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

BetterTouchTool 2.260 - Customize Multi-...
BetterTouchTool adds many new, fully customizable gestures to the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch MacBook trackpad, and Magic Trackpad. These gestures are customizable: Magic Mouse: Pinch in / out (zoom... Read more
Chromium 59.0.3071.115 - Fast and stable...
Chromium is an open-source browser project that aims to build a safer, faster, and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the web. Version 59.0.3071.115: This update has no Flash plug... Read more
SyncTwoFolders 2.2.3 - Syncs two user-sp...
SyncTwoFolders simply synchronizes two folders. It supports synchronization across mounted network drives and it is a possibility to run a simulation showing in a log what will be done. Please visit... Read more
Myriad 4.1 - $79.00
Myriad is, simply put, one of the best audio batch processors. Totally redesigned, it looks beautiful and delivers incredible performance. Let Myriad do the heavy lifting while you get back to doing... Read more
Suitcase Fusion 7 18.2.4 - Font manageme...
Suitcase Fusion 7 is the creative professional's font manager. Every professional font manager should deliver the basics: spectacular previews, powerful search tools, and efficient font organization... Read more
SoftRAID 5.6.1 - High-quality RAID manag...
SoftRAID allows you to create and manage disk arrays to increase performance and reliability. SoftRAID allows the user to create and manage RAID 4 and 5 volumes, RAID 1+0, and RAID 1 (Mirror) and... Read more
BetterTouchTool 2.25 - Customize Multi-T...
BetterTouchTool adds many new, fully customizable gestures to the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch MacBook trackpad, and Magic Trackpad. These gestures are customizable: Magic Mouse: Pinch in / out (zoom... Read more
Google Chrome 59.0.3071.115 - Modern and...
Google Chrome is a Web browser by Google, created to be a modern platform for Web pages and applications. It utilizes very fast loading of Web pages and has a V8 engine, which is a custom built... Read more
Google Chrome 59.0.3071.115 - Modern and...
Google Chrome is a Web browser by Google, created to be a modern platform for Web pages and applications. It utilizes very fast loading of Web pages and has a V8 engine, which is a custom built... Read more
SoftRAID 5.6.1 - High-quality RAID manag...
SoftRAID allows you to create and manage disk arrays to increase performance and reliability. SoftRAID allows the user to create and manage RAID 4 and 5 volumes, RAID 1+0, and RAID 1 (Mirror) and... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Ravenscroft 275 Piano (Music)
Ravenscroft 275 Piano 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $35.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Experience the splendor of a Ravenscroft Grand with the most realistic sounding piano ever created for iOS. Launch... | Read more »
This War of Mine gets a new ending and m...
This War of Mine just got a big new update, featuring free DLC that adds a new ending to the game, among other exciting changes. The update is celebrating the game's two-year release anniversary. Apart from the new ending, which will be quite... | Read more »
Summon eight new heroes in Fire Emblem H...
Nintendo keeps coming at us with Fire Emblem Heroes updates, and it doesn't look like that trend is stopping anytime soon. The folks behind the game have just announced the new War of the Clerics Voting Gauntlet, expected to start next Tuesday. [... | Read more »
The best deals on the App Store this wee...
iOS publishers are pulling out all the stops this week -- there's a huge number of seriously great games at discounted prices this week. Let's not waste any time and get right down to business. [Read more] | Read more »
The House of da Vinci (Games)
The House of da Vinci 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Enter The House of Da Vinci, a new must-try 3D puzzle adventure game. Solve mechanical puzzles, discover hidden... | Read more »
Solve the disappearance of history’s gre...
Blue Brain Games invites you to indulge in an immersive hands-on 3D puzzle adventure in similar vein to The Room series, with its debut release The House of Da Vinci. Set during the historic period of the Italian Renaissance (when Leonardo himself... | Read more »
Age of Rivals (Games)
Age of Rivals 3.3 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 3.3 (iTunes) Description: Deep civilization-building strategy in a fast-paced card game! | Read more »
Panthera Frontier (Games)
Panthera Frontier 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Angry Birds Evolution beginner's gu...
Angry Birds changes things up a fair bit in its latest iteration, Angry Birds Evolution. The familiar sling-shot physics mechanics are still there, but the game now features team-based gameplay, RPG elements, and a new top-down view. With all of... | Read more »
Sega Forever is for the retro game fans
Sega is launching a new retro games service titled Sega Forever, in a move that's sure to delight games enthusiasts with a bit of nostalgia. Sega's releasing five classic games for free. The titles include Sonic the Hedgehog, Phantasy Star II,... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Use Apple’s Education discount to save up to...
Purchase a new Mac using Apple’s Education discount, and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free: - 15″ 2... Read more
Clearance 27-inch 3.3GHz 5K iMac available fo...
Amazon clearance 27″ 3.3GHz 5K iMacs (MK482LL/A) available for $1799.90 including free shipping. Their price is $500 off original MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model from any... Read more
13-inch 1.8GHz/256GB MacBook Air on sale for...
B&H Photo has the updated 2017 13″ 1.8GHz/256GB MacBook Air (MQD42LL/A) in stock and on sale for $1129 including free shipping plus NY & NJ tax only. Their price is $70 off MSRP. Read more
27-inch 3.4GHz iMac on sale for $1699, save $...
B&H Photo has the new 2017 27″ 3.4GHz iMac (MNE92LL/A) in stock and on sale for $1699 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
21-inch 2.3GHz iMac on sale for $1049, save $...
B&H Photo has the new 2017 21″ 2.3GHz iMac (MMQA2LL/A) in stock and on sale for $1049 including free shipping plus NY & NJ tax only. Their price is $50 off MSRP. Read more
ABBYY TextGrabber 6 for iOS Implements Instan...
ABBYY has announced the release of TextGrabber 6.0.0, an important feature update to the company’s productivity app developed for iOS and Android devices. TextGrabber 6.0 now offers Real-Time... Read more
vPhone, First Smartphone That Can’t Be Lost,...
Austin, Texas based Hypori has introduced the vPhone, a virtual smartphone that affords every business user the benefits of separate work and personal phones, conveniently delivered on a single... Read more
Save this weekend with 2016 refurbished MacBo...
Apple has dropped prices on Certified Refurbished 2016 15″ and 13″ MacBook Pros by as much as $590 off original MSRP. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: -... Read more
New 27-inch 3.4GHz iMac on sale for $1699, sa...
MacMall has the new 2017 27″ 3.4GHz iMac (MNE92LL/A) in stock and on sale for $1699 including free shipping. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Clearance 2016 MacBook Pros available for up...
B&H Photo has clearance 2016 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $400 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 15″ 2.7GHz... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* News Product Marketing Mgr., Publish...
…organizational consensus on strategy and vision for publisher tools, authoring, and Apple News Format.Carries this strategy and vision across the organization to Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Security Data Analyst - *Apple* Information...
…data sources need to be collected to allow Information Security to better protect Apple employees and customers from a wide range of threats.Act as the subject matter Read more
Lead *Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple I...
…integrity, and trust.Success Metrics/Key Performance Indicators:Quantitative* Year over Year growth in Apple Product and Beyond the Box sales in the assigned Point of Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant till v%u00E5r...
…ethics, integrity, and trust.Success Metrics/Key Performance Indicators:QuantitativeYear over Year growth in Apple Product and Beyond the Box sales in the assigned Point Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.