Saturday, June 27, 2009

Post TechEd stuff

Howdy all!

My apologies for not posting sooner, but once again, my life has gotten busier than a fox in a crowded hen house. Since January, I've been travelling to conferences and summits every month (sometimes, several times a month). Recently I did SharePoint Saturday in DC, May 2nd. Then, two weeks later, went to LA for TechEd, then a week and a half after that, I went to London for two weeks. So I have been busy, away from my computer, and distracted. My apologies, gentle reader, if you felt neglected. I've been thinking of you, when I had the rare moment available for contemplation.

To start-- TechEd.

Well, I got some training on Sunday, the day before the event actually started (although there were some pre-conference sessions going on). I had to register to get a conference pass to be allowed into all the rooms I needed to access.

Normally, during registration, the attendees (and volunteer staff) get their goodies for the event; t-shirt, bag, pen, etc. This year, for some reason, the staff were given the bag, with the event catalog, some junk mail type stuff, advertisements for exhibitors, exhibitor contest stuff, etc., but no event T-shirt. Yeah, expensive bag, but no collectible Tee. Supposedly they did that to save money, but I'm not seeing it.

I also got to go to the pre-event MVP stuff. I didn't know that MVPs got a little extra training, like MCTs, during the event. That was really nice. Thanks guys.

Now, for those of you that had been following my story, getting to go to TechEd was a bit of a rollercoaster ride for me. I had originally applied to work the event as an MCT, as I have been doing for years. Last year I had been assigned to work in the Certification area of the conference (both weeks, whew). I'd had misgivings because I had dedicated so much time to Windows SharePoint Services (both 2.0 and 3.0) in the past years that I'd fallen behind on the Certification front. I did some work prior to the event to learn how certifications had changed in the interim, what they meant, etc. It turned out that I *loved* the certification area. The attendees were really cool, and I really felt like I was truly being helpful. It made the time I was working fly by. So this year, on the application, I flatly requested to be assigned to Certification. I'd also worked the MCT booth, but I just didn't feel as helpful there and were prefer to do Certification again.

Well, guess what? They cut the entire certification part of the conference for "budgetary reasons." Thus, my application was rejected. Maybe I shouldn't have been so adamant about really only wanting to work in that area, lol.

For the first time in years, I wasn't going to qualify to go to TechEd (and no, I really couldn't afford to simply go out of pocket).

Then I got an opportunity to apply as an MVP. I'd never done that before (obviously, since I was awarded for the first time this year), and had assumed that, since I was applying as an MVP, I'd be assigned work that applied to my area of expertise. I was really looking forward to it, if I was accepted, because I'd be able to talk to people all day for five days about SharePoint.

And, surprise, surprise, I was accepted! Yay!

Then I read the fine print. It appeared that I was chosen (rather late in the game as well, maybe I was a third round pick?) based on some secondary stuff I could do with the server (I had coauthored some Server stuff for Mark Minasi, Vista with David Pogue, travelled around the US doing presentations on server security and deployment for years, and beta tested all the server OS's since 2003).

So I wasn't going to be talking about SharePoint Services with anyone at TechEd, officially. Apparently, they didn't need me for that. Instead, I was going to be working a booth the Windows Server area.

I, of course, needed some additional information, as I've never done that particular job at TechEd before, concerning what exactly I'd need to do; responsibilities, expectations of the attendees concerning the booth's content, etc.,. It turned out that, out of all the booths there, I had to pick which one I was qualified for-- of course, that means I needed to know what all the booths were about. Unfortunately (and those of you who attended know what I'm talking about), the titles of the booths didn't really tell me what they specifically were going to cover, and I couldn't seem to find anyone who could give me any help in that regard.

Even more unfortunately, during the time in which I was trying to get this information, was also the time of the big layoff of Microsoft employees before TechEd (very bad timing in my opinion). The long and short of that story being, I ended up at a booth that required me to know everything new about Windows Server 2008 R2, but I really didn't know that until I showed up.

**Did I mention that all I've been doing since the summer of 2006 was SharePoint Services? I mean, yeah, I had beta'd 2008 (I was on the 2008 R2 beta, but couldn't spend a lot of time on it), and could install WSS on it, but really I was doing SharePoint all the time.**

So there I was, Monday morning, bright and early, standing at my booth, desperately learning everything I could about 2008 R2 (Huge shout out to Joey Snow, who wasted his valuable time loading demos on my booth computer and giving me content to learn), and, because it'd been a pet peeve of mine before the event even started, what each booth on the conference floor did.

It turned out that most of the Server booths at the conference covered most of what you needed to know about 2008 R2 (except security, because, strangely, the security people kept sending attendees to my booth), but there seemed to be no coherent idea as to where all that knowledge was actually located. There was no map of what topic was covered where for the sake of the attendees or staff, until I made one (hand scrawled on some sheets of notebook paper). So my booth ended up covering the following information:

-- Windows SharePoint Services administration (yes, attendees, despite my incognito location, still found me to ask questions, bless their hearts. Big thank you to them for making my week)
-- Active Directory Recycle Bin (my fave!)
-- Power Management (cool, Mark Minasi mentioned some things that you can do at the command line that are nifty)
-- Directions to the correct booth when attendees where led to my booth with questions no one else seemed able answer (the answer is out there, it's just a matter of finding the expert in the sea of people).

I did a lot of directing. I also had particular moments of fun, like when an attendee, who wandered by the first day, ended up helping me read the several pages of directions when I went through the Active Directory Recycle bin demo for the first time. We learned together, and that was fun. Every time after that that I did the demo, I thought of him. Thanks, whoever you were, for your patience and support.

Needless to say, I spent a lot of time that week doing nothing but server 2008 R2. It was fun. It gave me something to think about besides SharePoint. It also gave me ideas about SharePoint on 2008 R2 (okay, I really couldn't completely stop thinking about SharePoint). It also gave me a real, in the trenches, look at R2's Hyper-V.

Also, during the conference, thanks to meeting Joey Snow, I got exposed to something called "Firestarter events." Firestarter events are community focused (meaning free, and underfunded, think user group), driven by the speaker, who wants to present, essentially first look content, to the people in their area. The speaker, such as myself, would have to find a venue, get the word out to the community, maybe some sponsors, etc., as well as have the equipment to run the demonstrations.

I really want to do a Firestarter event in my area on 2008 R2 using the demos I had at my booth. I think it'd be fun, interesting, and really educational for my neighbors. My hometown isn't what you'd call tier one in Microsoft's eyes, and because of that we tend not to get the big launch events here. It'd be nice to do something for my peers that feels like an important pre-release event just for them.

Mind you, it's not SharePoint, but while I am waiting to get my hands on the beta for the next SharePoint release (yes, sadly, I still have bupkiss in terms of a beta look, and I'm a SharePoint Services MVP), I could be doing something else for the community. You know, still keep my fingers in the pie, technology and community-wise, in the interim.

One of the big things that would make or break my being able to do a Firestarter event, is if I have equipment that can run the pre-made, Microsoft official, Virtual Machines set up specifically for the Firestarter demos. If I can't run them on anything I own (and I am not ready to buy anything else this year), then I can't do the event.

That's why I've spent the last week installing Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 on my Macbook Pro. I needed to see if I could do it, how it ran, and if I could run Hyper-V well enough to do the Firestarter demos.

And of course, being me, I documented everything I did in my other blog, Adventures of a Servergrrl-- the Server Edition, over at msn spaces (or is called Live Spaces now, I can't keep track). So if you want to see what I've been so busy with that I wasn't writing here, or if you'd really like to see what it's like to install Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 straight up on a Macbook Pro, check it out there.

** I decided to put all that elsewhere, since it's not really a SharePoint thing. I used to have one blog with everything in it, but it got kind of unwieldy, containing virtualization, server, SharePoint, and miscellaneous stuff. So I broke it out, for the sake of the audience, into topics. Thus there's a WSS blog, a Server blog, and a miscellaneous, personal stuff blog.**

Bottom line, Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 do support EFI, meaning it will load and boot on an intel based Mac. There is a trick to getting the Windows 7 64bit or Server 2008 R2 disc to boot on the mac (it's a bug in the way the iso was made, not a flaw in the OS itself), but it all works... well except for some 64 bit drivers, but that's to be expected. Hyper-V is also easily supported as well.

I'll let you know if I do get to do any firestarter stuff (and let me know if you're local Microsoft office or user group might want me to travel to your area to do demos).

Now, on to SharePoint stuff.

I will be in Baltimore on July 25th (well, I'll actually be getting there the 24th, and leaving the 26th, but anywho) to do a SharePoint Saturday event. I'll be doing an hour long, basically standalone version of the "How to create your own dashboards," which is the second session in of the Frugal Admin series. I did the third session "How to create your own custom site template" in DC in May, so if you caught that and wanted to see the drill down as to some of how the site got to be customized before you made the site template, stop on by.

Check the "Happenin' Things" widget on the right side of this blog for details about the event as I get them (like exact times, address of venue, etc.).

After that I am hoping to have some downtime to catch up on doing blog things (I have so much stuff to podcast, vcast, and blog about that's WSS related it's not funny). I am also working on the next three sessions in the Frugal Admin series.

So please stay tuned, as I continue my servergrrl adventures.