My two favorite conferences to go to are the Carolina VMUG in Charlotte, NC every June and the Triangle InfoSeCon in Raleigh, NC every October. Last week I went the Triangle InfoSeCon 2018 and as usual, it was awesome.
I used to go to a lot of local meetups about all kinds of topics but my available time outside of work keeps shrinking with a growing family. So I try to go to fewer things but make them higher impact. Also, I am far enough along in my career that I now can get something out of those conferences. That’s why now I only go to big conferences. I’d like to start going to some local meetups but with a more narrow focus.
I love going to conferences and meetups so I can meet new people and get new ideas. At work we sometimes get into a rhythm of doing the same things over and over again. Hearing how other people are solving the same problem is very cool. It is ever better when I hear about problems that I’ve never heard of. It would be nice if there’s a solution to it but I still want to hear about it.
At Tech conferences, almost all of the talks have the same format and they sound like there were written by the marketing department. Part 1 is how something is broken, Part 2 is how our product can fix it. It makes it even worse since every company has the same handful of major problems so it gets really repetitive. Most of the conferences are paid for by these vendors so I understand they want to at least break-even, maybe even make a few bucks but can they try and make it a little more interesting. My favorite talks have funny and/or interesting stories with some product placement sprinkled in.
I know I shouldn’t complain so much because the vendors cover most of the costs. But I don’t think anyone is going to buy your product if the presentation was so boring that they don’t know what the product does even if they were awake for it.
Most of the time I like a live demo and I don’t care if it goes perfectly. I know how difficult it is to do a live demo and I really appreciate the effort. I learn a ton about the product from the demo whether it is successful or not. An unexpected error with live troubleshooting can turn into presentation gold if handled properly but it is at least entertaining either way if it goes really badly.
Overall I’m really glad that I get out of my shell and go these events. Hope to see you soon IRL (In Real Life).