Saturday 8 June 2013

Scotch on the Rocks: recap

I didn't do a daily update of SotR like I did at cf.Objective(), instead sending Twitter updates in "real time" as things occurred to me. So if you want to know my general thoughts of the sessions I attended, have a look through my Twitter history. I was a bit haphazard as to whether I had space to include a #sotr13 tag, but they should be easy to spot amongst the rugby / cricket / environmentalism (Rob Glover, I'm looking at you ;-) chatter. In summary of those later three: NZ lost the cricket (although won the series), won the rugby, and I withdrew (mostly in despair) from the environmentalism discussion.

What thoughts was I left with for Scotch on the Rocks? In no particular order:


This is not a competition between cf.Objective() and SotR, but the former won this competition hands down. It seems unnatural to me that an American chain hotel has a vastly superior beer selection to a UK one, but it certainly did. The Hilton only had mass-produced muck, most of which I was unprepared to drink, other than the Guinness (which is mass produced, but not muck). Although I was not in much of a Guinness mood, so other than on the first night, I really didn't drink much (four pints on each of Thurs and Fri night: that's "getting started" for me, rather than "drinking").  Here's a further indictment: I'm finally at the airport where there's a Wetherspoon's, and I'm finding the beer vastly superior there (actually despite its reputation for being a shitty pub chain, they do take care with their beer, so this is no real surprise). Obviously I coulda gone to one of the pubs in the vicinity, but it's difficult to get other people to move at these things, so I tend to stick with the zeitgeist.

Friends & Colleagues

It was great to sit down with a few of the CF community people I know from various conferences and only get to see at these events. Specifically Ray, Rob and Pere; but everyone else as well. What's even better is a lot of the time we touch on CFML and other technology, but spend more time talking about more interesting things like that, like what we do with our lives other than that sort of nonsense, and compare and contrast our regional / national cultures and habits. Which, let's face it, is more interesting than CF, eh?

I also got to meet a bunch of new people who I know to varying degress via the community, but haven't ever shaken hands or bought one another a pint or whatever. I did find I started a lot of conversations with people that I meant to continue, but happened to be between points A and B at the time, so needed to continue, and never managed to reconvene for a decent conversation. Oh well: next conference, I guess. And sorry 'bout that.

Not that I'm a stranger to having too many pints with the fellas from work, but it was a different sort of scene from usual, so it was good hanging out with them too. And I suspect we'll be sitting down in the office on Monday to discuss what we might try  to put into action, having had some good ideas seeded in our minds after a few of the presentations we've been to.


The presentations were uniformly excellent (with one exception... I'll get to that). I was particularly pleased with the following ones, all of which I took good, useful, soon-to-be-put-into-action knowledge:
That said - and I'm not just saying this to be nice (this is me after all) - all the presentations I went to were good. These are just the ones that particularly grabbed me.

One other mention... I am never going to be able to say "cucumber" again without thinking of Enrique, and his way of saying it: cooCOOMbray. I love it!


An increasingly ubiquitous contrast between Railo and Adobe is that Railo present themselves as "hey, we listened to you and here's the new stuff you asked for", and Adobe's increasingly embarrassing and disconnected approach of "hey, you need to listen to us so we can tell you what you actually want", and simply ignoring the resounding "yeah, we so don't want that" from the community. And I'm also tired of getting a sales pitch from them at a technical conference (they did this at both cf.Objective() and SotR). That said, I want to stress that I am only referring to the key note presentation, and not Ray's non-CF presentations (which I didn't see, but the people I know who did see them said they were excellent, which is what we'd expect from Ray), nor Elishia's developer-centric, technically-focused WebSockets one, which I got a lot out of, as did the fellas from work I was sitting with.

The Hilton

I've added this bit in after I published the rest of the article, based on the comments between Andy and meself, below.

I thought the venue was pretty good. Haymarket is convenient to the rest of downtown Edinburgh, whilst not right in the middle of things. And as Andy says, there were decent pubs and fooderies in the immediate vicinity, and Princes St etc was only a 10min walk. I didn't stay onsite at the Hilton (we went cheap at the Travel Lodge around the corner), and despite knowing that - because I told them - the staff still treated me like a guest and accommodated my whim when asked. The chief one of these being switching the telly on on Saturday morning so I could walk in off the street and watch the All Blacks v France rugby test.

I chatted with a few of the staff, and they were all actively friendly, rather than having that veneer of friendliness chain-hotel-staff often have. But that's Scotland for you I think: they're a friendly bunch. I was chuffed that one of the blokes in the restaurant remembered my mate Alex's little boy's name - Sammy - and said "Hello Sammy, how are you?" every time he saw him. That was a nice touch.

I dunno who is responsible for the quality of the set-up in the rooms: the SotR people or the Hilton people, but they were all very well appointed, and all the presentations went without a hitch.

The Conference

I did not realise until Kev pointed it out to me that SotR is not positioning itself as a CFML conference any more, it's a general web technologies one. On one hand this is disappointing because I'm sure this is down to it just not being sustainable as a purely (or even mainly ~) CFML conference, but on the other hand... and out the other side of it now... I'm actually really pleased by this. Obviously because of its CFML-centric roots, the attendees are mostly from the CFML community still (as far as I can tell), and the presentations are aimed at us, and at broadening our horizons into other relevant tech. And it's excellent to see how much can be done with Javascript these days, how Ruby does stuff differently, and what interesting productivity / development / team-dynamic processes are out there. One question came up as to whether it's too light on CF content, and also too light on non-expert CFML people in attendence. I think there's something to this, and perhaps having a non-expert track in CFML might be something that could be useful to encourage the CFML community? And perhaps something Adobe and Railo can focus their sponsorship on? This would be a god thing, yeah?

That said, I would recommend every web technologist have a look at what SotR 2014 will offer, and come along. I'll definitely be there. Scotch on the Rocks 2013 was a great gig.

Cheers to Andy and all the rest of the bods that made this happen.

And cheers to everyone I spoke to, shared a pint with, and/or chewed the ears off with my daft blather. See y'all next year eh? Or sooner if practical... I know I'll be hitting Darren up for a pint next time there's some rugby to watch.

Right... I need to weigh up whether I have time for a second pint before finding my aircraft...