Thursday, June 09, 2011 at 10:22 PMby Mike Morton, Google Mac Team
Every June, Mike Morton travels to San Francisco for Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference so you don't have to. WWDC content is covered by a non-disclosure agreement, so Mike's observations focus on ambiance, human behavior, and the effects of sleep deprivation.
I thought I was smart when I asked for a room across the hall from one of my team members, so we could easily get together for breakfast. It didn’t feel so smart when he knocked on my door early this morning. When I stuck my head out the door, he apparently noticed that my hair was going in enough directions to inspire Stephen Hawking to new theories about the nature of space, and helpfully observed "Oh, I woke you up." I didn’t have the presence of mind to reply, "No, no, I had to get up to answer the door anyway."
A few of us headed to Moscone and found a line of people waiting to get in. I knew I shouldn’t have answered the door. But it wasn’t much of a wait, and we soon had caffeine and pastries and were heading for the first session of the morning. I hit four talks today, skipping a couple of slots in a struggle to keep up with work email. (I got down to under 100 messages, but it’s back up since then).
Queues continued inside Moscone, with thousands of people waiting for the most popular topics. At one point, I left a small room and walked halfway around the building to a large one, only to find and follow a line of engineers reaching right back to where I started. The veneer of civilization wore a little thin as some attendees snuck in exit doors to avoid the wait and get good seats, but Apple staff mostly stopped that. I watched one Apple staffer trying and mostly succeeding to keep us in line, and asked him whether it was more like herding cats or herding sheep. He didn’t hesitate in answering — “Sheep”.
During lunch, Michael Johnson from Pixar spoke to a huge audience about Pixar’s technology and people. I caught him last year, but he always works in new material. There may or may not have been sneak previews of future films, but the non-disclosure agreement probably means I shouldn’t go into detail. As always, his talk was a lot of fun, a nice break from the serious stuff. That serious stuff does weigh on some people after a while. In the last session, I heard snoring a few rows back.
I keep seeing old colleagues and friends I but don’t have enough time to talk. I also wind up confessing that I flat out can’t remember a few names, but nobody seems to mind.
I’ve written in past years about the value of labs, where you can talk one-on-one with Apple engineers for help with learning new areas or solving problems. Unlike past years, I didn’t come with many questions, but some people sure did. There were huge waits in some labs. Unfortunately for the Apple folks, they wear distinctive t-shirts, so I bet they get cornered in the halls by people who didn’t get to them in the labs.
Tomorrow is my last day at this conference. I’m heading home early Friday morning. We’ll see if I can balance talks, email, and socializing – and oh, yeah, that gym in the hotel.