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.

Help save Southwest Fox!

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.

As of today, we have 14 people registered for Southwest Fox and Southwest Xbase++ 2013. That’s about half the number of people who were registered at this time last year, and last year’s number took a big leap of faith on our part to carry on. See, our break-even point is about 75 people, and according to our contract with the hotel, we have until July 2 to cancel or we’re on the hook for our guaranteed minimum whether there’s a conference or not.

Southwest Fox is one of the highlights of the year for the three of us. A ton of planning and work goes into organizing it, but we are happy to do it because we feel it’s an important way to keep our community going. We’re realistic enough to know that it won’t go on forever and each year could be the last. So, was 2012 the last year? You can help us make that decision. If you were thinking about going this year, vote to continue the conference by registering now. If you know others thinking of attending, share this message with them.

If we do end up cancelling, everyone who registered will get their money back in full, so you can’t lose out. (Just don’t make your flight reservation right way.)

The FoxShow #77 features an interview with us discussing this and other SWFox-related issues, so be sure to check it out. Andrew MacNeill also has a blog post about this.

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.

Ceil Silver Ambassador News

We have bad news and good news. First the bad news: Unfortunately, for reasons outside of his control, César Chalom is unable to attend Southwest Fox 2009. We are really disappointed because many people, us included, were looking forward to meeting César. Hopefully, next year.

The good news is that Emerson Santon Reed has agreed to come in César’s place. Emerson, a software developer from Americana – SP, Brazil, has worked with Visual FoxPro since 1999, and is an active member of the Brazilian VFP community. He presented a session at the Brazilian VFP conference in 2008. He is well known to the global VFP community for his ThemedControls project at VFPX. He also has a blog where you can find useful material on Visual FoxPro. We are very excited that Emerson can attend Southwest Fox 2009 and know that many attendees are looking forward to meeting him in person.

Microsoft Virtual PC Video

Doug is doing a session at Southwest Fox 2009 titled “Microsoft Virtual PC for VFP Developers.” VPC is one of the indispensible tools every developer ought to use (or if not VPC, one of its competitors such as VMWare), and yet many haven’t embraced it. Hopefully, this session will convince you to start using it immediately.

Doug created a short (5 minute) teaser video showing part of his session: how VPC is useful to test application installers to make sure all dependencies are included. Attendees of Southwest Fox will receive a complete white paper on installing, configuring, and using VPC. See you there!