June 2005 event tour trip report – Part 1

Here is part 1 for the events I've spoken at so far in June in the U.S. and central/eastern Europe. The Advisor VFP DevCon 2005 in Las Vegas event from June 12-15 went extremely well, with both attendees and speakers commenting on improvements from the previous Advisor DevCon the year before. There was a bit over 200 attendees there for the VFP event, which was about as expected given that the time between the last VFP DevCon by Advisor was only 8 months. As usual, about one third of the attendees were there for their very first VFP DevCon conference. The VFP team members at the event talked with many attendees and speakers, and overall it was a very productive and successful VFP event. There were attendees from 10 countries outside the U.S.
Three members of the VFP team including Randy Brown, Richard Stanton, and I presented the keynote session and each spoke in 2 general sessions at the Praha 2005 VFP DevCon. The official attendance count was 410. There were attendees from 17 countries total with 100 of the 410 attendees first time Praha DevCon attendees and 50 loyal attendees attending all 8 annual Praha DevCon conferences. Some useful links from the Praha 2005 event including the UT conference report and a link the keynote slide deck online can be found in the
July 2005 letter. The keynote was the morning of Tuesday June 21st and I did 2 general sessions that same afternoon. One was on VFP 9.0 working with VS 2005 and included details of the code behind those demos. I recall that my session on VFP 9.0 with XML tools in Visual Studio 2005 was packed with over 100 attendees. There is no doubt that many VFP and VS developers will find the new XML editor, XSLT editor/debugger, etc. in VS 2005 very useful and productive as the use of XML in application development continues to increase.
On Friday June 24th, I spoke to 150 attendees at a special event in Budapest sponsored by Microsoft Hungary. Some of the attendees were not yet VFP developers and I received verbal feedback and email following the event from a few people saying they are likely to start using VFP for the first time soon. Both the Prague keynote and my 3 hours of presentations in Budapest were translated during the presentation. In Prague, the translation is as-you-speak in between every few sentences. In Budapest, Microsoft hired 2 professional translators and the event location at the Budapest University had headphones to allow hearing translation real time (as they do at the United Nations meetings). About half the audience used the headphones for translation, the other half listened to the English directly. 
On Monday June 27th (the day I am writing this blog entry here), I spoke to 110 attendees at a special event in Bucharest sponsored by Microsoft Romania. The total turnout for both Budapest and Bucharest where higher than the local Microsoft offices had anticipated and all were organized and hosted extremely well for first time VFP events in each location. There was no translation in Romania, all the attendees understood English very well and I was even going at a pretty fast clip during some of my demos. I went into even more demos and detail of VFP 9.0 in these 3 presentations and I took questions mid-stream in the meetings since things rolled on time. The buzz, energy, enthusiasm, and response to my ad-hoc humor was very high and I also did a short interview with a journalist from
http://ComputerWorld.ro after the presentation. FoxPro and Visual FoxPro is widely used in Romania. I talked to many Romanians on the train ride from Budapest to Bucharest, and even the non-programmers heard of FoxPro - everyone I talked to had. I sat with a group of 3rd year law students attending the university in Bucharest and one of them even learned FoxPro in school, and said he first saw "the Fox logo" 10 years ago when he was 12. I was told by Microsoft Romania that they thought the turnout was great for the event considering the fact that most computer programmers in the country are very busy these days and on call as they are migrating their ROL (30,000 Lei per $1US) to a new RON (3 per $1) removing 4 zeros from their currency values. The change is like a mini Y2K issue for software systems in the country and the change all takes place on July 1st which is only 4 days from the time I write this blog post. Banks and ATM cash machines in Romania will be closed for the first four business days after the currency transition. This reminds me when I was in Europe just 5 weeks or so before the Euro rollover a few years back.
In all the events mentioned above, the enthusiasm for the new features in VFP 9.0 as well as Microsoft plans for enhancing VFP over the next several years (Sedna) were very well received. Tomorrow morning I take a train from Bucharest Romania to Sofia Bulgaria. On the morning of June 29th in Sofia, I will be doing two morning presentations. One session on VFP 9.0 with VS 2005 and one on XML tools in VS 2005. This is a combined .NET and SQL Server developer days event in Sofia hosted by Microsoft Bulgaria and there are over 1000 developers expected to attend. When the final tally is counted, I will have spoken to about 2000 people at live events within 3 weeks spanning 5 countries which shatters any monthly statistics in my 13 years of public speaking experience. I will report here on my blog as soon as I can after the Sofia developer event.

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