And so it ends. I’ve been back in New York for a few hours, and I’d be remiss (and nobody wants to be that) if I didn’t write a bit about my experiences last week in California. I say experiences and not experience, because each moment was something to see. I’ll start in chronological order and then jump around, as my memories become less coherent and, well, chronological.

The Big Apple. Logo.

On Sunday morning, June 10, 2012, I flew in to San Francisco International Airport from Kennedy Airport in New York City. I’ve already detailed my story up until the flight, so I’ll start from my seat in the coach section of American Airlines Flight 179. I sat in seat 40E, which is the middle seat towards the rear of the plane.

My American Airlines Napkin

This was my first flight in 20 years, so I was a little unnerved. I sat next to a fellow named Tim Kelvas. He explained the little things that might’ve caught a first time traveller off guard. For much of the flight we spoke about Tim’s hardware engineering, his wi-fi enabled boat, and a little bit about the basics of app development. I think I also convinced him to buy a Mac for his daughter, who’s starting college in the fall. (He asked me to tell him if there were any new product announcements. Tim, if you read this, there are new laptops, now’s the time to buy!) Towards the end of the flight, we played chess on my MacBook.

After we landed, I walked with Tim to the baggage claim. After a few false alarms, my red hard-shell suitcase came around on the conveyor belt. Tim was going to another conference just a few blocks from WWDC, so I hitched a ride in the cab with him. His company was covering it anyway, or so he said. Thanks for that. We got out of the cab and headed our separate ways. I arrived at Market Street.

I was still disoriented. I wasn’t sure where the Moscone Center was, so I asked a police officer where the conference was. He saw that I was Jewish, so he directed me to the Israel celebration. I don’t recall exactly how I cleared up that my destination was somewhere else, but then he pointed me down 4th Street.

WWDC 2012

While walking the three blocks down 4th Street, I bumped into Philip Bernstein. Philip was on my flight in from New York. He already had his conference badge and his sweatshirt. He told me that he was headed back to his hotel, he’d see me later. Seeing the conference badge and jacket excited me, I added an extra pump to my step. Within two minutes, I was outside Moscone West.

Sitting outside Moscone was a certain man named Clayton. I don’t remember his last name exactly. It had an ei in it. (Leitch, maybe?) He sat on a small foldable chair with a straw hat and several tins of caffeinated mints. Clay isn’t young, looks like he’s in his late 50′s, and he’s been the first guy in line for the WWDC Keynote for a decade. He tells a story of someone who had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to attend WWDC, and they gave him that first spot in line. Every year since, Clay says, he’s gotten that spot.

Clayton: The First Guy in Line

Hanging out with Clay was someone named Joshua Tucker. Josh does user interface and user experience design for iOS apps. He wasn’t able to get a WWDC ticket, but he came to hang out with his friends in San Francisco, and he was chilling with Clay when I got there. They were both very nice to me. I showed off my Xcode themed business card and chatted with them for a little bit. Then I went inside to get my badge and jacket.

Inside, there were lots of people milling about. A giant sign hung overhead, advertising iOS 6. It’s that same sign that made it to some of the popular technology websites several days before the event. I don’t want to get into too much detail about how registration worked, but there were several lines which were logically arranged, and there was a separate line for students. Apple gave out 150 badges as a scholarship to students. I was lucky enough to be one of the recipients of a student badge. At the student line, the engineer verified my ID, then handed me a jacket which he had handy, to try on for size. Then, he got me a fresh one, and my badge. “Please don’t lose it, we can’t give you another one.” I was not going to lose it. In fact, I didn’t take it off until some time midweek.

I went back outside, to try and network with the other developers who came to San Francisco for the conference. Many of them knew each other from years past and were standing in groups. To make it even more difficult for me, many of them were much taller than me. Despite that, I managed to meet a few people. I met an Apple employee named Ron. Ron deals with Enterprise distribution. We had a nice conversation about how to sell an app to large clients of a business that sells software as a service. Thanks for the insight. Can’t wait until I can see the B2B session video.

TestFlight was distributing tee shirts on the corner of 4th and Mission. I met the people behind the convenient beta distributions service, and yes, Abraham, they know of you. There are some secret sauce stuff that they couldn’t talk about regarding why a TestFlight app won’t work on the App Store, but we discussed it briefly. Guys, if you are down with it, I’d still be interesting in pitching in on the mobile website. I want my stats!

I stopped to talk to Clay again. Mark Gurman from 9to5Mac came over with his co-editor to say hi. (Sorry, missing your name and card at the moment.) They asked if I was the one who had emailed them saying that I wanted to meet at WWDC. I had no recollection of such an email, until Mark showed it to me on his phone. My mind is a funny thing sometimes.

A photo with Michael Jurewitz

After a while, I went back inside. Inside, I met Michael Jurewitz. “Jury” is a Performance and Developer Tools evangelist at Apple. Michael was holding a sweet camera and tripod, and wearing one of those yellow “Authorized Photographer” badges. We discussed a coding problem I’d had, and he went to take more pictures. I caught him for a photo outside a little while later. The folks on the street corner called me a Jury fanboy. I still think that his Core Data video deserves a permalink on Apple’s homepage.

Also inside was Sal, from New York, with the company that makes “Paper”. We had a nice little chat. I gave him my card, but he didn’t have any. I hope he emails me at some point.

Next, I met some of the other students, including two from Amsterdam. We went to the Apple Store on Market Street and met an Apple engineer who had iOS 6 but wasn’t allowed to show it to us. Luckily for him, the default lock screen didn’t appear to have changed much.

Students on Scholarship

As I was walking back outside, I saw two people with yarmulkas walking. I caught up with them. I looked at their badges. Henri Tebeka. “Ari?” I asked. Surprised, he gave me a look. Once I told him who I was, I got a smile and a handshake. Ari is the developer of the Mincha Alerts app, which uses my KosherCocoa library. Sure enough, he was in from Israel, staying by his brother in the area. They are both developers and were attending WWDC. We would see each other again several times throughout the week.

After the Tebekas left, I met Kirk van Gorkom and Jeff McFadden of Forge Apps. An acquaintance of theirs showed up and they went to dinner. I found a car service and went off to where I was to stay, at the Chabad in the Richmond district.

When I got there, I was really tired. The Rabbi and his family were out, but someone else who was staying there was home, so I sat around being exhausted for a little while until the Rabbi came home. They showed me to my bed and I collapsed at around 8PM Pacific. I was up at 4AM local time. I hung around, put on tefilin, and by the time I was ready to leave, the Rabbi was up. He gave me a house key and some change for my $10 bill. I walked around the corner to the Geary bus. (Yea, in NY that would be Geary Street or Geary Avenue or Geary Something. In San Francisco, the streets have no suffixes.)

View from the Trilingual Bus

I got on the bus and experienced my first ride on public transit on the west coast. I found it interesting that there were signs to “hold on”. Seriously, it’s a bus. In NY, we don’t bother holding on. Then again, the busses in New York don’t speak three languages. At one stop, I thought the bus had said Cydia, but apparently it was Presidio. Eventually, we arrived at Market Street (one of the few “streets” in San Francisco) and I disembarked. Having gone one stop to far, I backtracked. Outside of Moscone, I was greeted by the legendary WWDC Keynote line.

I began to walk towards past the campers, the advertisers, and the people wearing gigantic tubs of coffee on their backs. (Seriously, there was a lot of coffee.) As I made my way to the front, someone offered me a flyer and a package of chocolate chip cookies. Noting the kosher symbol on it, I took both.

At the front of the line, I met Clay, Philip, and a few others. I met Matt from NYC (and his friend) and Dimitri Buniol. Dimitri, among other things, has an app that Scott Forestall likes, and, as I found out on Thursday, speaks Japanese.

We stood there for about a half hour. During that time, I got to know the people around me, but more importantly, I got some free stuff. Someone gave out a product called GoPano, which allows iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S users to take 360º video using a special case, attachment, and companion app. At one point, the cards and flyers got so annoying that Philip started giving the advertisers each other’s materials. (“Here’s my card.”)

A girl came over and asked who would take a picture with her. She proceeded to stand back outside the photo frame and take a picture of whoever (don’t remember if it was Dimitri or Matt) it was that volunteered with her iPhone. Then, she showed off us the picture which she had taken. She was in it – it was her app, of course It was pretty clever.

Welcome to Dub Dub

At some point, a reporter interviewed Dimitri. Clay declined to interview. I think he said that he once got death threats or something. After the interview (during which I strategically positioned myself between Dimitri and the doors, so that I’d be on video) we stood away from the doors and made faces at the security guards. When we got bored of that, Clay entertained us with stories of his antics from previous years. I don’t remember too much of it, but he said something about running under a barrier along with a group of people. Then, he advised us to stay to the right. The smiling guard opened up and we calmly marched inside. To the right, of course.

Upstairs was a sight to see. Tables were covered in bagels, danishes, cookies, and coffee. There were coolers brimming with ice chips and juice bottles. (Odwalla juice became a highlight of my week, considering that not much of the food there was kosher.) We walked, not ran, around the corridors of the second floor of Moscone West. Finally, we arrived at the next checkpoint.

Sitting Under the Stanchion

We gave Clay some space to stretch out comfortably, because of his age, and because it gave me an excuse to sit under the stanchion. Dimitri went and brought about four cups of water. I tried to code, but I was uncomfortable sitting on the ground. (Instead, I took a picture of my code editor and sent it to an engineer at Apple who I know, so he’d think I was coding.) We sat and talked about how we had plenty of time to wait. At some point I got up and walked along the line and observed some of the groups of people sitting with iPads, computers, and breakfast.

I met two British chaps, one of whom had my favorite business card of the entire week. Dave Addey and his friend were showing off their awesome app, which presented the history of World War II in a very creative way, using scroll views to create a rich panorama effect. After seeing the app, I checked the juice for a kosher symbol, found one, and chugged it. Then I went back up to the front of the line. Clay and Co had saved my spot in the front. Twice. I sat for a while and took some more pictures of the back of the giant Apple logo plastered (well, not literally) to the front of Moscone West. The smiley security guard got a transmission on his radio. Clay recognized it as the signal that it was time to stand up.

Why am I a celebrity again?

Going up the escalator to the third floor, Apple photographers were going crazy on us like paparazzi. We were headed up to Presidio, the largest auditorium in the entire conference center. My memory of that run is like that of a shaky home video. Of course we walked past the conference employees, up until we got into Presidio. Clay and Dimitri got the front seats on the right side. I sat between Philip and some other developer in the second row. At risk of sounding cliché, I’ll dare say that the atmosphere in that room was totally electric. It was 9:58AM Pacific. At 10 o’clock, the lights dimmed, and then Siri came on (video link). You can catch the entire keynote here. I’m in the video in several places, wearing my white Stack Exchange tee.

After the keynote, I snuck over to the executive side. I got a picture with Scott Forstall, but I’m incredibly bad at posing, so I’ll spare myself the embarrassment. (You’re lucky you got to see the picture of me and Jury.) After being delinquent about where I should and should not be, I headed down to the lunch area on the first floor.

I had emailed Apple about the kosher food and I wanted to see if the food was kosher, or, as my mother put it, simply “kosher style”. Thanks Apple, it was certified kosher with the best certification in Northern California. It was also very tasty.

After lunch, I hung out out with some Apple engineers, and watched a presentation. (What else do you do at a programming conference?) I can’t get in to too much detail about what else went on inside of Moscone west, but searching the internet with Google, you can find details about the MacBook Pro with Retina displays, as well as the iPad app table.

I went into a session dealing with something (perhaps game related), but I can’t remember what. I had two conversations with people on Twitter. One of those conversations was with the renowned Ray Wenderlich. I met him outside of the auditorium, and we attended a session about {redacted} together. I watched him take excellent notes, pointing out to himself which ones to tutorialize, and work on his app, Battle Map 2. I recall knowing most of what was presented in that particular session.

Monday was a blast.

Chinatown. Sabra is on the left. After Moscone closed on Monday night, I decided to check out the one kosher restaurant in the area. I walked towards Market Street. At Market, I was supposed to turn right and go up Grant. Instead, I walked up Kearny. I asked a man for directions and he told me where to I needed to go. Then he asked me for a few bucks for dinner. I obliged.

I walked up to Bush and Grant. I saw a hill. I distinctly recall jaywalking diagonally here, but I feel like my mind is playing tricks on me… Once I was in chinatown, I walked up to Sabra. The entrance was narrow, and inside, there were stairs which led upward. Upstairs, I met a Jewish couple on vacation from the Five Towns area, and a hasidic fellow who recognized me from the Gate in JFK. He does some interesting genetics work, and guess what? He was in town for a conference too.

Chicken Shishkabob

After the I finished demoing my apps to the couple, they left, and I ordered a double chicken shish kabob on his recommendation. It was so tasty that I even took a picture of it. (Now, isn’t that a ridiculous premise? How would I know how good it was before I had eaten it? Hehe.)

After I finished at Sabra, I headed over to the W Hotel to meet Jeremy Olson and Christian Billings of Tapity. They wrote the award-winning app Grades 2. I met them in the lobby, and sat with them, David Bernard, and another app developer, whose name (and business card) escapes me. Somewhere in the middle of our conversation, Matt Londre, and the rest of his crew at GetKarded walked in. I introduced myself. After watching Jeremy demo Tapity’s latest app, I went outside. I asked around for the Geary bus which would take me back to Richmond, but I ended up striking up a conversations with the developers on the corner.

In the middle of my discussion with who I recall to be Daniel Yoo of minima software, a homeless woman came over asking for money. She was given the $5 she said she needed. She asked for more, but the person who gave her the initial fiver called her out on it. Then, Christopher L, from the a well known paper came outside with the rest of the group. I was basically offered a job on the spot. They’re looking for a full time iOS developer. They don’t want interns or part-time, I was informed. If I decide that school’s not for me, I’m welcome there. Good to know, I’ll keep it in mind.

I walked with the group for a few blocks down Mission, and showed Chris my game. I told him that I’m in school, and that I don’t plan on dropping out to work on apps. When we got to their car, I learned that they were going to a dance party and I was invited. I declined, but we exchanged business cards. I walked up to Market Street and hailed a cab back to Richmond.

On Tuesday, I went to some sessions with Philip. I can’t talk about what went on during the sessions, as they’re all covered by nondisclosure agreements. I’ll say in broad terms, however, that I was “sherlocked” by a demo project. To be sherlocked, according to the Urban Dictionary, is to work on something, only to have Apple release the same feature or product shortly after your release. In other words, I was writing an app, which Apple more or less implemented as demo code for developers. Alas, Apple’s is only demo code, not an app, so perhaps I’ll ship it one day.

I hung out in the Student Lounge. (It was just a separate area which was corralled off for students and any accompanying chaperones for the students that were minors.) Oh, and there were snacks and insanely fast ethernet connections. (Yup, 15MB per second down!) I felt like a camp counselor, helping some of the younger students with things like basic table view cells. I also ate a lot junk food, since bags of chips and fruit were the only kosher things there. I tried to get everyone together to write a game based on my RPG engine, but we didn’t get very far. There was too much for them to learn in too little time. I’d totally do it though if the opportunity arose.

Tuesday night was Stump the Experts. Stump was a lot of fun. I met Clayton on the way in, and we sat in the front with Philip. I cheated, having entered two questions into the box, but neither was pulled out. Stump runs much like a game show, and you can find out more on Wikipedia. At some point, Philip walked out to go to a party (which he hated – haha), and a German fellow named Robb, from SoundCloud got into a disagreement at the mic with the MC. He didn’t like how iCloud doesn’t like umlauts. The MC didn’t like how Robb was complaining about iCloud. In fact, the MCs didn’t like much of anything. The show was awesome though, and I won a shirt for standing in line for the mic when Stump ended. (I knew an answer.) It ended too early. I’m told it used to run later.

Roaming San Francisco

After Stump ended at around 8, I roamed San Francisco. I met Felix Lotze from Germany. He works on translation software and had some interesting things to say about translation. Some languages don’t have natural words for concepts we take for granted in English. For example, in Italian, a long press becomes a “half of a double tap”. I also met the creators of the task management app for Mac and iOS called “Things” on that street corner.

On Wednesday, I started meeting the Tebekas for lunch at the special request pickup area. We ate on the second floor in one of the areas with tables. Haim Tebeka noted that the americans preferred the cafeteria, while Europeans preferred to eat separately. Then they got into a conversation in French with some people at our table who were from France. I enjoyed listening to the linguistic patterns.

After lunch, the Tebekas chose their sessions and headed to them. I met Philip on line for the Game Center session. While waiting for that session to begin, I met Joe Green and Eyal Shpits from Israel. Their company is called Greenshpits software. (A clever Israeli combination of their names.) I also met a fellow from Atlanta who works for AT&T on a bunch of interesting software. I gave him my card too.

James Dempsey

Wednesday night was a night that I’d been looking forward too for several weeks. In previous years at WWDC, an engineer named James Dempsey would surprise attendees by showing up at a session with a guitar, and perform a hilarious geeky song. Last year, he left Apple, so his performances at WWDC became a thing of the past. However, he and his band, The Breakpoints, were to perform at John Collins, on Minna street. After watching some of his performances on YouTube, I really had to see this.

I arrived at the bar about an hour early, which was good, because I got a good seat. I sat on the stage in the back, with an iCloud architect, several of the band members, and the director of Xcode. (To him, I said this: “NSStream”) I also met a fellow named Mitch Cohen. Mitch has a memorable business card, because it has his name written on one side, in large orange letters. It’s the only thing on that side of the card. I credit him with breaking my streak of forgetting names last week. Mitch writes apps for education. He also grew up “kosher”, but lives in the middle of nowhere, where remaining so is difficult.

After the Breakpoints, I walked part of the way with Mitch back to his hotel, and then I split off onto Market Street. On Market, I saw Chris Boraski, a developer from New Jersey. I had met him earlier in a session about some technology or another. He was standing and talking to another fellow named Matt. (They were going to go get food, but it was late. Eventually, Morten Gregernsen, from Denmark, walked by and told us that there was a TestFlight party with sandwiches. After we swapped business cards, Matt went his way, and I walked with Chris to the sandwich truck. Of course the sandwiches were not kosher, but the water bottles were. I got another TestFlight tee shirt. I walked to the bus and took it back to Richmond. On the bus, the fellow next to me was playing Words With Friends, so I challenged him. (You can’t do that sort of thing in NY.) He works in tech, so we swapped business cards.

On Thursday, I met Marcus Zarra at lunch, checked out the UI Design Lab, and went to two parties. I bumped into Marcus almost by accident. I knew he was a mover in the iOS world, having coauthored some books, but I had forgotten that he might have been at WWDC. I was walking down the hallway in the cafe and I stopped to read his badge, as I had been doing to people all week. He was very nice when I introduced myself as a student and indie. He gave me a tee and told me to shoot him an email. I still owe him that.

The UI design lab is where Apple’s UI people review your apps and give you feedback. You have to make an appointment, in the morning, and the line for that is really long. There’s almost zero chance of a standby appointment. I tried that on Wednesday and it didn’t work. (I did meet some Apple employees. I remember Andrew and Lia’s names, and that one of the other ones was from the Bronx. Andrew works on Bluetooth hardware, but he was picking my brain about the new maps stuff. I didn’t have too much info for him, so I picked his brain about my brother’s iPod touch’s wifi card. Fair is fair.)

On Thursday morning, I emailed the individual who had given the talk about UI design the day before. I explained that I was a student and that I was staying far from the conference and that my chances of getting in were slim. He was very accommodating. It never hurts to ask. I had an appointment at 3PM on Thursday with one of the senior UI people. He tore apart my novice UI, but it was worth it.

Also on Thursday, I learned the answer to a question that many people ask me: “If Apple isn’t religious, how can they review religious apps?” Well, according to the folks behind the curtain, they learn about things. The engineer who maintains the calendar code knows quite a lot about the Hebrew calendar. In fact, he knows a lot more than many folks who darn well should know about it. (Factoid: One of the enterprise App Store people turns out to be the guy who gave me my badge. He recognized me immediately.)

WWDC Beer Bash 2012

The first Thursday party was Apple’s own WWDC beer bash. Held across the street in Yerba Buena Gardens, the bash was an incredible way to wind down to WWDC. (Well, there technically were friday sessions, but…) The band, the Neon Trees, were introduced by Scott Forstall, which in retrospect, I kinda expected. The funniest part was when the lead singer growled “iOS Devvvsssss!”

At the bash, while I watched everyone eat unkosher meatballs, I met an developer from HP whose name starts with a K, (Kevin, I think) didn’t tell me his last name, and explained to me why AirPrint needs special drivers. He has had some interesting experience. (If you read this, please get in touch.) At some point, they put out packed ice cream, which was certified kosher dairy, so I had a few. When “K” left, I walked out to the other side of the garden.

On my way, I saw one of the Game Center engineers I was talking to the day before, and some of those students from Amsterdam. Yea, the ones that were too young to be admitted to the bash. They snuck in. And they met Phil Schiller and Scott Forstall. Color me slightly jealous.

On the far side of the garden, I saw Mitch, a fellow named John, and another guy, whose name escapes me at the moment. We had an enjoyable conversation, during which I complained a lot about knowing much less than the rest of the attendees at the conference. Par for the course, I say.

At some point, Craig, from my flight out to San Francisco, walked over. He had an Apple badge. Apparently, he had been trying to stay low in New York, but now at the bash, he was a lot friendlier. He asked us what we thought of the whole thing. I think everyone’s impressions were generally good, and we certainly told him so.

Hipstamatic After Party

As security expunged everyone from the garden, I began to ask around for the Hipstamatic Party. WWDC is infamous for its parties, and throughout the week, many tech companies host or crash parties. Speck products was crashing parties every night, and I had heard a rumor that Hipstamatic was on their list. Someone told me that they had overheard that the party was invite-only, and that the password was bishop. I thought they were kidding.

I started to walk towards 7th Street, I lagged behind an unfriendly French group. Then I met a Montrealer named Jeremy, who writes PHP and MySQL, and walked with me to the party. (We got lost on the way and met a New Yorker whom had moved to the area for technology related work.) When we got to the party, at 74 Langton, there was a tall, lanky. white bouncer. (He looked like he could have bumped off Mrs. White in the Kitchen with Colonel Mustard’s wrench. shivers)

As I approached “the butler”, I said that I was not on the list. I was about to begin stammering a plea to get in when he asked for a password. His ear hair too close to my face for comfort, I responded, while trying to mask my doubt. “bishop”, I said.

“Go over there, he’ll stamp your hand [and let you in].” The response surprised me. We walked in. Jeremy went to find a mens room, while I went to find Speck. When I realized that they weren’t there, I waited. When Jeremy got back, we walked to 6th street and Mission.

I made my way back to Richmond in a car service. The driver said he was ethiopian, and he had some interesting opinions about politics and religion. (The only thing he didn’t talk about was family!) He was nice, and left me off where I needed to be.

On Friday, I had my final rendezvous with several of the engineers whom I had befriended at the labs. I don’t want to call any of them out by name here, but you guys are all awesome, and I really appreciate the time and effort you put into the conference. After lunch, I went with the Tebekas to Palo Alto for Shabbos and the rest of the weekend. That was an adventure in and of itself, so I’ll leave that for next time. It’s really late here in New York City. All I have now, are business cards, some souvenirs, and memories.

Business Cards

There’s a ton more, but this post is over five thousand words long, not including the photos. It’s early morning now, I’m off to sleep, until next time.