(About me if you're a developer-type visitor: I took the leap into learning iOS development from books, blogposts, and StackOverflow in 2011. Making apps is a "spare time" activity for me. As you can tell from this, my personal blog, I currently stay home with my kids (they are six and almost 4). I mostly blog about them and other non-tech stuff, although some of the frustration of the initial iOS learning curve is recorded here in the archives. I've also got a business site, but it's about knitting.)
So, CocoaConf was great. I met new friends, got new ideas and wrapped my head around some new concepts, learned that I can introduce Knittrick to a room full of developers without dying of terror or embarrassment and then also not actually die of shock when they vote Knittrick the best of the three apps being shown off. A knitting app! I was really really touched.
I would love to go to two or three conferences a year, but once a year is what I seem to be able to manage right now and CocoaConf makes it especially easy because they travel all over the country. Find the one closest to you and you're spending less time traveling and probably a lot less money, too. Plus, the organizers are tremendously kind, happy people.
Tech Highlight: UI-Auto-Monkey test script, made available by the hilarious Jonathan Penn, will randomly pound gestures into your app while you gape/laugh/cry at the resulting chaos. He's just come out with a book on automated UI testing, too, which I bet is quite good.
Listening Highlight: I have a lot more time to listen to podcasts while doing other stuff than I have to sit down with Xcode at the moment and there are not nearly enough iOS podcasts in my player to keep me really happy. But there's a new one! Release Notes (a sponsor of CocoaConf PDX) is exactly the kind of podcast I most enjoy. A designer and a developer, talking about all kinds of topics, but mostly the business side of app development. Which is, in my opinion, probably the hardest part. (Other podcasts I often enjoy are the usual suspects: Core Intuition, Software Indie, Accidental Tech Podcast, Bitsplitting, Edge Cases when I can handle a highly technical discussion, and I have loved This Developer's Life, though episodes come out very very rarely now (listen to the archives, though, it's worth it). And I just found Mobile Couch.)
Community Highlight: I was really happy to meet Jean MacDonald, the force behind the brand new App Camp for Girls, and three of her first campers. It was great fun to talk to middle school girls excited about app development! I even got to test drive their first apps. :) Their presence nearly doubled the number of women at the conference, too, which was nice and — ahem — illustrated the point. :)
Finally, I've been thinking that some day I'd like to give a talk at a conference and I think I finally got an idea on the drive home. I'll let you know if I ever get to that.