C4[1] Thoughts

So I got back from the C4 conference in Chicago this evening. C4 is a weekend Mac developer conference, in the spirit of MacHack, organized by Jonathan ‘Wolf’ Rentzsch. And whereas WWDC draws thousands of attendees annually, C4 is intentionally a more intimate setting with just over one hundred in attendance. Thing is, these are 100 or so really bright people and so I spent the weekend hoping that no one would notice on that I’m not quite in the same league. They let me keep the T-shirt so I guess it worked.

Festivities began Friday evening with dinner followed by presentations by Rentzsch and Wil Shipley. Rentzsch set the tone for C4 and Shipley followed with a session on Hype. I’d heard much of the same talk a couple months earlier when he spoke at Cocoaheads during WWDC, but he’s quite good at keeping the crowd entertained. And software sluts does in fact provide interesting search results. To wrap up, the conference moved up a few flights and outdoors to the bash. And there was much rejoicing.

Saturday: Breakfast followed by Daniel Jalkut’s talk about software acquisition and Shawn Morel on VMware Fusion. After lunch, Allan Odgaard talked about his experience creating TextMate, then Bob Ippolito on Erlang. Erlang looks pretty cool, but as I couldn’t see how it was really applicable to what I’m doing at the moment, I sort of tuned out a bit there. Next was Adam Engst’s talk on hacking the press. There was some good info there and I was a little bummed that there wasn’t time given to Q & A after Adam’s talk since we were tunning a bit behind on time. It was also a bit nostalgic as I thought back Adam’s review of ClipFiler back in ’96 (psst: cfleser@infi.net no worky). Following that was Tim Burks with perhaps the most impressive session of the conference. It was supposed to be a talk about his RubyObjC Ruby / Cocoa bridge, which it was along, with a demonstration of IC layout app, and for good measure a new Lisp like language of his own creation. Uh… I wrote like an app that makes balls bounce around your screen.

Deserving a paragraph (or perhaps a post) of it’s own was the drunkenbatman Anti-RDF panel. On the panel were all the speakers previously mentioned plus a few more. But to start the talk, DB goes off about what he perceives as the “silly season” of Mac development with particular focus on pzizz which he views as snake oil. The point, I gather, was how the panelist felt about being associated with a platform on which this sort of software appears. So that was pretty ridiculous. Then there was actually an interesting topic about how indie development was filling needs such as auto updating (Sparkle) and bug reporting (Smart Crash Reports). Little time was spent on this topic sadly. The next topic was “Black people don’t use Macs”. Using the conference composition as evidence that minorities and women don’t use Macs, DB wondered how this negatively affected the platform. This was extremely uncomfortable, not to mention ignorant and offensive. This session couldn’t end soon enough. I had to wonder why a guy who has apparently abandoned the platform and threatened bodily harm to one of the speakers was picked to lead a panel of such a bright group of people. A shame they weren’t given an opportunity to discuss relevant issues.

Somehow after the last session we still had appetite enough for Gino’s Pizza and beer. I don’t recall talking to anyone that could explain DB’s… whatever that was. Another bash followed Gino’s and I made a conscious decisions to call it quits around midnight lest I make an unconscious decision later. On the one hand, I felt great come Sunday morning unlike some of the guys who stayed out til 4 or 5 AM having a good time. On the other hand I could have stayed out tile 4 or 5 in the morning having a good time.

Sunday: Cabel Sasser gave an excellent presentation on the design of Panic’s latest app, Coda. Oh and I found the pictures he shared with us before the he started the talk in earnest. They are here, here, and here.

The surprise speaker it turned out was supposed to be Fake Steve Jobs, but it turned out he’d come down with some sort of bug unfortunately. I was really anxious to find out why Apple isn’t participating in the Intel Inside program. And finally there was IronCoder live. The “API” was iPhone which produced some really cool stuff, particularly an iPhone video conferencing demo and a couple of games (these were all real apps, no javascript). In addition there were some hacks that didn’t have anything to do with the iPhone. I’m hoping next year there won’t be API / theme restriction or suggestion because I think that may have limited the numbers of entrants somewhat.

Despite the Saturday night night debacle, and my awkward social skills, I had a great time, met some really smart people and learned a few things to boot. If / when C4[2] rolls around next year I expect I’ll be in attendance.

One more thing…

This post is just a quick little overview of C4 from my point of view, but for a much more detailed description of some of the presentations, check Alex Payne’s site.