Mark Gilbert's Blog

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Kalamazoo X Conference 2012 – Recap and a change

The fourth annual Kalamazoo X Conference did not disappoint.  We had 10 amazing speakers this year, and to paraphrase one of the tweets during the conference – any of these talks would be the top-rated session at any other conference.  I couldn’t agree more.

In keeping with tradition, I’ve compiled some of the more memorable lines from the conference.  This is by no means an exhaustive list of the funny, witty, or just downright mind-blowing moments.  One thing to note is that a couple of the organizers (Mike Eaton and Michael Markel) made the list this year:

  • "Really high bar for speakers today, and at least half of us stayed at the Holiday Inn Express last night." – Jeff Blankenburg
  • "1994 – not a whole lot of internet then.  When I had to research, I used the print version of Wikipedia." – Jeff Blankenburg
  • "I don’t read technical books…  I wrote two technical books that I don’t read." – Jeff Blankenburg
  • "Anytime you have a project with a class called GlobalBusinessLogic, just run." – Joe O’Brien
  • (On diversity hires) "I don’t take those jobs anymore.  It’s really hard to be the voice of all women-kind." – Laura Bergells
  • "There’s no way I’m ever going to pick the safe Leon talk."  Mike Eaton
  • "The world’s greatest developer requires a laptop, the internet, and Starbucks.  The greatest brain surgeon in the world can’t go into a Starbucks with a scalpel and start cutting." – Tim Wingfield
  • "Who here has read the ‘Pragmatic Programmer’?" – Tim Wingfield
    "I did!" – Jeff Blankenburg
  • "I wished I billed for showers." – Justin Searls
  • "You went through 160 slides?  I went through 7!" – Tim Wingfield to Justin Searls
  • "What is design?" – Jen Meyers
    "Rounded corners." – Michael Markel
  • "Yes there is a lot of Apple stuff here.  I’m a design – shut up." – Jen Meyers
  • "So what do we have?  We have a whole lotta sh**, and you’re right in the middle of it." – Elizabeth Naramore
  • "Step 1: Shut Up" – Elizabeth Naramore’s listening refresher
  • "Who’s never heard of CodeMash?" – Mike Eaton
    (no hands)
    "Why don’t you go, then?" – Mike
    "’Cause it’s sold out.  Way to rub it in!" – one of the attendees
  • "These are molecules of serotonin and dopamine, and technically the only two things you enjoy." – Alan Stevens

There’s the recap, and now for the change.  I have some loose ends to tie up from this year’s conference, but otherwise I’m stepping down as an official organizer this year.  The official “I’m done” date is still fuzzy, but my plan is to make the 2012 conference the last one I serve as Secretary for.

The X Conference is still very near and dear to my heart, having been with it when it was just a conversation with Josh Holmes after the May 2008 session of the Microsoft Developers of Southwest Michigan (MDSM) user’s group.  I’ve seen the X Conference grow and mature, and I’m very proud to have been a part of it.  Part of the reason I’m leaving is to make room for other people.  As I discovered with MDSM, doing it year after year makes it very tempting to do the same thing year after year.  Stepping aside allows some fresh eyes to look at how we’re doing things, and what we’re doing, and fight against stagnation.

The rest of it is to make room for a new venture I’m working on.  It wouldn’t even be fair to say it’s “half-baked” at this point – more like I have some of the dry ingredients pulled together, but I’m still measuring and mixing, and the oven is pre-heating.  I feel very fortunate to have gotten in on the ground floor of the X Conference in this respect as well – I had very limited prior experience working with a non-profit, let alone setting one up from scratch.  That is definitely experience that will serve me well in the future.

So, thank you to all of my fellow coordinators – Mike Eaton, Michael Markel, Matt Davis, and Marty Adams – you guys are awesome to work with, and it still amazes me that we pulled together the last two conferences purely by email.  And thank you to all of the speakers and all of the attendees – you are really the ones who make the X Conference as great as it is.  See you in April 2013!

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April 25, 2012 - Posted by | Kalamazoo X Conference

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