The End of an Era

You know those bittersweet moments? Those times when you feel nostalgic, happy that you’ve reached this point, but sad that it’s all over. That’s how I felt at the last ever Sydney Mobile User Group meeting this evening.

After 9 years and 2 months, we’re calling it quits. I remember well the changes in technology, the friends I’ve made, the careers they’ve enjoyed.

But the time has come. Time to de-clutter my life. Time to recharge, consolidate, and turn my attention to new things.

As it turns out, the rest of the leadership felt this way too.

It’s very much like watching your children leave school. Sad, but right!

SydMo September

Well, what a meeting this month. The City Hotel had a Schnitzel and Lager special for $15, and it seems everyone decided to weigh in on the offer. Apart from me of course, I went for the all singing, all dancing burger. Big mistake! Besides food envy, the orders got mixed up, so mine arrived 40 mins after ordering… Doh!!

Microsoft – Dave Glover

So instead of kicking off the meeting with our round-up of Mobile and Tech news, I handed over to Dave Glover, Microsoft Phone Evangelist, for a demo of an “in the flesh” WP7 device. That way I could scoff down my burger. He was expecting to go last but acquitted himself admirably.

Windows Phone 7 has come a long way since the prototype, and emulator builds that I’ve seen to-date. With the amount of interest from developers, and increasing interest from companies, I reckon it’ll launch pretty explosively.

Having said that, I’m not sure holding the funeral for competitors is timely just yet. Suffice to say, the shot has been fired across the bows, let battle commence.

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WinMo v iPhone v WP7 Report Card – James McCutcheon

Next up was Mobile Developer Extraordinaire, and start-up incubator, James McCutcheon from Foundry38. James has long been a Windows Mobile MVP, and strayed to the world of iPhone and iPad development over the last year or so. I say “strayed,” but that’s probably a bit harsh. After all, he does have a business to run, and it makes sense to develop on the platforms that actually have paying customers 🙂

James gave a report card on his experience of developing for the 3 platforms, and it was a pretty close run thing. Well at least for iPhone and WP7. From a developers perspective, the language and development environment on the Windows Phone are far superior, but the marketplace and developer support on the iPhone is tried and tested (and works very well.) It was really refreshing to watch an objective presentation about the pragmatic constraints of developing for today’s mobile platforms, without any of the marketing or religious hype.

Scan2List – Kate Cass

Next up are old friends from MEGA, and mobile startup execs, Kate and Tim (and Roger Kermode), from Scan2List.

Scan2List is a smartphone app (currently in beta on the iPhone only) that allows you to scan products in your cupboard, and add them to a relevant shopping list. It does all sorts of other really helpful things too, like allow you to assign particular lists to individual shops, automatically arrange the aisles into the way you like to shop (goods are automatically sorted into the correct aisle), and best of all, share your list immediately with your significant other.

Kate did a great job of demoing the app for us, and talking frankly about the challenges of starting a Mobile Startup in Australia. Also the technical challenges of putting together an application that scans barcodes.

This is one company to watch!

Mobile Screenfest – Dr Avi Ratnanesan

This wasn’t Avi’s first presentation to the group. I think he first presented back in February, when Australia’s inaugural Film Festival for films shot entirely on a mobile device, was just a twinkle in his eye.

Things have come a long way since then. The festival had over 550 entries, has nine categories, with over $12,000 in prizes, some pretty major sponsors, and for a debut festival, has kicked major goals. And just on Tuesday were featured in the Sydney Morning Herald!

Avi shared openly the challenges they’ve faced along the way, e.g. with the iPhone 4 release, and HD capability now common in Phone videography, average entry file size went from 50MB to over 250MB!! Venues, sponsors, funding, and marketing….

When asked “Would you do it again?” he was unequivocal! There are 30 countries now with Mobile Film Festivals, and Australia’s first is bigger than most. Bigger than India, Belgium, Spain. With success like that, we can only grow from here.

Disclosure: Channel42 has an entry in the Phone Journalism category, which has reached the finals.

You can get along to the Festival itself on Tuesday 21 September, that’s next Tuesday, for just $14.50. It’s going to be a great night (and I can do with all the friends I can get to vote for my movie in the people’s choice awards.)

Networking

Then, well people just chilled and networked. Exchanged business cards, and ideas. From connecting to a decent mobile developer, to setting up accounts in the cloud for small businesses.

[Pictures to Come]

Another one in the can!!

Community Cam: Sydney Mobile UG – March 2010

What a great meeting last night. With over 42 attendees, all chatting over a cold frothy, we got off to a great start.

First was the latest technology news, hotly debated with opinions from all sides of the technology spectrum.

This was followed by Don Kerr, MS Product Manager for Windows Phone, who gave us the run down on WP7 Series, and more importantly where to look for news (Gamer Developers Conference, Charlie Kindel’s Blog) and what to expect over the coming year.

This was met with an honest enthusiasm (almost a sigh of relief “Finally….”) although the jury’s out, waiting for the next developments from Android and Apple. Nevertheless with the power of XNA, LiveID, Social Media Connect, and XBox Live (not to mention Exchange Activesync, Sharepoint, and Office for Enterprise) the consensus is that MS will still be in the game, despite Android 3 and iPhone 4.

Next up was the ever delectable Anina Net chatting about her journey from the Fashion world into the Mobile Tech World, culminating with Mobile Magazines.

Charlie did a fantastic job, and the City Hotel is an awesome venue. Proved by how late most attendees stayed, networking over pub food and bevvies.

Next month is already looking promising for continuing this series on High Calibre Speakers. It does get geeky, but never dull.

Of course, I was there with the Community Cam(tm).