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March 93 - Office Memo

Office Memo

Steve Mann

A few people told me I would be so busy at MADACON that I couldn't breath. Privately, I was thinking that if you spend several months conceptualizing a program, finding speakers, working out an agenda and a budget, confirming speakers and their equipment, creating publicity materials and working with the press, selecting conference give aways and speaker gifts, modifying your database to handle conference registration, picking menus, determining space, audio video, and computer requirements, planning a banquet at a separate location, coordinating a reception, and doing all this with at least four separate companies and 40 speakers, what could possibly be left to done? Well, now I know what it feels like to not breath for several hours at a time.

It was grazy. It was creat.

MADACON was crazy. It was great. It was grazy. It was creat. Well, you get the idea. The best part was meeting countless speakers and members I'd never met, getting reacquainted with people I've known for years, and seeing the whole thing come together. The worst part was that I was only able to go to small parts of some sessions, so I don't really know if the conference was any good. Based on our attendee survey and comments we've received, it seems as though more than 90% of the members at MADACON would go to another conference like it. I guess that means we did a pretty good job.

The biggest problem is that there were lots of last minute things that needed to be taken care of. For instance, it was not unusual for a speaker to arrive five minutes before their presentation started with a SCSI device, no cable, and no terminator, and want to load their presentation on a hard disk. Or, show up with a pack of 35 mm slides 10 minutes in advance, when there was no slide equipment reserved. We tried to pin down everyone's equipment requirements in advance, but I guess we didn't do a very good job. Fortunately, the audio video contractor we were working with at the hotel did a re-markable job. What seemed like total chaos behind the scenes apparently seemed reasonable calm to the audience. If you ever need AV services, contact MSI in San Diego. They're great.

I would like to personally thank all the speakers for their contributions and for doing an outstanding job. MADACON would have been a total failure without your assistance and talents. But be forewarned: next year, Bob Hablutzel, our MADACON Master of Ceremonies may also be the speaker police. And he's from Chicago, where they invented the phrase "tough cop" (of course, I think they also invented the phrase "total disregard for the law").

Show Summary

Based on comments I heard, here's my summary of the show: The food was very good, the hotel was too expensive (but the service was good), the Bedrock sessions were too wimpy, Component Workshop looks like a reasonable development alternative (and it's here now), and don't have a banquet at SeaWorld when it rains (even though the facility is designed for water sports, literally). Highlights-Mike Potel and Adele Goldberg, Kurt Schmucker, the Apple-sponsored reception, SmalltalkAgents, the Newton tools demo, and the Dylan intro. We're still entering the survey data and collating the results. We'll pass on the interesting tidbits.

We will be creating a CD-ROM with conference highlights as soon as we collect all the presentation materials from the speakers. The CD will include slides, text articles, demo programs, and as much other stuff as we can cram on it. We also have videotapes of a few of the MADACON highlights-the Bedrock sessions, Kurt Schmucker talking about SK8, and Taligent's Mike Potel at the banquet. We'll either be including QuickTime renderings of the best chunks, the audio tracks like we did last year, or perhaps a separate set of videotapes. If you are interested in the videotapes please let me know. We don't know when the CD-ROM will be available; we're trying to avoid leading edge technology so that we can get it out in the next few months. Arvid is poised and ready to handle whatever weird presentation materials come his way.

New Products

We're announcing a few new products this issue. First, I'm very pleased to announce that we've been selected as the exclusive US and Canadian publisher for The Mjølner BETA System, a new object-oriented language development system from Mjølner Informatics. BETA is a new object-oriented language that is based on a high-level abstraction called a pattern. All language entities, including classes, objects, methods, procedures, functions, coroutines, and programs themselves, are based on patterns. BETA has a clarity of design and elegance that I find very appealing.

Neal Ticktin, editor of MacTech Magazine was quoted in MacWeek as saying that BETA "looks somewhat esoteric" and it "doesn't look like it's going to be very important." I suspect he means as a successful commercial product. Whether that's true or not, Neal misses the point-BETA represents the leading edge in commercialized object-oriented products. We're proud and pleased to be presenting it to the Macintosh market and to our membership. It will never be as popular as C++, but who cares? Profits and commercial acceptance are not the only benchmarks of a successful product (except possibly to Microsoft and Xplain Corporation).

Second, after getting quite a few requests, we've finally assembled a FrameWorks archive CD-ROM called "Five years of Objects" to celebrate MADA's first five years of business. It includes:

  • FrameWorks issues and source code from April 1991 to January 1993 (we're hoping to get all the back issues on disk in time for version 2.0);
  • MACAPPTECH$ and CPLUS.DEV$ archives from the same period;
  • a Scheme development environment;
  • a publically available implementation of Thomas, a Dylan subset; and
  • a bunch of demo programs, including BETA, IcePick and Ad Lib, ObjectMaster, Camelot, Serius, NeoAcces, MicroGA, Marksman, and other OO tools.

This is the first in what we hope will be the definitive MADA CD-ROM series.

This month we're also offering a fire sale item-DataPak's Word Solution Engine and Sierra Software's SuperTEView for an incredible price of $395. For those of you familiar with DataPak, their Word Solution Engine has been the most successful TextEdit replacement. It does lots of stuff that TextEdit can't even dream about. SuperTEView is a MacApp interface for the Word Solution Engine. This really is an inventory clearance sale. There are limited quantities. First come, first serve; when they're gone, they're gone.

Finally, our last offering is a new product called NeoPersist. When NeoLogic first introduced NeoAccess, their TCL and MacApp-compatible object-oriented database with full source code, we had a series of earnest discussions with them about MADA becoming a distributor. Unfortunately, we couldn't find a good fit between their objectives and ours. During MADACON, after Bob Krause, NeoLogic president did his presentation, we had a lot of inquiries about their products. Carl Nelson, MADA founder and dealmaker extraordinaire sat down and talked to Bob. The result is NeoPersist, an object-only version of NeoAccess with non runtime licensing fees. It's an excellent, low-cost way to check out NeoLogic's technology.

The Name Remains the Same

Finally, I would like to thank all of you who submitted names for the MADA Name Game contest. We had so many submissions that we couldn't possibly pick a winner by applause or a show-of-hands vote at the Sea++World banquet. Instead, we compiled the list and put it on the MADACON survey, and asked everyone to pick their favorite choice.

To give you an idea of the suggestions, I've compiled this table. If you select any word from column A, B, C, and then D, you'll probably hit one of the submissions. The bad news is-there was no clear cut favorite. The goods new is-there was no clear cut favorite. In fact, about 25% of the survey respondents didn't even vote, indicating that they don't seem to think it matters too much (or they didn't like any of the names, as hard as it is to believe).

So, in a fit of wisdom reminiscent of Solomon, the Board decided to officially close the matter and declare that MADA stands for nothing. As part of that discussion, it was noted that MADA, when pronounced MAY-duh, means "not there yet" in Japanese. We officially amended the motion to state that the official pronunciation of MADA is not MAY-duh. So, MADA stands for nothing (something that a few of you have been suggesting lately), but we will keep the tag line "Developer's Using Object Technology" for the near future. This is how the Board members earn their big bucks.

 
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