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MacTech Conference 2016 to Be Keynoted by NASA Chief Engineer

We’re gearing up for MacTech Conference 2016 in Los Angeles from November 16th through 18th (with pre-conference workshops on 15 November 2016). Although MacTech Conference is one of the preeminent events for Apple-focused IT professionals, techs, and consultants, it’s also notable for coming up with some of the most unusual events for attendees.

MacTech has announced that the keynote speaker for this year’s conference will be NASA engineer Marshall Smith, whose full, business-card busting title is:

Marshall Smith, NASA Headquarters
Director, Cross-Program Systems Integration
Chief Engineer, Exploration Systems Development
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate

Setting aside my suspicion that MacTech invited Smith because he tells great space geek stories, the ostensible reason he’s keynoting MacTech Conference is that it’s his job to foster collaboration across organizational cultures, geographical distance, and the public/private divide. In his talk, Smith will explain NASA’s general roadmap and specific overall goal of sending people to Mars, and use that as a launchpad for sharing his insights, ideas, and personal perspectives on the collaborative efforts that are necessary for NASA’s human exploration objectives to succeed. We may not all be enabling actual rocket science, but the lessons he’s learned about getting different organizations to work together at the enterprise level
should translate to many other fields.

After the keynote, MacTech Conference will feature a full lineup of sessions given by speakers from around the world, including Take Control authors Joe Kissell and Charles Edge. For those looking for even more in-depth training, MacTech Conference offers a variety of pre-conference workshops, such as “DNS Deep Dive,” “Home Automation Workshop: Apple Style,”
“System and Workflow Automation Workshop,” “Wi-Fi Design & Troubleshooting,” and “Introduction to Munki.” The DNS workshop is especially relevant, given last week’s distributed denial of service attack on Dyn (see “Massive DDoS Attack Blocks Access to U.S. Web Sites,” 24 October 2016). Plus, with HomeKit finally gaining some momentum, the home automation workshop will help anyone who consults on, secures, and supports home automation setups.

Tonya and I will once again be hosting the Take Control TechUp, a three-part Apple trivia game show that involves the entire conference. In the first phase, we pose increasingly tricky questions to all attendees in order to select ten semifinalists. They then come up on stage and take turns trying to win points by answering more questions or getting a big laugh from the audience. Finally, the top two semifinalists face off in a head-to-head lightning round. It’s a ton of fun, and someday I’ll figure out a good way to reuse all the questions I’ve developed over the years.

Pre-registration pricing for the three-day conference costs $1399 through 28 October 2016 ($1599 afterward) and includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with break food and evening activities. However, TidBITS readers can save $200, dropping the price to $1199 for now. The pre-conference workshops cost an additional $399, but are $299 for TidBITS readers.

For those who make their livings selling, installing, or supporting Apple products, we hope to see you there!

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