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WWDC Recap, Part One

I haven’t been waiting around to have the last word on WWDC; I’ve been busy and distracted, but I suppose it’s time to sum up my experiences.

This was my first time attending WWDC. I’ve wanted to for a long, long time but could never justify the expense for something that was effectively a software hobby. But with a newly solidified application idea, and a perfect storm of situations, I couldn’t resist on the year that turned out to be the biggest WWDC yet.

Perfect Storm, Part One: My sister-in-law and her husband live in San Francisco, they were going to be in town that week, and they were perfectly happy to have me stay with them during the week. That cut out the great big expense of lodging. Pacific Heights is not as convenient as the local-to-Moscone hotels, but it was really only an inconvenience when I needed to carry my bag during the Bash Thursday night instead of dropping it off in a hotel room. Staying with them will probably become a tradition as long as they will have me.

Perfect Storm, Part Two: Alaska Airlines offered a great flight price ($170 round trip). Even though it required departing Seattle early Sunday morning and returning Saturday night, that actually worked out perfectly due to Part One: I got the opportunity to have family brunch Sunday, and had time to take them out to dinner Friday night to thank them for their hospitality. (I can now highly recommend Argentine steak house El Raigon, and their wonderful selection of Malbecs.) I also had the opportunity to catch all of Friday’s sessions instead of having to cut out early to make it to the airport.

Perfect Storm, Part Three was a huge factor, but the briefest to describe: I was generously given permission by my boss to go into vacation time debt. Without that, I don’t think I could have justified the trip.

These factors all started lining up in the last days before early registration ended. I booked my held flight reservation from my iPhone late Thursday night, after an Xcoders meeting; I purchased my WWDC ticket and ADC Select membership (another first) on the last day of early registration. I certainly felt like I just made it under the wire when they announced the conference was sold out.

The Keynote

Since this was my first WWDC, I figured I had to bathe in the Reality Distortion Field and see the Keynote. I overslept and woke up at 4:30 instead of my planned 3:30, figured out which bus was running at that hour only to miss it by less than a block, and ended up walking the entire way. I was in line just before 6:00, about halfway down Minna (before the first “everyone get to know your neighbor better” compression of the line).

Keynote Line Swag Tip: If you’re interested in swag (t-shirts, MacTech magazines and more) while in line, staying to the street side of the packed-in line will increase your chances of not being ignored.

Stand in line, eventually get let into Moscone. I had already registered on Sunday, so I followed the majority of the crowd up to the second floor “holding pen” (my term; I never actually heard the staff call it that) where we were told that we were guaranteed to get into the main auditorium. Comfortable in the knowledge I didn’t need to hold my spot, I made a quick restroom break.

Keynote Line Coffee Tip: The Starbucks right near Moscone is insanely packed at this time. Luckily my walk had earlier taken me past an uncrowded Starbucks on O’Farrell, but also try the Peet’s at 2nd and Mission.

I stopped paying attention to time; no easier way to get frustrated than watching a clock while waiting. After some period of time, we were led up to the third floor and another “holding pen” area in the hallway. After another period of time, we were let into Presidio, the largest available conference hall, where I quickly realized that unless I wanted to fight my way into the first ten rows it would look the same from any other row in the hall. So I casually settled into a seat about four rows behind the left side projection screen and awaited my first in-the-flesh Keynote.

If you have read this far, I apologize for the cliffhanger but this post has already become longer than expected. I will follow up on the rest of the week soon.