A couple of years ago I talked about Judit Klein, a very clever student following the Creative Technologies course at AUT. Judit had won a scholarship to visit Apple's famed annual Worldwide Developers' Conference, usually referred to as WWDC (and said 'dub-dub-dee-cee').
And she's done it again - actually, this will be Judit's fourth visit (and her fourth scholarship, too), although the emphasis has changed for her over the years. Now Judit is close to finishing a Master's and has also undertaken an internship at Prezi in Hungary. I mentioned this presentation software when I talked about Unitec's use of iPads - the Hungarian company (which also has an office in San Francisco) offered the Hungarian-born Judit an internship last year. "I did the first round of the Prezi Campus Ambassadorship Program, which is about to go into its third intake now. The top performers get internships in either Budapest or San Francisco."
"They've got about 150 people in Hungary and maybe 50 people in San Francisco."
Judit reflects on the impact iPad has made - in her first year of university, it didn't exist. She marvels at the momentum Apple has gained with the tablet. While she has a MacBook Pro, her focus is iOS and iDevices in education.
We talked about WWDC now that she's an experienced attendee. "In the past I attended only sessions, but the first time I went I hadn't even been developing for iOS for even a year, so the the first experience is always the buzz of being there. Figuring out what it's all about, the parties and the networking." Since then Judit's been going to the labs more - sessions are more general presentations on a variety of subjects. (This year, WWDC has a new event called Women in Technology Get Together for Wednesday June 4th, and another new one called Apps for China.)
Judit has an insider approach now: experienced attendees don't go to sessions because, as long as you're a registered developer, you can watch them any time as they go online the day they are presented. The labs are therefore more important, and you have more time to go to them if you skip sessions to catch later, online. Now demand for entry is so high, Apple had to launch a lottery for places. If you won a place, you then got to pay the entry fee. Thanks to the incredibly high demand for Apple's key event, tickets last year sold out in just seconds. You can learn a lot (as Judit has) from being able to talk to other developers.
"So increasingly, if you want to go to WWDC these days, just go to San Francisco, be in town, network, and go to the parties. Watch any sessions you want online. Otherwise you're just spending a lot of money to stand in queues." You wouldn't get to see any of the labs, where experts instruct and you can get questions answered on very specific details of your development - but you'll probably get to meet people who did get to go.
The labs are very important for Judit at this stage. When Judit was in her Honours year, the work she undertook was very theoretical. She decided to have a tangible product - something she could ship - at the end of Masters, so has been working on an app. "Now I have something I can take along and ask for particular feedback on, and say 'this is what works and this is what doesn't work'. I have a particular problem with one of the frameworks. I've gone online, gone to Stack Overflow ... forums say 'I'm having this problem' and everyone's having the exact same problem, and there's no solutions."
Her app is in the field of education technology, where Judit has based her research and where her work at AUT's Centre for Learning and Teaching is located. The app is "... looking at real-time, dynamic, ad hoc collaboration based on proximity."
Her app will be so fine-tuned, a collaboration can be based on who you are sitting with at a table. It uses Multipeer Connectivity, which can use wireless and Bluetooth, and also iBeacons, Apple's new micro-locations technology. "I went away and sat and coded for a month solid, which was really good because it let me tick off a lot of the features." Judit's hoping the expert input at WWDC will resolve the final hurdle she's facing to finish it. She believes her app and research will help solve a disconnect between what educators want and what app developers create.
What does she expect at this year's event? She thinks iOS 8. "What I've noticed over the last few years is that the major WWDC announcements are almost always systems." In this case, that would mean iOS 8 and the next Mac OS, although she knows what will be presented as much as anyone else outside of Apple does: very little. And there's always at least one hardware announcement. The MacBook Air just got a refresh, so perhaps a new Mac mini, or iMac - last year was a new MacBook Air and, of course, the new round 2013 Mac Pro.
Judit does not expect a new iPhone so soon - she has noted that new iDevices normally appear later in the year.
I asked about the AUT job she has been working at while completing her Masters. "I work as a Learning and Teaching Technology Enabler, also known as a 'LATTE'."
She's been doing this for over two-and-a-half years now. The head of the Centre for Learning and Teaching is Stanley Frielick, former representative for AUT for the former AUC (Apple University Consortium). Stanley's idea was that if AUT had a Learning and Teaching Enabled by Technology Strategy, the institution needed learning and teaching technology enablers, and that's where Judit, and two others in the inaugural program, got jobs running drop-in sessions for teachers, trouble-shooting, hands-on training, creating documentation and guides ... and now there are 15 of these 'LATTEs', all also engaged in full-time study.
Judit has come to the end of a very interesting journey at AUT, once her Masters is completed. So what's next? It's hard to think ahead when you're mired in reams of code and completion of a Masters at the same time, but she is interested in the possibility of running some iOS training. There's almost nowhere this is done formally. But there are already entities interested in her skills and several places she could happily work - all the English-speaking countries, and Hungary for that matter, and the rest of Europe. But she'd also happily stay in New Zealand (her family is here).
We'd be mad not to try and keep her here.