Taking a quick break during my vacation on the Greek Island of Mykonos, here is part 2 of 2 for my central/eastern European speaking tour in June 2005...
Prague, Czech Republic
There is an update to the figures we announced during the Praha DevCon 2005 keynote after Igor Vit did some mining into registration data. Turns out that 60 people have been new to this year's event and 60 have been attending all 8 years (not 50 and 100 respectively as previously reported). I believe the original data was based on Igor's guess or memory, but we wanted to be accurate in the reporting. There was a closing Q&A session on Wed. June 23rd which I was not able to attend being in route to speak in Budapest on June 24th. It was reported that all went well for this year's event and DAQUAS (host and organizer of the event) said "with that feedback we promised we are ready to organize the event next year again.". I am fairly certain that Alan Griver is already packing his bags for Praha DevCon 2006 as he has never been to Prague and he really wants to attend this great VFP annual conference. It was great to see VFP MVPs Andy Kramek and Marcia Akins speaking there again along with all the other speakers and attendees that I've grown to know over the years by my attending 5 years in a row. The Praha DevCon events are held at the Czech Technical University. In case you missed it or did not read it all, the UT Praha 2005 conference report is a must read, plus browsing the archive photos.
The special VFP event in Budapest was held at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics organized and hosted by Sandor Nacsa and Istvan Kerese of Microsoft Hungary. The event was equipped with facilities for simultaneous translation which was used. It appears about half the audience used the translation headphones while the other half listened to my presentation in English. Budapest is certainly once of the nicest European cities and is getting better every year so I am told. It is very comparable to visiting Prague.
This special VFP event in Bucharest was held at the very nice and modern Howard-Johnson Hotel conference center organized and hosted by Dorin Badea and Zoli Herczeg of Microsoft Romania. The Romanian language is close to Italian and French and there are a lot of investments from companies from these European countries and others. One of the largest investors in Romania is Renault. There are many VFP developers in the central European and Balkans regions with many Romanians, Bulgarians, Turks, and Serbians who offer VFP development services. Visual FoxPro is extremely popular in Romania and is taught in many schools and universities. Everyone I talked to on the train ride to Bucharest, even non-programmers, and heard of FoxPro. One 21 year old Romanian law student said he first used FoxPro when he was about 12 years old in the early 90s.
Romanians have a great sense of humor, more than any European city I've ever visited. The county of Transylvania which includes Dracula's castle is in Romania. The story of Dracula in Hollywood does not follow the real legend of Dracula, so I included a slide bullet at the start of my presentation that received some big laughter: Hollywood needs new Dracula movie… Dude, where’s my castle? A special thanks to Romanian VFP developers Grigore Dolghin and Sergiu Cazan who helped promote the event and make my visit to Romania as productive and as fun as possible. These guys were also at the Praha event, so it was fun to see them at two events within one week.
On June 28th–29th Microsoft Bulgaria organized the annual Microsoft Days 2005 event for Developers and IT professionals held at the International Exhibition Center. This year a third track was added to the event dedicated to Microsoft's MBS product line (Navision, Axapta & CRM). My participation was organized by Plamen Hristov of Microsoft Bulgaria. English presentations were the norm. Why? There are neither books nor help documentation for any software in Bulgarian. All is in English. If someone wants to be a computer programmer in Bulgaria, they have to at least be able to read English, and most understand spoken English. Most of the programmer speak English too. English speakers just have to talk more slowly than normal just as when speaking in any non-native English speaking locations.
The Dev Days event in Sofia was visited by more than 1400 attendees divided in three tracks: Developers, IT Pros and MBS. The main focus of the event was Technical preview of SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 and the Launch of Bulgarian Navision 4.0. My sessions were on VFP 9.0 with VS 2005 and also XML tools in VS 2005, topics that I covered at all of the events in my tour. A special thanks to Venelina Jordanova and her husband Jordan for meeting me at the train station when I arrived in Sofia and all the tours, dinners, lunches, etc. outside of the event itself making my visit to Sofia one of the many highlights of my trip. Jordan actually surprised me and met me on the train at some stop in Bulgaria so we met for the first time and chatted for 3 hours or so heading into Sofia. And also thanks to another VFP developer in Bulgaria named Boris, as well as my new buddy Soykan Ozcelik who took a bus from Turkey to the event in Sofia and toured around Sofia with Jordan and I. Soykan is a Greek VFP developer who lives in Turkey. I need to find a way to get Soykan at the same event with some of the Romanian VFP developers to raise the fun and humor factor to 11.
Greece and trip summary
Part of my trip plans this year was to take 5 days vacation in Greece after my central/eastern European speaking tour. Here in Greece, the currency used is the Euro and when late in the day July 1st, the ratio to the U.S. dollar was $1.195 per Euro (via http://xe.com) which is down over 6% more in the past month since my blog post Currency conversions on the go, and down 13% since my previous visit to Europe last November.
During some of my recent travels I had a chance to watch several more Channel 9 videos on my Sony PSP, and loaded onto memory a few new ones for the long trip home to Seattle. Using the PSP Video 9 conversion program, I found a good setting to convert Channel 9 WMV video files to MPEG4 files for the Sony PSP. This setting converts to high quality video and audio MPEG files and are about the same file size as the WMV being converted, setting: Default Profile set to 320x240/29.97fps/QB4 Stereo/96kbps.
I listened to my UE-10 Ultimate Ears headphones for dozens of hours on my trip (music, movies, and videos) while traveling and doing computer work in various locations from hotel rooms to airports to train stations as well as on trains and airplanes. My review of the UE-10 Ultimate Ears was recently added to the Ultimate Ears reviews web page.
I've been exchanging email with a VFP developer named Dimitris who participates on the UniversalThread.com who lives in Athens. Dimitris was going to go to the Sofia event but had a conflict in his schedule and couldn't attend. I will probably be having a drink with Dimitris somewhere in Athens on Monday night, to add to the long list of VFP developers I've meet for the first time on this spectacular trip. While seeing sites and new places is certainly a great party of foreign travel, I would say over half the experience is meeting so many friendly and interesting people along the way (work related, other tourists, locals, etc.). Just waiting outside the hotel this afternoon waiting for the bus to stop to head into downtown Mykonos, people riding by on motor bikes would smile and wave. This is the type friendliness I've experienced over the past 2 weeks of my trip.
This has certainly been the most interesting, educational, and insightful trip of mine to date from a social and historic perspective. My tour had me in 10 countries within 12 days. Including all the stops and visits on my trip between June 18th and June 30th, I was in the U.S., Denmark, U.K., Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece. I will probably spent some vacation time in Italy after my European tour this fall. Later this year I will be speaking at the following events: