Behold, A White Elephant

By Mike / On / In Appsterdam

People own a lot of crap, and people give a lot of gifts, so it stands to reason that people give and get a lot of crap as gifts. As such, we all own things that we don’t really want, but that we can’t really get rid of, because they were gifts, and there’s a social contract. These are the white elephants.

You can probably think of something like that in your life. Now imagine wrapping that thing and giving it to someone who will love it—or at least share in your horrible fascination for it. The white elephant gift exchange is an attempt to shuffle the gene pool of crap, because one person’s crap is another person’s craving, or something like that.

The best way to determine who gets what is of course in armed combat, but due to Dutch nautical regulations, we’ll end up playing some sort of silly game instead. It should be a lot of fun, and you’ll be surprised the things people will end up fighting over. This is one situation where the giving is definitely better than the getting!

This American tradition will be at the centerpiece of the Appsterdam Holiday Gathering this Sunday, Dec. 18., which will take place at Appsterdam Noord, the Appsterdam Approved Hangout at NDSM Wharf, with a meal on the fabulously adjacent Pannenkoekenboot, because it’s hard to think of anything more Dutch than eating pancakes on a boat.

So grab your unwanted crap and some enticing wrapping paper and RSVP for the family-friendly, crap-swapping, pancake-scarfing, boat-riding holiday extravaganza of a lifetime. Space is limited, but if you RSVP by Thursday afternoon, we can reserve more space on the boat.

Return of the Son

By Mike / On / In Appsterdam

I confess, I am a bit jaded as a public speaker.

I’ve given the talk I’m presenting tomorrow, “Product Engineering,” at least four times. I’ve spoken at the conference series I’m presenting at tomorrow, QCon, as many times as well. I don’t know the exact numbers because I speak a lot. I speak so much I had to start the Appsterdam Speaker Bureau to handle all the overlapping invitations.

I’m nervous for tomorrow like it’s the first time.

The importance and complexity of Appsterdam makes every job I’ve had, every product I’ve built, every team I’ve led, seem like practice stones along the road of destiny. So it is with my speaking career and the symbolism of my returning to Silicon Valley after a grand adventure to tell my former compatriots what I’ve found and what I’ve founded.

This may be the most important speech of my life.

QCon is pulling out all the stops for me. We’ve got the main stage, the mariachi band, and the Mexican food booked. This is going to be a full-fledged Themenote, like the one I delivered to 360iDev, but bigger. Oh my great pantheon of invisible gods do we have something planned.

Those are the facts. How about some superlatives?

Let’s keep this in perspective. I’m not addressing the civil rights movement, and I’m not launching the iPhone, but in the very large category of informational technical keynotes? Yeah, definitely, it’s going to be the greatest of all time.

What’s after this, retirement? Maybe pyrotechnics?

QCon San Francisco is sold out. There is a waiting list. If you’d like to request press access, please contact QCon.

Appsterdam Rising

By Mike / On / In Appsterdam

Summer in the Netherlands rocks. Employee salaries include 13 months of pay, with the extra month cashing out at the same time as your vacation. Basically the Amsterdammers surrender the city to the tourists and go have adventures, coming back thinner, tanner, and more relaxed.

Just in time for festival season! September features a number of music, arts, technology, and general interest festivals all over the Netherlands—including the world’s greatest Pride. Appsterdam got into the action with our enormous App Dome at the Picnic festival.

The upshot is the entire country travels in August and parties in September. The Appsterdam work year starts in October, and what a year we have planned! Appsterdam 1: Summer of Appsterdam is drawing to a close. The coming weeks are going to be an amazing time as we gear up for the launch of Appsterdam 2: Appsterdam Overwinter.

We’re starting strong with the Appsterdam Legal Summit on October 3-4, as well you know. This is the chance for App Makers to talk to an international corps of friendly attorneys. We’ll solidify our understanding of the patent situation, devise strategies, and answer questions in person, and via a daily two-hour broadcast.

We’ll also be running our regularly scheduled events, which includes weekly Meeten en Drinken in Amsterdam, Delft, and Warsaw; our Weekly Wednesday Lunchtime Lecture series; and our twice-monthly Appsterdam Family Weekend get-togethers. We’ll also have our next Appsterdam Guru Session hands-on workshop, Android from Scratch, on October 15. We’ll have the next public app meeting, focusing on design, with Meet the Makers in Appsterdam Delft on October 26.

As always, there are plenty of other great events going on in the city, like the Node.js training session on October 4. I’ll be doing a speaking tour with the GOTO Conference, which lands in Appsterdam on October 13-14. Your next chance to start a company in a weekend comes with Startup Weekend Groningen November 4-6. If you’re working on Android in Appsterdam you don’t want to miss DroidconNL on November 22-23.

Finally, there are two events that are near and dear to my heart, not just because I’m speaking at both of them, but because together they form what I call the “Fishers of Men” stratagem. This is for the rare class of people who are ready to take the plunge, divest of their material possessions, and jump with both feet into a new career and a new life. These are the people who look at the dramatic moves I’ve made in my own career and say, “I want to be an App Maker, and I’m willing to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to make that happen. What do I do?”

Here’s what you do: sell, donate, or trash everything you own; buy a plane ticket to Amsterdam and a seat at the Big Nerd Ranch iOS Bootcamp on Oct 22-28, then be prepared to spend 7 intense days in your cocoon before emerging a beautifully trained butterfly, just in time to celebrate your metamorphosis at the Appsterdam 2 Launch Party Weekend featuring Museumnacht on November 4-6. You’ll meet people, find work, and start your new life.

On the less dramatic side of the pond, if you’re a European CS grad looking to be where the action is, a number of Dutch companies have teamed up to assemble an opportunity package that picks up half the tab for going in to the Big Nerd Ranch, and a job offer when you get out. If you’re in the select group eligible for this offer, it’s frankly hard to beat!

Appsterdam Legal Summit

By Mike / On / In Appsterdam

What would you ask a room full of patent attorneys?

Since announcing the Appsterdam Legal Defense Initiative, the response has been tremendous. From ideas to volunteers, from criticisms to donations, we’ve appreciated all of it. Now it’s time to make something of all this. To that end we’re getting App Makers together with a roomful of attorneys from around the world at the landmark Waag building on October 3-4. We’ll be discussing strategies, turning our vague notions into legal opinions, and answering questions.

We understand that if you’re not in the city you’re probably not going to fly out for this, especially since you’re already coming out here November 4-6 for the Appsterdam 2 Launch Party Weekend. Still, you’d like to get your questions answered, and you’d like them to be answered when you’re awake. Have no fear. We’ve considered the best way for everyone to get their questions answered, while preserving anonymity.

Just send us your questions. We’ll coalesce the things people want to know into one big anonymous blob. Then we’ll use that blob to produce content during the summit that will be available online at 10 a.m. California time, two hours per day, both days. We will make sure your questions are addressed.

At the Appsterdam Foundation, we ask ourselves, what do App Makers need? In the same way, your delegates at the legal summit are going to be asking themselves, what do App Makers need to defend themselves against patent extortion? If you have some thoughts on that, by all means, send them along.

You can use the signup form to get your question across. If you’ve already signed up, that’s OK. Or, you can email us. You can also tweet @optanthill or use the hashtag #anthill.

For ultimate win, come on over and join us in person.

Be the Anthill

By Mike / On / In Appsterdam

We’ve been mum since announcing the Appsterdam Legal Defense Initiative, busy organizing things behind the scenes. We’re now ready to start signing people up and accepting donations, which you can help us with by visiting the official Operation Anthill web site. You can connect to Operation Anthill on Facebook and Twitter, hashtag #anthill.

We’re organizing a legal summit in Appsterdam somewhere between October 3-15. We’re thinking 2 days, with a day of presentations and a day of workshops. I’m letting you know now so you can start clearing your schedule. I’ll give you the exact dates as soon as possible, so you can book travel.

Whether you’re being extorted with patents now, or are afraid for the future, this will be your chance to get the legal advice you need to protect your business.

For press or other inquiries, email