Energize IT Montreal – What an adventure

EnergizeIT: Anything is Possible

I had the pleasure of visiting Montréal (my birth place) last week to deliver a series of events under the Energize IT banner, and what an adventure it was. This is an account of this adventure that I shared with Pierre Roman and Rick Claus (IT Pro extraordinaire).

First and foremost, I’d like to thank all the people who took time from their work or away from their family to attend. This commitment you make in growing your skills is very important and we treat this with a lot of respect.

So, let’s get to the adventure.

After a 2 hours train ride from Ottawa under a beautiful spring sky, I arrived at my hotel just to drop my bags, meet up with Pierre and cross the street to a Café Dépôt for the very first Coffee and Code event. Pierre and I found a corner in the back of the coffee shop and turned on our computers to connect to the free Wi-Fi, but it was not to be at this point. No amount of cajoling could get us going so we ordered our food and coffee and got tangled in the lunch crowd. After a while we finally got our food and java and sat down.

DSCN0040Not long after, our first visitor, François Tanguay from nVentive showed up with his big a** Dell. He also tried to connect without any luck so our IT support DNA kicked in. We went to the counter to offer our technical expertise in solving the problem but the staff was not familiar with where the equipment was. Thanks to the IT gods, one of the staff who had left came back and said he knew how to reset the access point. 10 minutes later we’re in business.

François then hit us with a great question. “What should I do if I want to run Windows 7  on my laptop but also want to maintain my current OS and Dev environment so I can still help my customers?” This was all the prompt needed to get Pierre deeply involved. We talked about Hyper-V, Virtual PC, boot to VHD, Dual Boot, etc. (At this point my developer brain started to go Boom Boom :-)) We agreed that Pierre and François would keep in touch and write a Blog post about it, so stay tune.

DSCN0043Then arrived Guy Barrette and Eric Moreau, and we discussed the next Tech Days, Code Camp in Montreal and other activities upcoming around more coffee. We wrapped up the afternoon at 4PM after the mandatory group picture and headed back to our hotel for a good rest because we knew the next few days would be intensive.

DSCN0045 Day 2 started with the sunshine again but a bit of  a cold spell. The plan was to work in the hotel room on our presentation but we were interrupted by the sound of a union rally bellow our window. Turns out our hotel staff was on strike and not happy about the scabs. Needless to say not much was achieved and we could not really exit the hotel yet (car was in the underground Garage). They dispersed at noon so we then got the car and drove to John Abbott College for our Student Connection event. 66 students and 5 professors showed up to listen to me talk about their potential future in the ICT workforce. This was done to reinforce the fact that even though the economy is in the tank there will be a skills shortage in the ICT field.

On the drive back we picked up Dottie Yeates, Audience Marketing Manager, at the airport and headed to the hotel to quickly drop some stuff and the car, meet up with Rick who just arrived by train and then head over to the Ermitage on the Montreal College campus for the User Group event. Rick was staring a bad cold at this point but he battled through and did a great job with Pierre talking about Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. All of this followed by dinner and bed.

Day 3 was rainy but would not stop the show. This was the big day. The main event. We headed to the office for a quick rally and last minute adjustments and tests. Rick was getting a little worst, Pierre started having digestion problems and a huge headache hit me. This was not fun. I headed to the Mont-Royal Congress centre at 1PM to attend the “Architecting Flexibility” talk by my buddies, Joël Quimper, Jamie Wakeam and Paul Laberge on the different aspects of Cloud Computing architecture and decisions. A great job concluded with a panel of experts discussion.

At 5:30PM, we got setup for the “Energize IT: From the Client to the Cloud”. This was a lot of fun. We delivered a series of demos (almost no slides – no kidding) of about one and a half hour. I even got the IT Pro attendees in the room to get up, get their fist in the air and chant “Developers! Developers! Developers!” which got a lot of laughs. At the end, poor Rick hit the bottom. He could barely speak and sniffled so much that an audience Samaritan brought him a pack of tissue in concern. We split the group in 3 circles to handle questions and discussions and then got back for a wrap up. Needless to say we were exhausted. Food and bed.

Day 4 was back to sunny. Pierre got sick during the night and made it to the final two events looking a little pale. We were also joined by Barnaby Jeans, Audience Marketing Manager. The first one was a small gathering of local experts with a discussion on skills and plan for the upcoming year which was enjoyable and lively. Then it was the Windows 7 install fest. People started to stream in at 6PM with all kind of laptops but also 3 people showed up with full tower PCs and flat panel displays. And yes, there were 2 Apple Mac Books in attendance. Pierre got everyone going by explaining the different install options and using experts from the field as proctor the install fest got underway. During the install Pierre showed different features of Windows 7 which were well received. We wrapped it up at 9PM and people left with big smiles on their face. One of the attendee told me: “This install has restored my faith in Microsoft” He had just installed Windows 7 on a 3 year old laptop with no issues.

That was it. Friday, Pierre and I drove back to Ottawa and Rick met with his family in Montreal for a well earned rest period.

Again, to all of you who made it possible by preparing, delivering and attending Energize IT Montreal, I thank you. Please stay connected with us. Our goal is to make sure you are very satisfied with the level of engagement you get from us and it starts with a dialog. You can reach me at christian.beauclair@microsoft.com or follow me on twitter at cbeauclair.

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