February 06th 2011 | Jens C Brynildsen
Swiss alps bathing in sun, powder snow, snowboard, airboard, skiing and jodeling. How's that for a Flash conference!
Half a year ago, my friend Thomas and I organized the conference we've always wanted to go to - three days of summer skiing in Norway with geek sessions in the evening. The event was certainly a success but it was not a huge event. It soon had it's first offspring though!
Last week the second gotoAndSki conference kicked off - this time in the Swiss alps! The event was organized by Fernando Colaco that came all the way up from Switzerland to attend the Norwegian event. This time around, Thomas and I could just kick back and what an event it turned out to be!
The evening before the event really set the tone. Upon arriving in the charming village of Stechelberg, we were greeted by Tiago and Hugo from their chalet balcony. Very soon the bar at the tiny hotel filled up with Flash geeks from all over the world: Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, UK, Poland, Germany and more places. Most impressive though - Matt Bennett came all the way over from San Fransisco to meet fellow Flashers and do some boarding in the alps!
Click the images for high resolution versions
The conference venue was a small, family driven hotel consisting of just two chalets, a bar and a restaurant. This certainly wasn't downtown in any way, but the tiny town of Stechelberg was massively charming! In the mornings you'd be awakened by the goats. In the evening you'd be lulled to sleep by the neighbor singing for the animals in the nearby farm. Inside the restaurant there was locals playing cards and families eating traditional swiss cheese fondue. All the meals were included in the conference price and it was solid, traditional Swiss food.
The breakfast provided ample opportunities to try out the local produce. The eggs were freshly laid from the chickens in the back of the hotel. The yoghurt was made by the neighbor. The cheeses came from the valley. It was all very authentic and "non-touristy".
The weather was nothing but stellar during all three days. Apart from some ice at the bottom of the slopes, the alps really shined and I am SO going back here next year.
The days were spent checking out the massive slope system in the Jungfrau region. About half of the attendees were snowboarders, 6-7 were skiiers and then there were the airboarders! For those that don't want to ski all day, airboarding is an excellent break-neck alternative. You go head first down the slopes on what looks like half an air mattress and it's mighty fun!
Airboard coach and conference organizer Fernando
After a brushup and a short nap before the evening started, the attendees met up at the hotel for the nights sessions and dinner. The quality of the speakers was impressive and the topics covered everything from cognitive psychology to gaming. In terms of new hardware with Flash support, both Playbook, Android, AIR for TV and Arduino with Flash was covered. The format was laidback and relaxed so even if some presenters were nervous initially, they very soon relaxed and got going.
All the sessions were very good, but my absolute favorites were @masdennis on Kinect and @_sandro on accessibility. If you do any work at all that requires accessibility, check out Sandro's JAcc library that he released at the event. The both of them can be seen later this year at the annual FFK conference in Cologne.
Dennis Ippel at the start of his session. You should have seen his chicken dance!
During the sessions, Mihai Corlan from Adobe covered authoring and optimizing for AIR mobile, but the day after we dragged him out to the slopes so he and @imhugo could get a crash course in snowboarding. According to Mihai, it was a lot harder than he thought and it's so much easier to present on Flash and Flex as you don't fall that often...
The biggest surprise of the whole conference came during dinner the first day. All of a sudden, fifteen (!) jodelers came marching in and put on a solid show!
The jodelers usually practice at the restaurant, so they took this as extra practice with an audience. This was not the Heidi-kind of jodeling, but rather a finely tuned male choir with jodeling on top. Great fun and they lasted 3 full rounds, for both precourse, dinner and dessert!
I have to say that I enjoy this conference format a lot more than the typical huge conference with Flash rockstar speakers. The level of the sessions here did not stand back from other conferences, but here you actually had time to get to know the other attendees. At conferences in big cities, people often meet up at bars and cafe's all over the town. When it's all in one location like the gotoAndSki events, you're all in one place and that builds connections. A great thank you to Fernando and David for putting on a great event + a huge shoutout to all the nice people I met at the event!
I am looking immensely forward to putting on the Norwegian gotoAndSki event this summer again and I hope to see both new and old faces there!
By the way - don't take my word for how good this event was - check out what Hugo, Tiago, Dave, Ricardo, Dennis and Trine have written up. There's also a bunch of videos and images from the event. I'm also really looking forward to seeing the action video's from Johan Lopes helmet-cam!
A bus full of skiing geeks!
Hugo is skeptical to the photographer?
Fernando checking the connections before the sessions
The venue - Hotel Stechelberg. See you next year!
Jens has been working with Flash since version 3 came out. Since then, he's been an active member of the Flash community. He's created more than a hundred Flash games (thus the name of his blog) but he also creates web/standalone applications, does workshops and other consulting. He loves playing with new technology and he is convinced that the moment you stop learning you die (creatively speaking). Jens is also the Editor of this website.