My impressions from WWDC’13 and how I awakened in San Francisco

Posted on June 20, 2013 by Lukas under Conferences | 1 comment

San Francisco cityI know, the conference ended 5 days ago, I should’ve written about it way sooner. But there is so much to explore in SF! Anyway, better now than never, right? For those of you who hasn’t read any of my other posts here; I got lucky and won the WWDC Students Scholarship, so I had the opportunity to be at this year’s ‘DubDub’ (as cool guys call it). Here are some notes about what kind of experience it was for me.

The WWDC

I have been to just a few conferences before (mostly Czech ones), and one of the (many) things that made WWDC really stand out was the organization. These people really did a tremendous job, everything went fluently and there were no errors. Everyone of the staff knew exactly what to do and all the lining, dining and simply everything went smoothly.

Sessions

The sessions were great, I mean, you can’t compare them to the videos, because unlike in the videos, we actually got to see the presenters. The content was great, most of the talks I’ve been to were about iOS 7, which is fine, because it is a huge opportunity to start fresh, and push all the new technologies into my app from the very beginning (= now). Apple will definitely feature apps that works great with iOS 7 during the launch period, so that’s another reason why it’s smart to be there among the first guys with apps updated for this iOS release.

Labs

For those of you who don’t know, labs on WWDC are places where you can talk to a particular Apple engineer and ask them about your problem/inquiry. It’s an incredible opportunity to get your questions answered, from people who actually work on the frameworks / tools you use. I personally was to ‘Adapting your apps for iOS 7’, which was good, because the guy actually pointed me into right direction about how to fix a few things that are broken in my app under iOS 7, but also not so good, because he was a little bit disgusted by certain things in my code (ashamed face here :P). I also stopped by in the Core Data lab, to ask about my problem with child contexts not seeing the latest persisted managed objects and then crashing on accessing a property (firing a fault). The women engineer I talked to first really realized what my problem is, but she probably felt that she spent too much time with me already, so she sent me to another guy and told him to take me next (which was a little bit embarrassing, given the fact that there were another 4 people waiting for him). But anyway, he was the one who does concurrency in Core Data framework so the most relevant engineer I could talk to about this. He acknowledged that this is a bug in their framework, because it only doesn’t work on iOS 6. On both iOS 5 and iOS 7 it works flawlessly. We are settled on me filling a bug report and sending him an email with bug number (I should probably do that soon), so I am really happy that I was there. I spent a lot of time with this issue, and it’s good to see that it wasn’t due to my inability to come up with a working solution (always better when it’s someone else’s fault, isn’t it? :P).

All the developers around

This is probably my favorite part of WWDC – all the people. I talked to dozens of developers over the week (either the guys from our tour to Silicon Valley, or complete strangers that happened to sit next to me during lunch or one of the sessions.) It would make a long list to mention all of them here, but if you who are reading this are one of them – thank you! It was a pleasure.

Parties during the week

First, I have to say that I am not much of a ‘party guy’, so I wasn’t that eager to be everywhere. Also, all the WWDC content and sessions was quite demanding and I was still sleep deprived even on the first day, from my flight here and from all those short sleeps. On Tuesday, I was at the ‘Stump the experts’ event (it was good, but mostly for Apple veterans, because most of the stuff they talked about happened before I was born) and then at WWDC After dark. They promised pizza, but then it was a vegetarian something, so that was quite disappointing. On Wednesday, I was literally falling asleep during the last two sessions, so I decided that the best thing for me to do will be to get to bed early and be fresh for the following days, so that’s what I did. On Thursday evening, the Apple’s Bash was held. Obviously, I couldn’t miss this one, because it’s like the biggest event during the conference. The ‘Vampire Weekend’ band played there, but that wasn’t the most important part for me. Soon after I got there, I stumbled upon Eduardo, the mexican guy with whom I was on the tour to Silicon Valley. We spent our time there together, and he was also kind enough to bring me a bottle of beer (in America, they don’t allow people under 21 to drink alcohol, can you believe that?). We got to speak with a few developers during our stay here, most notably with Pawel Gieniec, software engineer at Zynga. I showed him my app and he liked it! Also, I asked him if there was any chance for me getting an internship in Zynga, and we settled on get in touch about that. Later (today, actually), I got a really nice email from Eduardo, saying this:

“Lukas, Thank you for your words, your app is really cool, I think for the next WWDC you might be probably living in SF.”

he is really successful developer (to add credibility to his statement), so this message really made me very happy! Thanks Eduardo, I will finish it soon, I promise!
On Friday evening, I was at the PocketGems party with two other guys from the Silicon Valley tour. I was reluctant at first (like I always am), but it turned out to be really cool and mind-opening experience. We talked with a bunch of interesting people, we saw a drunk russian girl that clung on a guy we talked with (I don’t think she was his girlfriend, but still, it was cute.), we played table football, some fighting game on emulator of an old system and another game on a playstation there. Eventually, the guys I came with dumped me when I was in the bathroom, so I ended here with complete strangers. I quietly joined a conversation about Final Fantasy; one of the guys couldn’t believe there are still people playing it (the game is some 10 years old). It was actually quite interesting. Then I got to talk with a guy in his mid thirties who lived already over half of his life in San Francisco. I have to mention there that he was really nice, and it’s almost unbelievable that vast majority of people I encountered so far during my stay here in San Francisco was like that. It’s really awesome, like if there was a huge amount of positive energy floating around, enough for everybody to get a chunk of it (of course, there are exceptions to this, but in general it’s true).

Overall impression

Really, the entire week was a blast, it all happened so fast that on Friday morning I was like “it’s Friday already? But it just started! :(“. I am incredibly happy that I had the opportunity to take part in this, it definitely pushed me a lot forward, and it was the ‘kick in the butt’ that I so desperately needed. I really hope that I’ll be able to get in next year!

A few updates on my stay in SF

I still haven’t left San Francisco. As I said in my first post about it, I am staying here for two weeks. Actually, I am leaving the day after tomorrow (that’s one of the reasons I am writing this post now, tired from all the sightseeing and walking around, because I know that if I wrote it after I leave, it wouldn’t be that authentic.). Over the last 5 days, I saw most of the popular sights here (Ferry Building, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate park with a visit to California Academy of Sciences, Haight-Ashbury, Alcatraz, crooked street on Lombard st. and more). One of the days, I rented a bike and ride all over San Francisco (to Golden Gate park, Coastal Trail, then over the Golden Gate Bridge and to the Old Mill Park in Mill Valley. I could write tons about all the things I saw and did, but I’ll rather focus on how I feel about this whole trip.

Spiritual awakening?

It was really an enlightening and mind-opening experience. I am incredibly happy to have the chance to be here, and to see all the things that I dreamt of seeing with my own eyes. On one hand, things got a little bit lonely from time to time, because I am here just by myself, but on the other hand, I could think about my life (past, current and future), try to make sense of things that happened or are happening, and how can I make it a little bit better. I think that this kind of thinking can only occur in situations like this, when one feels completely disconnected from the world he lived in so far, from all the people and all the places that he was stuck with (and in), all the unfortunate events and history that happened. I felt quite angry about some of these things, it’s like asking “why? I was just a little child!”. But I figured that the best thing I can do about it is to forget, to let go (easier said than done, unfortunately). And also, that I have to focus and be more grateful for all the good stuff. Simply not to let the bad things overshadow the good ones, because it’s easy to fall into this kind of thinking. On a different note, I have fresh ideas about how to push things forwards, how to finally create environment for myself where I will be able to focus on my work and won’t be distracted by anything or anyone, and more.. I am still confused about a lot of things, these kind of things that I’ll probably never make sense of, but even a slight progress and uncovering even a small portion of this “mysterious fog” is really great deal for me.
If I should say something about the city itself, it might sound a little bit like an exaggeration, but I think it’s the best place in the world – I fell in love with it! All these positively tuned people, the rush on the streets, the fresh sea air, the quiet and restful parks.. The list could go on and on, but you get the idea. I mean, I am looking forward to home, to my family and friends, but part of me wishes that I could just not go back. That I could make a fresh start here, forget what happened and leave everything behind. Maybe some day, I will.. :)

[Just a note: this post is uncorrected and in it’s rawest form. I plan to add photos and clean it up a little bit, but for now, it’s mostly to have it out here before I leave the city.]