So I did manage to go to NSSpain this year. Having missed it last year, I had vowed to go this year. But intentions don't always work out in the end, so it was a really last minute decision to actually go (props for my team at iCapps to deliver awesome results so that I actually could go - I am proud of you guys and girls!). Also, a very big thank you to Luis for helping me find a way to Logroño, which proved harder than expected (booking everything last minute doesn't help, of course).
I'm very happy to have actually attended. The suddenly changed circumstances before I left surely had an impact on my expierence. My thoughts and feelings were more at home than in Logroño, but I tried to make the best of it. Thought about "going back" several times, but I'm happy to have stayed. ;)
Now, enough with the emotionalism (is that even a word?), how was NSSpain?
It was so good. First of all, I really like Logroño. It's not the easiest city to travel to, but once you get there: it's a very nice and friendly city. And a cheap city, too. A three course lunch for 9 euros: try to beat that (of course, it's no haute cuisine, but the portions are usually more than big enough). Also, as capital of the Rioja province, they virtually give you a wine for free. And the wine is good, too. So, yeah, Logroño is a great place to stay. Nice atmosphere, and a clean and friendly city. You should visit it (maybe next year's NSSpain?)
The conference itself was very good too. The announced speakers and their topics were very appealing (the most part of why I actually wanted to go), and most of them delivered. It was a good combination of topics. Some were technical, some were about more human things and how we interact. I especially loved the session by Andrew Tarvin about progamming/humans/humour. It was fun and interesting at the same time (ain't we lucky!). Also, I liked the various sessions about testing and code quality (those by Graham Lee and Simone Civetta were particularly interesting to me). Mike Ash's talk was insanely technical (yay pointers in Swift) but so, so good. The talk about scale by Michele Titolo certainly resonated with me (not specifically for the users/hardware scale, but for part about the team scale). David Rönnqvist's Scenekit talk was insanely amazing on the visuals (best "slides" ever). He made SceneKit look so simple (and perhaps it is, certainly something to check out). And props to Matt Galloway for going on stage for the Swift Q/A, handling our barrage of questions. No real way to prepare other than having 5 years of Swift development experience. The other talks were equally as good mostly. The quality was very good all in all, but that was to be expected with this kind-of-stellar lineup. The only real dissappointing talk was the one by Sam Soffes. Maybe it were my expectations, not sure, but there was nothing to take away from this other that he loves
UICollectionView. A more specific, deeper dive into one feature would have been better, I think.
Apart from the content, the atmosphere was more relaxed than at other conferences. We hardly started on time, the schedule was interpreted loosy. Some arrangements were communicated "last minute". But that was quite okay. I was never bothered by it. Perhaps that's the Spanish influence on things.
Another part of conferences is meeting people. This is simple and hard at the same time, because it requires actual human interaction with human beings you don't know. Quite a feat for geeks like us. At NSSpain it was even harder than other conferences I've been to, because if the high number of Spanish natives. So connecting to them isn't that simple. Nevertheless, I met a lot of new people and caught up with a few others. I totally appreciated Daniel coming to thank me in person for buying a Hero ticket for Cmd-R Conf. It was fun to finally say hi to Orta in the flesh. He's as energetic in real life has he feels like on twitter. It was nice to see StuffMC, that jack of all trades. It was fun to talk with a few of the speakers (after all, they're humans too -- on the other hand, you need to find one way to make a connection). And, oh, I hadn't expected to meet fellow Belgians on this conf, but there were five of us. The pitfall of which is that you automatically get attracted to each other -- at least that what happens for me -- so mingling with strangers becomes more difficult. I don't avoid my fellow countrymen, but I intentionally go find new/other people too.
And oh yeah: I spoke at a conference. *cheers* I had previously expressed interest in doing a lightning talk but hadn't given it extra thought because I never got confirmation (I also didn't ask for it, so there's nobody to blame). But when Luis approached me the first day with "Will you do a lightning talk?" I was a bit dumbfounded at first, but said yes nevertheless. I thought I could think of something. And so I did. Lightning talks are only five minutes, so I dismissed "something technical". I felt 5 mins were too short convey something technical towards the audience. And since we use GIFs (a lot) in our communication at work, I decided to talk about that. And it wasn't bad it seems, since I got quite a bit positive feedback on it. And making the talk was a good way to get rid of some of the dark thoughts in my head. Afterwards I thought there was enough to say make this into a full 30 min talk, so I might just do that.
Also: there were a lot more people there than I had expected! I assumed it would be a pretty small conference, but there were 215 attendees present (up from about a hundred last year). They're going to cap at 200 next year, because you could feel this was slightly above capacity.