So the Agile North conference was off to an interesting start with the loss of my two compadres, Matt and Chris, who were unavailable at the last minute due to vicious experiences with the gremlins in cyberspace. So I got up at 5.30 a.m. after a late night (circa 1.30 a.m.) and snoozed my way to Manchester all alone.
Sat in the Cafe Nero in Manchester to have a semi decent cup of coffee instead of the grit they serve on the train and discovered that the 'surf and sip' service at Cafe Nero comes in the attractive price packages of:
£10 – for one day
£40 – ad hoc – Month by Month
£30 – Monthly contract minimum one year.
(approx – due to it being taken in American dollars)
If anyone actually chooses to pay that amount when their mobile phone provider will give them a wireless card for the same cost, then they are insane. I can understand an ad hoc daily charge of a tenner, but I would have thought they would get more custom if they made it a monthly charge of £10 with the option to pay for a yearly amount in full up front for £100 or so. £360 a year to get wireless internet access in a coffee shop is an unreal expectation. I ponder how much they charge in the US for the same service, I doubt that it is the $60 a month that converts into.
The venue was the Palace Hotel in Manchester, which from the outside looks like a fairly rundown building, but is in fact a fantastic Victorian edifice on the inside with high ceiling and many original features such as glazed tiles which gives the whole thing a feeling of a grand hospital built by a Victorian Patriarch or a railway station (many of the doors had arched frames in glazed tile with glazed lintels.
So the conference. Well without repeating verbatim some of the talks as there is a web link to follow, the conference itself was of a good quality. There were a broad range of speakers, some very well known in the UK Agile field and they covered a number of topics and showed the breadth of the Agile movement. The only real criticisms is that is still feels a little hedge-wizardry at the grass roots level and at higher levels smacks of a kind of enthusiastic mania common to American Evangelical promotions this was especially relevant and prominent in the fact that some of the speakers felt the need to promote Agile to people who were principally at the conference because they were in Agile development. This latter point is lessened by people like myself who are investigating the whole area to see if the model has any validity in the work that we do.
One plus point is the fact that I gained notoriety because of the colour of my laptop I have a red cover for a black Macbook which makes it look deep crimson as if bathed in blood with a shiny scarlet Apple logo