MacTech Conference 2012 In Retrospect

I love going to conferences. MacTech Conference this year is a great example of why. The conference organizers and staff did a superb job, the attendees were top notch and the weather was just right. But it was the same last year in all three regards. What I felt really made MacTech special this year was the Disney pixie dust magic coming together with all of that. And I was only there for a day, regrettably…

The talent level at these events continues to be top notch. As Jeff, Nigel, Peter, Gary, now Zack and others have moved on to other platforms and other roles I have continually wondered whether the Mac community would stay as vibrant and talented. But what I forget is that there are more and more people joining us every year as well as tons that have been there all along and just not been as attention-deprived as those of us who tend to write a lot.

The talent has shifted, for sure. Once upon a time the OS X community offered an upgrade. Get good at the client and then the server. Now, it’s become more about get good at the client and then get really good at the client. This ends up involving getting good at automating things, scripting, 3rd party management tools such as JAMF and even going beyond scripting and writing things that we feel the OS should have. Ed Eigerman, from Google, with the first talk of the IT track really drove this home with an excellently thought out jab at the lack of Apple Remote Desktop development.

While the talent has shifted, the community has continued to get stronger. This is no more evident than when you get to see Rich Trouton, Derick Okihara, Armin Briegel, Aaron Freimark, Nathan Toups and others in one day. I’m sure I’d throw a lot of other names in that list, but either a) I have more to say about them later or b) I didn’t actually see them the day I was there.

I hope that I can continue to in some way help to grow and shape the community. Allister Banks, who practiced his talk the night before delivering it, has been a great addition to my team at 318. While his contributions to the community are his own, I’m glad that I’m able to give him the freedom to work on community projects and speak at conferences with company time (as well as what seems like plenty of his own time). I have also brought in a few more people recently that I hope will continue to contribute plenty to this community that has given me so much (and I will likely be hiring more soon if you’re interested!). But Allister deserves praise for a great presentation, assuming it went as well in front of the MacTech audience as it did for me.

Now, there is already a ton of hero-worship for Greg Neagle in the OS X sysadmin community. But I’ve never really jumped on that bandwagon. So let me just tell you how I feel about that… It is obviously completely deserved. I could go on and on about his code and his website and his public speaking and even that book he did. But you probably know about all of that already. What impresses me the most is how much he loves where he works: Disney. The way he puts Disney movies into his presentations, the way he talks about the creatives he enables, he’s a Disney man through and through. And from others I know within Disney he’s as highly regarded as they come both at work and in the community. The ability to take that love for your employer and fuse it with the love for the community has a lot to do with the night he was able to help put together for the MacTech community. He is responsible for a lot of the good things that happen inside the Mac community and it is great to see the appreciation that community has for him!

Speaking of Greg’s book, Ed Marczak (who wrote it with him) was wearing a tie. He ran dozens of miles around the valley while managing to do a little of his day job and a lot of cat herding of the speakers delivering the presentations he pretty much selected and coached. He called me while I was still developing the idea for mine, checked in before the conference and then while we were there carved out a little time to talk to me. After doing that with everyone, I’m not sure how he managed to have any fun at all. But his hard work has a lot to do with the quality of the presentations and the direction of the IT portion of the MacTech conference. Ed is in every way a class act and someone I hold in the highest regard. AND he was able to pull off a tie with as busy as he was!

And then there’s Neil Ticktin. Neil is a speaker, but not on the speaker list. Namely due to the fact that he puts on the conference. When WWDC didn’t have an IT track any more, a lot of people were complainy complainersons. Neil responded not with cluttering my inbox with countless gripes to message lists. Instead he took his position as the publisher of MacTech Magazine. And now it’s a national traveling show for consultants and in depth as well as a national conference showing off the best and the brightest. Neil (and his team) worked hard to put MacTech Conference together and  their contributions to the Apple community are something to be proud of.

With MacTech, MacWorld/MacIT, MacSysAdmin, Penn State MacAdmins and others one could spend all of their time just preparing for and attending conferences. With JAMF Nation User Conference this week, the conference season is basically coming to a close. I wish I could have spent more time with everyone and hope that I am able take part again soon. You all give me such hope for the future of the community and the platform, and I thank you for that and for the friendship you’ve provided me over the years.

I really wish I could have stayed up there all 3 days. Thanks to everyone I spoke with for the time you took to hang out. And for those I didn’t get a chance to see, I look forward to hearing about how you’re doing next time our paths cross! Now, let’s go ahead and book our flights early for MacTech 2013: Nov 6-8, 2013.

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