry)... it's here and it's free.

Scott, why the crap aren't you going to PDC? Or is it just too far out to say at this point?
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.