ZendCon Day 0 (and pre-conf)

I could have been a good girl and blogged each day I was there, but I was generally way too busy for that...so here are my random thoughts and opinions on ZendCon 2007.

First of all, little caveat - this was only my second conference, and the first one I had to fly to attend. My first conference was in Chicago which is only a short drive (well, if two and a half-hours at 70 MPH is considered short) from my hometown. So I wasn't sure what to expect.

I arrived the "day before" thinking that way I'd have some time to get ready for the madness, because I was absolutely positive there would be madness. It was a good thing too. I woke up at 4 am EST and drove into Chicago. I was nervous, having never flown alone before, and excited so I drove really fast. So I had enough time to stop by my mom's place and have breakfast with her. Which was nice...except that I didn't realize Chicago Midway has switched from 30 minutes to 45 minutes ahead of the plane or you get "late checked" luggage.

So I arrived at the airport, thinking I had more than an hour to get things rolling. I got lost finding the parking my mother told me to use (driving around one way streets is so stinking fun) - and then after parking and walking half a mile (or so it seemed) to get to the southwest counter... there was an enormous line. Who knew so many people flew out early Sunday morning? Anyway, waited in line, would have just made the thirty minute "late check" limit only to be informed that stupid midway requires 45 minutes. At which point I just sighed and checked my one suitcase. I'm a girl, I have lots of stuff.

Of course my gate was WAY at the other end of the terminal and by the time I got there, I was the last on the plane. I had three seats to lay across but of course I was excited and nervous and the flight was horribly bumpy so I couldn't sleep much.

After a turbulent but uneventful flight, of course my luggage didn't show up. They wouldn't ship it to my hotel either, I had to wait for the next plane (in three hours). So I dished out money for a tmobile wireless connection (wireless is free at midway, SFO sucks), and sat on the hard concrete beside a power outlet (hurray) and worked for three hours or so.

It was a very long, nervous wait.

But my luggage did arrive on the next flight, and rather than hurt my bottom for another hour waiting for my brother, I headed off to the hotel.

I checked in, dumped junk, met new people, said hi to old friends I'd met elsewhere, and ended up in the bar. Somehow I spent a lot of time in the bar. We all went to bed fairly early that night (non-free drinks and all) and despite the snoring got a good night's sleep.

Day 0 arrived - tutorials day - and one of the big reasons I came early. We had a very expensive but lovely breakfast at the hotel breakfast area to start the day with. I shoved a banana and an apple in my bag. For $18 I figured they could supply snacks as well.

I had lots of questions for Sara, Wez and Marcus, but about three slides in realized that this would be a heck of a lot of overview first. So I was patient...kind of...and sat in IRC and worked online for the first part of the day. After lunch (which was rather disgusting, frankly) and lots of really fantastic, addicting mints (which I had way too many of over the week) it was time for more fun. This time I actually did get some questions in, but spent a lot of time quietly bugging Sara about my specific issues while everyone else learned other stuff.

All in all, I probably won't go to another extensions tutorial because at this point I don't think I have much left to learn ;)

On a side note, I talked to several people who said the talk went "over their head" - I think some hands on work, showing them how to write and then having everybody compile it, would make a tutorial on extensions writing a lot more interactive, and allow people to understand how things fit together better because the only way to really "get" PHP extensions is to start writing one. My two cents (hint hint Sara).

Day 0 wound down with the "ZCE and Speaker" night at the bar which was a LOT of fun. I met some fabulous people, didn't have to pay for a drink, and generally enjoyed my time. I tend to dress up for the evening events at conferences, just because seeing people's faces when you start talking geek is utterly amusing. And enygma from phpc dressed up too so I didn't feel left out. And by the way, I suck at pool.

On a side note, it was nice to see my brother again, he lives a four hour plane ride away, so having some time to get drunk together and talk about code is always good family bonding.

Bottom line? I had a lot of fun, learned a few things, and generally enjoyed myself on Day 0. I probably won't bother to attend any more "tutorial" sessions unless I get lucky enough to do the speaking though. The wifi was acceptable, although a bit slow, and the hotel was beautiful, but the food was lousy.

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2007-10-15 7:00 am

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