Saturday, July 12, 2008

So many things to say...

Wow, my apologies for the delay in posting, but I have been having adventures. I am back from TechEd. I, finally, took some time off to recuperate, but I have not forgotten my blog. I have so much catching up to do...

TechEd as a gig

To start, I went to TechEd for both the Developer week (6/1 to 6/7) and the IT Pro week (6/8 to 6/14).

For the first week, I worked in the Study hall area, helping people get certified. Supporting them with Learning Plans, certification information, paths, study materials, etc. I also pulled some additional shifts proctoring the MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer) community lounge. There I had a split role of both informing the public about what it takes to be an MCT and why they might want to be, and encouraging MCTs to stop in and hang out, thereby fostering the community.

Mind you, that week I did a lot of certification support- for developers. I am not a developer, so I had to do a lot of studying and prep to be able to help the attendees successfully.

For the second week, ironically, I didn't do much work in the Study Hall (despite the fact that I am an IT Pro and would have been more qualified), and instead spent most of my time at the MCT Lounge. And, although I love my fellow MCTs, I missed the Study Hall and the work I did with the attendees (time flies when you're really needed). So next year, if I work TechEd, I am definitely going to ask to be assigned to the Study Hall area more often.

And thank you, by the way, to the Hynesite people who approved my application and allowed be to one of the few people who got to work both weeks. I will always be honored and grateful.

TechEd and my battle scarred laptop

While at TechEd, I got considerable flack from my fellow MCTs about bringing and using a MacBook Pro. They said things like I was being disloyal, that I was "biting the hand that feeds me," etc.

I have to admit, the criticism stung. I was proud of buying the best hardware I possibly could at a good price. I don't use the Mac OS on it, only Windows. I've done all of my Windows Connections presentations on it, and wrote the Mastering book on it.

I don't see where, when I use Microsoft on a MacBook, that I am being disloyal to Microsoft (not that I really, really feel compelled to be that loyal). Microsoft sells software, not hardware.

So anyway, feeling slighted, I found myself reluctant to even use my laptop anywhere near the MCT lounge for fear of another rantfest. Then, looking around at the attendees working on their laptops, I was delighted to discover over the course of the two weeks, that many people in the industry, at TechEd, were using MacBooks. Now you have to assume that these people are inherently pro-Microsoft if they're at TechEd, right? That they probably aren't secretly MS haters or linux zealots. And yet, there they were, openly using their Apple laptops to do work at a Microsoft Conference.

And, no one was yelling at them.

So, I began to take pictures of them. That's right. I took pictures of about a dozen or more people I saw using MacBooks. And mind you, I spent most of my time tethered to either the Study Hall or MCT booth, I wasn't roaming the mile long conference center looking for these people. Chances are really good that there are dozens more people using Macs that I didn't see.

And when I asked them, every single one said that they were using Macs to do Microsoft work because it was the best hardware they could find, for the money, to do what they needed to do. Period. No disloyalty, no big rant, no particular affiliation. Just doing what needed to be done, without fanfare, to get the job done.

I will be posting their pictures as soon as I get them off my phone so you can see for yourself. Microsoft professionals using Apple technology at a Microsoft conference.

Birds of a Feather at TechEd

Also, at TechEd, during the second week, I hosted a Birds of a Feather session titled "Windows SharePoint Services 3.0; the less costly path."

Thank you, everyone of the over a hundred people who signed up for it-- and the 17 people who actually attended...

... yes, a little over ten percent showed. And I think I know why-- the session was scheduled during the best party of the week. I am sure that, at the start of the conference, when attendees were filling out their schedules, they optimistically were certain that they would be attending the session. But when the day came, and they'd learned about the great party that was to happen at the same time, well they chose the party.

Heck, I was disappointed I'd being missing the party, and I was leading the session.

Regardless, I think it was a decent session. I really wasn't entirely clear on the format of the session-- how I was supposed to lead and discuss WSS stuff, but I was also supposed to basically also just let people talk... but I think it went okay. People asked questions, answered questions, got to make comments (I did a lot of soliciting feedback, but I'm not sure that was bad). I think people learned some things... I hope.

(and at this point I'd like to give a shout out to Michael Mesich (did I spell that right?) for being so kind as to attend my BOF session and buy my book. It was good meeting you. Also, thank you to James Finley and Shannon Bray for attending just in case things got out of hand, and your guerilla book signings and loyal advertisements.)

My book at TechEd

And finally, about the Mastering Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 book itself. Well, the Wiley (Sybex) booth never did get any copies of the book delivered to the booth (they swear they ordered copies, but they didn't arrive- you know how it is...). They had everything Mark had ever written, and every single book Wrox could fit, but not a single copy of my book.

So that's no copies of my book from Wiley/Sybex at the IT360 conference, and now, no copies at TechEd. And they wonder why I am concerned about the lack of Marketing support? LOL...sigh.

But, all was not lost at TechEd concerning the book, oh no.

You see, I am an MCT, and a pretty active member of the community. Many MCTs knew, last year, that I was writing the book, and many knew about the trials and tribulations I went through to see it to publication. So at this TechEd, they of course, were curious about what happened. When I told them it had published, but had had no marketing, well, they went into action.

With MCTs working all of the Hands On Labs, Certification areas (including Study Hall), Instructor Led Labs, Ask an Expert, and more, they blanketed the conference and were very kind to mention my book to anyone who might need it.

TechEd also has an independent bookstore-- and thank goodness for it. The manager (whose name I have forgotten but will, nameless, always have my gratitude) chose to order and stock copies of my book. And, during the IT Pro week, sold out by Wednesday (which is unfortunate, as the guys had schedule some guerilla book signings for Thursday that weren't that successful because no one could get copies of the book). Woo Hoo, my book sold out, my book sold out. ::Happy Dance:: It sold out at the IT360 conference earlier this year too. Maybe someone, somewhere, might realize it could be worth marketing. ; )

So for those MCTs that mentioned my book to the attendees-- thank you for getting the word out. I am sincerely grateful, you guys (and gals) rock! And for those who actually bought my book and contributed to the bookstore selling out-- thank you, thank you, thank you. I hope you are reading this and realize that I am not some unapproachable name on the book cover-- I'm out here continuing to write about WSS.

So that's basically it about TechEd. I met a lot of people, went to parties (usually late because I was working and had to eat dinner before partying), did work, learned things, and generally survived 14 days on concrete floors in a humongous (did I mention one mile long and a quarter mile wide?), windowless, conference center.

To the Orange County Convention Center staff; security, greeters, and food service-- Thank you. Seriously, thank you. Thank you for trying to feed me every day, for being so courteous and kind, and always patient. And for those young red shirt greeters at the South entrance every one of those fourteen days, I am glad you took my advice and are now jellin'. Your feet will thank you a decade from now, I swear.

Up next, a few articles about some things I learned and some things coming up, and finally, some recordings that should have been done months ago (the podcast is done, I just need to package it and get it stored online)...

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