2015 speakers and topics announced!

Today we posted the list of speakers and topics for this year’s conferences on the conference website. As we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, if registration warrants, we’ll add some speakers and topics to Southwest Fox over the summer.

Speakers

Southwest Fox topics

Southwest Xbase++ topics

Watch for registration to open soon.

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How many speakers will we have at Southwest Fox 2015? It’s up to you.

We recently did one of the hardest tasks associated with running Southwest Fox–choosing speakers and topics from among the ones submitted. This year, it was harder than it has been in a long while. (We’ll post the results as soon as it’s all worked out.)

Based on last year’s attendance, we’ve decided to plan for two simultaneous VFP sessions rather than three, as we’ve had for several years. Doing so reduces our financial risk and makes it easier for us to commit to holding the conference. (Like last year, we’ll actually make the final “go/no go” decision the first week of July.)

Of course, we understand that there’s a trade-off here; some people may find the list of speakers and topics less compelling because it’s shorter. We’re hoping that doesn’t apply to too many people.

On the other hand, maybe attendance will be better than we expect. To prepare for that possibility, we’re also identifying a few speakers and topics we really want and hoping for the chance to add them when we look at registrations after the July 1 SuperSaver deadline.

So this message is a bit of a challenge to the VFP community. If enough of you register for Southwest Fox by July 1, we’ll be able to add one or more speakers.

We believe that the program we’re putting together is absolutely worth the price we’re charging, but we’d love to give you even more for the money.

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2015 Call for Speakers

The call has gone out!

We’re inviting anyone interesting in speaking at this year’s conferences to submit topics. You’ll find the Call for Speakers at http://www.swfox.net/callforspeakers.aspx. Please read the complete Call for Speakers document (linked from that page), and use our proposal submission application at https://geekgatherings.com/Submission. Session proposals are due by March 9. (Yes, this is earlier than in prior years. We have some publicity plans that require us to have a little more lead time than in the past.)

As in the past few years, we plan to offer a good selection of topics in core VFP development, extending VFP, using VFP with other technologies, and VFPX, as well as technology sessions to help VFP developers become better developers, not just more expert at VFP. We are looking for a few sessions on paths forward for VFP developers and we’re looking for a few deep-dive post-conference sessions.

For Southwest Xbase++, this year’s sessions should primarily focus on Xbase++ 2.0. We are especially interested in your experience with features such as Universal-SQL and Single or Multi touch UI development with 2.0. If you are involved in Web application development, we want to hear about how to get most out of WebHandlers and WebSockets with 2.0.

For both conferences, the Call for Speakers also lists some topics last year’s attendees specifically requested.

Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions. We’re looking forward to seeing your proposals. We expect that, as usual, choosing among them will be one of the hardest things we do all year.

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Save the dates: Southwest Fox and Southwest Xbase++ 2015!

Save the dates for Southwest Fox and Southwest Xbase++ 2015! The conferences take place October 15-18, 2015.

This year we again have two conferences as one great event at the same location. The conferences offer developers an opportunity to learn and extend their skills, and network with fellow developers. You get two conferences for the price of one!

The conferences take place at the San Tan Elegante Conference and Reception Center, the same great location as last year.

At the 2014 conferences, we mentioned our risks in running the conferences, primarily the tens of thousands of dollars we have to commit to the conference center. Fortunately, we found a way to mitigate those risks to an acceptable level, so we’re happy to be hosting the conference again in 2015.

We choose speakers from the developer community based on their session proposals. We are always looking for new speakers. Watch the Call for Speakers page of the conference website; we’ll post the Call for Speakers in mid-February.

All the details about registration, speakers, sessions, and more will be published in May.

Special Request!!!

If there are any topics you hope will be covered this year, please send them to info@geekgatherings.com, right away.

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What do you think? Conference evaluations tell us.

All three of us who run Southwest Fox and Southwest Xbase++ are experienced conference speakers and we know how big a role feedback plays in getting better at presenting. So, it’s no surprise that when we first started running a conference, we spent a lot of time and energy discussing what we wanted on both session evaluations and the overall conference evaluation. We’ve tweaked those contents (especially at the conference level) over the years, trying to extract more and more information from our attendees.

Two years ago, we moved the session evaluation system online. With most attendees carrying at least one Wifi-enabled device, we felt that using a web-based evaluation system would make things easier for attendees, speakers, and ourselves. Overall, that transition has been quite successful. Among other things, it allows speakers to review evaluations from a session before they repeat the topic. (A big benefit to us is not having to hand-enter all that data.)

This year, we moved the overall conference evaluation online, as well. While we wish more people had chosen to submit conference evals (fewer than half of those present did so), the evaluations we got seemed to contain more information. Knowing how I feel about writing on paper, I suspect using a keyboard instead freed many people to write more and longer comments. We’re thinking about ways to get better response in future.

We added one section to this year’s conference evaluation. We asked each person to rank five conference features as to their importance. All of these features affect the cost of running the conferences (though some of them do so indirectly). The five items were:

  • Breakfast and Lunch Provided
  • Dinner Party Included
  • White papers for Every Session
  • Multiple Simultaneous Sessions
  • Meeting Rooms on Conference Hotel Property

We weren’t surprised at all that white papers (that is, session notes) for every session was far and away the most important item, with more than 2/3 of respondents ranking it #1, and another 1/6 ranking it #2; that is, 5/6 of those surveyed considered white papers as one of the top two items.

Since we consider providing white papers for all sessions a major part of the value proposition of a Geek Gatherings conference, we were glad to see that our customers do, too. Today, it’s rare for a conference to provide papers for all sessions; in fact, it’s rare for there to be papers for any sessions. So, we think our conferences stand out.

On the other end of the spectrum, people were even more unanimous that the dinner party we hold on the Friday night of the conference was the least important of the five; 80% ranked it last. We got the message. We’re already talking about alternative ideas.

As for the middle three items, your order of importance is multiple tracks, having the conference sessions at the hotel, and then having breakfast and lunch included. We’ll keep all that in mind as we plan for the future.

As I noted earlier, we got many more comments this year than in the past. They ranged from simple thanks to some detailed suggestions. One theme throughout the comments is how many of you come to the conference to see friends. Answers like that popped up in response to “What did you take away from the conference?” (this year, no one said “the towels”) as well as to “What did you like best about the conference?”

Because we were frank about the financial risk we take in running the conferences, and expressed our concerns about the future, a number of people offered us concrete suggestions, including changing the location and time of year, selling shares in the conference, and charging more, while others simply said that we should do whatever it takes to keep going.

We’ve already spent several hours face-to-face (thanks, Rainer Becker, for inviting all three of us to the German DevCon) discussing this year’s conference and what you had to say. We’ll continue to review the evaluation data as we determine our 2015 offerings. If you have additional comments or you couldn’t join us this year and want to share your thoughts, send them to info@geekgatherings.com.

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Get a discount on Xbase++ and an early-bird discount

Alaska Software is offering special discounts on Xbase++ 2.0 for Southwest Fox and Southwest Xbase++ 2014 attendees, as follows:

  • Xbase++ 2.0 is available and shipping September 30, 2014.
  • Prerequisite for this offer is registration to Southwest Xbase++ or Southwest Fox conference 2014.
  • Get a 30% discount for all new customers purchasing Foundation Edition 2.0 (regular price USD $1,199) or Professional Edition 2.0 (regular price USD $1,999).
  • Get an additional 10% Competitive Upgrade, if you provide proof of purchase of VFP 9 or Clipper.
  • All attending Southwest Xbase++ who have a subscription (purchased in last 12 months) get 3 months extension for their current subscription.

How does this offer work? Simple: you contact Alaska Software at their booth during the conference, place your order, and get the boxed Xbase++ 2.0 DVD on the spot. This is also true for the active Xbase++ users who stop in at the Alaska Software booth.

Regardless of which edition of Xbase++ 2.0 you purchase, your savings goes a long way towards paying for the conference ticket.

Extending the early-bird discount

We want to make Alaska’s offer even more attractive, so we’re extending our early-bird pricing for Southwest Fox/Xbase++ right up until Xbase++ 2.0’s September 30 ship date. Register for either conference before midnight September 30 and get a $50 discount; pay only $745.

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Early-bird deadline approaches; So does Xbase++ 2.0

We have some very exciting news as we approach the Early-bird registration deadline this Sunday, August 31st.

Alaska plans to ship Xbase++ 2.0 in September, so this will be the first conference where developers can learn all about the newly released Xbase++ v2.0. In addition, Alaska has deep discounts to offer conference attendees whether you’re upgrading from a prior version of Xbase++ or doing a competitive upgrade from Visual FoxPro or Clipper. So whether you are coming from an Xbase++, Clipper, or Visual FoxPro background, Alaska has a product you can learn about at the conference, buy at the conference, and start using immediately when you get home! Southwest Fox and Southwest Xbase++ is the place to be in October. Please sign up now to get the conferences’ $50 Early-bird discount, which expires on September 1st. More details on the Xbase++ discounts coming soon.

Every registered attendee gets admission and white papers to all regular conference sessions. Don’t miss this chance to learn from the best and mix with your peers.

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Southwest Fox on the FoxShow–special offer

Listen to Andrew MacNeill interview Rick Schummer, Tamar Granor, and Doug Hennig about Southwest Fox 2014 on the FoxShow #79. If you haven’t registered yet, be sure to listen for a special offer in the show.

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Less than a week until Super-Saver deadline!

We’re not sure how it happened, but it’s less than a week until the end of June and the Super-Saver registration deadline. If you haven’t registered yet, what are you waiting for?

Southwest Fox and Southwest Xbase++ take place October 16-19, 2014 in Gilbert, Arizona and we really hope you can be there. We would hate to see you miss out on the $125 discount, the FREE pre-conference session, and an opportunity to win a scholarship or a license of Stonefield Query SDK (a $6,000 value).

If you’re still deciding whether to come, check out our list of amazing speakers and dig into our session tracks for VFP and Xbase++. Follow the news about the conference on this blog.

If you’ve already registered, we thank you. Can you help us remind your fellow developers who have been procrastinating about the looming deadline by sharing this blog post or tweeting about it?

By the way, if you sent in your registration and haven’t received a confirmation, please contact us to see what happened. Everyone gets a confirmation when the registration is processed. As promised, we are not cashing checks or processing credit cards for new registrations until the middle of July.

We’re looking forward to seeing you in Gilbert in October.

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Registration is open!

Registration for Southwest Fox and Southwest Xbase++ is now available. See the website for a list of speakers, VFP sessions and Xbase++ sessions. Super-Saver Registration, which saves you $125, is available only through June 30th, so don’t wait.

Putting on a conference is a risky endeavor. Conference centers require a guaranteed minimum income to block the dates of a conference; for a conference like Southwest Fox and Southwest Xbase++, that minimum is in the tens of thousands of dollars. We have to commit to the conference center by July 2nd and need your support by July 1st to make that commitment. We will not do “We need your help” appeals this year so please do not wait, get registered by June 30th! We know most of you like to wait until the last minute to avoid the credit card bill arriving too soon. We will not charge any attendee credit cards or cash any checks until sometime in the second half of July or early August (once we’ve committed to going forward), so this no longer is a reason to wait.

We look forward to seeing you in October!

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