Around 70 friends, relatives (not really), developers, users, plus the ever-welcome contingents from Symbian and UIQ (all of whom turn up under their own volition - thanks guys) gathered in The Crosse Keys function room for a six hour marathon of networking, prize giving, chit-chatting generally, and of course a few soft drinks.... ahem.... that left yours truly (Steve) with almost no voice left and Ewan in a state of near exhaustion (or maybe it was the days of travelling and broken nights).
The numbers were down from 2004, where Nokia had popped in to give away (a voucher for) a 9500 and were letting people glimpse the 9300 for the first time, but the mix of people was just as good, with Symbian celebrities right, left and centre. Jeanne from Epocware / Paragon Software had come all the way from Russia, Christian Lindholm (daddy of the Series 60 interface) was over from his new home in the USA and Sander van der Waal (Mr Font and PDF) caught my eye, but I can't name everybody here, so thank you for supporting the meet if you came along.
Prizes awaiting the Prize Draw
Notable for not coming along were Sony Ericsson, subject of multiple invites but who said at the very last minute (in an email sent to me after I'd already left for London!) that they couldn't make it due to 'time constraints'. It was a missed opportunity though, with them launching their P990 that very day; they could have demoed the unit to a room packed with early adopters and developers. Ah well. Maybe next year, SE, now that you've learned not to leave things til the last minute?
After a brief roundup of AAS's stats and intentions from Rafe, John Holloway (ex Purple, ex Psion and all round C++ clever chap) was down to do a '5 minute lightning talk' but he made the fatal mistake of saying 'Feel free to interrupt'. His talk was on the implications of Symbian's welcome but slightly controversial Signed program. What John didn't know was that some of the Symbian people who had written the Signing tools were there in the room and what followed was a very interesting half an hour to-and-fro. John, if you're reading this, you did good - provoking discussion is perfect for a user meeting such as this. John was allowed the last word and then we broke for drink refills.
The final section of the evening was the door prize giveaway, of course. Ewan, who had been doing a splendid job of compering all evening had to leave the room a couple of times to attend to his jangling sporran (don't ask) but everything from UIQ mints to USB LED keyboard lights to developer books to the star prize of a Nokia N-Gage Silver went pretty speedily and was largely welcomed.
Ewan and Rafe's infamous 'Mystery star prize', hinted as having something to do with 'Mac' and widely believed to be an iPod of some sort (we can dream) turned out to be... errrr... a mac. The plastic sort. Still, it was received in good humour.
And so onto The Show itself, which Thomas Boys will be describing in the next couple of days....
Whew! See you next year?
Star Prize winner Sander