"I have found adventure in flying, in world travel, in business, and even close at hand... Adventure is a state of mind - and spirit." - Jackie Cochran
TechEd 2004 will be my fourth TechEd in five years. I missed TechEd 2002 (New Orleans) because I attended a small conference in Palm Springs that year instead. That conference had the unfortunate timing of being one of the first following 9/11, which adversely impacted attendance quite a bit.
I admit that I have a love-hate relationship with TechEd.
I love the idea of going. Especially when it's held in a city I have never visited, and I've never been to San Diego. I love the whole travel part. I love going to the airport. I love flying (although, as a skydiver, I still feel naked without my trusty Infinity). I don't even mind the gauntlet of security I have to endure to get on that flying bus.
The hate starts to creep in when I step foot into a convention center that could seemingly swallow an aircraft carrier whole (I lived on one for 3 years, so I can relate). Inevitably, you have to walk miles to get anywhere. But, it's just the nature of the beast. How else are you going to accommodate two aircraft carries worth of people?
I love helping customers with problems. I admit I don't have the answers to many of their problems in my head, but more likely than not I know where to find them. The MSDN Library is fast approaching 2 GB and the collective knowledge of my product team could easily exceed that. What's the purpose of caching all of that material if I know where to find it? When I'm stumped I always hand-off my business card and collect contact information. I think I'm batting 1.000 when it comes to closing the loop and getting answers to questions. I love how it feels when I get a return mail expressing gratitude, but I hate that most people are surprised at the follow-up. I'd love to see that become the expected.
I really hate breakout session schedule conflicts. At least once a day I'm at odds over which session to attend. I love that we're providing a free copy of the TechEd Conference DVD set to each attendee. That rocks.
I hate the land rush mentality that occurs prior to the opening keynote (usually a speaker from the top of the Microsoft food chain, such as BillG or SteveB - SteveB this year), but I do love that people are that enthusiastic to get a good seat. Just try not trample anyone, okay?
I love the TechEd Attendee Party. It's a reminder that geeks just wanna have fun. My favorite was at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure for TechEd 2000 in Orlando. That was a blast. What's more fun than an amusement park? An amusement park that is closed to the public, which means not spending most of your time in lines. This year - Sea World. I hope they follow the same model.
I love seeing what other groups within Microsoft have been up to. Sometimes we get so busy working on our own stuff we forget that there are thousands of other Microsofties arranging their own 1's and 0's.
I especially love the mystery sessions - when there's no abstract, only an abstract title. Take for example:
DEV200 General Session: Developer Tools and Technologies
Tuesday, May 25 10:45 AM- 12:00 PM, Halls GH
Speaker(s): Rick LaPlante
Track(s): Architecture, Developer Tools and Technologies
Choosing between a mystery session and a well-described session can be like a case of Monty's Dilemma. "Gee, Monty, I'll take Door #3!" Mystery seems to be a common theme in the Developer Tools and Technologies track this year (see: DEV300, DEV301, DEV302, DEV303 and nine cabana sessions). Visual Studio 2005 debuted at PDC last year (as Visual Studio "Whidbey"), so what's the big mystery? Was everyone in Visual Studio so busy they forgot to do their TechEd prep work? Were they just lazy about handing in their material? I guess you'll have to see for yourself, but I know where I'll be.
Of course, I also love the idea of coming home, 'cause I hate leaving the family behind.
It's a love-hate relationship, but I keep going because the love outweighs the hate. TechEd 2004. Yeah, I'll be there.