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WWDC 2010 – An Aussie’s Experience

In 2010, I was fortunate and lucky enough to be awarded an Apple University Consortium (AUC) staff scholarship. One of the advantages of working at University! At the time, I had been heavily involved in mobile web apps and iOS apps – both professionally and personally and was also well and truly an Apple convert. So to say I was over the moon was an under statement.

With WWDC 2011 only a few days away, I thought I would share my experiences and a few tips.

Tip #1 – Stay up until night time on the day you arrive

Coming from Australia, jet lag can be an absolute nightmare. The first time I visited the USA, I made the mistake of crashing at the hotel as soon as I arrived (about 2pm). The next 4-5 days were a whitewash of hazy memories, waking up at 3pm and wasting entire days.

For WWDC2010, I made an effort to stay up to 9pm on that first day – and was completely fine the next day. A world of difference and a great start to your trip.

Tip # 2 – Seek out your core group

Being part of the AUC group made a huge difference to my experiences and I still keep in contact with some of the AUC group I travelled with to this day, a year on. Having fellow Aussies (and a few NZ’ers) to talk to made me feel relaxed and feel as though as I was amongst friends straight away. Travelling by yourself can be difficult, and without this core group, I probably would have stayed in my hotel room a fair bit more than I did. It was great to hear about people’s experiences around the AUC community – some very interesting projects and initiatives – particularly from some PhD students.

Tip #3 – Go to sessions which you don’t necessarily know anything about rather than ones you are familiar with

In the first few days of the conference I stuck to the sessions which I was already somewhat familiar with. Of course, I still learned a lot and I would recommend you continue to go to these sessions. But! Make an effort to go to at least a couple of sessions where you really don’t know the first thing about the topic. That’s when you really start challenging your own approach to development.

Tip #4 – Go to the Design Awards & Stump the Experts

The Design Awards are a great homage to the cream of the crop of app developers. It a fun and light hearted award ceremony where the Apple execs really do place an emphasis on what the talented developers have made for the Apple platforms. It’s also a good chance to gain an insight into what apps the Apple team members themselves use.

I admittedly skipped the Stump the Experts session because I was simply too tired that night. But if you can have a red bull or two, I hear its well worth attending – particularly for your inner geek.

Tip #5 – Go to the WWDC Bash

The band is generally OK, but its more a chance to have a few drinks and get to know your group of friends a bit more. The food is also pretty nice too.

Tip #6 – Sign up for app appraisal session as soon as you arrive

I was too late for this sadly. Apple was offering a limited number of spots for a developer to sit down with some Apple employees and talk about their app. From design suggestions to suggested functionality improvements, it sounds incredibly useful. Unfortunately the limited number of spots per day were booked out very very early on. So if this sounds like something you would want, make sure you make it your first task when you arrive at the Moscone Center. I think its worth checking each day if there had been any cancellations too…

Tip #7 – Eat lunch with a different table of people every day

It can be pretty daunting walking into the absolutely huge lunch area, being funnelled through the lunch stations and then looking at the mass of tables everywhere and trying to figure out where to sit. For the most part, if you haven’t gone into the lunch room with someone you know, you will have no chance of “bumping’ into someone you know. So don’t look like an idiot trying to find your buddy, just find the nearest free spot on a table and ask if its free. Done! Remember, a lot of people are in the same position as you. So asking a simple question like “What session did you just attend?” can be a good ice breaker. It can also be really interesting to find out what they do for a living and more often that not, people are keen to show off their apps.

Tip #8 – Line up early for the keynote… but not crazily early

The keynote is one of the bigger aspects to the WWDC experience. There are always going to be the hardcore people that start lining up the night before or at some ungodly hour in the morning.

For me, I work up at 6 and was in the line just before 7am, with my breakfast burrito and and hot drink. I spent about 90 minutes being funnelled through a spiral of rooms inside the Moscone Center. But I easily got into the main room well before the Stevenote. I obviously wasn’t up the front but there are plenty of big screens around to give you  close up view of the man himself.

The keynote is definitely worth going to, for the announcements ofcourse. But also for the buzz and atmosphere.

Tip #9 – Afternoon/Morning Tea’s – Watch your sugar

The food and drink provided in between sessions is just what a geek ordered. But it usually consists of sugar sprinkled with more sugar. So go easy if you are on a diet.

Tip #10 – Take your macbook and use subthaedit

I never used subthaedit but from what I could see, it was heavily used at the sessions as a collaborative notetaking initiative. Also great if there are two sessions on at the same time (which aren’t repeated later on in the week) which you are interested in. Ofcourse, the video’s of the sessions will be available after WWDC anyway..

Tip #11 – Remember the NDA

Remember not to tweet about new stuff announced at WWDC (the only exception being the keynote announcements). You are under NDA not to disclose things. Don’t tempt fate by being a loud mouth.

Tip #12 – Be nice to security & organisational staff

They do a great job – it can’t be easy to have to deal with thousands of geeks lining up and occasionally whinging about the stupidest things. Take a moment to say thanks to them as you go into a session.

Tip #13 – Wireless

In 2010, the wireless situations was pretty terrible. I ended up staying in the session rooms which had a decent wireless signal. Hopefully this year they have sorted it out – but definitely do not MiFi up the area.. that would just be terrible.

Tip #14 – Take time for yourself

After back to back sessions, day after day, you will get tired. You can’t concentrate anymore. So if you are starting to feel it, take some time for yourself. Get away from Moscone, do some tourist stuff. Whatever. Just recharge your batteries so you can ensure you are fully engaged for the sessions you really really want to go to.

I would love to go to a future WWDC, it was a great experience. The biggest thing I took away from the conference was the networking with fellow AUC’ers and the amount of motivation it gave me  to continue with mobile and iOS related projects. It really did inspire me to keep going and improve on my personal app too.