CFUnited 2006, Day 2

Two days wrapped up and just one left. Thoughts on the proceedings of day 2:

  • An excellent session by John Paul Ashenfelter on testing CF applications, in particular, but more generally on testing. A couple of good pointers to tools we should investigate, of which Selenium seems the most exciting to me.
  • A pretty good session on Web application security by Adam Wayne Lehman, based on the OWASP Top 10 list. Not a great deal of information that we didn’t already know but a couple of good pointers.
  • Skipped the Microsoft “Atlas” presentation, because I just don’t care.
  • So-so session on Subversion after lunch. If it weren’t for a couple of nuggets (a pointer to Subclipse and a mention of SVN’s “export” function to generate a clean copy of a repository’s contents without all of the annoying .svn folders), I wouldn’t even call this a so-so session primarily because the presenter really is not a very good presenter.
  • OK session by the NewAtlanta folks on the different versions of their BlueDragon engine. Two good things there: a clarification of the license agreement on their free version by Vince that it can be used for development in any environment, regardless of what is being developed (even commercial sites), and I won an iPod Nano.
  • Very good session by Simeon Bateman on CFEclipse, highlighted by showing off some of the goodies in the beta of version 1.3 (which only works on Eclipse 3.2 which is not yet out). Once again, I think we need to spend some time looking at Eclipse as the basic platform for our development. If only it supported columnar selections like jEdit.

Deb and Ian spent some time on the Mall, and made it to the Lincoln Memorial — Ian was pretty impressed. A couple of the Smithsonian’s museums were closed again (American history and natural history), but they are going to try again today. They also spent some time at the Segway store — Ian couldn’t stop grinning as he described zipping around the store (and Deb thought they were pretty cool, too).

Dinner was definitely the highlight of the day (topping even the iPod for me): Cynthia invited us out to her folks’ house in southern Maryland for a crab-feed. She met us at the Branch Avenue end of the Green line and we feasted on a bushel of Maryland blue crabs, fresh corn on the cob, Yuengling Black and Tan, and two kinds of homemade cake made respectively by Cynthia’s mom and by an Amish neighbor. Unbelievable! Thank you, Mike, Gretchen, and Cynthia! It made for a late night — back at the hotel by about 12:15 after an interesting train ride back to the hotel. Let’s just go on record here in saying that some really interesting people ride the Metro at night.

CFUnited 2006, Day 1

Thoughts after the first day of the conference:

  • Ben Forta’s keynote on what’s coming in the next version of CFMX — other than some interesting integration with Breeze and PDF files, not much of interest there. Looks like the MAX conference in Las Vegas will have some CF-specific sessions.
  • Disappointingly shallow session on recursion in CF. Not a good way to start a conference, particularly given that this was in the “advanced developer” track.
  • Good session on Section 508 by Adam Wayne Lehman.
  • Steve Rittler was his usual entertaining self in presenting a session on the FarCry 3.0 CMS.
  • Very good session by Jeff Peters of grokfusebox on how FuseBox and FLiP support project management. Better get started writing all of those fusedocs that we have been ignoring, and better re-read the sections of the FuseBox book that deal more with FLiP.
  • Excellent session by John Paul Ashenfelter on agile development with CF; actually more on agile development than anything on CF. Very good.
  • Why is it warm, sunny, and not unbearably muggy outside today? 4+ days of at-times torrential rain ahead of the conference when we wanted to be outside, and as soon as the conference starts, the weather gets good…
  • Doesn’t seem to be as many exhibitors on the floor this year, although they say the attendee number is up slightly from last year. Some interesting conversations with a couple of the vendors, particularly one with a group that is offering CF administration training.
  • Weird seeing the Adobe logo everywhere. It just isn’t the same.
  • Scored a geek t-shirt for my buddy Blaine back in Idaho Falls.

Dinner: excellent Indian from a place called Haandi in Bethesda, and we were joined by Jeff and Michalene (but only after I promised Jeff that we weren’t going to spend 30 minutes each direction on the Metro and that dinner wasn’t going to be a 3-hour affair). I had forgotten about how many little restaurants there are in that part of Bethesda and it was wonderful to be able to wander around outside in the evening without having to worry about drowning in the rain.

Really Wet Vacationing

OK, I finally bought an umbrella. That, of course, will almost certainly guarentee that the rains here in DC will abate, but if that’s what it takes, it was more than worth the cost of the umbrella. After spending the past two days alternately freezing in air-conditioned buildings because we were damp, or changing out of soaking wet clothes, I figured it was more than time to buy one…

Deb in the gardens outside the Smithsonian CastleThe rains have closed several of the things we had hoped to see (e.g., the National Archives, the National Zoo), but we have still gotten to most of the sites: the spy museum, the Apple store in Pentagon City, some (but not all) of the Mall, including the Washington Monument (I zipped down early yesterday to score tickets), the Jefferson Memorial, the gardens outside the Smithsonian Castle, and the World War II memorial. Saw the White House from outside the fence, and we had arranged for a Capital tour (which was cooler than I thought it might be). We did get to sit in on part of the debate on the proposed Constitutional ammendment on protecting the flag in the Senate chambers as part of that tour — thanks, Natalie! I really have been taking pictures, and will get some of them posted.

Jeff was not up for joining us for dinner last night, having endured the Metro at rush hour from Reagan out to the hotel, but Deb, Ian, and I enjoyed a great Greek dinner at Mykonos Grill about 4 blocks from the Twinbrook stop on the Metro’s red line: saganaki, roast leg of lamb, mousaka, dolmos, spanakopita, followed by rice pudding and galaktabourika (I probably butchered the spelling on that one, but its a custard wrapped in philo and covered in a honey sauce) with Greek coffee.

The CFUnited conference starts today, so I am probably done sightseeing for this trip (or close, anyway). The one thing that I am bummed about missing is the National Archives. And getting to see the Lincoln Memorial with Deb and Ian — that is my favorite of all of the memorials. OK, I know that’s two things. Deb and Ian are headed for the zoo this morning and maybe just some down time to let stuff dry out (at this point, I don’t think any of us have a dry pair of shoes with us) and to let tired legs recover from all of the walking and standing of the past couple days.

More (Wet) Vacationing

When it rains back here on the East coast of the US, it really rains! (Consider, of course, that this is coming from someone who lives where the average annual precipitation is somewhere around 10 inches each year.) After looking at the weather forecast the past couple of days for the DC area, we had pretty much decided that we would spend Sunday doing inside-kinds of things. And the forecast was correct: although it wasn’t raining when Deb and I walked over to get breakfast from a deli close to our hotel, it was raining by the time we headed back — and we were pretty damp by the time we had walked the intervening block.

It rained off and on again all day, and then really let loose with a prolonged downpour while we were eating dinner. We waited most of that one out in the restaurant, and then dashed back to the hotel during what turned out to be the only lull in the rain, thunder, and lightening for a couple hours.

The Smithsonian's National Air and Space MuseumWe were pleasantly surprised when we got off the Metro down by the Mall and found that our walk to the Mall was without rain. We spent the morning at the Smithsonian’s incredible National Air and Space Museum (photos coming soon). Ian and I had a blast in the flight simulator, and we really liked the planetarium’s “Infinity Express” show.

When we left the museum around 2pm to walk up to the Holocaust museum, it was only sprinkling, so our walk past the Smithsonian Castle and its incredible gardens was very pleasant (although we didn’t dally much, as we had 2:30pm tickets for the Holocaust museum’s permanent display).

The Holocaust museum is incredible, if overwhelming. It has to rank near the top of any list of museum exhibits in both the breadth and depth of the story that it tells. We left almost speechless, and all wondering why no one did anything to stop it, particularly when there is now evidence that several countries knew what was going on and when various groups were lobbying at least the US government to bomb the concentration camps to end the purging. And why were the various countries so reluctant to open their doors to the Jewish refugees that were attempting to flee the area? But then I stopped to think about whether things are any different now: our governments pick and choose where they wish to get involved and those decisions are not always based on what we as individual citizens wish they would consider important. And I look at the closed-door mindset of my own country right now, and I am saddened that I believe it would be much the same today.

Breakfast: an egg, bacon, and cheese bagel from Ize’s, right around the corner — I was yet again reminded that there is really no comparison between those things you get in a plastic bag in a grocery store in Idaho and a fresh bagel from a real bagelry. Bonus: I got their trivia question correct and we won two free bagels!

Dinner: lamb kabobs and a gyro from the Mediterranean place right next door to the hotel and in the same block as Ize’s. Jeff and I found this place last year — still very good!


Ian on the Metro platformWe’re in Washington, DC, this week — in part for the CFUnited conference during the second half of the week, and in part just for some time together as a family (time which has been tough to find recently). Ian has never been to DC before, Deb and I spent a day back here when my younger brother graduated from college, and I have been back here several times over the past 6 years or so with work-related travel. This, however, is our first trip back here together and with time to just do what we want.

I love Washington, DC — at least as a place to visit. Good public transportation, a buzzillion things to do and see, lots of decent places to eat, and I have been here often enough that I know my way around (pretty much — at least enough not to get lost on the Metro). I am looking forward to sharing some of that with Deb and Ian this week. We are actually staying out in Rockville at the hotel that is hosting the CFUnited conference, so we will get to spend a bit of time on the Metro getting to and from wherever we go and watching people.

The weather today is supposed to be pretty lousy, so we are headed for some of the Smithsonian’s museums and we have tickets to the Holocaust museum for this afternoon.

Part of my enjoyment of travelling is food — Jeff always gives me a bad time about how much I love food. And it’s true — food is a wonderful thing, and I love trying new and different things. And food can be (and should be) a social experience. Dinner, for instance, last night more than made up for the lack of anything resembling food on the flight from way out West to DC: a deep dish three cheese pizza at Armand’s Pizzeria and Grill in Rockville, and a Sam Adams. Simple and good.