SIC 2005 – Day One

The conference begins in earnest.

This year, the Shareware Industry Conference has 30 sessions scheduled over the three main days of the conference. There is always a pair of simultaneous sessions in each of 5 one-hour time slots each day, along with a lunch break. One must decide between two sessions each time, and the choice is not always easy for me, since most of the topics are directly relevant to my business.

The difficult decisions started right away, with the first session being a choice between Press & PR and Blogs and RSS. Despite the unquestionable entertainment value of Phil Schnyder, of askSam Systems, in the former session, I chose to attend the latter, as there was more that I needed to learn about RSS. After the first two speakers, I thought I had made the wrong choice, as my main questions were still unanswered. Fortunately, Sharon Housley, publisher of FeedForAll, had the anchor position. Her clear presentation finally illuminated the light bulb in my head and made the session worthwhile.

One of the great aspects of SIC is the ability to network with peers in the industry, and this is often more valuable than the sessions. In the first break between sessions, I ran into several friends and acquaintances, so I missed most of the next session. I slipped in at the end of the Closing the Sale session, presented by Ben Weintraub, of Merit Software, and Chris Thornton, of Thornsoft Development.

No official lunch was scheduled during the break, so several of us walked to a local establishment, Darcy’s, to participate in the first unofficial gathering of the Association of Independent Software Industry Professionals (AISIP), which was recently created by Sue Pichotta to serve the needs of independent software developers in a way that cannot be easily accomplished by a non-profit organization.

The next session was a choice between Software Localization and Search Engine Strategies, and I selected what was behind door number three. I took my laptop down to the internet lounge and partook of the free wireless access provided by the conference organizers. It was the first opportunity to make sure that I could retrieve my email and obtain newsgroup access. I also determined that I could not easily conduct business as usual on a laptop keyboard, but being able to communicate with the office and home was nice.

The next session I attended was Effective Negotiations with Suda Pethe, of Centered Systems, and Jean-Guy Ducreux, of JunkWarden and a new venture. The session was interesting and contained discussions of specific numbers for certain deals. The only problem, which was not the fault of the speakers, was that “negotiations” could mean lots of different things, so they had to adapt for the varied audience.

The final time slot had a replacement session, Software Packaging, presented solely by Gary Elfring of CD Ship. This turned out to be the best session of the day, providing loads of practical advise on Inexpensive Packaging for Software, including various options and approximate pricing of necessary materials. There was enough detail to both select a desired result and to produce the package in-house.

Entertainment and food for the evening was provided by Digital River and their numerous subsidiaries. After their sumo wrestling escapades last year, which resulted in injury to a shareware developer, I expected something more sedate. Surprisingly, they had a mechanical bull for attendees to ride, and a contest with prizes for the highest judged “cowboys”. Loren Brewer of Shareware Solutions took the top prize, and fortunately their were no injuries this year. The only problem is that Digital River again forgot that this was a reception and turned the music up too loud to talk at some points.

As the reception was winding down, I participated in a shareware tradition, the “ice cream run“. At each conference and schmooze, Eric Isaacson of Eric Isaacson Software leads a contingent to a local ice cream parlor. I had the honor of riding along with Eric, Gary Elfring, and Jessica Dewell on what turned out to be a rather interesting journey, culminating in a half-sprint across the parking lot to get through the door before it was locked. Dave Trump and Thomas Warfield arrived in a second vehicle, while a third vehicle got lost en route and simply returned to the conference hotel.

Returning from the ice cream run, we ran into Michael “Doc” Callahan and Chris Thornton in the hotel lobby. After a short conversation, it was apparent that the only remaining activity was in the bar, and since beer does not reasonably chase ice cream, I retired to my room for the evening.

Common Ground update: Tonight I am missing The Black Crowes, who I understand put on a great show. Their opening act is Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, who I had the pleasure of seeing at a fairly intimate club many years ago, though I would definitely have liked to see them again.

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