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360Flex Keynote includes Flex 4, Thermo and Flash Player 10

I finally got around to watching the 360|Flex keynote with Mark Anders, Justin Everett-Church and more, and just like so many others have blogged, there is some really great information included on Flex 4 (Gumbo), Thermo, Flash Player 10 and more. While the video is over an hour long, it is worth the investment in time:

FlashForward SF 2008 Pricing Announced and Still Overly Expensive

Some readers may remember my previous post on the costs of conferences, specifically Flash on the Beach and 360|Flex compared to FlashForward. In short, FlashForward was more expensive... by a landslide... even when factoring in the cost of an international flight and 2:1 exchange rates.

However, when Lynda.com sold FlashForward to Beau Ambur and Metaliq a few months back, I was hoping things might be changing. Surely they wouldn't keep the cost of attendance so high, would they? I even had the thought that if the price got down to the $400 to $500 range, I would consider attending once again. So when I received an email today announcing FlashForward 2008 San Francisco festival nominations were open and providing a link to the pricing information, I was excited to see if changes had indeed been made.

Sadly, I was disappointed. Yes, the prices seem to have went down slightly. But the early bird price is still $899, and the cost goes all the way up to $1099 for at-the-door registration. I guess this year Flash on the Beach (for which I have already bought my 2008 pass) only wins by $464 instead of $664. That's progress, right?

Have you attended a 360|Flex conference?

If so, please read this post and fill out the simple 3 question survey:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=yGMLUk_2f4IRYXqoobzijRuQ_3d_3d

Tom and John, who run 360|Flex, are looking for some feedback on where they should be spending your attendance fees ($360), and this survey will help them answer their questions.

Having attended 360|Flex Seattle and posted my feelings on Tom and John's massive efforts, you may know that I feel strongly that this is one of the best values in conferences. A top-notch event for the mere price of $360. So, in keeping with their community-driven goals, please fill out the survey and let them know how you'd like your attendance fees spent at future conferences. If the survey is too limiting, leave a comment on their blogs, which are linked above.

Lastly, as part of the community, you can also see the live results to the survey here.

[Update: Peter Elst has posted his feelings on the subject. If nothing else, at least 360|Flex appears to be getting a good conversation started.]

Adobe Acquires Buzzword

According to Ryan Stewart of Adobe, it was announced this evening that Adobe has acquired Virtual Ubiquity, and thus their product Buzzword. For those who may not know, Buzzword is a complete word processor and document sharing application written completely in Flex. Virtual Ubiquity has an informative blog post about the acquisition as well.

Congrats to Dave Coletta and team! It is great to see Flex RIAs taking off and to know that all the resources available to Adobe will be put behind this amazing product.

Ribbit Plus AIR iPhone Equals VOIP Goodness

I just watched a video on YouTube of the AIR iPhone application with Ribbit's VOIP Flex Component placing and receiving calls. Who needs a real iPhone when you can just fire up an AIR app and talk all you want?

Seriously though, there is some very cool stuff going on with AS3, Flex, and Flash these days. I can only imagine where this will go if Intel and Adobe do indeed get AIR running on mobile devices. It could have the potential to turn wireless carriers into data-only providers -- mobile broadband services.

I would highly suggest when the onAIR tour rolls through your town you check it out. I'll bet they may even have some more Ribbit info they could demo for you while it is in closed beta.

360Flex / Overall Wrap-up

Hopefully this wrap-up falls under the "better late than never" heading, because it has been almost two weeks since the conference and I am just now getting up my notes from days two and three, as well as this wrap-up. This is by no means a reflection on the conference (which was extremely well run), but more a reflection on how insane my schedule has been lately.

That said, this conference was the best value for a conference that I have attended to date. And, I'm not sure the value aspect of the conference could be improved upon. For example, the $360 attendance fee included breakfast, lunch and dinner/parties every day. The welcome kits included great polo shirts (as opposed to regular t-shirts) and beta invites for projects such as Buzzword. And the speakers and their sessions were generally great - I've written reviews/recaps of all the ones I attended here.

But, as is usually the case with conferences, you don't attend just to see the speakers - you attend for the community aspects. To meet like-minded people and to inspire and be inspired. So here's a list of some inspiring people and projects from the conference:

+ Buzzword Beta: For me, this is _the_ example of how Flex and AS3 can be used to build an application. Adobe contributed some money to this project to enable them to bring on additional developers and really make this a showcase for the Flex platform. And, showcase it is. I highly suggest trying to get your hands on a beta invite if you can. If you'd like one leave a comment on my blog and I'll add you as a collaborator on a document, which forces you to create an account and is a sort-of "back door" to a beta invite (Dave or anyone else from Virtual Ubiquity, let me know if this is going to cause a problem for you...). More on Buzzword can be found here.

+ Ribbit: VOIP (voice over IP) in Flex. The example I saw at the conference was where Charles Freedman used Ribbit to call a cell phone of someone in the audience. Being able to place and receive phone calls through Flex is truly cool stuff. Imagine the uses - tech support, fax capabilities... More info at Ribbit's developer site (now taking applications for the beta) and on Charles' blog. There is also a writeup at RIApedia and on Ryan Stewart's blog.

+ Charity Code Jam: As part of the conference there was also a charity code jam which benefited the local food bank, Northwest Harvest. Developers were encouraged to give whatever time they felt comfortable donating toward building an online portal for the charity. According to the project's website, over $158,225 worth of time was spent for the cause, writing a total of 5681 lines of code. That's a lot of work. All in all this appears to have been a very large success, even gathering some press from around the blogosphere. Hopefully other conferences will take this idea and help out a good cause by enabling the collective minds in attendance to work together for charity.

A few sessions I didn't mention in my daily wrap-up posts that are worth mention include:

+ Programmatic Visualizations - Andrew Trice
Andrew has a nice write-up along with his slides and links to some other resources on his blog.

+ Deep Linking Flex Applications - Simeon
Since I have been involved with the SWFAddress project, I have become much more aware of the options available for deep-linking, and how the included scheme with Flex isn't really all it is cracked up to be. Slides and commentary can be found on Simeon's blog.

+ Flex and PHP for Rich Internet Application Development - Charles Bihis
Seeing as how I use PHP for all of my server-side development, this probably should have been at the top of my list of sessions to attend. Now I'm sorry I missed out on it! Code samples, slides and notes on Charles' blog.

All in all 360|Flex was a wonderful conference. Here's hoping the guys from 360 Conferences keep delivering wonderful experiences and maybe even expand out into other interactive development subject matter for future conferences. Well done, guys!

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