Underground II
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CFUnderground II

April 7, 2001

by Erika L. Walker,

I recently had the extreme pleasure of attending my first ever CF gathering by sponsoring a NYCFUG meeting in East midtown Manhattan. I had such a great time meeting people and putting faces to names while learning new things that I started looking for another event as soon as I got home. It didn't take me long to find CFUnderground II, sponsored by Michael Smith of TeraTech. The name of the event alone made we want to sign up. With pictures of caves, secrets and CF dancing in my head, who could resist!?

The registration fee was nominal ($49) and it included six hours of food, drink, fun and ColdFusion. Held at the Backstreets Café, in Rockville, Maryland, there was plenty of room to mingle and talk between speakers. The café was located just a few blocks from the train station, especially convenient for the out-of-towners. Kevin Gilchrist and I got the prize for traveling the farthest. He and his fiancée drove all the way from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, while I drove down from northern New Jersey.

Registration began early, and there were the now familiar comments of, "Oh, so great to put a face to a name," as attendees met one another and enjoyed drinks and sandwiches. Each attendee had a raffle ticket to turn in for prizes to be given out throughout the event (no, I didn't win anything; maybe next time!).

Michael opened the event at noon, gave us the run-down for the day, introduced our first speaker, Charlie Arehart, and we were off and running.

Charlie spoke primarily on the differences between CF and JSP and how the future of the market may well be headed towards Java. His talk was highly informative and sparked quite a few questions from the group.

Next up was Shlomy Gantz on "CF Project Management Shiatsu." I thought I was going to get a nice back rub out of this presentation, but I was to be disappointed. It was merely a play on words about Shlomy's background as a certified Shiatsu therapist. Darn! However, his topic was great as he got us all involved in what happens when you're knee deep in a project and nothing is going right. How do you fix it, what steps do you take, etc.

Shlomy's talk was so interesting in fact, that we kept him way over his time limit, asking questions, offering opinions. Charlie Arehart, who was coming back to give us some of ColdFusion's hidden gems, wasn't left much time. We managed to get one gem out of him, but now we have to go find the rest on the web. ( Hmm ...a treasure hunt for hidden gems ,,.we can make it into a game!!

During a brief break, people mingled, ate and drank some more and pretty soon it was time for real fun and games!

Michael hosted a great parody of "Hollywood Squares," with two contestants picking their favorite CF expert "square" to answer questions on ColdFusion. This was fantastic fun and had us all laughing. Had I known a copy of ColdFusion Enterprise was to be the grand prize, I might have stampeded to the front to be a contestant!

With the games over, Steve Drucker from Fig Leaf was up next to give us a speech on the future of CF and what to look forward to that had us all focused. He also raffled off some great training classes sponsored by Fig Leaf.

Jeffrey Peters came up to bat with a session on "Mind Mapping Your CF Journeys." It sounded like something really far out and cosmic, and I was thoroughly prepared for the bizarre, but I didn't have to worry. It was a great talk introducing the technique of mind mapping, originally created by Tony Buzan, for CF application planning and requirements. Jeffrey got us all involved in helping him "map" out an application for a high school reunion website and we had some good laughs with it. He followed it up with some examples on how to tie it to Fusebox apps.

Last, but not least, came our host, Michael, with a "CF Debugging Rap Session." I knew I should have run as soon as the Mind Mapping journey was over, but Mike snagged me and six others to form groups of "debuggers." After being handed our bug topic, off we went to come up with a course of action to find, prevent and fix our problem. Our group had to prevent "Requirement Bugs" while other groups had "Logic Errors," "DB Bugs" and "Runtime Errors," to name a few. In the end, we all shared our solutions with enough time left over to say goodbye to our fellow "debuggers".

Overall, people had a good time absorbing the talks and querying the speakers about their topics. Much was learned, friendships made, and minds opened to the future possibilities that await us as ColdFusion programmers, developers and business owners. Many thanks to Michael Smith and TeraTech for a well-attended event, and I look forward to their next gathering in June; "2001: A Space Odyssey".

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