What would make you turn in your eval?

We’re working on lots of details for Southwest Fox right now. One of them is figuring out what to offer attendees to ensure that evaluation forms get turned out.

As you can see from some of our previous posts (like The Economics of Conference Food or They like us! They really, really like us!), we really pay attention to the evaluations that our attendees submit. We crunch the numbers they give us and we read all the comments more than once. We may not be able to implement all the changes that people request, but we do at least consider them.

We provide every attendee with a packet of evaluation forms at registration. The packet includes an overall conference evaluation and a short evaluation for each time slot. Unfortunately, lots of people don’t turn in their evaluation packets.

Last year, we were able to increase the yield of evals significantly. Microsoft had given three MSDN licenses to each developer MVP to give away. A number of our speakers and several other friends of Southwest Fox donated some of those gift licenses for raffles. We reserved the last three for a drawing including only those who submitted evaluations.

This year, we don’t have a big-ticket item like that to give away. So our question is what would make you turn in your eval? We know that some people will turn in evaluations with no prize at all. If you’re not one of those, help us figure what to use an incentive.

We want to keep making Southwest Fox better and to do that we need feedback. So give us some ideas on keeping those cards and letters coming.

Recession Buster Deals Offered

It is hard to believe we are into the second week of September already. What this means is the speakers are scrambling to finish their white papers and polish up their sessions for the conference.

Here at Geek Gathering Headquarters it means we are busy making decisions on what we can do within budget, starting to order things we need for the conference, and firming up details with the conference center.

We’re definitely seeing a drop off with registrations this year. Based on what people have told us, it mostly has to do with the condition of the global economy. So we have a couple of special “recession buster” deals we hope will encourage a few more people to sign up for the best Visual FoxPro conference in North America.

Deal #1: “Organizers: please share my deal!”
If you already registered and paid for the conference and you know someone who wants to register, you can give them the same deal you got when you registered. If you want to come to the conference and you know someone who got in at the Super Saver ($620) or the Early-bird ($695) registration, you can sign up for the same price they did. Sharing is caring!

Deal #2: Southwest Fox “Pair Programmer” deal
Have one or more FoxPro friends who are considering coming to Southwest Fox? Sign up together and take $50 off each of the registrations.

No matter what deal you take, we will give you your first pre-conference session for free!

There’s only one catch. You have to take advantage of this deal by 11:59 PM September 30, 2009 Eastern time. We have to make some serious commitments on October 1 for various expenses we have for the conference.

Need some more convincing? How about some new news about the conference:

1) Sara Ford, Program Manager for CodePlex (home of VFPX) is going to present: “Towards a Stronger Open Source Ecosystem on CodePlex.com” at the Thursday night keynote.

2) Schedule of the conference sessions is posted

3) We have added a couple of bonus sessions on Friday, including “Show Us Your App,” “Getting involved in VFPX” and an open space discussion “The Future of the VFP Developer.”

Got suggestions? info@swfox.net
Got questions? info@swfox.net
Got registrations? register@swfox.net

Or you can call the Geek Gatherings’ World Headquarters at 586.254.2530.

Read about the registration process and get the registration application here:

Check out our list of amazing speakers:

Dig into our six session tracks:

Follow the news about the conference on our blog:

Use our brochure to convince your boss (or spouse or SO) to let you go:

Only 36 days until we meet in Mesa. We hope to see you there.

Southwest Fox 2009 Keynote Announcement

We have some exciting news about the Southwest Fox 2009 Keynote Session.

For the past several years, the Southwest Fox Thursday night Keynote Session provided everyone with some reminders and last minutes details about the conference. It also included some of our speakers who were eager to share new technology they’d recently been involved with. In past years, we’ve had a keynote on Visual FoxPro code development moving past the standard VFP approaches via Guineu, eTecnologia.NET, and VFP Studio. Last year we showcased some of the new components and tools available on the open source project called VFPX.

As you may know, the organizers of Southwest Fox have always been keen on borrowing “best in class” ideas from other conferences. During one of the Essential Fox conferences, someone from outside the FoxPro Community was brought in as a keynote speaker and it was a huge success. Since taking over Southwest Fox in 2007, we’ve always wanted to do this with our keynote. Unfortunately, either budget constraints or timing constraints have always been a roadblock for fulfilling this goal. This year we started early and back in March, we secured a commitment for our keynote speaker!

We are very excited to announce that Sara Ford from Microsoft is coming to Southwest Fox 2009. Here are the details:

Towards a Stronger Open Source Ecosystem
on CodePlex.com

For those who do not know who Sara is, she is the Program Manager for CodePlex, Microsoft’s open source project hosting site (and home to VFPX). Prior to CodePlex, she worked on the Visual Studio team for six years and ran the popular Visual Studio Tip of the Day series. In 2008, she authored her first book, Microsoft Visual Studio Tips by Microsoft Press and donated all her royalties to start a scholarship fund for Hurricane Katrina survivors of her hometown. Her life-long dream is to become a 97-year-old weightlifter, so she can be featured on the local news.

Sara is an energetic speaker and will probably show you her rebellious side. How many Microsoft people do you know who are willing to walk around the Redmond campus wearing a FireFox t-shirt? After the keynote, you will know at least one.

We need to thank some very important contributors who helped make this happen. The Southwest Fox registrations are down this year because of the economic situation. The conference budget is already stretched to keep the Southwest Fox experience a quality experience. So the organizers got creative and tapped some friends in the FoxPro Community to sponsor the Keynote Session. We want to thank F1 Technologies and White Light Computing for sharing the costs to bring Sara to Mesa for the night. Without their generosity, we could not have pulled this off. We also want to thank Sara’s boss for letting her travel to our conference and sharing her vision on how CodePlex is going to evolve to support open source initiatives like VFPX.

We really hope you will join us in Mesa, but if you cannot, you might be able to catch it on SWFox TV because we are going to attempt to stream the keynote on the Internet like we did last year. More details on the broadcast will be posted closer to the conference.

Only 41 days until Sara talks about CodePlex in Mesa! We hope to see you there.