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WWDC 2012 – Day 2 Impressions

On the second day you have probably acclimated to the flow of things. Or rather, the traffic jamming of things. Because queue you will, queue you must. Wherever you go there will be a queue.

This queueing problem occurs whenever the herd of developers has an identical urge, be it to get into Presidio for one of the hot topic talks or be it to bring metabolical processes to their conclusion. One of the first things I had learned myself last year is to try to NOT want what the herd wants.

Negative Space

Admittedly this is a very difficult thing. There is an enormously strong urge to go with the goo. You definitely have to start on some subliminal self-messaging, here are some mantras to break the rut:

  • It is ok to not see this right now, if it is important I can look it up or have my buddies tell me
  • This is technology that I won’t be able to use before iOS 6 ships
  • This is technology that I won’t be able to use before I can require iOS 6.
  • This will be available on video in a month or so
  • Any opportunity to get friendly with other developers should be seized

Do you know the concept of “negative space”? The idea is that the absence of something can also form something. I’m beginning to see the calendar of talks simply as a more complicated version of arc4random(), only for people. They are only shuffling us so that we have a better choice of handing out all 500 business cards that we hurriedly fabricated in the days before the event.

So the absence of space to breathe can form room for contact.

That reminds me, I have a tip for Anonymous: please shower daily and get (and use!) some breath mints. Deodorant would also be a big Plus. And if you are not sure if you ticked all these boxes then just ask your confidant if you stink. Once he stopped laughing you can explain to him that one does not notice his own smell because you are constantly smelling it. So it is only possibly by external sensory perception to find out the truth of stink… or pleasant lack thereof.

The cool kids generally go out for breakfast and lunch, but you don’t have too because snacks are provided at Moscone Center. Frankly I find this trend a bit tacky. Isn’t it a form of showing off, screaming: “Look, I can easily afford to buy my own food. You are all bums!”

Though I can understand why people might shy away from the herding that goes one at lunch times and the queueing for all the big events. And if you are one of the few true Apple developer superstars then you probably don’t need labs or network either.

Please forgive my ranting, I’m just jealous.

T-Shirt Space

If you’re going to wear any companies’ logo on your clothing (i.e. advertising for them) then why not have that be Apple, Inc?

You might have thought that all chances to get some Apple T-Shirts are gone and forever lost but that’s not so. I had forgotten about this, last year the Apple Company Store had set up an Apparel branch office at Moscone. This was located in the big ground floor hall.

This year the Apple Logoed-Clothing Store set up shop on the second floor. So if T-Shirts are on your wish list then you better bring your credit card and you procure some, because this is really your final chance. And don’t count on your size being still available towards the end of WWDC. It will most likely not be.

Session Reality

Once you have broken through the initial “I made it into the Keynote bliss” that lasted the better part of day 1 some relealities begin to sink in:

  • There are simply too many choices. There are half a dozen labs going all at all times, 3 streams with sessions, and the famous hall session (where you meet people)
  • Not all Apple speakers are equally brilliant. Like in any broad sampling of people there will invariably be good and bad speakers. And good and bad topics.
  • Not all Apple engineers are equally helpful. Some are the nicest guys and aim to help you far and beyond your initial question. Some get immediately defensive if you word something the wrong way. You’ve hit the wall when they start mentioning that they “cannot comment on future developments”.
  • Then there is the dog-chasing-own-tail syndrome related to labs. When getting some quality one-on-one with an Apple engineer you will get the sinking feeling that you could have made more of it had you only prepared some better sample code. But you only realize this once you are in this conversation.
  • Many things will be less than perfect. Many people will let you feel that they hate you … please let the next in line step forward. Our emotions are under constant duress, people get deprived of sleep, proper nutrition and get virtually no relaxation. (The closest thing to relaxation I could find at WWDC so far are a group of sitting sacks outside of Presidio)

But there is no use crying about it, WWDC presses on and we can only keep telling ourselves that the mere presence of so many smart people might somehow make us smarter.

Having said that, I saw one talk today that was as perfect as can be. The guy was clearly very self confident, wearing cargo pants and a cap with the shade at the back. His cargo pockets bulging, … we can only assume with deprecated code: The technology he was introducing was sherlocking several weeks of work that I had done just the month earlier.

His talk had it all: humor, interesting new technologies, character and self-confidence. All fit. If anything then the only thing missing were “more cow bells”. (you’ll get this joke once you see the video)

WhyFeeee?!

Back in the days .. I remember like it was last year … in 2011 Apple hat gotten us brilliant WiFi connectivity throughout the Moscone center. Since then the typical iOS developer is bringing at least 30% more devices. I carry a MacBook Air, an iPhone and an iPad.

Getting connected is a game of chance. You might see the network, but only get a self-assigned IP address. Or you don’t even see the SSID. Or sometimes it would work as it should. But the Twitter-Aether was filled with chatter by people who desperately were looking for WiFi connectivity to be able to upgrade one of their iOS devices to iOS 6.

The main reason can be found in basic human nature: if something does not work, I’ll roll my own. Indeed if you looked at the number of available AdHoc and short-distance WiFi networks you could see extraordinary amounts of MiFi devices from T-Mobile and Verizon. Of course these work very well because their radio power overrides the one of the WiFis antennas which are much further away. I never had a problem tweeting over my AT&T “4G” on iPhone.

Apple is missing a feedback channel that would inform them about such unbearable situations and also be heard. I think the Germans would call this an Ombudsman. Apple seems to only really react to such problems if there are an extra-ordinate amount of Radars for them. But since Apple is closed down for the week you have nobody looking at your bug reports.

An easy solution would be to push notify all users of the WWDC app to themselves turn off their MiFi access points when entering Moscone Center. And if they didn’t have one themselves to tell their buddies.

I tried something of this kind, but of my measly 5000 followers only around 400 are attending WWDC. I.e. less than 10%. This is not nearly enough critical mass to get the herd to change their behavior.

Secured

Guards are posted at all strategic locations which instructions to look out for people who don’t openly wear their badge. I once was caught hiding my badge under my hoodie. You can spare yourself the shock of seeing a heavy set security guard dart towards you to intercept the suspected perpetration by simply making sure that the badge is fully visible while moving through the hallways.

Then there are the new Retina 15″ MacBook Pros. It was kind of funny to see people press their noses at the cylindrical glass around such a coveted item, slowly turning. The following is a dramatization…

 

Apple knows well that you cannot trust a developer in heat. Therefore each display also has its own guard. Personally I think that this might not be necessary. If a developer would remove the MBP from its case he would immediately be involved in a riot and probably be trampled to death by other developers just as eager to pocket it. Yep, jealousy is a strong motivator.

In the Monday-Keynote Apple touted Diablo 3 as ready to make full use of the HiDPI mode. Guess what some guy was playing on his newly acquired Retina 15″ MBP in the busy halls of Moscone. Look Ma! No Pixels!

Bastard! I offer you a deal: I’ll forgive you if you let me play at bit as well. I promise to wash my hands!


Categories: Apple

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