Shareware Beach

Thursday, 8 November 2007

European Software Conference 2007

Filed under: Conferences — Jan @ 21:13

Last weekend I attended the 7th European Shareware Software Conference. The 2007 edition was held in Cologne, Germany, where it all started in 2001. The last conference I attended was the ESWC 2005 two years ago. It was good to be back and meet my old friends and acquaintances in the industry.

Attendance was at a record high with 207 registrations. At the end of the conference, less than a dozen badges were left unclaimed. The conference sessions were very informative, with scantly any self-promotion and only a little bit of warmed-over content from previous years.

During one session on the role of the Internet, somebody in the audience raised the question on why we were all there in that room, vs. doing the conference over the Internet. If your goal is to learn more about a particular topic, online resources are certainly more effective than traveling to a conference. Particularly for topics that don’t involve anything tangible in the first place. But for me, and for many other old hats that I’ve spoken with, the main benefit of the conference is not the knowledge that is shared during the conference itself, but the socializing with other shareware industry players. Being in a room together is the whole point. It reminds you you’re not the only one trying to make a living as a shareware author or micro-ISV or whatever you like to call your occupation. It’s the best cure for burn-out, even if you sleep through the sessions on personal productivity. And if you’re just starting out or even just planning to, hearing people’s success stories may be just what you need to push through with your ideas.

Disadvantage of attending conferences is that it makes you an ideal guinea pig for geeks who’ve just thrown some cash at a brand new DSLR camera. Evidence in my ESWC 07 photo gallery. If you recognize anybody whose name isn’t mentioned, please click on the thumbnail to see the larger photo, and leave a comment below the photo. I always remember people’s faces, but never people’s names.

Friday, 16 February 2007

JGsoft Sponsors The 2007 ESWC

Filed under: Conferences — Jan @ 9:33

After skipping a year, JGsoft is once again a supporting sponsor of the European Shareware Conference. The 2007 edition will be held on November 3rd and 4th at the Mariott hotel in Köln (Cologne), Germany. I guess it’ll be a bit like going home for the conference, as it was held in Köln the first three years. The hotel is brand new though, opened in 2006. It’s location is very convenient: only a short hike from Köln’s main train station.

It’s too early for me to make any travel plans for November. But the idea is I’ll see you all there.

Unfortunately, I won’t be attending the Shareware Industry Conference in July. It’ll be held in Denver for the 3rd time. Denver is a great location, but a tad bit far from Bangkok. Few places are further away from Bangkok than Denver, at least on this planet. Perhaps in 2008.

Monday, 7 November 2005

European Shareware Conference 2005

Filed under: Conferences — Jan @ 18:05

The 5th annual European Shareware Conference was a success. This year, the conference was held in Brussels, Belgium. This made it very easy for me to combine attending the conference with visiting relatives. My wife and I stayed at the Sofitel Astoria where the conference was held.

The hotel was built in 1909 and is a listed monument. This means that its owners have to maintain the building in its original style, which is very stylish and luxurious. It is situated within walking distance of Brussels central station and the grand place, making both travel and entertainment very convenient.

We arrived early Friday afternoon. We wouldn’t want to miss the sight seeing, beer tasting and dinner event sponsored by Digital River.

The conference started in earnest on Saturday morning, with just over 100 attendees. Like every year, the sessions were informative, covering a variety of topics, with plenty of interaction between the speakers and the audience.

Saturday night there was another beer tasting event, sponsored by the Association for Competitive Technology, an advocacy group of small and mid-sized technology companies. The event was far from redundant. With almost 400 breweries producing over 1400 beers, there are plenty of different tastes to sample.

On Sunday morning, one of the sessions was canceled to make room for a classical concert organized by the hotel. ESWC attendees were invited to attend this one-hour concert free of charge.

All in all, everybody seems to have had a great time, and we’re already looking forward to next year’s conference. Place and date are to be determined.


Wednesday, 7 September 2005

European Shareware Conference Reservations Made

Filed under: Conferences — Jan @ 10:25

I just finished making my reservations to attend the 5th annual European Shareware Conference. This year it will be held in Brussels as decided by popular vote.

As usual, it was a bit of a quest finding good prices for the plane and the hotel. KLM’s website, however, makes it very easy to get the best price (as long as you’re flying KLM, of course). After selecting departure and arrival cities, you’ll get two calendars for the departure and arrival dates. The calendars are color-coded to indicate the lowest booking class available. Light blue means you can get the cheapest, restricted ticket, while dark blue means only full price tickets are available for that date. When you click on one of the dates, a bit of Javascript instantly fetches the new price. This makes comparing prices so much more convenient than on most airline web sites, where you have to resubmit the whole request to see the price on another day.

That doesn’t mean that all dates with the same color have the same price. Weekends are more expensive than weekdays, at least on the Bangkok-Amsterdam route. Since I’m combining the conference with a family visit, I can be quite flexible with the dates that I fly.

What really surprised me is that if I opt to fly Bangkok-Amsterdam-Antwerpen (last leg by train), the calendar turns almost completely light blue for November. But if I choose Bangkok-Amsterdam only, most days are darker. Consequently, on many days (but not all), the total price including the train ticket is actually lower than without. I guess the train makes me a transit passenger, and KLM wants to sell more tickets to transit passengers. Still, they’ve effectively priced their train tickets negatively during most of November. No wonder airlines around the world are having a hard time staying profitable.

The conference will be held in the Sofitel Astoria Hotel. I always prefer to get a room in the conference hotel, since that’s where the action is. You’ll save a few euros staying in a cheaper hotel nearby, but you’re likely to miss out on the socializing, or having to brave the weather to meet everyone.

If you’re sure you’ll attend the conference, you can save some euros by making your reservations directly with the hotel on their web site. The ESWC has negotiated a single room rate of 135 euro, and a double room rate of 155 euro, including breakfast. This is a better price than the “best unrestricted rate” on the Internet, which excludes breakfast. If purchased separately, breakfast is a rediculous 25 euro per person.

However, if you book your room before everybody else does, you can probably get one of the better rates on the Internet. The “Sofitel Getaway” promotion for 3 nights is 340 euro (single) or 370 euro (double), including breakfast, or a savings of about 100 euro compared with the ESWC rate. It requires a non-refundable one night deposit, though. And it’ll probably run out way sooner than the October 25 deadline for the ESWC rate.

If you don’t want breakfast, there’s also a “hot deal” which must be prepaid in full. Compared with the Getaway promotion, the breakfast seems to have been calculated around 10 euro per meal, which is far more reasonable than the 25 euro rate.

Anyway, you can find me in or around the Astoria hotel from Friday 4 November till Monday 7 November.

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