A Rogues' Gallery of FileMaker Developer Conference Attendees
by Brian Dunning
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Every year, FileMaker Inc., like many major software companies,
has its annual Developer Conference. You may have attended in
years past, or this year may be your first. If so, I've put together
this guide to help you get to know some of the friendly faces you're
likely to meet this year. Coincidentally, they are the same friendly
faces you're likely to meet at any other software or technology
conference. They are the universal icons of the conference phenomenon.
Corporate Line Puller - He's young, handsome, smart and
articulate, and the only subject he knows is his product.
Everything reminds him of it. The thought of his product
delights and invigorates him. He hasn't heard any of your
references to bugs or complaints about his product, but he'll
take them under advisement and mention a few great new features
in the current release. Often a keynote speaker and headline
session presenter, he is the darling of the corporate overlords.
Since he knows the product better than they do, they, and
the conference as a whole, are heavily dependent upon him.
Most people want to punch him in the face, so don't feel
like you're all alone.
Let's-Talk-Business Guy - This is the guy who will follow
you around most of the week, convinced that there's some
synergy between your company and his. He'll sit next to you
in all the sessions, and constantly whisper how "that's
something we can really use!" in his proposed
collaboration. He'll set up meetings with people you don't
care about. He'll wave you over when he's on a cell phone
call to talk with his prospects. He'll introduce you as his
partner. You'll want to kill him sometime by the middle of
the third day. Beware of his requests to borrow money.
Drunk Conventioneer - This guy may or may not be left
over from the conference that was here the previous week.
Most of his friends are people he sees once a year at the
Developer Conference. He has been known to upgrade his room
to a suite and tend bar the entire week. Most of the stories
told in later years will be connected with him somehow. He
is a central figure in any incidents that involve hotel security,
police, or angry residents from the vacation cottages. Like
the jock who peaked in high school, the Drunk Conventioneer
peaks once a year in August.
Hot Sales Girl - This poor woman is plagued 24 hours
a day by guys with "sales questions" or "issues
they want to raise" or - anything. Can she make an onsite
sales call next week? Wrong territory? Well, I'll be in your
town next month - maybe we could get together. For the Hot
Sales Girl, the week of the conference would be a good time
to schedule that root canal, or maternity leave, or anything
that could get her out of it. Recognize her by the V formation
of developers following her around.
Nerdy Foreign Guy - He's quiet, friendly, unassuming,
and doesn't know anybody else in the country so he needs
you to be his friend. He engages you in long conversations
in broken English, and you're never quite sure what the subject
is, or what he wants from you. It's not quite clear what
country he's from. He's got some products that you may be
interested in, but none of the documentation is in English
yet. At night on the patio, Nerdy Foreign Guy can always
be found at one of the tables with others of his ilk - usually
separated from everyone else by an empty table or two.
Famous Geek - Tickets for his rockstar sessions are scalped
outside the conference at high prices. The Famous Geek is
a major draw, both among fellow geeks who worship him, and
among regular attendees who have heard his name so often
that they have to see what all the fuss is about. Generally
his pants don't fit very well but he's always entertaining.
He's often hard to find at the conference when he's not on
stage; no doubt hiding from all the autograph hounds.
Serious IT Guy - He wants nothing to do with your toy
Macintosh or Linux machine. He's a Microsoft certified engineer
all the way, and he'll stand for no tomfoolery. If you're
experiencing any kind of a problem or you have a question,
it's your fault for not following strict Microsoft security
guidelines, and published Best Practices. Since nobody actually
does all of those things, nothing is ever his fault. Despite
his permanent Get Out of Jail Free card, the Serious IT Guy
never seems to be very happy. Maybe it's because he secretly
yearns to be like Drunk Conventioneer Guy.
Grand Old Dame of Data - For years she has been a fixture
in the community. Everyone has read her books and articles,
taken her training classes, and hired her at some point over
the past decade. You'd think she'd have made a ton of money
over the years, but still she's never gotten around to getting
a half decent web site built. Or hiring a decorator for her
office. Or getting herself fixed up at the salon, or buying
new clothes. Probably what you see is just a front: when
out of her customers' eyes, she drives a BMW and lives in
a classy neighborhood where she's quite the playgirl.
Educational / Government / Non-Profit Attendee - At first
she is heavily courted by all the developers and consultants,
at least until they hear the words "educational", "government",
or "non-profit". At that point they scurry away
like roaches when the light comes on. The corporate salespeople
love her, however, since she always buys about ten thousand
volume licenses. She received her conference registration
through a lengthy three year process that involved numerous
purchase orders, vouchers, budget reviews, administrative
approvals, and check requests.
Hot Hotel Employee - Though technically not a conference
attendee, the Hot Hotel Employee always manages to have a
dramatic and lasting effect, and stories are told for many
moons to come. You can overhear guys talking about what days
she works and what her hours are. She gets to listen to the
same tongue-in-cheek pickup lines from the same dorks night
after night. She doesn't mind this one bit. When you count
up her tip income for the week, she's made more money than
anyone else at the entire conference.