Mobiconf 2014 was a great success for me, developing and giving two talks. So I jumped at the chance for a reprise. The 2015 edition of Mobiconf was bigger, better and way more fun.
Miquido would have been content with a single talk, but I felt like it would easily have enough material for multiple. I picked two topics that I had fresh experience with, implementing Web+App Integration technologies as well as getting full time into Swift.
Preparation went like I had worked it out before: I recorded my research and “Aha!” moments in Evernote, also tracking bits of information I found on the internet while looking for the connecting elements. Apple’s documentation is not bad, but for a talk – like I was planning – I didn’t want to go into depth several times, but rather show how all is connected. This is the main value I try to imbue my talks with: give a point-of-view/overview like you wouldn’t get it so comfortably on the Internet.
I kept with the previously established rule-of-thumb to have one slide per minute. I wanted to fill 40 minutes, leaving ample space for Q&A. This was the outcome:
- Website+App Integration, 41 slides, 30:50 min = 45 sec per slide
- Swift, 38 slides, 45:06 min = 71 sec per slide
I was astonished that the first took so much less time per slide, but the reason is simple: it has less code and is much less technical. So I do not linger as long on individual slides while explaining their conclusions as I did for the Swift talk.
The learning for the future is that 40 slides in the way I like to structure them is about the right amount for me if the talk is heaving on technology. For low-tech I can add a few more.
Doing the Talks
In the previous year, Mobiconf was held in a hotel. When I arrived at this year’s venue, Multikino, I was musing to myself “LOL, that sounds like a cinema”… only to find my mind blown by the fact that it was an actual movie theater.
My mobile presentation device of the day is the 2015 MacBook Gold. I love how light and convenient it is and since OS X 10.11 was released it has returned to mostly usable state. Unfortunately there are a few situations when it is hopelessly underpowered:
- I cannot run a Keynote presentation and get a smooth recording via QuickTime screen capture.
- I cannot do a smooth Keynote presentation via Airplay to an AppleTV.
- Doing an app build from scratch after a Clean takes some patience too.
I used the Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter to get the video to the big screen. I was glad to see that my MacBook was able to do that smoothly in dual screen mode, so that I could have the presenter view in front of me. The movie screen behind me was so huge and the angle to look at it too steep so that you couldn’t casually glance at it without contorting your entire body.
Apple usually has big displays that speakers can look at when they do presentations, so I decided to try that for a change: I placed the MacBook on the floor in front of me so that I could look down at the presenter view without having to turn sideways to the device like all other speakers did. It really paid off that I made my code samples as large as possible, so I could still read the code even on the tiny 12″ screen, even sitting on the floor.
The second challenge was about how I could remote-control the advancing of the slides. Most speaker remotes use an extra dongle which you plug into a free USB port. The 2015 MacBook does not have such a port, unless you use the above mentioned multipart adapter. Which is why I began researching what dongle-less alternatives are available for us Mac users.
I’ll write more on my findings once I also reviewed other remotes, but this time I used the Satchi Bluetooth MediaRemote. I had been lucky enough to receive it within 24 hours of me ordering it, in time before I left for the airport. This remote worked like a charm. You pair it by entering the random code via the small numeric keys hidden behind a slider. When I tested it in the cinema, I was able to advance slides while sitting in the back-most row.
I was glad to see that both my talks had way more attendees than last year and as far as I can tell from the feedback I have received later, people seem to have liked them. I admit I am a bit of a media-holic, I must have been a TV show host in an earlier life. So I was thrilled to see that Mobiconf had also taken care of proper video recording of the “show”.
The videos of all talks will be made available in high quality and including video of the speakers in the course of the next few days.
The conference organizers went into overdrive for making this the best ever conference – outside of WWDC – that I had the privilege and pleasure to attend. They attracted a great deal more attendees, I was told more 300 in total which caused all talks to be receiving a sizable audience.
Small multi-platform conferences in Europe usually have the problem – and so did Mobiconf in 2014 – that the offerings for iOS are a lukewarm. And when you have less than a dozen people in the audience then it might not be motivating for speakers either. And from the point of view of an attendee – which I was most of the time myself – you’d like to view inspiring or informative talks when you are not having heated technical discussions with your peers.
For this year, Mobiconf pulled out all the stops. All the iOS-releated talks were fabulous and given by people who are veritable stars in the development community. I liked the somewhat philosophical talk by Ash Furrow the most. But also talks by engineers from Spotify and Soundcloud gave me much food for thought. And I saw Tom Maes for the second time, again delivering a really solid and enjoyable presentation about glass rectangles.
One point of contention was the total lack of women presenters. Although not for lack of trying, if we can believe two organizers whom I asked about this. Miquido expressed to me that they had tried for a long time, but their call for papers did not yield a single suggestion for a software development-oriented talk by a female speaker.
Can it really be that none of the brilliant female software developers in our community is able and willing to talk about a technical topic? Or do they just need more encouragement? C’mon, talking in front of an audience is easy if you cannot see anybody due to the video lights shining into your face.
I am a sucker for positive trends. And when I have two data points – Mobiconf 2014 and 2015 – I get excited if I see a steep upward line. Miquido is apparently serious about establishing Mobiconf as one of the premier conferences in Europe to go to.
Before Mobiconf, I had seen Krakow as being somewhere in eastern Europe, too far away to be worth going to for a small conference. Now I see it as a bustling metropole with moderate prices – compared to the rest of Europe – a picturesque old town and a plane ride of about one hour to get there. I see it as a sign of validation for them that they could also muster a great deal of attendees who would come from as far as the United States. And the conference has grown to a size where it starts to matter.
They only need to get a grip on the women quota… Four stars, would definitely attend again.