i woke up this morning at 7am. dare i say it? - that's 5 hours earlier than when i normally wake up. i was getting ready to go to the flex camp happening down at bentley college in waltham at 8am. if you don't know what flex it, we're pretty much in the same boat. for me, it's one of those tech buzzwords that's been floating around for the past few years. i know it was has something to do with flash and actionscripting, and you use it to program web applications. i was hoping this camp could shed some light on what exactly flash was and the sort of things you can do with it. the event wasn't free, but cost just $10, so it was bargain.
it was a shock to my system when i left the house. not only was it early, it was also freezing cold. i jumped into the car and rubbed my arms to keep warm as i turned up the heat. i made it to bentley right on time, just a bit beyond the belmont-waltham border. i knew i was at the right place because i could see all these suits leaving the parking lot and going into a conference building. i did my part to fit in, wearing a white shirt, but that was the extent of my mimicry.
upstairs on the third floor of the conference room, 300+ people were gathered to hear guest lecturers talk about flex. after i signed in, i was given a complimentary canvas adobe gift bag, stuffed with various advertisements and pamphlets (including a 64mb promotional usb pen drive) as well as today's itinerary. i also received an official "flex camp" t-shirt as well as a raffle ticket. inside the conference room were numerous round dining tables. i found a seat by the side of the room, away from the crowd, and kept to myself as i waited for the lectures to start. i did an informal survey: besides the suits, there were also people who looked like genuine programmers, ranging from college age to semi-retired. most of the attendants were men, with maybe less than 5% women. asians were the dominant minority (perhaps also just 5%), followed by indians, then african-americans.
imagine being at a meeting where you have no idea what people were talking about. that was how i felt to a large extent. this flex camp was far removed from what i thought it'd be, a gentle introduction to the world of flex. instead, of was hardcore deep immersion, with numerous speakers projecting pages of code onto the screen that even if i were able to read what it said i still wouldn't be able to understand it. they'd asked questions like, "how many people use flex?" "how many people use coldfusion?" "how many people use livecycle data services?" i kept my hand down the whole time. topics include the keynote speech, "using flex profiler," "configuring, debugging, and deploying LCDS applications," and "using coldfusion with LCDS." in between lecturers, our host would come to the podium and pick numbers for the raffle. prizes included numerous adobe tchotchkes (hats, backpacks, notebooks), tickets to future flex conferences, and copies of flex software. at one point early on an adobe branded ipod shuffle was given away, and there were rumors of a wii grand prize but i think you had to fill out a questionnaire first and the actual drawing would be at a later date. every speaker had a weblog (not a website, a weblog), where he'd tell people to go for more information.
there was a 30 minute lunch break around noontime, with free sandwiches and cookies and soft drinks. the two presentation that came after that were much better, as actual applications were showcased and the methodology and techniques behind some of the coding was something more understandable to me, despite the fact that i didn't know flex. "bringing rich commerce to the desktop with AIR" and "building buzzword" were the two topics. the commerce lecture was pretty amazing, doing stuff with integrated web catalogs that seemed ahead of its time. buzzword was cool as well, a fully-functional online word processor. afterwards came a short break and that's when i decided to leave (about 2:15), since "flexunit testing with cairngorm" and the Q&A session seemed boring to me.
leaving before the start of rush hour traffic, i encountered no delays as i made my way to my parents' place. i had to go pick up my godmother in the early evening so i had a few hours to kill. i watched television in my parents' bedroom and promptly fell asleep, having only slept for an hour or two last night. i woke up at 5pm - it was already dark outside and lightly snowing as well. i got my godmother and we drove down to the cafe.
my parents had closed the store a few hours early to let my sister use the space to hold a jewelry show. i was given the job of photographer. maybe i was hungry, maybe i was still groggy from my short nap, but i felt tired and all i wanted to do was to lie down and sleep. there were a lot of people there checking out the jewelry, and that sensory overload was overwhelming as i struggled to stay awake and get some photos. i accidently ate a cookie from the dog biscuit table (why was there even dog biscuits? dogs don't buy jewelry); i realized something was wrong because the cookie was hard and tasteless. once the initial crowd had dissipated, i had a chance to snack on some appetizers, and i got a ride back to my place around 7pm. later i heated up a box of rice noodles for dinner, washed it all down with some root beer, my first can of soda since thanksgiving.