There are different types of conferences. First of all, there are conferences organized by a single technology vendor. I won't name any vendor to remain politicly correct :) These conferences are mostly not much objective and usually involve a lot of marketing. They are in my experience less fun, but at the better ones you can learn a lot about the technology of the particular vendor.
The second type of conferences are conferences which involve multiple vendors, such as Java One or similar events. You can learn a lot of useful technical information and they're definitely worth it. However they stull miss one thing which is important for me - personal touch.
The type of conferences I like the most are conferences organized by Java community. I had an opportunity to speak at JDC conference
which was organized last Saturday by EGJUG in Cairo. It was the first conference organized by EGJUG and I had a very good time at the conference.
Ahmed Hashim (the JUG leader) organized for the speakers a tour around Cairo so we spent some time by visiting nice places in the city. So I saw the pyramids for the second time, we enjoyed the nice Azhar park, walked around the Khan El Khalili market and so on. And because we are Java enthusiasts we spent lots of time talking about technology, IDE's, future of computers... you know it. The cool thing about these discussions is that companies are irrelevant - Sun competes with IBM and NetBeans competes with Eclipse, but I now have a friend from IBM who works on WebSphere in Cairo (greetings, Amr
Rob, Roman, Ahmed and Sphinx
If you haven't visited a conference organized by a Java User Group yet, I recommend you to do so. At least for me as a speaker, it has a special personal touch. It is easier to meet people and discuss topics you are interested in. You can avoid the marketing talk and talk about the technology instead, how it's evolving, what's cool, what sucks and where is the whole java world heading.
Notice that about 20% of attendees were women
I guess I'm trying to say is... the best conferences are not about companies but about people. I enjoyed learning about the cultural differences and meeting new people. I also met various NetBeans fans. And while there are very cool projects going on in Cairo, such as project Plethora
, NetBeans users/developers mostly don't know about each other. We discussed with Ahmed and he'll include some NetBeans presentations during future JUG meetings, so that JUG members can learn more from each other about NetBeans.
I am sorry that I couldn't give a T-shirt to all the NetBeans enthusiasts in Cairo, you know, my baggage size is limited. But I have following offer: write an article, record a demo about NetBeans or contribute to NetBeans by a plug-in and if you let me know about the contribution at roman dot strobl at sun dot com I will send you a T-shirt to any address, postage paid. Easy, isn't it? :)