CocoaConf San Jose wrap-up

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at CocoaConf San Jose. This was the 6th CocoaConf event I’ve attended, and I believe it was one of the best. Highlights for me included:

  • Matt Drance‘s opening keynote where he discussed the importance of people in our work: our customers (users), our co-workers, and ourselves. This is something that we as engineers can often lose sight of.
  • Jaimee Newberry‘s session on brainstorming. Jaimee is a fantastic speaker and always fun to watch, and there was plenty of info on how to manage and get the most out of brainstorming sessions, which I’d like to try on my next project.
  • Ben Lachman‘s session on prototyping, which covered a variety of tools and workflows and included a demo of the yet to be released Briefs 2 (which I plan on buying as soon as it is available. Seriously, just take my money already!).
  • Marcus Zarra‘s session on the MVC-N design pattern, which contained a strong admonition against relying on 3rd party code (especially networking code). This is going to change how I approach the next client project I manage. This talk alone made attending the conference worthwhile.
  • Daniel Pasco‘s session on the long road and various pitfalls encountered in transforming his company, Black Pixel, from a client-work company into a product company (Black Pixel makes the excellent Kaleidoscope 2 — you should buy it). Valuable lessons for anyone seeking to go indie.

I presented 2 talks of my own. Thursday evening I delivered a talk on UICollectionView. This was the 4th (and probably final) time I delivered this talk over the past 6 months. The sample app (which contains 5 different layouts and multiple examples of advanced customizations) is available on GitHub here, while the slides can be downloaded here.

photo pinch

Saturday morning I presented “Animation: From 0 to Awesome in 90 Minutes”, which is an animation talk that begins with some design principles of animation (drawn from Phil Letourneau’s portion of our joint animation session at Renaissance), proceeds to discuss UIKit and Core Animation (and the limitations of UIKit), then takes a close-up look at flipping and folding animations, and wraps up with some general graphical performance tips. This talk is sort of an evolution of both the Renaissance talk and my Enter The Matrix: Reloaded sessions from 2012, and yet is also its own thing. I debuted it last month at CocoaConf DC and this was its second iteration. The sample app is available on GitHub here, while the slides are available for download here. My favorite portion of the app is the touch-enabled timing curve widget that lets you create custom cubic bezier curves by dragging 2 control points (and shows you their values). I think that was also one of the big takeaways from the talk: that you can have an animation overshoot its endpoint and then snap back by simply applying the right timing curve to a basic animation with no need for multiple or keyframe animations.

Timing curve

This wraps up the CocoaConf Spring Tour and my own 3 conference “Spring Tour” as well. I plan to take the summer off from speaking and pick it up again in the Fall.

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Speaker kit

GearI thought I might list the gear I pack when presenting at conferences

  • 15″ retina MacBook Pro — my favorite Mac ever. Great for presenting, coding, and preparing slide decks
  • iPhone 5 (AT&T) — my constant companion. Tethering via Personal Hotspot usually beats hotel / conference WiFi every time. Also, I often run Presentation Clock on it while I’m speaking to help me budget my time (propped up by a Glif).
  • iPad mini with Verizon LTE — often my demo device. The non-retina screen actually makes for a better presentation device. Also an alternate tethering source for internet. Having both AT&T and Verizon as data options helps cover all the bases. Recently I’ve had luck running demos on the iPad mini while displaying via AirPlay and Reflector.app back onto my MacBook all driven by the iPad’s Personal Hotspot. This lets me avoid Xcode and the iOS Simulator during presentations.
  • Kensington wireless presenter (with extra lithium batteries) — rock solid and works great and means I’m not tied to my laptop or the podium.
  • 3 x 4 GB USB thumb drives — for distributing slides and sample code at the beginning of the talk (have I mentioned that conference WiFi is usually terrible?)
  • Mophie juice pack with charging cable — I could probably leave this at home, but it’s nice to have a backup and offering power is a great way to meet people.
  • 2 Lightning to USB cables — for charging phone and iPad simultaneously. Or for debugging (perhaps running Instruments on) an iOS device during a demo.
  • 2 x 12W USB Power Adapter — why would I cart these larger iPad chargers around when traveling? Well I figure you often only get a limited amount of time with an outlet, so you need to make that time count. For that reason I actually upgraded to the 12W adapters (the ones that come with the iPad 4) from the 10W adapters that accompanied the first 3 iPads, merely for the modest gain in charging time. Having 2 means I can charge the iPad and iPhone simultaneously or else the iPad and the Mophie (typically what I do overnight)
  • 1 x 5W USB Power Adaptor — so why bring this one at all? Well, I hate having to remember to swap devices between a limited number of chargers. This allows me to charge my iPhone plus the iPad and the Mophie overnight, so they all start each day fully charged.
  • 4 outlet portable power strip — great for many hotel rooms that often offer only a single outlet in any one place. This lets me plug in all 3 chargers plus charge my MacBook.
  • Lightning to VGA Adapter — in case I need to do VGA out directly from my iPhone or iPad. This is strictly a contingency plan. But also nice that you can do so while debugging or running Instruments via the integrated Lightning port (this used to be a feature limited to the HDMI adapter).
  • mini-displayPort to VGA adapter — for connecting my MacBook to the projector. Typically the conference always provides these but you should always carry your own.
  • MagSafe to MagSafe 2 Converter — in case the power adapter at the podium / presenter’s table is the original MagSafe. Lately though, conferences have been supplying both flavors!
  • Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter — this is really more of a WWDC thing, but you never know when you’ll need access to ethernet.
  • Lightning to 30-pin Adapter — I’m only carrying Lightning devices and cables, but this is just in case I need to charge from a 30-pin cable (perhaps when riding in a car; I haven’t upgraded my car chargers to Lightning since my wife is still on an iPhone 4S)

So that’s what I’m currently carrying to conferences. I enjoy the convenience of leaving my full-sized iPads at home and only having to bring Lightning-flavor accessories. What are you carrying to conferences?