Friday, August 10, 2007

TechWave 2007 - Miscellaneous

TechWave Forum

Shortly after you registered for TechWave, you were sent an email inviting you to TechWave Forum, a social networking site set up for TechWave. It allows you to create profiles and matches you up with people with similar interests. You can also create groups, and it's supposed to allow file sharing, chatting, meetings, and polls. I created a PowerBuilder group, and although it got 23 members it was the group with the highest membership in the forums. I sent and received a few "introductions", which was basically the equivalent of carrying on an email conversation through the site. I only just now discovered how to do file sharing (within the group), can't see how chatting could be accomplished and it appears that polling was disabled. Jeff Pryslak asked a question in the PowerBuilder group, and only two people responded.

It sounds like a great idea, but it seems like it really never took off. I can go into the "People Map" and filter on folks who registered PowerBuilder as an interest and a lot more than 23 show up.

People Map

So it looks like you only get a certain percentage of attendees that register for the forums, only a certain percentage of those that join a group, and only a certain percentage of those that will get involved when activity occurs in the group. Unless you have a lot of people on the outset, it looks like participation drops off rapidly.

Affinity Pins

When you went to the registration desks on site, one of the things you could pick up was an "affinity" pin that indicated a particular product you were interested in. I wish they had been bigger or had significantly different color schemes. As is was, you had to get real close to a person you're talking to in order to read their pin to see what their affinity was. Close enough that you really needed to know the person first, and then you would have already known their affinity. It was a great idea, it just needed to be implemented with an eye towards being able to spot differences in affinity pins from 20 feet away.

TechWave Mobile

Sybase did set up a TechWave channel that could be accessed from mobile devices.

The problem with this is that it was largely just a modified rendering of the regular Sybase TechWave pages to fit the mobile device browser (e.g., the pages were narrower). Many mobile devices now days (including mine), are fully capable of displaying pages from regular web pages. If I'm going to something that is specific for mobile devices, I expect to see a completely different rendering optimized for a mobile browser, not simply a slightly different rendering of the normal web page. To be truly useful to me as well, it would have needed to allow me to browse my own registered session information, update it, and then sync it with the calendering program (e.g., Outlook) on my mobile device.

HTC Device Trial

The HTC device trial seems to have been a great success. They loaned out their 199 devices in less that an hour. I spoke to one recipient of a smartphone that wasn't impressed by it, but I think that was a result of the inherent limitations of the smartphone as a device. The folks that got the Pocket PC phone version seemed happier, though I did spend some time showing people how to use it (since I have one of my own). The one problem I could see with such a program is that the device can be rather complicated to configure, and folks that only have a few days to work with it may not get comfortable with it before the trial is over. That's where you have to give Apple's iPhone read credit, the device is simple to use and configure. Perhaps the HTC Touch phone will have the same ease-of-use factors, although from the little I played with one it looks like it's an iPhone like home page on top of the regular Windows Mobile OS. At some point you drill down to the point that you have to deal with Windows Mobile. My main beef is with the internet browser. The iPhone just does a tremendous job, and I've tried a number of different browsers on my Pocket PC phone that don't come close.

What would have made the HTC Device Trial particularly interesting is if the devices had come pre-installed with various Sybase software solutions that were intended to facilitate the TechWave experience. Something like the more interactive version of the TechWave Mobile application suggested above.

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