eBay Developers Conference 2008 / YAPC::NA 2008

Last week I was off in Chicago to take in the eBay Developers Conference and a few hours of eBay Live! (and a wee bit of YAPC too).

The conference was a bit less technical than I had hoped, but the venue was excellent (brand new LEED-certified building), the food was fantastic, and I made a lot of great contacts within eBay to help keep our integration on track. I was very pleased to see that nearly all the conference slides were made available under a creative commons license (although strangely some eBay Live! sessions were completely locked down and no cameras were allowed).

We ended up staying in the Seneca Hotel, which is right next door to the John Hancock Centre. I had a pretty nice 15-minute walk down the magnificent mile each morning to catch the shuttle to the conference centre.

The amount of swag taken home from this conference was surprising; fortunately, the stylish conference bag was put to good use toting all that stuff home. The highlights were definitely the PayPal Slinkee and eBay universal power adapter. Worse swag ever goes to the Amazing Race DVD Board Game -- this was given out to each attendee of the PayPal 10-year anniversary party (nice party by the way, complete with PayPal carved in ice, plus food, liquor, and a chaotic-run-throughout-the-building-in-random-teams-solving-silly-riddles-sent-by-text-message-from-a-cell-phone in the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry).

I was a little put off by the flagrant self-promotion of salesforce.com, and the general irrelevance of some of the keynote speeches. Mind you, I ended up taking the 266-page salesforce platform guide home with me (which i'll likely read in a few months when i've forgotten about a certain keynote) -- so in the end, having 300 developers as a captive audience was a good investment. However, i'd still expect any speaker to be able to answer, without hesitation, "what the hell does this have to do with eBay?". There is of course, a bit of this at every conference one goes to, but most speakers are slightly more subtle.

Since a co-worker was a few blocks away at YAPC::NA 2008, I took in a little bit of that conference too. On Tuesday night I joined the "Conference Dinner and Auction", which was rather entertaining with Uri (the fat guy in a tye-dye t-shirt) making random, periodic, profane announcements into the bowling alley/pool hall/bar microphone; not for a second, was there any possibility of mixing up the perl and eBay conferences. On Wednesday afternoon, I snuck in (with permission) to the YAPC lightning talks and closing keynotes; a couple guys from Google (who i'd seen speak before) gave their canned "users" talk. The lightning talks were great as lightning talks usually are -- happy little brain dumps on things you may or may not care about -- and always entertaining.

It was an eventful week, and I picked up lots of random nuggets of information -- now I just need to be locked in a room for 3 weeks to work through the TODO list this week has created. For a random smattering of photos, see ebaydevcon08 and yapcna2008 on flickr.