Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

LessConf 3010

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Last weekend, LessConf, a two-day conference about technology, startups, and business, was held at Georgia Tech Research Institute in Midtown Atlanta. This was the second iteration of the event; last year’s was in Jacksonville. Organized by Steve Bristol and Allan Branch, this was without a doubt the best tech event I’ve ever been to. Both Steve and Allan were incredibly chill and, more than anything else, just wanted everyone to have a good time. And that I did.

Day 1

Flickr: jay_tennier

Upon registration, attendees were able to pick up a copy of Seth Godin’s Linchpin, as well as various other stickers and giveaways. After a hilarious intro, the talks kicked off around 10:30. The lineup for the first day consisted of the following amazing speakers:

I especially enjoyed Cameron’s talk about finding inspiration in design. The difference between influence and inspiration was an interesting concept: influence is actively sought, while inspiration is not. Valuable insight was also given on how to capture inspiration when it surfaces; Cameron mentioned setting up a wall of paper next to a workspace, as well as keeping a dive slate in the shower. As someone primarily focused on front-end web development, I was able to gain new perspective on how to approach a project by taking a step back and becoming passively engaged. The revelation also hit me that good design shouldn’t always be focused on logic, but on how you feel.

Lunch was a great networking opportunity; my associate Adam and I had the chance to sit down with the Grooveshark team and exchange ideas. Shane’s Rib Shack catering provided by Balsamiq was also much appreciated.

The afterparty was held at Whiskey Park, inside the W on 14th Street. It was a prime location to talk with Shane Reustle, Geoff Hamrick, Chris Wanstrath, Julia Roy, and many more awesome people. Like everything else associated with the conference, it was about as off-the-hook as it gets. Loud music, dim lighting, flash photography, and free drinks (sponsored by MailChimp) made a perfect close to a day full of intelligent geekiness. It’s just how New Dorks roll.

Day 2

The second day of the conference started with bacon-infused pancakes, sponsored by Storenvy. After a good half-hour of catching up from the last night, the second round of speakers kicked off with:

Clay’s talk about becoming a linchpin was extremely inspiring; the value of resumes was discussed, with him outlining that a traditional PDF leaves little room for creative expression. A great example was shown through a Foursquare mockup resume, in which badges represented positions and achievements. In short, be so good they can’t ignore you.

The education portion of the talk also spoke to me; Clay expanded on how the current educational system trains the factory workers of tomorrow, primarily instilling the ability to follow instructions in graduates. From my personal experiences, I can unilaterally vouch for these observations. Question the status quo. Break rules. Be a leader.

At 11 that night, the final afterparty kicked off at Noni’s Bar and Deli, where Regator’s Kimberly Turner was DJing. I was interviewed by BZD Films about both Rank ‘em and the conference in general, and also had great conversations with Jessica Barnett, Janette Crawford, Chris Turner, and everyone else who made it out. I really didn’t want the two days to be over, but had an outstanding time and look forward to next year.

Final Thoughts

LessConf rocked. The end.

IgniteATL

Friday, May 7th, 2010

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to give a talk at Atlanta’s second Ignite, held at the Georgia Aquarium’s Oceans Ballroom. I also attended the inaugural event back in August, and as someone with a relatively short attention span, really took a liking to the rapid-fire format of the presentations.

What is Ignite?

IgniteATL 2009. (Flickr: timdorr)

Presenters talk about a topic using 20 slides and 5 minutes. The concept originated in 2006 in Seattle, and has since taken off in cities across the globe. It’s a great way to get an overview of something without sitting through hours of material, and if you get bored, five minutes still goes by quickly. The format’s a refreshing change from the typical setup of most conferences.

Thoughts on Speaking

My talk was about Hackintoshing, the process of running and installing Mac OS X on a standard PC (slides available here). I’ve been interested in the topic for years, and thought Ignite was the perfect opportunity to share my knowledge and experience. I was also inspired by Chris Morrell‘s talk about overclocking last year – a technical topic paired with a passionate presentation seemed to be the right mix.

What surprised me was the humor with which the content was received. Apart from a semi-planned joke about Hackintoshing being “insanely great”, everything I said was in all seriousness. But the audience started laughing (hopefully not at me), so I ran with it.

Venue and Logistics

Oceans Ballroom (Credit: Wolfgang Puck)

For publicity purposes, the Georgia Aquarium was a great option. A cash bar and spread of various fruits and cheeses was nice, as well as the ability to carry them into the presentation area. However, I still don’t hold anything against last year’s choice of GTRI (Georgia Tech Research Institute) due to individual power and Ethernet ports.

IgniteATL also teamed up with Rank ‘em, a startup I’m working with, to provide a site for attendees to rank presenters by dragging and dropping. The rankings were then averaged to provide a list, top-to-bottom, which represented the crowd’s opinion. At the end of the night, I was fortunate enough to end up being ranked as the top speaker out of the 18. Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

Takeaways

From the perspective of a speaker, I had a great time. The experience of sharing my passions in front of a large group of people was really invigorating, something that I hope was conveyed by the talk. I’d love to put something together for future Ignites, in Atlanta or elsewhere.

Have you ever been to or spoken at an Ignite event? What did you think?