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The Scotch on the Rocks 2010 Experience

Scotch on the Rocks is over for another year, as usual the Fuzzy Orange team did a great job on a tight budget (although I suspect a fair amount of the budget went on the free bar!). Tickets this year started at just £58.75 for a 2 day conference which really is amazing value and I have no idea how they managed to put on an event of this scale with prices like that.

Day 1, saw some great speakers, I kicked off with Ben Nadel's "Mastering the CF Application Framework". The presentation was like sitting through one of Ben's blog posts! Ben's ability to really investigate an subject is excellent and he did a great job, especially as he was the opening presenter. There were several nuggets of information I learnt. 

Next up was Gert Franz on Railo. I'm really impressed with what the Railo guys are doing and some of the features planned are awesome, the clustering capabilities in particular grabbed my attention. Gert actually started the presentation wearing a bow tie, which was soon discarded!

At this point the free bar opened and I can't remember anything else... (only joking)

After lunch I went to Mike Brunt's presentation on "Measuring Performance Improvements in CF Apps With Effective N-Tier Caching". As it happens due to a Windows update which broke Mike's PC (every presenters nightmare!) he couldn't demonstrate how severs respond under load testing. It is a measure of Mike's amazing knowledge and experience that he was still able to give a great talk on building scalable solutions although he was unable to deliver the demo he'd planned.

The next presentation I went to was "the Art of Emotional Design: A Story of pleasure, joy and delight". Aral Balkan is a great presenter, in fact it was more of a performance than a talk and as you'd expect the slides were very slickly put together.

The final session of the day was Ray Camden on ColdFusion Builder. I've recently started using CF Builder as my main IDE so was keen to see what tips I could pick up. Ray mostly focused on how you would build extensions which was interesting and his tip about creating an extension to debug your extensions was a great idea which I'll definitely use if/when I get round to playing with building my own extensions.

A slightly chaotic Raffle and Awards Ceremony concluded the scheduled events for the day. I was really shocked to receive a Community Award - thanks to anyone who voted for me!

I was lucky enough to be invited to grab a bite to eat with Peter Bell, Luis Majano, Ben Nadel, Marcos Placona & Martin Jones at a nearby restaurant. The Railo team and Greg Franklin also joined us, unfortunately they had to sit on a separate table so I didn't get a chance to chat with them.

Day 2 kicked off with Luis Majano on ColdBox 3. ColdBox 3 is my framework of choice so I was really looking forward to seeing which features I wasn't aware of (as Coldbox 3 is not currently an official release); Luis didn't disappoint! The modules feature is something that grabbed my attention and also the CF Builder extension which I can see will really speed up development. 

After a short break I went to Ray's second presentation of SOTR which had something to do with Unicorns! This was actually more of a "birds of a feather" session on AJAX which Ray chaired rather than a full blown presentation. Hats off to Ray for trying this as it could've resulted with a room full of developers sat in silence, but Ray did a good job of prompting the conversations.

My next session was "HQL to SQL" by a newbie to the conference circuit, namely me! Considering the caliber of the other speakers I hope I did OK. Due to a short mic cable I ended up resorting to "shadow puppets" to point at the code I was talking about on the projector screen. The presentation did get a bit bogged down in the simpler examples, due to answering questions, so I ended up skipping a few examples of the more interesting HQL capabilities at the end which was a shame but hopefully everyone learnt something and didn't sit there wishing they'd gone to the other track. Any feedback is welcome :)

A lie down in a darkened room to recover was shortly followed by Mark Drew's talk about Railo's caching & clustering capabilities. Mark's presentation did involve a bit of "which desktop am I looking for", but he's such a good presenter that he delivered an interesting and entertaining talk which was a good addendum to Gert's Railo talk the previous day.

Peter Bell was up next. I've seen Peter present before and he always talks with enthusiasm and attention to detail. I've read up on the pomodoro technique in the past but it was interesting to hear Peter talking about it; he said that adopting the technique has made a bigger difference to his productivity than anything else - that's quite a recommendation! Peter also talked about learning keyboard shortcuts where possible (which is something I subscribe to), nut he took it one stage further by saying that if you haven't got a pre-defined shortcut, then get some macro software and create your own.

The final session of SOTR 2010 was Advanced ORM by Terry Ryan. I enjoyed this talk and thankfully Terry didn't contradict anything I'd said in my presentation! Whilst there weren't any code examples I thought he did a good job of talking about various advanced topics such as Inheritance transactions and even a bit of HQL.

Andy Allen the wrapped up the conference with a sneak preview of SOTR 2011 (which is amazingly organised!), which will be back in Edinburgh. Whilst I think the fuzzyorange guys have done a great job of putting on an event for the last 2 years in difficult economic times, it will be great to get back to a proper conference setting and Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities. 

I got to meet a lot of great people, some I knew from the blogsphere / twitterverse (wow - that sounds like marketer speak!) and some whom I didn't. There were a few people I've met online that I didn't get to catch up with which was a shame. I'd also like to mention Big Mad Kev, for his efforts in raising funds for Aaron West, although I didn't actually know why he demanded money off me for a badge until later!

So another great SOTR has ended, but we've already got the next one to look forward to :)


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