DevMob holiday for intel employees (and friends)

I am just back from DevMob 2010 that was held at the Science Museum in London. Here are some of my impressions. The first thing that you noticed when you looked the conference up on the net was this quote
London 'unconference' giving developers interested in portable devices the opportunity to discuss their issues and find solutions
Reading this now makes me chuckle as it really was an 'unconference'. But more about this later. On my free day I decided to attend this as I am currently looking into developing on mobile platforms and I have already heard many talks on the topic. There was also a competition I wanted to attend with an EeePC as a price. Arriving at the venue the first thing you noticed was the money they must have spent on the location, it was really nice. An old library room with a lot of books and all very posh. Another thing that was astonishing for a free conference was that there was coffee and little pastries up for grabs being served by a friendly well dressed young woman. After sitting around and waiting for a little wile (conference should have started at 10) we finally all gathered and started writing the schedule. You don't have to imagine this like being a Barcamp sort of style get together. No there were fixed talks that where allocated at certain times but it was made out to be a group effort. This is when I noticed that there where actually more "official" people with Intel badges then "real" guests, which seamed a little odd. Then we disbursed for the talks. I listened to the first talk about Moblin (the Intel Linux platform) which was sort of nice but the lecturer didn't seam to know what he was talking about and repeatedly asked a lady in the audience that didn't seam very interested in what was happening. At the beginning I started talking to a guy and now it was his turn. Instead of talking about something useful he used the time to describe a graph he had come up with and asked us what we would improve. He is a professional blogger so I wonder if he will cite all the ideas we gave him. He tried to save the talk by bringing loads of gadgets that you could play around with at the end, but at that time I was already considering going home (which some of my friends did). But no, I stayed. Why you might ask, bear with me there was an EeePC. Lunch was calling and again they had a really nice buffet with sandwiches and a lot of nice food. (Cost ?) After that I participated in a discussion on optimization and then on how Intel is planing to sell applications through their store. More people started arriving and I talked to some students that had also come from UCL. Now comes the main point that makes this day an absolute waste of my time and that gives me the impression that this was all a charade. On the invitation it said that
There are still plenty of opportunities to walk away with prizes and goodies, including the chance to win a netbook, courtesy of our sponsor Asus. Remember to bring along your ideas for the perfect netbook app – pitch to the panel and if they think your idea is the best, a netbook is yours to take home
I had an idea and I wanted to pitch it to the panel. So did 4 of my student friends. We spent quite some time talking about our ideas and discussing them. I repeatedly asked people from the organization about this but never got a clear response. As I had prepared something I wanted to talk about it and at least get a fair chance. This was actually the main reason we stayed. But little did I know that the Intel bribery machine was in full swing. At some point we were asked to "register" our topics for this panel. I was the first to put down my name and the area I wanted to discuss. After some time we were all asked to assemble in the main room so we could hear about who had won the competition. I didn't quite understand what was going on but went along. Asking the guy in charge I was informed that the panel had met and that they will not listen to our ideas and that they had made a decision. It became apparent that this was just a big show and that the winner was a guy that was talking to one of the speaker (who was chair of the panel) all day. Remember we where initially told to register our topic on a flip chart, this was then apparently used to evaluate our idea. This can only be described as bribery. Students where tricked into attending and putting forward ideas so that Intel could cover up inviting bloggers to London on their expenses and so get good publicity for Moblin. I am sorry Intel spent so much money for a expensive, disorganized event that this is the only conclusion I can come up with. Talking to some friends on the way home we all agreed that we should have stayed at home and spent our time doing the assignment that is due soon.

P.S. There is another contest :
Win an ASUS EeePC by blogging about DevMob!
Ahh wait. I talked to three professional mobile bloggers that where enjoying the nice expensive food from Intel. Guess who will get another EeePC. You got it, one of the bloggers that will write a friendly nice article about this event and might even mention Moblin.

A friend that joined me said he was a little ashamed that UCL was promoting something like this. I will mention it at the next management meeting. I have further left out names on purpose but feel free to talk to me for more information.

I got an email from the organizers, so maybe my rant did change something:
Hi Didi,

Thanks for the blog and your feedback.

I'm sorry that you and your colleagues didn't enjoy the event so much but it's really good to have precise feedback so we can improve future events.

Due to time constraints, unfortunately we weren't able to run the app competition as we wanted to. I know people were disappointed about this, so we will be running a follow-up competition for anyone who wants to submit their application idea. I'll be emailing attendees about this shortly.

A couple of things to mention: the only Intel people there were Stephen Blair-Chappell (talked about optimisation and tuning), Costas and Sulamita (the two who talked about Moblin) and two in an organisational capacity. The rest of the blue badges were other event sponsors, those who had offered in advance to host a session and the event co-ordinators (non-Intel).

Also, a note on the blogging competition - pro-bloggers and journalists are ineligible, so no worries about them winning the prize.

I'll be sending around a feedback form soon and it would be great to hear any further thoughts you have on the event.
I removed the senders name and footer

1 comment:

Beatriz said...

I attended the DevMob and really enjoyed it.. but it was my first seminar outside my home country (So I am new at this). After reading this blog I did notice that it was all intel driven like to advertise their products and not really about mobile development in general.. right? And maybe they really wanted some ideas from us .. I attended a really enjoyable talk with Yann about how to become a master programmer. But I did really think it was unfair that with a line of an idea they judged the competition specially when some people were ready to explain their ideas I mean that is always very important!!