Southwest Fox is good for user groups … and vice versa

One of our goals for Southwest Fox is to be a good citizen of the VFP community. Obviously, just offering a conference is a big way to do that. But we’re also committed to having Southwest Fox support VFP user groups (VFUGs). So last year’s conference binder included a list of VFUGs with contact information.

Since Rick, Doug and I took over management of the conference, we’ve also offered VFUGs a bonus for encouraging their members to attend. The group registers with us in advance, and after the conference, we send the group $25 for each of their members who signs up. VFUGs tend to operate on a shoestring. So we think this is a much better approach than the traditional one of giving user group members a discount, especially since this helps the group from the first person to register. Traditional user group discounts usually require a minimum number of registrants.

However, the biggest way we support VFUGs is a little indirect. We encourage our speakers to preview their conference sessions at user group meetings. Why would we do that when it means people can get conference content without attending?

The most important reason is that we know that sessions get better with rehearsal. Even for experienced speakers, practicing in front of an audience improves the session. So when a speaker presents at a user group meeting, we know that the people who come to Southwest Fox will get an even better session. (It’s not an accident that last year’s highest rated session, Cathy Pountney’s session on customizing vertical market applications, had been previewed at no fewer than three VFUGs.)

The second reason we encourage speakers to do previews is, of course, that it promotes the conference. Every time Southwest Fox is mentioned in a user group meeting or website or email, we increase the change of people coming to the conference.

Whether you’re coming to Southwest Fox or not (and we sure hope you are), in the next few months, you may get the opportunity to see one or more Southwest Fox sessions at your local user group. Here in Philadelphia, we’ve booked Southwest Fox previews for July (Menachem Bazian), August (me), and September (Toni Feltman). Christof Wollenhaupt will be previewing his sessions at a couple of VFUGs (Atlanta and Chicago) on his way to Phoenix. And Detroit’s FUG has so many speakers within an easy drive that they’re considering a special full-day event.

If you’ve never attended your local VFUG, this summer is a good time to give it a try. If you used to go and stopped, ditto. If you’re a user group leader looking for speakers, consider the SWFox speaker list a resource.

And, of course, if you attend one of those previews and decide you like you what you saw, give Southwest Fox a try.

Conference Registration App Update

Based on our customer feedback we have released a new version of the Conference Registration applet. If you have already installed the first release (Build 151) you can install the new version (build 161) right over the existing folder. All your data will be preserved, but a new version of the EXE and the Help file will get installed. The newest build is a full install if you have not installed this applet at all. The same one install works for everyone.

There is no need to resend your registration if you have already registered (yes, several people have)!

Here is the list of changes for this build:

  • Message is displayed if you previously sent in a registration when you start the application. If you cancelled the registration before it was emailed you can delete the ZIP file(s) from the SendZip folder if you don’t want to see this message.
  • Tooltip on the highlighted area warning you contact information is shared with select vendors. The tooltip tells you which information is shared with the vendors.
  • Added shortcut menu to all textboxes and editboxes to help with undo, cut, copy, paste, clear, and select all functionality. This was added specifically to meet a request from a tablet PC user, but naturally works for everyone.
  • Additional adjustments were made to help out those with low resolutions or for those working on tablet PCs in portrait (tall and narrow) mode.
  • Added hyperlinks to conference Twitter page and the Southwest Fox Conference blog.
  • Updated specific data entry elements in the Help file to note the information shared with vendors. (Name, company, address, city/province/region, country, email, daytime phone number)
  • Updated the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) topic.

There was one minor bug:

  • Corrected the registration date and time when registration is sent to organizers.

Please download the new setup file before sending in your registration to enjoy some of the tweaks and to provide the smoothest of experiences. All the details about the registration process can be found on the conference registration page, including the download and a 15 minute video showing you the installation and using the registration applet.

Southwest Fox Sessions and Speakers Announced

We announced the speaker and session lineup for Southwest Fox 2009 today. This year was the hardest yet selecting from the list of proposals because we had a record number of submissions. Once again, there are great topics such as using Visual Earth in VFP applications, implementing MySQL, getting the most out of FoxCharts, and adding full-text search to your applications.

Registration is now open, so be sure to sign up today for a fun three days in Phoenix in October. Take advantage of the “Southwest Fox Stimulus Plan”: if you register before July 1, you save $125 and get a free half-day pre-conference session, a $99 value. With sessions on Web development, source control, and refactoring legacy code, the hard part will be picking which one to attend.

We also offer an early-bird special: register before September 1 and save $50.

We’re looking forward to seeing you in October!