XML 2006: Day Two

We had another good day at the conference today, though once again, you’ll find that my reports have little in common with those of others blogging about it, simply because I don’t get much time to sit in sessions. JustSystems sponsored a breakfast opener at 8:00 am this morning, and it was packed — I expect we’ll see the same thing at Microsoft’s breakfast opener tomorrow morning.

I’ve been receiving excellent comments all day about today’s keynote speaker, Darin McBeath, for three reasons:

  1. He’s from a publishing company (Elsevier) rather than a software company, and a lot of people feel that the publishing side of XML has been neglected for the past few years.
  2. He’s from a company that’s an XML user rather than an XML vendor or consultancy, so he brings a different perspective.
  3. He did a survey of several other publishing companies (anonymity preserved) about XML, and gave us the results.


Of course, a conference isn’t a conference if something doesn’t go wrong. During the morning, two of our conference rooms became alarmingly warm, though the presentations were good enough that people stayed and sweated them out. The hotel had to send someone onto the roof to repair some ductwork, and things returned to normal after lunch. Apologies to everyone (both for the heat and for the banging).


Elliotte Harold noted a shortage of coffee yesterday, but I didn’t read to his blog in time to fix things today. I’ll take it up with staff tomorrow, but to be honest, if I were a coffee drinker, I’d take 2 minutes to slip down the escalator and grab something at the hotel Starbucks before I’d drink conference coffee. Then again, since I’m not a coffee drinker, I may not understand the urgency of the caffeine craving after 90 minutes in a conference session.

Presentation tips

Before the conference, I posted about How not to suck at your presentation, concentrating on technical issues like font size and live demos. Sarah O’Keefe covers some of the same points, but mostly addresses presentation style, including the excellent advice not simply to read the bullet points on your slides out loud to the audience.

I’d also like to add that you can probably simply delete 1/3 to 2/3 of your slides without losing any important information. I know that applies to the first drafts of all of my own presentations — most of my editing involves the [delete] key. Fewer slides are also more fun, because you have extra time left to talk with the audience.

Eating your own dog food

Keith Fahlgren mentions that there was a DocBook dinner tonight, thus neatly explaining the large gang I spotted following Norm Walsh through the halls of the Prudential Center around 8:00 pm. This is probably a sign of my fatigue (and not directed at DocBook, which is a fine spec), but I wonder whether, if each committee member were required eat a printed copy of the spec with each release, we might end up with much shorter specs (and fewer versions, to boot). WS-* dinner, anyone?

Evening weather

In addition to his conference reports, Robin Hastings mentions the beautiful weather this evening. I was also out for a short walk on Newbury once I knew that everything else was OK, and it was a nice, warm 7 degC with a moist (but not chilly) breeze (compared to -4 degC and wind chill during my pre-dawn run). If I weren’t so tired, I would have liked to walk around Boston for hours. This is a beautiful city.

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