My Thoughts on Recent Conferences I’ve Attended

I’ve recently attend three conferences: WordCamp San Diego 2016, ng-conf 2016 and Google I/O 2016. I paid for all 3 conferences, accommodations and travel expenses myself.

I’ve attended many WordCamps before and I always enjoy going to them. This year it was held on April 23 and 24th down at the now closed Naval Training Center. My expectations aren’t super high, but the conference isn’t expensive ($40) and I’m always guaranteed to get a couple of days of good info and updates on WordPress even thought I don’t use it much anymore. The swag from the conference and the sponsors doesn’t suck either. My teenage son scored a mobile charger for his phone and I got a couple of t-shirts and lots of stickers!

The good: good sessions, good sponsors, good swag, good location
The bad: ran out of snacks quickly
The ugly: nothing really

This was my first time attending ng-conf (#ngconf) and I was super excited, but had no clue what to expect and therefore no expectations. It was held in Salt Lake City at The Grand America Hotel and while that was too expensive for my budget, I stayed right across the street at The Little America Hotel which was still very nice! The conference was expensive ($1200) and I also tacked on a workshop for another $400. That hurt the purse!

The Angular 2 workshop was held before the conference on Tuesday, May 3 and training was provided by Pascal Precht from Thoughtram and Gerard Sans…both Google Developer Experts. The training was excellent and well worth the price.

On to the conference for three days and it was amazing. The content was mainly about Angular 2 that had just attained release candidate status. The location was great and there were both seats at tables with power strips and regular seats. Two days of only one track and no decisions that had to be made and one day (Fair Day) of multiple tracks and lots of “play” rooms. There was always plenty of food at the hotel and one night they gave us two entree meal tickets and one dessert meal ticket and sent us down the road to where food trucks were located with a wide variety of food.

Wednesday night, there was a May the 4th be with you party that was fun and totally geeky!
darth_vader chewie



And swag…..holey moley!! I came home with the ng-conf bag/backpack, 8 t-shirts, one hoodie, another mobile charger, coffee, coffee cereal, two water bottles, a box of girl scout cookies, a light saber from the party and loads of stickers (although no Angular 2 sticker 🙁 ). On top of that, I won two raffle prizes…a Fitbit Alta and $100 Amazon gift card! It almost didn’t fit into my suitcase to go home!

The good: Angular 2 release candidate, all the sessions, the food, the parties, the setup, the swag, the sponsors
The bad: the wind howling through my hotel door that kept me up most of one night and not having coffee available all the time
The ugly: the line to wait for badge pickup and swap

Then came Google I/O and boy were my expectations high never having been to one before!! I mean this is Google…it’s gotta be awesome, right?? Long story short…I was really let down. I anxiously awaited in line for my swag which consisted of a t-shirt, a pair of sunglasses, Cardboard, a water bottle and sunscreen. No bag to put it in…no tech swag. That’s it.

Then I sat in the full sun for the two hour keynote on Wednesday only to hear about really cool stuff that was going to be ready in a month…or by the end of the summer…or the end of the year. Nothing was ready to go for Google I/O except for the pull request to Node to incorporate the ability to debug Node.js in Chrome. Everything else was a preview.

After sweating it out for two hours in the sun and walking by two food stations with really long lines, I finally hunted down a sandwich in the sandbox area and sat down to eat it before the sessions started at 1pm. Around 12:30pm, I made my way over to the session I wanted to attend to discover that it was already full and I wouldn’t be able to get in. No standing room either. What?

Long story short, the conference was plagued with disorganization in my humble opinion. I don’t think they were really prepared for the heat and sun during the keynote, but to their credit they did provide little packets of sunscreen and ice chests with towels and ice to try and help. Most of the session rooms were two small to accommodate everyone so you could only attend every other session. The shuttle busses to and from the event filled up oftentimes and had to leave people behind.

The good: some sessions were really worthwhile and the porta potties were easily the nicest I have ever seen…Wow!
The bad: everything was a preview, the hotel room was more expensive than SLC, yet half as nice a room
The ugly: everything else

Bottom line: I’m only going to one (expensive) conference next year and it will probably be ng-conf. Since everything is videotaped for Google I/O, I can watch that live without the hassle.

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