Thought I'd take a minute to post about Ajax Experience.
Before I talk about the conference, I want to talk a little bit about some really cool technology that was in the Seaport Hotel. It's called Seaportal. Seaportal is a machine running Windows XP Embedded that provides web surfing, office applications and free Voice over IP. It uses OpenOffice for the office applications and Internet Explorer for the web surfing. I was curious about the mix of open source and non-open source, so I contacted the IT department. The answer was what I expected. They picked OpenOffice because it saved them money on licensing, and they picked IE because it was a part of the embedded stack that came from their vendor They didn't want to add extra software to the stack, which makes perfect sense. The IE also came pretty well customized by the vendor, although they did have to work to figure out how to do more customization with the registry.
All in all, I was VERY impressed by their solution and found myself using it a lot to avoid turning on my laptop when I needed something quick. My only complaints would be that using IE 6 is REALLY painful and that they need to be more current with adding interesting plug ins and things. For instance, I couldn't watch TV shows from abc.com because it uses some proprietary plug ins.
If you stay in Boston, stay at the Seaport and request a room with Seaportal to check it out. Now on to the conference...
Next up was Kevin Survance from MapQuest. This keynote was awesome. Kevin is an excellent speaker and he gave a great picture of what MapQuest is doing to reinvent themselves. He talked about the new MapQuest which is in beta right now. I find it funny that despite the popularity of Google Maps, the term MapQuest is embedded in our culture similar to Kleenex. On a side note, I talked to a couple MapQuest developers about microformats and I'm hoping they'll put them on the site. I'm planning to do an Operator action for the new MapQuest beta.
From there I went to the Aptana IDE presentation. This presentation was disappointing. The presenter just wasn't the right guy to do this, and there was actually too much demo and not enough slides.
After lunch I went to the Google Gears talk, and it was interesting, but there really wasn't much that I couldn't have gotten from reading documentation on the web, so I went over to catch the tail end of Accessibility and Internationalization with Dojo. Good presentation, but it was folks on my team, so what did I expect.
After lunch I went to "iPhone and iPod Touch Web Development" which was a horribly named presentation, because it was basically a plug for Aptana. This session should have been simply combined into the other Aptana presentation.
Skipped the next round, but caught the Silverlight presentation later that afternoon. What impressed me most about the Silverlight stuff was the tooling. Microsoft really has the tooling down.
Thursday I started with "Introduction to jQuery" by John Resig. This was great. I finally "get" jQuery and hope to start messing around with it soon. Really showed off how useful Firebug was for jQuery development.
The "Ask the Ajax Experts" panel was interesting, but everyone involved in this session needs to learn a little bit about how a panel works. Basically with the VERY long answers and the number of questions that Ben and Dion asked, there really wasn't much time to get questions from the audience.
Next up was my session on the Ajax Toolkit Framework. I thought it went well, although I need more content for my presentation. I was 20 minutes short.
After my presentation, I skipped out to meet with a friend over at IBM Research.
Friday morning I didn't have a lot of time before my flight, but I caught Aza Raskin from Humanized talking about the ZIA or Zen Internet Application. This was a really interesting presentation that really got me thinking about the best way to do microformat UI. I'm still thinking.
Next time I'll plan less stuff on the side and go to more sessions.