I started MIX11 with a day of "boot camps". Last year they were less dramatically called "workshops", but the overall concept remained the same: Two half-day sessions covering a specific topic each, with the promise that this topic can be covered in a different, more extensive way than in a typical session of 60 minutes. Last year's workshop day was worth its money (just for Robby Ingebretsen's fantastic "Design fundamentals for Developers" alone), unfortunately I cannot say the same about this year's boot camp day.
The first session "Design, Content, Code: Start-to-finish" described the work on the new website of the Blue Angels (http://www.blueangels.navy.mil/, not online yet). That was interesting and offered some useful details, but the talk definitely lacked a critical review. Over the timespan of 3 hours (minus the breaks) condensing the content just a little bit here and there would have saved a noticeable amount of time. And this in turn would have created space for some more technical or (equally important) conceptual information.
While the first session was OK(-ish), the second session "Windows Phone 7 Boot Camp" was a complete waste of time. The amount of actual content was laughable, the largest part was an introduction to Silverlight, barely touching WP7 specifics, and concepts in general were poorly presented.
Am I a bit too harsh or did I have unreasonable expectations? Well, what I did expect was to see more or less a presentation like that of Microsoft Germany as part of their "MS TechTalk" series (3 hours, free of charge). I saw that presentation some time ago, so my naive assumption was that (after forgetting some of the details since) the bootcamp would freshen up my WP7 knowledge again to the same level.
Unfortunately much time was wasted with "live coding" which I in general grow more and more critical of - but as that's not a simple "yes or no" issue, I'll cover that topic in a separate blog post.
Taking into account that the boot camp day cost my company 350$ plus an additional night in a hotel room, we'll have a very hard look at the cost-benefit ratio of the pre-conference day in the future.
Coming up: My MIX11 Recap: Open Source Fest