Where in the world?!?

Or should I say: Where on the Virtual Earth…

I wanted to have some coding fun this past weekend after working really hard on a problem in an app I am enhancing in FoxPro for DOS. I needed some serious time inside of VFP and at the same time I wanted to learn something new. Then I find Craig Boyd’s Thanksgiving Day (USA holiday) gift to the Fox Community: Virtual Earth Class Library for VFP.

The first thing I thought of was plotting the locations of all the people who came to Southwest Fox 2008. I downloaded Craig’s classes and ran his example. Cool. I deconstructed it and figured out what I had to do to get it to work with my data. After about 30 minutes I starting writing code. Dropped the map control on a form, dropped a command button on a form, and wrote 70 lines of code (the button click has 40 lines and the map control CallBackFind method has 30 lines – including comments) and I have the following picture (click to get the full size):

Here is the close up of the USA main land and Canada:

It took me about an hour to get the basics working, and a little longer to revise and improve my code, and 5 more minutes chatting with Craig to tell him how cool these classes are for Fox developers.

I think there are some interesting observations to be made:

  1. More people came from the east coast of the USA than the southwest. This is completely unexpected since conferences normally pull more people from the region they are hosted. Southwest Fox is now a national conference by default of being the only one in the USA, but this is still a surprise.
  2. Two pushpins are missing. One from Mexico and one from the South Pacific. I am not exactly sure why these did not post, but suspect it is something I did as opposed to Virtual Earth.
  3. Multiple people at the same address did not post. It appears that Virtual Earth only allows one pushpin per address. So companies that registered more than one person at the same address only get one pushpin. This also showed me a flaw in my data as I had transposed digits of the address for Mike Feltman so he and Toni both showed up on the map.

One of the things I commented on to Doug and Tamar is something I find an interesting coincidence that is hard to ignore. Pushpins are clustered in areas around user groups. You can see southern California (LA and San Diego) the Midwest (Chicago, MadFox, Grand Rapids, Mid-Michigan, and DAFUG), and the east coast with Philly and PAFox have lots of pushpins located nearby.

We know people who attend conferences are more likely to be online on forums, and are more likely to attend user groups. But is there more to this than just a coincidence? Could it be that our speakers did rehearsals at these groups and it enticed people to register for the conference? Could it be the user groups marketed the conference to their membership? Or is it just a coincidence?

Please let us know if this is the case so we can encourage our speakers to get out to more groups. We already know our #1 rated speaker (Cathy Pountney in case you have not heard {g}) did the most public rehearsals of any of our speakers so it really does help make for better sessions at the conference.

Another point made in the discussions amongst the organizers is this: since it appears that a majority of our attendees come from the east coast, should we consider moving the conference to this side of the country in 2010? Or should we consider a second conference on the east side of the country? Or should we just do a better job of marketing in the Southwest?

Please feel free to comment below.

Anyway, thanks Craig for these cool classes! It really made the creation of the map a piece of cake. I did not realize how powerful Virtual Earth has become over the years, especially the “bird’s eye” view. Impressive, and now if you have customers who could use mapping features in their application you pretty much have the base classes to make it happen – easily.

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Thursday 4 December 2008 - 8:18 am

Pretty interesting observations and definitely a neat utility from Craig. Upon first blush, I offer a thought (just a thought; not proven), but when you look at the map and see the “clusters” of flags, you have interpreted that they are near user groups and from the East coast. I would suspect that the flags could possibly be distributed based on the population of the areas. IOW, the East coast is much more populated than, say, Kansas. It would be interesting to see (BROAD example here) the “attendees/population of the region” ratio. It would not suprise me if they were close.

You mentioned the thought of having a second conference or moving the location. Nay, nay! In NOVEMBER, those who live in cold Winter climates, LOVE the thought of three or four days in 90 degree temperatures. Additionally, two conferences mean (probably) double the work, double the expenses, but with little or no increase in income or attendees.

Just my two cents.
…Dave Aring

Thursday 4 December 2008 - 3:48 pm

You asked about 2 conferences: East and West. Surely this would fragment the visitors and double the work on the show producers. Don’t see how you could do it.

Personally, it is no more of a burden for me to travel from Birmingham, AL to Arizona than to, say, Chicago. Now, Atlanta would be a different, because I could drive 2.5 hours and be there, and that is what I would do.

If I have to get on a plane, I don’t really care where I am going, it’s all about the same burden.

So, I say keep one show.

Maybe alternate East / West by year.

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