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Overload Journal #91 - June 2009   Author: Giovanni Asproni
The 2009 ACCU Conference took place in March. The conference chair, Giovanni Asproni, provides a report.

The conference is over, and I've fully recovered - being the conference chair is always very rewarding but also quite exhausting, even when the conference goes smoothly (and, perhaps, staying up until late drinking beers and chatting with the various delegates and speakers had an impact on that as well).

Despite the current economic climate, the attendance was excellent - there were about as many people as in 2008, and this at a time when several conferences lost a big chunk of their size and others, like the Software Development conferences series in the US, have been discontinued. In hindsight, this is not so surprising: many speakers and delegates told me they thought the programme was excellent. In a sense it was easy to achieve that, since we received a great number of high quality proposals, but it was also very difficult, because we could accept less than 50% of the proposals received due to the limited number of slots available, leaving out some very good ones.

The programme was also more intense than in previous years, with two keynotes on the Wednesday, and two lightning talks sessions, one on the Thursday and the other on the Friday.

The two Wednesday keynotes caused a bit of controversy - the first one at the start of the day, from Robert Martin, 'The Birth Of Software Craftsmanship', was followed at the end of the day by Nico Josuttis' 'Welcome Crappy Code: The Death of Code Quality'. Fortunately, the debate afterwards was very civilized, even if a bit heated - Bob Martin wrote a blog entry about that [Martin] and Nico wrote his own thoughts [Josuttis] .

The lightning talks proved to be funny, informative, and were very well received - and Kevlin surprised many of us by proving that he could actually express some interesting ideas in five minutes only, without running over time.

Some other highlights include the engaging keynote from Baroness Susan Greenfield, 'Geeks, Nerds and Other Prejudices' - in which she debunked some myths on gender differences - which was received with an huge ovation (we had to ask people to stop applauding because we were running late!) - and the money collection for Bletchley Park through a variety of means: a raffle, voluntary donations (Astrid even convinced some other guests of the conference hotel to donate money for the cause), and the Enigma competition. Thanks to the generosity of our donors we managed to collect a total of £1400 which has already been given to the museum.

The success of the conference was due to many people, and I want to thank them all: the conference committee members; the people from Archer Yates, Julie, Marsha, and Charlotte, who, as usual, did an outstanding job; the sponsors, who allow us to keep the fees affordable; and all the speakers and attendees who always make this conference unique. I also want to give some very special thanks to a couple of friends, Allan Kelly and Kevlin Henney, who were always available to share ideas and opinions with me during the organization of the conference, and to Linda Rising, who kindly accepted to deliver a keynote in place of Frank Buschmann, who, unfortunately, had to pull out at the very last minute.

We are now working to the next edition with the aim of making the conference even better. If you have any suggestions, or are thinking of sending a proposal (and, perhaps, you want to check if your idea is potentially interesting or not), feel free to send me an email at - the Call for Proposals is not out yet, but early submissions and ideas are always welcome.




Overload Journal #91 - June 2009