Off-Road WWDC: Day One (updated)

For this week's WWDC, I'll be trying something a bit different from my usual blogging. Instead of a single article for the week, I'll be regularly updating this blog throughout the week. I'll be keeping my comments to Twitter-like short bursts. I'll be in and out of sessions, covering whatever strikes my fancy, focusing on aspects of the WWDC that are not getting primary attention (hence the "off-road" title). Of course, I'll have to be careful not to violate Apple's NDA. But I believe I can manage that.

Monday 8:00 PM

Having read reports (such as this ars technica article) that you can already pre-order the iPhone 3GS at AT&T Stores or online, I dropped by my local AT&T Store. It was not a complete success. At first, the sales staff claimed to have no idea about pre-ordering and told me to come back on June 19. After gently insisting that they were mistaken, they re-checked their most recent emails and confirmed I was correct. Still, their computers would not accept any orders for the new iPhone. So they took my name and said they would call me tomorrow to confirm the order. I did get the lowest price, as I was trading up from my 2-year-old original iPhone.

I attended a session on Introduction to Objective-C, listed as a "beginner" level talk. Of course, such terms are relative at a developers conference. Here, "beginner" meant that you were already experienced with C or some other similar language, but new to Objective-C. Apparently, a lot of attendees fit this description. I estimated over 700 people in the room.

Monday 5:05 PM

There's a very cool wall-hanging on the second floor. It's a large multi-panel set of screens. Across all the displays are just rows and rows of icons. Each one represents a different iPhone app. There are at least several thousand icons, probably closer to 20,000. I did not stop to count.But that's not the most impressive part. It's connected live to the App Store. Every time an app is downloaded, its icon momentarily enlarges. There's a lot of activity going on. It looks a bit like a constant rain on pavement.

It's striking (although not all that surprising) how few women are in attendance. I'd guess that the percentage of female attendees is no more than 0.5%. It's still a man's world for Apple developers.

Monday 4:45 PM

Snacks outside the conference rooms remain true to the stereotypes of developers: M&Ms, corn chips, and cookies. Healthy diets and programming apparently do not mix.

The crowds are impressive. I just left a session titled "Developer Tools State of the Union." It's in the same "Presidio" room where the morning Keynote was held. It has a capacity of over 3000. And it's full! Plus, there's an overflow room one floor down that is almost full as well. Before the iPhone, this would have never happened. Indeed, we were told at the Keynote that over 50% of everyone here is here for the first time.

Monday 3:20 PM

While a NDA prevents me from talking about any details revealed at the WWDC, I can tell you that, so far, there's very little worth revealing anyway. Of the two sessions I've attended so far, I only learned one thing that I would post here if I could. That may change in the days ahead. We'll see.

Check out More efficient file sharing on this Snow Leopard page. Very cool new feature that has not yet received much attention: With an AirPort Extreme, you can access a sleeping computer, for such things as printer sharing or iTunes streaming, from another Mac. This allows you to let your Mac sleep during times when you would otherwise need to keep it awake to allow other Macs to access it.

Attendees can download the Golden Master version of iPhone 3.0 today. If you try to do it over WiFi from the WWDC at Moscone Center, it's a no-go. You'll get a message that says: "The content you are trying to access is only available for download via an Ethernet connection. There are several hundred Ethernet connections available throughout Moscone West." That's one way to try to prevent bandwidth overload. Apparently, even this was not a complete success. People near me were complaining about slow download times.