My Big Fat MAX Update

by Stephanie Rewis on November 9, 2004

Macromedia MAX — now there's an interesting event!
I spent four days in geek bliss. I knew it was destined the moment I
landed in the New Orleans airport. Even landing from a midnight flight,
I could sense them. I glanced around while waiting for the van to
transport us to our hotels. I knew that all 8 of us standing there
waiting were there for MAX — and the gentlemen not there for
the Macromedia event was easy to spot. He had on a suit and looked
tired. We were tingly with anticipation — plus there was more than one
guy with funky little glasses and a short messy haircut — always a
dead geek giveaway.

I had been up working till 7:30am the morning before leaving. My
usual, “I've got to get this client site live before I leave thing.” I
failed, but in the process of trying, I ended up with 20 minutes to
pack my clothes before leaving for the airport. Large gaps in the
wardrobe were the result, but that's another story. We geeks all
chatted on the bus till we got to our hotels. I promptly got off at the
first stop. However, this was not my hotel. It was the Marriott — I
was at the Hilton. On three hours of sleep Hilton and Marriott can
sound very similar. They're both large hotel chains. :) I decided that
after traveling all night on planes, I would just walk. It was only
four blocks and so what if I had two suitcases, a Dreamweaver backpack
and a purse. I'm tall and strong. I can do this.

Of course, it hadn't yet dawned on me that this is Halloween night
in New Orleans and I'm now walking through the streets in black clothes
with much black luggage. The bellman with the cute Nawlins drawl told
me to go out the door, turn left at the first street and go four
blocks. I know that's what he said because I repeated it and he said,
“uh-huh.” But what he really meant was to turn left out the door and go
four blocks. At about the point where I hit Coyote Ugly near the
Biker's Convention, and it was becoming apparent that there were less
hotels in the direction I was going, I decided to ask. “Hello large
Coyote Ugly bouncer — where the heck am I?”

Back on track, it seems I've added another 4 blocks to my tour at
1:30am on Halloween night in the soppy humid New Orleans weather. And
I've gotten some rather strange looks from the little angels and demons
walking around holding hands. The idea of that cab sounds better all
the time, but heck, I'm almost there. Really I am. Aren't I? I arrived
in my room, shoulders burning from all the straps, at 2am with my poor
roommate Christine Harold waiting up for me.

The next morning, Christine and I had some UGM and TMM training
scheduled. The hotel said it was only about four blocks to the
convention center so we decided to walk. Nothing like stretching your
legs in the morning. It really didn't turn out to be very far either.
Well, not till we got through the doors of the convention center and
found we weren't even halfway. MAX was scheduled at the far end of the
convention center which turned out to be over a half mile long. So
getting to the center wasn't the issue. It was getting through the center. Lucky for us, our training was running behind since we were about 20 minutes late getting down there.

That's when the blur starts. At the point
we were handed our registration packets (backpacks actually), with all
our information in them, we were scheduled nearly 24/7. And this isn't
exactly a bad thing. But it is an exhausting thing. Monday afternoon I
got to meet some of the Macromedia people that work with the community
including, Ed Sullivan, Amy Brooks, Christine Lawson and Scott Fegette.
They are wonderful. I also met several people I've worked with online
including my good friend, Robert Hoekman. That's always a blast –
putting faces with the names you've known online for a long time. And
yes, in general, I always have them wrong. They're taller or shorter or
blonder or darker — but rarely what I'd envisioned. I believe this was
also the day I met John Dowdell. What an awesome, brilliant man!

That evening there was a whirlwind of cocktail parties with a grand
finale on Bourbon Street. This seems to be where many attendees ended
up nightly, but at my age… well, we'll leave it at that! My nights at
Cafe Du Monde were definitely more memorable. Morning comes early and
the sessions begin. Except for one especially terrible session,
everything I attended was top notch. I really enjoyed my hands-on
ColdFusion session. Now there's a language I can tell I would love –
if there were time to learn it all. I also loved Bob Regan's session on
Flash Accessibility. No, that's not an oxymoron. There are simple
things you can do, requiring just a touch of knowledge and preplanning,
that will make your Flash applications accessible. The fact that many
people don't bother doesn't mean it's not possible. My only
disappointment was that there weren't more advanced level CSS sessions,
though I heard rumor that's being working on for next year.

Many times, we had more than one event booked and I had to choose
what to miss. I didn't get to meet the Contribute Engineers in the
“Birds of a Feather” session because I was handing out raffle tickets
at the cocktail party in my “Pit Crew” T-shirt. Yes, that's one of the
benefits of being Team Macromedia — you get to work. ;-) I was

able to attend the Dreamweaver Birds of a Feather meeting afterward
however. That was very enjoyable. There were members of the DW team
that didn't get to make the trip and I would have enjoyed meeting them,
but those that did make it were wonderful. Jen Taylor and Randy Edmunds
are a real treasure. I loved their responses to the feedback. When a
complaint or concern was raised, Jen asked, “What would you like to see
happen?” or “What would you expect the product to do?” Then she madly
scribbled in her notebook to take the information back to the “rest of
the crew.” That's an attitude I love seeing! And it's an attitude I saw
repeatedly throughout MAX. I saw attendees visibly excited by the
accessibility of the Macromedia people as well as their attitudes
toward input. It was great.

Some of the other highlights were the giant hall where the Community
Pit, Cyber Cafe, Product Support stations and vendor booths were.
There's nothing for a Mac head quite like seeing that 5 of the 6 rows
of computers were Macintoshes. Exhilarating and sexy! Of course many of
the vendors had special beads made for the event, so whether you went
to Bourbon Street or not, you looked like you had been to Mardi Gras.
Macromedia's own blinky MAX beads were my favorite. The Keynote was
terribly interesting. Listening to Macromedia's research on mobile and
non-PC devices was quite eye-opening. It definitely got my brain
thinking about some future options. The Sneeks session was very fun and
noisy. Mike Chambers had us all blowing horns to indicate which of the
possible features shown we wanted them to keep. The final night,
Macromedia threw a big party at Mardi Gras world. Yes, sounded weird to
me too! Apparently they build the Mardi Gras floats in this huge
warehouse. However, for parties, they have everything against the walls
and the place is covered with large, colorful heads, creatures and I
don't know what. There was a band and lots of New Orleans style
entertainment, food and drink.

And then, after meeting and hanging out with more geeks than I can
even remember, it was over. Finished. How sad. And how exhausting. So
many great contacts were made. So many friends met in person. So many
nuggets of knowledge were locked in my brain (hopefully they're locked
in there). And now, after catching up on my sleep for a few days, I
just can't wait for TODCON t

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