Other than my final shift in the Hands On Lab (HOL) area, my day was focused on exam prep and exam taking. I sat for the Windows Server 2012 Beta (71-410) (as well as a lot of my fellow attendees did) and later in the evening, one of the two new private cloud tests (70-246). Due to some glitches in the testing center, I waited for over 20 minutes to sit for my 12:30 scheduled exam. But, once seated, my experience was very good. The staff was friendly and helpful and were trying to make the best of things.
I attended an Exam Prep for the private cloud exams before sitting down to take 70-246. There was still a wait when it was my time to take the exam. Since I was not able to put the time into my studying as I would have liked, I was not surprised when I did not pass the exam. I put in a good effort, but I still lacked experience with System Center. Better luck next time. (or perhaps better EFFORT next time! I do not believe in luck.) I was also thankful that I was not scheduled for any after hours events. After starting my day at 7 and all the other late night events since Sunday, I was tired!
On day 4, I was surprised to find out that I was actually on time for breakfast for the first time! I was scheduled to take the 70-247 private cloud exam after lunch. The problems that caused the wait time had been fixed. I experienced a minor software error during my test that made me think that the test crashed. Fortunately, the error did not cause the test to close, so I was thankful for that. I did not pass this test either, but it was a good experience and got me back in the habit of certification testing. All three tests were free during TechEd, so I did not lose any money for trying.
By the time I finished my test, TechEd had started to wind down. There were sessions scheduled until 5:45, but it seemed that most people had gone home. The exhibitors had started to take down there booths and activity plunged. I tried to attend a session with Mark Russinovich, but they actually had to close the doors because so many people wanted to get in. I did get to attend a session with Microsoft’s Yung Chou on “Becoming the Next Private Cloud Expert in Your Organization.” I also saw Mr. Chou at TechMentor last year. He is a great speaker, even when the A/V equipment doesn’t want to cooperate!
After the last session I had one problem. The closing party at Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure wasn’t until 7:30. Although I live near Orlando, going home was not an option, so I hung around the convention center until it was time. It was raining and driving in rain is not my favorite thing to do. I ended up getting to Universal a little after 7:30. The rain had stopped and I had a great time.
The closing party caused me to reflect on my TechEd experiences. I have been to TechEd three times in Orlando (2007, 2008, and 2012). In 2007, the closing party was also at Islands of Adventure. I saw a group of people from my workplace, but I was by myself for the whole night. This time, I met up with a couple of friends that I met in grad school and we hung out together for the entire night. And all over the park, I saw many of the friends that I made during the week working at the Hands On Labs area. The difference this time was the people that I got to meet and hang out with this time and that was my favorite part of my TechEd experience.
I would also like to conclude with a special “Thank you” to Ronald Beekelaar, Kim Yoon-Sook, Andrew Bettany, and everyone from Virsoft Solutions that made the experience working in the Hands On Labs area so positive. I am amazed that you are able to quickly setup such a complex network and virtual environment that adds so much value to the TechEd attendee experience.
Thank you for reading.
Day 2 of TechEd began with the second keynote of the conference. This keynote was led by Antoine Leblond, Corporate Vice President, Windows Web Services. The keynote was heavy on demos of Windows 8 and the Metro user interface. I have been using Windows 8 and a Dell Duo for about two weeks now and I have been uncomfortable using the mouse vs. using the touch screen. The touch screen just seems more natural. After watching the demos during the keynote showing using touch and using a traditional mouse, I feel more comfortable using Windows 8 with a mouse. There were also demos of Metro style Apps (Including an app developed by Aflac) and a brief discussion on developing apps for Metro.
From there I did some looking around in the expo area and actually got more information than swag (and I still have not won a Nokia Lumia 900!) I was also able to catch-up with a good friend of mine that I have not seen in a while.
After working in the Hands On Labs, I then went to Community Night. This is an event where like-minded techies get together with speakers, staff, and other experts to discuss technology. I got some food and then just looked for a place to sit. It was far from where the tech conversations were going on, but I needed to sit down. I ended up having a great conversation with the three people sitting at this table. And while the talk wasn’t always technical (we do have other interesting facets to our lives like families) it was very enjoyable and I was glad I sat where I did.
Afterwards, I met up with MCTs and other Microsoft Learning folks at the Howl at the Moon Saloon. I was afraid to go because I was scheduled to work at 7 am the next day. But I also did not want to miss out on another opportunity to be with this group. It was a lot of fun as I got to mingle with some of the people that I have spent the week with.
Day 1 of TechEd began with me just missing breakfast. I was just a few seconds too late. Oh well.
I did get to the Keynote on time. The keynote was delivered by Satya Nadella, President, Server and Tools Business, Microsoft. While I did not take notes to give you a detailed rundown (you can view the presentation online at http://northamerica.msteched.com), the highlights for me was how Server 2012 will help enable the private cloud and how companies like AFLAC have leveraged Azure, the Microsoft Public cloud.
I also got to hit a view of the vendor booths. I was able to get a free edition of “Introducing Windows Server 2012″ from MS Press. You can also get a copy from MS Learning. For those not at TechEd, you can get a free eBook from O’Reilly who distributes MS Press books.
What a day! Day Zero at TechEd was my first day of working in the Hands On Labs (HOL). Our morning started with a briefing with all of the MCTs that would be working in the HOL. What an impressive group!
I worked six hours in the HOL and enjoyed greeting and helping the attendees who came out to try some of the labs. I also got involved in part of the process to make sure the labs were ready for day 1
I am always impressed by the HOL area. In a very short time, the staff has to come to the convention center, setup a data center, and set out all the lab computers. It amazes me the amount of work that must go into the HOL and the preparation of all the labs.
By the end of Day Zero, I was tired from standing and walking. A group of MCTs later met at the Oceanaire restaurant. I had the best clam chowder I ever had and a signature preparation of swordfish.
After which I finally went home and got some sleep.
Thank you for reading.
Microsoft TechEd begins tomorrow. Well, maybe not officially, but for some of us it will be the beginning of our conference experience. Officially, the conference begins on Monday, with the first of two keynote presentations. Some conference attendees are actually starting their conference today by participating in two community outreaches today. One group is building a Habitat for Humanity house and another group will be helping feed the homeless. As a local resident, I appreciate the service these conference attendees are offering.
Tomorrow I will begin my first time working as a Technical Learning Guide (TLG) in the Hands On Lab (HOL) area. In the morning I will be in training. Then from 12-6, I will be working in the HOL in the Client labs area. If you are there tomorrow, stop by and say”Hi” and try a lab or two. Afterwards, I will be attending the MCT dinner. I am looking forward to meeting the other MCT’s at this event.
During the week, I will also be taking three certification tests. Between exam cram sessions for these exams and taking the tests, I have filled up my Wednesday with certification related events.
With all the events open to someone attending TechEd, it is very tempting to try to fill every moment with something to do. However, it is also important to schedule some downtime for yourself. I am trying to leave some time open to visit the exhibitors and relax in one of the lounges. I have attended the last two TechEds in Orlando and one of my favorite memories was relaxing in the MCT lounge and meeting and talking with the other MCTs.
This brings up another recommendation. While at the conference, find some way to get to know other people. This is one of the largest assemblies of IT Pros and Developers that you will probably ever see. Talking with one of the speakers can be interesting, but so can talking with a fellow attendee. There are attendees from all over the country (and some from around the world). One of the best ways to meet other people is during lunch. The tables are large enough that they encourage strangers to share tables. If you want to keep in touch, share your LinkedIn info or some other social networking info. I am planning to share a card with people I meet. It is not a business card, but a “Keep in touch” card with my blog, email, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook info. All the links are professional links, so my Facebook page is my ITCertPro page and not my personal page. The key here is that i am looking for connections, not business.
So, if you are at TechEd, I hope to see you.
Thank you for reading.