My morning started rather well, thanks to a surprisingly good night's sleep (Thanks, Hampton Inn!). I had breakfast, then set off for the Convention Center. Once there, I waited in a rapidly-moving line to get into the Main Hall for the opening keynote.
The Main Hall is a fascinating room; with a stars-in-a-dark-sky lighting effect on the ceiling and color-shifting raindrop lights; an elegant design. Event organizer Aaron Kasten took the podium, and with a few jokes to cover a few mild stumbles, welcomed us all to the BBQ. He told us about the brief history of the BABBQ, how it began as a small gathering of friends and in a few short years grew into the massive event we were now a part of... he spoke at length thanking the sponsors, and thanking us... he compared Russell Holly to Orpah Winphrey.
Aaron set us up for our first speaker, Nipuna Gunasekera of Texas Instruments, who told us all about PandaBoard in a brief, concise speech. Then, Aaron returned to the stage, thanked Mr. Gunasekera, thanked us and the sponsors again, tells us not to smoke on the campus - and that in 20 minutes, the other half of the Main Hall would be opened, containing all of the vendor's booths. Dismissed!
I used a little bit of my RootzWiki News Team clout to get in a few minutes early to take some pictures. Well, I say clout... I kind of said 'hi, I'm with RootzWiki, can I go in?' and those by the door were like 'oh yeah, go ahead!' It wasn't a lie; it just wasn't a whole truth. Don't judge. Anyways... a little helpful (and likely disappointing) preamble; I didn't actually attend any of the speaking sessions on Saturday. I'm interested in developing, but I'm no developer; I would have been taking up a seat better filled by someone who would use the information to the fullest. I'm a little upset about missing speakers such as Andy Dyer, Jeremy Meiss, Paul Scherf, Luke Wallace, Oskar Anderö of Sony Mobile, Alin Jerpelea from the CM team, Josh Ehlke... but I was completely engrossed in the Vendor Hall. It was an Android geek's dream come true.
For hours, I traveled relentlessly around this floor, mostly hanging out with this guy named Roman Birg, who I guess does a little coding or something. Here is a collection of images and descriptions of the things we saw within this magical Android paradise (advance apologies again for my Galaxy Nexus blurry cam):
Dead Zebra Inc. brought their massive array of fine Android products, with Andrew Bell signing and doodling purchased products until his hand almost fell off; Google was represented by a guy happily answering and dodging questions and handing out Android wind-up toys, stickers, and keychain lights.
XDA had an impressive table, along with a mini-museum of the handheld devices of the past. If you signed their banner with your member name, you were free to take one of their nifty NFC tag keychains and possibly a t-shirt. Also, if you signed in to XDA and showed them, they banned you for a day on the spot. It got to a point where people (myself included) were asking for this. Whee!
CruzerLite held the center of the floor with an impressive array of their wares - tons and tons of Android cases, t-shirts, and plushies on sale with their trademark great deals and quality products. They brought the whole family, it was great to finally get to meet them in person!
Seidio and Motorola were neighboring booths, and it seemed to me that the Seidio guys were envious of Motorola's decision to bring attractive women to the BBQ to show off their new Razr phones and hand out Moto keychains and stress balls. Seidio themselves were demo'ing their amazing waterproof cases, and handing out t-shirts/cases to those willing to fill out a brief survey.
The makers of Meta Watch have an inarguably impressive product, but unfortunately had the distinction of being "those guys near the HTC booth". HTC gathered the biggest crowds the entire weekend, giving away roughly $15,000 worth of devices through Twitter contests, giveaways, and Beach Buggy Blitz competitions... including at least a pair of HTC One X+! All devices they gave away were S-off and rooted.
Andy's Threads, despite also being HTC's neighbor, had a gravity all its own thanks to this friendly young lady. Oh, and they also sold their products; keychains, stickers, and their excellently designed t-shirts and hoodies.
The Android community's most amicable homicidal psychopath, Deth Becomes You had perhaps the most visually stimulating booth of them all, with his brilliantly crafted and horrific UndeadAndroid.com figurines and masks. He raffled off that large plush demonic Android, posed for murderous pictures, and happily gave a small bag of treats to those who said 'Trick or Treat!'
I wanted to get to know more about the Slingbox, but EEEK WHAT ARE THESE SENTIENT ORBS OF DOOM?! Oh wait, they're Spheros! These little balls roll around under their own power, steered by an Android app. I was so fascinated I kinda didn't get many details on Slingbox. Sorry fellas, I'll do some research to make up for it! Both teams gave products away.
Sony had a great showing, with a very professional setup. On display were several of their tablets and Xperia phones, Google TV, and an interesting set of 3D headgear that plugged into a PlayStation 3 for (what I've heard were) impressive visuals. (The darn thing didn't fit on my giant head.) Sony gave away Xperia pens and killer 'Android Attacks' t-shirts.
Salom Ltd. had their Andru Chargers out, including their upcoming black model - and some very cool buttons as freebies. Next door, Texas Instruments had jellybeans and lanyards for visitors to their crazy awesome OMAP 4 pandaboard action; Samsung Developers were there, and while their booth was underwhelming (especially compared to their keynote), they were showing off the niftier features of the Note II - and blowing my mind by holding a coffee cup in the same hand as the massive device.
Phew! There, hope you're still with me after that photo gallery! Not shown despite having a booth: Verizon. I took no photos of Verizon. Also not shown was the RootzWiki booth, where the good Steves gave away several devices, including a Nexus Q - they showed up a little late, and I neglected to get any decent photos. Anybody have some? Please post them!
Back to the timeline - It was a great day. I won one of HTC's initial contests, scoring an international black One S... and had a good time attempting to negotiate a trade or deal with the Samsung and Motorola reps for a phone that'd work on Verizon for it (I'll admit, I was trying to start some beef, but nobody was biting, and soon it was lame). After telling anybody who'd listen about my good fortune, we broke for lunch... met even more cool people... and after just a few short hours, the Convention Center closed up, and kicked us all out at around 4:30pm. We were told to come back because HTC was throwing a party that night.
This was probably the only dud of the BBQ - HTC seemed to drop the ball on this party. After Roman and I hit up the local Outback for a steak, we returned to the Convention Center only to find that there was a bar charging 5 dollar a drink, playing an awful mix of tunes, and not really organizing anything. People were just conversing in clumps around the main lobby of the place, drinking their drinks, wondering what would happen next.
The CM team tried to keep things interesting, throwing stickers and things from the balconies to the crowd, but many of us didn't wait, breaking loose to hit the bar next door instead. Good times were had. Myself and a few others took the 40min ride to downtown Dallas to take that in for a while... had more good times. When we came back, we went back to the bar, closed it, staggered back, had some more goofy fun... then all crawled to our respective hotel rooms to pass out and brace for day 3. This last bit was lazily written, but in writing it I remember the feeling of sated exhaustion I think many of us felt after our packed-with-moments day, and it has taken its toll.
Lessons learned from Day 2:
- Bring a legit camera.
- BRING MONEY.
- There are people who recognize me! Wow!
- Long live Deep Ellum.