ETech – 2nd day thoughts

Yesterday, the morning session was hard to follow. Lots of small 15 minute presentations left me wanting more. But I think I’m getting used to it. The chance to see a bunch of topics in a short spurt was pretty cool.

All the speakers were great in the morning except for Nokia. I think the guy (their chief Java architect) used an old marketing presentation for his preso. He started off talking about mobile computing happening on “the edge” of networks. Little did we know that “the edge” was some fancy marketing poop from Nokia. He repeated it 100 times. People were making “the edge” jokes for the rest of the day. Notes here.

In a panel discussion on personal fabriciation, one of the panelists mentioned that library usage is falling across the county but they are the closest thing we have to a common community meeting place. Given the costs have fallen dramatically, why not open a fab lab in every library basement? Awesome idea. Notes here.

The 37Signals preso was preachy (on how to build web apps). There was quite a few skeptical questions from the crowd. Folks didn’t buy things like “ignore scalability” and many thought his model resembled agile to a lot of folks. He lost me after saying functional specs don’t matter. Ridiculous. Jason should have really said his talk was how to build simple web apps quickly and efficiently. From this perspective, his talk was great. That detail got lost in his presentation. I think it’s the same preso he gives on the road to often largely non-technical people who want to learn how to build web apps. The talk needed adjusting for the very technical and savvy people at a conference like ETech. The one thing I did really like about his talk is how customer focused he was. All the structure in his dev model was to deliver great product to customers. That was cool. Notes here.

Somebody needs to figure out a wireless way to transmit power! Powerstips were hard to come by in the conference sessions. Where’s our modern day Tesla?

In the morning there was a presentation by a guy building some open source administration tools for software that lets school use technology. Really neat to see folks doing something without trying to attract VC or get rich. Something given back to the community. Notes here.

Our vision is for a common information systems platform for school administration from California to Calcutta, via Cape Town! … SchoolTool will not depend on a technology-intensive environment, but in those schools with broad and deep access to technology in the form of computers, laptops, PDA’s, cellphones and wireless pagers…

One of the coolest sessions for me was some Perl hackers in the UK building detail pages for all politicians in parliment. They now get more hits than Google for British MPs (members of parliment). Seeing a grass roots movement like that have such a big impact on UK politics is inspiring. Notes here.