Skip to main content
Ben Nadel at CFUNITED 2010 (Landsdown, VA) with: Alexander Friess and Gary Gilbert
Ben Nadel at CFUNITED 2010 (Landsdown, VA) with: Alexander Friess ( @AlexanderFriess ) Gary Gilbert ( @garyrgilbert )

cf.Objective() 2008: Walking Among Giants

Published in Comments (28)

As a child, I remember laying out on hot summer nights and staring up at the sky. I wasn't in a city then, so the stars, unobstructed, would spread out far beyond my periphery in infinite arrangements. The sky seemed so big to me then - so incomprehensibly vast; its endless expanse always made me feel small, but not in a negative way - not small and insignificant. It gave me this feeling in my stomach, a sort of uneasy desire. As a youth, I could only describe this feeling as lust or maybe even horniness. It wasn't until I got older that I realized what I had been feeling was actually "potential."

As a developer, there is potential all around me; with new frameworks, methodologies, languages, techniques, and emerging technologies, I could learn for three lifetimes and only scratch the surface. The potential becomes so overwhelming that it is, at times, hard to see and even harder to feel. In a sort of paralysis of choice, I have so many directions to go that I end up not going anywhere at all. I once again slip back into the welcoming embrace of the status quo - not moving back, but not moving forward either.

cf.Objective() has given me a wonderful gift; it has awoken in my that lust - that feeling of potential. It has removed the starry sky of my youth and put, in its place, an army of giants.

Jared said, at the end of one of the final sessions, "A conference is only as good as its speakers." That's what makes cf.Objective() so successful - the high quality of the speakers and the topics on which they present. These speakers, these intellectual giants of the ColdFusion community, not only served to inspire, they did something even more powerful - they embodied a concrete potential. Sure, they gave advanced talks in areas such as object oriented programming, the agile development process, and large scale deployment, but as a consequence of this, they provided very tangible goals. They not only shed light on subjects in which I knew very little, they demonstrated to me in a very real way that obtaining this knowledge was doable.

This was an awesome feeling. I almost didn't want to stay at the conference; by the end of the first day, I was so inspired that I wanted to run home and start trying many of the things I had learned. I was hungry for improvement. And, for the first time in a while, this kind of improvement felt not only possible, but eminent.

But, this inspiration wasn't just up on stage, it was all around me. I couldn't get over the high caliber of attendees; everywhere I went people were discussing topics like ANT, clustering, Java integration, frameworks, unit testing, and version control. I was surrounded by people whose skills seemingly overshadowed mine in very large ways. This became almost comically obvious at Saturday night's "ColdFusion 9" Birds of a Feather (BoF). In the session, people kept asking for things - new ColdFusion features - that made no sense to me; and when I thought that maybe these were just bizarre requests, dozens of other people would break out into applause - a sort of, "thank god someone finally brought that issue to light," kind of applause. I was simultaneously nervous about the amount of stuff that I didn't know and also excited over the amount of stuff I could learn.

In addition to being smart, everyone there was so friendly. When you primarily deal with the ColdFusion community online, you don't necessarily get a sense of who these people are; but, when you meet them face to face, it's almost shocking how nice everyone is. The ColdFusion community is such an inclusive group of people. There wasn't anyone there who seemed inapproachable, and there certainly wasn't anyone there who ever seemed less than jazzed to be there talking to everyone else. I felt bad that I didn't get to meet more people, but in the little down time that we had, I just kept getting caught up in conversation after conversation.

On the more mundane side of things, the conference, as an event, was run very well. The food was good. The audio/video equipment was very good and functioned without fail. The hotel was quite nice. My only real complaint was that there wasn't any bottled water after the first day. As someone who hasn't had soda in over two years, the beverage choices were a bit limited. But, I think when, "bottled water," is your chief complaint, you get the idea of just how smoothly everything else went.

Overall, cf.Objective() was most excellent; definitely a ColdFusion conference that I hope to be attending again next year. Thank you so much to Steven and Jared for putting on such an inspiring and useful event.

Reader Comments



Was a pleasure finally meeting you in the flesh, I wish I had had more time to sit down and chat with you more than I did :oD

I totally hear what you are sayng about the conference. I walk away this year, just as much as last year, with a whole load of new ideas and inspirations for new things to do.

Look forward to seeing you next year :oD maybe you'll be a presenter?



It was most excellent meeting you as well. I wish I had had more time to talk to people in general. There were so many people that I wanted to see and didn't even get to say Hi to.

Definitely, we'll have to catch up next year. It would be awesome to be a speaker there some time. I gotta go catch up with the rest of you guys :)

By the way, I know you said your first Intro to Transfer session didn't run so smoothly, but I have to say, the one I attended was excellent. In fact, I think it was probably the best run session that I went to. The way you had all your code examples either commented out at the bottom of your page or in what seemed to be snippets, was awesome. I felt you really combined the best of both worlds when it comes to "live coding" and pre-session preparation. Very well done!

Be sure to give my logo-compliments to your designer ;)


Thanks a lot Ben! I really appreciated it :oD

I really enjoyed writing and giving that presentation - so I doubt it will be the last time you will see it being presented :oD


Ditto! I certainly agree with both Ben and Mark (who by the way was great finally meeting you both!). CF.Objective() 2008 was a huge success and went above and beyond what I expected from a 3 year old conference. I have attended previous events that have far longer history that would not top what we have just experienced in the last four days! I'm certainly looking forward to next year's!



Great meeting you as well. And I really enjoyed your presentation on leveraging design patterns in ColdFusion. I think I'm slowly starting to get a handle on this stuff. I was actually on your blog this morning, looking at the post you had about finishing up your topic. I was gonna post a comment, but then I was like, if I post to Phill's site, do I have to then go to post on everyone's site whose presentations I attended?? Didn't want to single anyone out. So, I figured I would do it here in one place :)

So, thanks Phill. Much appreciated, both for the presentation and for definitely making me feel very welcome there.


100% agree!
Just the one session on Enterprise Class MVC with Coldfusion and Java by Andrew Powell showed me that there is so much more that I could and need to learn, particularly from the fact that it was way over my head from about the 3rd slide! I attended several other sessions like this and walked out with that 'head-exploding' sensation! And to me that was just what I needed. A conference like cfObjective (the only one in my opinion) gives you that kick-in-the-butt you sometimes need to get going towards actually learning and using some of the awesome tools, frameworks, and technologies that are available for CF developers.



It was a real pleasure meeting you man!

Yeah, Andy's presentation was insane. I had to zone out from time to time, just a precautionary measure or my brain may have started to melt :) I talked to Andy for a few minutes in passing after that and he was saying that because its all in Java, you don't get ANY of the issues with CFC instantiation. All the Java bean creation is extremely fast, so you can really do real OOP and not worry about lags in time.

I will start with OOP in CF and then go from there!


It was great to meet you as well man!

I too will get the OO in CF down before trying to tackle that monster! So watch out for emails from me flying your way!

Andy's presentation is a little further down on my list of stuff to learn!

Uh oh..just changed some code on our production site. ANT is moving up on my list!



It was nice meeting you Saturday night. I still feel bad you got hosed on that burrito. I echo your comments about the conference, having been to both CFUnited and CFObjective, It is nice to have a small intimate conference where you can bounce ideas off of the experts in the field and have them be so approachable.


I don't know if you've been paying attention, man, but you've become one of those "giants" to a lot of us!

Keep up the good work!



No worries on the burrito. Steve Bryant gave me some extra gronolla bars he had, so I ended up just fine. Next time :)


Thanks a lot man! Looking forward to keeping up the good work, and making it even better.


Great post Ben. I pretty much feel the same way. There's so many things I want to try at work now and had a lot of fun meeting so many great people. Hope to see you and everyone else next year!



Thanks for describing your experience so eloquently. You've captured my sentiment exactly. It was a great pleasure to meet you and a host of other people at the conference. I've got a huge todo list written out today of things I want to integrate into my development methodology and post to my blog. I'm already looking forward to next year!


Ben, you just made my job of posting about the conference as a whole a snap: I can just point to your post here and say "what he said." :) I'm sure as heck not going to be able to top it.

I've been to a CFUnited and a MAX conference in the past, and no offense to the organizers of those events, but this conference was by far the most enjoyable for me, not only because of the sessions but because of the conversations I got to have with fellow members of the community of all areas and levels of expertise.

Glad I got a chance to talk with you, and I look forward to future conversations both in person and on-line.


Ben, your description of the conference is right on the spot. I feel exactly the same way. I enjoyed the conference so much, it gave that extra kick to get out from that stagnating feeling after doing things the same way for a long time.
I have learned so much in these three days that is scary. I have so many things to try and implement that I don't know where to start.

On the personal side I'm so glad that I got to meet so many of the bloggers ( you included), going to Ironman and shaking hands with some of these guys was amazing.

More than a complaint, I guess a pet peeve of mine was all the wasted paper on the evaluation forms. Considering that a lot of the attendees had laptops/cell phones, Couldn't we create an application specifically to collect evaluations and in the attempt save some trees?

If you are in town for CFUnited shoot me an email and well grab something to eat or maybe even a beer or two.



@Shayne, @Brian, @Fernando,

Really good to meet you guys. Shayne, sorry we didn't get much more time than you just say hi. Brian, Fernando, it was really good hanging out and getting to know you guys. Fernando, hope your kids liked the stuff you got at the Mall :)


Sorry you weren't there. I wanted to thank you for some of the interesting emails that you've forwarded me in the past :)


Although I must admit that I did clap in response to a few of the CF 9 feature suggestions, I'm glad I'm not the only one who was mystified by some of the suggestions that left me scratching my head trying to figure out just what in the world they were talking about. There are definitely some people out there pushing the envelope way farther than where I've ventured out to.



Word up to that. On the other hand too, I did disagree with what some of the people were saying. But then again, I am a dinosaur sometimes.


It was great to meet you Ben. Although we only chatted for 3 minutes, but it was great to put a face to a blog that I read daily.

Your post is right on! It seems you get a boost of ideas and motivation just out of only 3 days of this conference. I can't wait for next year.




Sorry we didn't get more time. I was thinking about attending the ColdBox workshop, but since I have never played around with it (other than watched your Breeze preso), I opted out. Hopefully next year, I'll be ready to do some more hands on stuff.


Most excellent to meet you as well. And thank you again for the granola bars :) I will keep thinking about the XML database stuff - we should touch base in email about what might be able to get done.


Hey cool post, i always wondered what actually went on at conferences as we dont really have them much where i live (Ireland). Even so its not something ive thought about doing, i dont know if i could talk non-stop about coldfusion for 2 days, plus on some level it would be admiting how much of a nerd i really am :) Do they have alcohol at it, if so could add an interesting dynamic :) I do know they are really into tech conferances in las vegas, now that would be an experience, i dont know if i could keep my mind on CFCs in the city of sin! Cya Shox Boy


very well stated Ben, you should have an affiliate link at the bottom of your post to sign up for next years conference , hehe :)

kicking myself for not going this year, next year its on!...

I believe in love. I believe in compassion. I believe in human rights. I believe that we can afford to give more of these gifts to the world around us because it costs us nothing to be decent and kind and understanding. And, I want you to know that when you land on this site, you are accepted for who you are, no matter how you identify, what truths you live, or whatever kind of goofy shit makes you feel alive! Rock on with your bad self!
Ben Nadel