Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Day 1 Exhibiting at The Ada Connection

A speedy boarding (and disembarking) Ajay Patel and I stepped down off our easyJet flight in Edinburgh on Monday night ready for The Ada Connection the next day. The conference was already in full swing and the marquee (or tent for our American readers) was ready for the eager exhibitors to fill on the Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Tuesday morning was an early rise and we headed to the John McIntyre Conference Centre on the city’s university campus. Thanks to the taxi driver’s directions, we had a brisk morning walk around the campus and made sure that the delivery entrances were in full working order before finding the correct entrance and a warm welcome from Joan Atkinson and Tom Anderson, from the University of Newcastle, the conference organisers.

Our stand was erected and the table adorned with data sheets, flyers and the like. Whilst we waited for the delegates to wander in for their morning coffee and pastries, we had a chance to chat to fellow exhibitors - LDRA, Resource Engineering Projects, IPL, Ellidiss Software, AdaCore, Rapita Systems, Verocel and Wind River to name a few. 

The delegates filtered in and avoided us until they had their first hit of caffeine. Once they were all well-oiled, we were good to go and within 30 minutes had two companies interested in the Legacy Bridge Suite migration technology and asking for webinars. Legacy migration and obsolescence is a serious challenge facing most organisations and so there were plenty more cards swapped and details taken down throughout the rest of the day.

Lunch was in the student cafeteria but it could have well been a decent restaurant. As one observant exhibitor pointed out, the only give-away was the copious amount of baked beans available.

 And then came the rain. Lots and lots of it. Being positioned in the marquee, a short dash from the main conference building and through the waterfall above the door, a couple of us were asking whether the delegates would venture outside or whether they would remain in the dryer foyer area leaving us out in the cold and all alone. A few, including myself, were asking if there were any more heaters were available… The organisers, Tom, Joan and Steve Riddle explored all the options with Edinburgh First, the venue’s conference team. A few options had to be discounted because of health and safety regulations (there were stairs we might throw ourselves down) but they persisted and kept us all informed. Meanwhile, at the four o’clock coffee break, the Ada community braved the elements for a couple of seconds and made it into the marquee, much to our appreciation and satisfaction. As the coffee break ended, it was decided that Ada developers were in fact made of strong stuff and we would stay put. I’m sure it would be a different story if we we’re exhibiting at the Miss World competition. Those who were cold found a spot inside and everyone was happy. I’m sure all the exhibitors would join me in thanking Joan and Tom for keeping everyone that way.   

The thought of the whisky tasting session in the evening kept everyone warm as we waited for 6.15pm to approach when we were allowed to take the lids off the bottles and let the aromas drift amongst the crowd. Each of the exhibitors had a bottle of the finest Scotch whisky on their table and stacks of tasting cups. I was most relieved to have Highland Park as our resident whisky. Not because it is a perfectly balanced 18 year old single malt with a toffee sweetness and a mouth-wateringly smokey finish. I was happy because after a whole day and evening exhibiting, I didn’t fancy trying to pronounce Aberlour a’bunadh or Ardbeg Uigeadailthe. The whisky inevitably got everyone chatting and moving around the exhibition tasting what was on offer. I snuck off to have a quick look at the foyer area to see how that was going and when I came back a crowd had formed around our table. I thought Ajay must have pulled out the Legacy Bridge presentation and people had swarmed round to see this so called wizardy. As I approached the crowd, I realised that it wasn’t the Bridge that was dazzling the audience. It was Tucker Taft, one of the chief designers of the Ada language. It was 8.30pm and we knew we weren’t going to compete with Mr. Taft for attention so Ajay and I gathered our belongings and called it a day. And a successful day at that.      

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