To be quite honest, I went into XML 2004 with greatly diminished expectations. After submitting and being accepted to speak I found out that no travel or hotel expenses would be covered by the conference, nor was there even a token honorarium. The on-site situation didn't raise much hope either, parking at the hotel was a hit-and-miss operation as the over priced hotel parking lot was often full, and the wi-fi situation, for a contemporary conference, was scandalous.
But that was the down side. All of that was made up for, and more, by the upside, which was the ability to meet face-to-face for the first time with many of the people I'd gotten to know electronically over that last two or more years, including Tim Bray, Norm Walsh, David Orchard, Len Bullard, Dare Obasanjo, Henry Thompson, Paul Cotton, John Cowan, Robert Sayre, Ezra Cooper, Kendall Clark, Simon St. Laurent, Bill Kearney and Micah Dubinko. I tried to keep that list in the order that I met people. Please leave me note if I've been a cad and forgotten you.
What the extensive list means is that I only went to two talks at the entire conference, my own, and the one immediately preceeding my own, which I was required to attend as a part of speaking. Every day was filled, from early morning to midnight or later, at the Atom hack-a-thon, in the hallways of the conference, or at surrounding establishments, talking tech. It was great conference and I'm looking forward to XML 2005.
Update: Tim Bray has a post up on XML 2004 which includes a picture of me giving my presentation.