Giving the ACS the benefit of the doubt

I decided that despite basically everyone I know being down on the ACS, I’d give them a go. I sweet talked the Canberra chapter into a free attendance at this months meeting (which wasn’t very hard if other people want to give it a try), and went along.

I thought the topic of the evening was a pretty sweet match as well — it was on Service Orientated Architectures. It should be good too I though, as the speaker is being paid to tour the country and give the presentation a total of nine times.

Let’s be blunt. I was disappointed, although the learning about the ACS was worth while.

What did I learn? Chicks dig the ACS. Specifically middle aged chicks in suits. There were way more women at the ACS meeting than I am used to at these things. I’ve been to lots of LUGs (including my local LUG), and quite a few Microsoft technical events including user groups, training days and courses. There are always never very many women. Somehow, the ACS seemed to muster double digit women attendance figures. That’s about 10% of the attendees. That’s by far the best gender equity I’ve seen from one of these things.

In fact, come to think of it, basically everyone but me was in a suit. The meeting format was ok — it was held in a local club, with 20 minutes of finger food at the start instead of the seemingly ubiquitous pizza that you get the from local Linux lads and Microsoft. Then there was a 30 minute presentation which was meant to tell you what a SOA is, and then about another 30 minutes of questions posed to SOA experts.

The problems? The presenter for the first 30 minutes wasn’t very well prepared. She expected us to all read the large amounts of text on her slides, whilst she provided a terse commentary. If you couldn’t read the slides, you missed most of the content. We kept diverging on seemingly random tangents (the history of blues music anyone?), none of the terms seemed adequately defined. She also claimed that the days of people writing much code are over, which set of my bogo filter. Oh, and lots of seemingly meaningless diagrams lifted from web sites.

The experts on the panel didn’t seem overly expert either, and the conversation focused extensively on bespoke services, with basically no mention of vendors until I asked if there was a place for vendors in this landscape. The conclusion was there was, and that interfaces needed to be standardised between vendors, but there was no conclusion as to who selects these standards, and what’s in it for the vendors.

Overall, I give it a 3 out of 10. I might go along to the one next month if I can score another freeby and see what my opinion is then.

[tags: acs computing society meeting]