The Yosemite Adventure

Ever since I played adventure games on my dad's IBM PC XT as a little kid in Sweden, the mountain featured in the Sierra On-Line logo represented magic and adventure to me. That mountain, I've since learned, is named Half Dome and is in Yosemite National Park.

This spring I was able to take a week off work and head to California for the Yosemite conference. It's billed as The Apple Conference with a View — and boy were there views to behold!

After suffering through constant rain and hail for a thousand literal miles on the I-5 from Seattle, the climb over the pass into Yosemite Valley under a clear sky with pure white snow alongside the side of the road was a great experience. The view was simply mesmerizing.

The Yosemite conference, which took place at the Yosemite Valley Lodge, is not where you come for a deep dive into technical details. Instead the talks of this conference focus on how to stay sane and thrive in the tech industry, whether as an indie or in a jobby-job. Tips on getting products shipped, the importance of delivering quality, how to get a good night's sleep, and even how cows can promote creativity were the order of the day. And in addition to the talks there were musical components with Jonathan Mann providing daily musical commentary on the proceedings, as well as a performance by James Dempsey and the Breakpoints featuring a plethora of guest artists.

Jonathan Mann and friends performing the Accidental Tech Podcast theme song

Similar to my experience at the Big Nerd Ranch, Yosemite offers barely any network connectivity to the outside world, providing a sense of isolation. I personally found the lack of connectivity helped build community within the group of attendees and presenters. Many of us would meet up in the bar in the evenings for interesting conversations that sometimes went a little too far into the night.

Laura Savino and Doug Beal mixing their own non-alcoholic drinks at the bar

While I was lucky enough to meet and hang out with several new acquaintances, one of the most memorable interactions was a lengthy conversation I had with Jason Snell about Californian geography and the space industry.

Hal Mueller making use of the one spot with decent 4G connectivity

Mixed in with the frankly super inspirational talks and performances, by an all star cast of presenters/entertainers, was the opportunity to go hiking with the other attendees. The selection of hikes catering to all experience levels would be a shame to miss as the scenery in Yosemite Valley rivals even the beauty of the Seattle area.

A photo walk led by James Duncan Davidson was also offered. Leisurely strolling through the scenery with a group of people all looking to find unique photo opportunities was a fun experience.

A group of photography enthusiasts

Jeff Watkins went off trail to get the shot

Maia Olson sneaking up on the wildlife, represented by Christopher Pickslay

I'm tremendously happy that this spring I got to see Half Dome in person for the first time. To me it no longer just represents gaming adventure — it now represents professional adventure as well. With most of the year behind me, including a trip to WWDC, I firmly believe that going to the Yosemite conference was my best decision of 2016.

Me, El Cap, and the Half Dome

My sincere thanks to the Klein family for organizing a wonderful conference, to Hal Mueller for the safe and comfortable ride from Seattle to Yosemite, and to Alan Forkosh for driving me to San Francisco after the conference ended. In SF I got to spend the night drinking tequila in the marina aboard an Apple design manager’s yacht. But that’s a story for another time…