TweetFollow Us on Twitter

C4[3] in Retrospect

Volume Number: 25
Issue Number: 11
Column Tag: Industry

C4[3] in Retrospect

by Edward Marczak

Introduction

The C4 conference is a bit of a mystery: at once not terribly well known and yet filling to capacity in hours. Perhaps this isn't quite so much of a mystery, as it's run by one of the better-known people in the Apple development community, Jonathan 'Wolf' Rentzsch. The conference also aims to bring together some of best and brightest speakers and attendees. Once you find out about it, why wouldn't you want to attend?

This year's show, C4[3] ran for three days, beginning Friday, the 25th of September, and running though Sunday. The entire weekend is packed pretty full, morning through night. Held in Chicago's Doubletree Magnificent Mile hotel (Jonathan is a Chicago native), you won't see much else of the city unless you plan for some personal time on either end of the conference.

Blitz

As a relatively young show, C4 is still forming and malleable. Jonathan originally had the idea for a conference after the demise of MacHack, an all-weekend all-hours code-writing fest. C4[3] did away with its IronCoder homage-to-MacHack portion of the show in favor of more presentations. However, presentations were broken into standard, full-length talks, running between a half-hour to hour plus questions and a Blitz-Talk format. The Blitz Talk is inspired by O'Reilly's Lightning Talk: A talk that runs for 5 minutes with no Q&A. Better still is that the speaker's Keynote presentation is actually served up by Blitz.app (http://github.com/rentzsch/Blitz) which enforces a 15-second limit on each slide before automatically moving on to the next one in the deck. It even super-imposes a small countdown timer in the lower-right portion of the slide.

The use of the Blitz talk worked magnificently. No one felt as if they had been watching presentations in the same room for 9-ish hours. Rather than have back-to-back hour-long talks, where your attention may end up drifting after a period of time, you were constantly woken up and challenged. Furthermore, the people presenting the Blitz talks were clearly well-practiced, as they condensed their subjects to the necessary parts and then moved through the material deftly.

Registration and Identity

Show registration on Friday was smooth and run by volunteers (Daniel Jalkut and Victoria Wang). Badges and T-shirts were dispensed, making the show 'official.' Twitter plays a large role in the show, as a Twitter "reflector" is set up for @C4. A direct message to @C4 is picked up by the reflector and resent to all attendees following. This creates a back-channel of communication, often allowing people to set up meal plans or even discuss the presentation in progress with all attendees.

Thanks to this Twitter tie-in, badges contained the attendee's full name, Twitter handle and Twitter icon.

Community

As people lingered around the registration area, determining who is who and interacting with those one may already know, the dining area's doors were opened and dinner was about to be served. This allowed new introductions and familiar faces to come together. After dinner, attendees switched to the main room for Wolf's Keynote.

The kickoff Keynote stressed community by connecting with your peers; constantly sitting with new people and avoiding cliques. (I loved that this was brought up. I've recommended the book "Never Eat Alone" in the Media of the Month section in my Mac in the Shell column. It was nice to hear this re-iterated). This is sage advice as we *are* a community. We interact all of the time: on mailing lists, at WWDC, through Twitter, Facebook and the like, via publications and now at C4. We can help each other in so many ways, and we're often seeing communities losing patience with the brilliant-but-arrogant developers so well looked upon in the past. The fantastic speakers at C4 all took their own time to create a presentation paid their own way to be present and gave up their time to enlighten the rest of us.

The Keynote followed along by highlighting a community project: Gus Muller's JSTalk (http://macte.ch/jstalk), an application scripting interface akin to AppleScript. Discussion followed that debated the relative merits of JSTalk vs. AppleScript.

After the Keynote, the first Blitz Talk was delivered, followed by a full-length talk. By this time, it was relatively late, but the night wasn't over yet. Like the dinner meal, which furthered the community context, people were invited back up to the lobby for drinks, which most did.

Code (and more)

The presentations on day two ran a wide gamut: from tips on giving a good presentation to security. Most presentations did have the indie developer as a target and common theme. The bulk of attendees at C4 are independent software developers (ISVs), so, this made perfect sense. Some are long-time independents while others are just starting off on their own. One thing that's for sure is that presentations covering tips on running your independent business or managing your time were welcome as good initial lessons or reminders from the seasoned pros. Many of the lessons that MacTech's ISV-focused "Inspired by Life" column have been tackling were presented in one way or another through the course of the day. There was plenty of code, too, of course.

A favorite talk by many was a surprise design tool called Opacity (http://www.likethought.com). Opacity is a developer's graphic tool. An artist can design their graphic in Opactiy just like other graphic design tools. However, from this point, Opacity fits smoothly into a developer's workflow. It can write out the source code to use the graphic in your project or even work with variants of a graphic at build time by providing shell tools that can be integrated into a project's build phase. It really needs to be seen in action to be appreciated (which, the attendees did see. You however, should go download a trial from the Like Thought web site).

Several work-in-progress projects were shown here, too. Cocotron is an amazing effort to bring Cocoa to Windows. This is an open source, independent effort. While there's still work to be done, the amount already there is absolutely a testament to the skill of the people involved. Another still-shifting project is Appcelerator's Titanium, a cross platform development framework based on JavaScript and HTML. The idea is that anyone familiar with web technologies should be able to leverage that knowledge into the desktop application arena.

MacTech's own Dave Dribin also presented on the importance of unit testing. Likening unit tests to source control - as in, it's something you should feel uncomfortable if you're *not* using - Dave made a great case and some converts along the way.

Culture

After the very long day 2 (but it didn't feel long at all, really!), dinner brought out some Chicago culture as everyone traveled to Gino's East Pizzeria. This is another way the group gets to bond and individuals get to meet and 'talk shop.' The dinner was followed by a pool-side bash back at the DoubleTree hotel.

Canadian Bacon?

Well, ok, "Canadian Bacon" may or may not be the fourth C, but there is a meat-lovers bias throughout...in a fun way. That mostly gets taken care of at Gino's on Day two with the serving of "meaty legend" pizza. But we're on to day 3 now, the final day. Day 3 dealt mostly with code. There were two presentations that were eye-opening for the primarily Obj-C only crowd, but would be familiar ground for MacTech readers: a Blitz Talk on Python and PyObj-C for scripting and development, and a longer talk that closed the day out on MacRuby. Another non-code talk separated these two again dealt with ways to be more effective as an ISV (and again, similar to what Oliver Popisil has been writing about in his monthly "Inspired by Life" series).

Four C Material?

The C4 conference is open to anyone that can purchase a ticket, however, the 170-attendee limit is reached in mere hours, making this a difficult show to attend. There is a ticket pre-sale that goes to prior attendees first, and then the public at large. Tickets for C4[3] sold out in 8 hours from the time they went on sale to the public. While I hope everything I've written so far is inspiring, you may or may not want to attend. The question is, "are you C4 material?" It boils down to this: are you a developer? Are you willing to expand your horizons by hearing new ideas? Can you give these alternate views a chance? Can you (respectfully) stand up for your own ideas? Are you willing to meet new people and alter your typical routine...at least for the time frame of the show? Can you break out of the echo chamber of advice that seems to permeate most Mac communities?

Jonathan Rentzsch is hoping to put on more than a conference that teaches developers some new coding tricks. It's clear that he has something special in C4 that's enabled by the Mac community, for the Mac community, and for the good of the community. Some of the best-of-the-best were present at C4[3] and past C4 conferences. I had a chance to ask him if there were any plans to expand the size of the show, seeing that it sells out so quickly and a good-sized wait list builds up. For now, the 170-attendee cap stands. Jonathan is worried that increasing the size will change the dynamic of the show too much. After attending myself, I'd agree: he has a wonderfully successful show that is wonderful itself. Until that dynamic changes on its own and needs a kick in the butt, control what you can and watch the evolution.

Conclusion

The final day of the show is only scheduled out until 2pm, but what actually happens speaks volumes: people tend to keep hanging around. That says a great deal about the experience. There were many current and former Apple employees that were in attendance, which also says a lot about the caliber of people that attend. In sum, it's a group that can be fairly pedantic about technology, but for a good reason; it's because they care. And this group has the opportunity to all come together in one place. It's an excellent show in every respect—one that every independent Mac developer should try to attend, at least once.

I was happy to see many of the trends we've identified in MacTech in line with what was taking place at the show (PyObj-C coverage, information for ISVs, etc.). Overall, I was happy I could attend. Judging by the Twitter back channel, I'm not the only one who felt this way. Comments from returning attendees like, "This was the best C4 yet!" and talk of presentations that "blew my mind," are assurance that C4 has a long life ahead of it.


Ed Marczak is the Executive Editor for MacTech Magazine, and has written the Mac in the Shell column since 2004.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

WhatsApp 0.2.4238 - Desktop client for W...
WhatsApp is the desktop client for WhatsApp Messenger, a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger is available for... Read more
VOX 2.8.24 - Music player that supports...
VOX just sounds better! The beauty is in its simplicity, yet behind the minimal exterior lies a powerful music player with a ton of features and support for all audio formats you should ever need.... Read more
Dropbox 24.4.17 - Cloud backup and synch...
Dropbox is an application that creates a special Finder folder that automatically syncs online and between your computers. It allows you to both backup files and keep them up-to-date between systems... Read more
OmniPlan Pro 3.7.1 - Professional-grade...
With OmniPlan Pro, you can create logical, manageable project plans with Gantt charts, schedules, summaries, milestones, and critical paths. Break down the tasks needed to make your project a success... Read more
OmniPlan 3.7.1 - Robust project manageme...
With OmniPlan, you can create logical, manageable project plans with Gantt charts, schedules, summaries, milestones, and critical paths. Break down the tasks needed to make your project a success,... Read more
Adium 1.5.10.4 - Popular instant messagi...
Adium is a fast and free instant messaging client which supports AIM, ICQ, Jabber, MSN, Yahoo!, Google Talk, Yahoo! Japan, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, Novell Groupwise, SIP/SIMPLE (Text), and Lotus Sametime... Read more
SteerMouse 5.1 - Powerful third-party mo...
SteerMouse is an advanced driver for USB and Bluetooth mice. It also supports Apple Mighty Mouse very well. SteerMouse can assign various functions to buttons that Apple's software does not allow,... Read more
File Juicer 4.57 - $18.00
File Juicer is a drag-and-drop can opener and data archaeologist. Its specialty is to find and extract images, video, audio, or text from files which are hard to open in other ways. In computer... Read more
1Password 6.7 - Powerful password manage...
1Password is a password manager that uniquely brings you both security and convenience. It is the only program that provides anti-phishing protection and goes beyond password management by adding Web... Read more
CleanMyMac 3.8.1 - $39.95
CleanMyMac makes space for the things you love. Sporting a range of ingenious new features, CleanMyMac lets you safely and intelligently scan and clean your entire system, delete large, unused files... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Olli by Tinrocket (Photography)
Olli by Tinrocket 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Photography Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Get drawn in with Olli by TinrocketOlli instantly turns your everyday moments into hand-drawn art and animations. • Watch... | Read more »
Penarium (Games)
Penarium 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Fire Emblem Heroes is way more profitabl...
Profits for Nintendo's mobile game Fire Emblem Heroes are apparently impressive enough to beat out other Nintendo titles likeSuper Mario Run, despite having 10 times fewer downloads. [Read more] | Read more »
Classic series Robot Unicorn Attack 3 no...
The classic Adult Swim browser game, Robot Unicorn Attack, branched off into a series of popular mobile games. Now, the latest entry into the series, Robot Unicorn Attack 3, is available for iOS and Android mobile devices. [Read more] | Read more »
Sudoku Sweeper (Games)
Sudoku Sweeper 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A minimalist mashup of Minesweeper and Sudoku. Logic puzzle perfection. Every row, column and zone contains a bomb and one of... | Read more »
Under Leaves (Games)
Under Leaves 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Journey into the forest, the jungle or the depths of the deep blue sea. Find chestnuts for the pigs, a caterpillar for the... | Read more »
Ninja Pizza Girl (Games)
Ninja Pizza Girl 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: In the not-so-distant future, rampart traffic congestion has resulted in only one way to deliver pizzas across town in thirty... | Read more »
SCRAP (Games)
SCRAP 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: That day, for no apparent reason, SCRAP decided to wake up and run. He had to, because his activation was a mistake the "Factory" could... | Read more »
The Bunker (Games)
The Bunker 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: The critically acclaimed console hit "The Bunker" comes to iOS, The groundbreaking live-action thriller adventure set in a real... | Read more »
Die With Glory (Games)
Die With Glory 1.2.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.2.0 (iTunes) Description: Die with Glory is an epic adventure game where your goal is to die in glorious fashion. You must help Sigurd, a brave old... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

New System Clock for macOS by B-Eng Now Avail...
Fehraltorf, Switzerland based B-Eng has announced the release and immediate availability of System Clock, the company’s new system monitor and information app developed exclusively for macOS. System... Read more
DEVONtechnologies Celebrates 15th Anniversary...
DEVONtechnologies celebrates its 15th company anniversary with a 30% discount on all its software products from May 1st through 5th, 2017. In spring 2002, DEVONtechnologies opened its website and... Read more
WaterField Designs Invites Customers to Help...
San Francisco based WaterField Designs invites customers and air travelers to participate in developing the next generation in-flight travel case, the Air Porter. Frustrated with limited legroom,... Read more
Save up to $260 with Apple refurbished 12-inc...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 12″ Retina MacBooks available for $200-$260 off MSRP. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and shipping is free. The following... Read more
Digital Paper Tablet Offers Distraction Free...
I typically spend 8-10 hours a day gazing at the screens in my laptops and iPad, as tools of my livelihood, I don’t as a rule use electronic devices for pleasure reading. I subscribe to a daily... Read more
“Today at Apple” Bringing New Educational Ses...
Apple has announced plans to launch dozens of new educational sessions next month in all 495 Apple Stores ranging in topics from photo and video to music, coding, art and design, and more. The hands-... Read more
Smart Finance Free Comprehensive Personal Fin...
Moscow-based indie developer, Alexander Survillo has announced the release and immediate availability of Smart Finance: Personal Finance, Budget & Money 1.1.4, an update to his comprehensive... Read more
12-inch 1.1GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for $1...
B&H has 12″ 1.1GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 12″ 1.1GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook: $1199.99 $100 off MSRP - 12... Read more
13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $130 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ tax only: - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro (MF839LL/A): $1169 $... Read more
15-inch 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pros available...
B&H Photo has the 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro available for $200 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro (MJLQ2LL/A): $1799.99 $200 off... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Mac Computer Technician - GeekHampto...
…complex computer issues over the phone and in person? GeekHampton, Long Island's Apple Premium Service Provider, is looking for you! Come work with our crew Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Chicago...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Systems Engineer - California Polyte...
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo Apple Systems Engineer Department: ITS - Customer & Tech Support (134900) College/Division: Academic Affairs Salary Range: Position Read more
*Apple* Mobile Master - Best Buy (United Sta...
**501042BR** **Job Title:** Apple Mobile Master **Location Number:** 000416-East Lansing-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Buy Apple Mobile Master Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**501195BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Location Number:** 000211-Colorado Blvd-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Buy Apple Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.