TechEd 2008 – Day 0

Day 0? TechEd is halfway complete, and I’m just now posting about day 0? I admit, I’m a bit behind. Normally I would be posting each night but the schedule seems to be more full this year. I think the shortened schedule is a big reason for that.

With the split of TechEd into two conferences, one for developers and one for IT pros (a move I favored), Microsoft also dropped one day and moved from five days to four days. Traditionally TechEd started with pre-conference sessions on Sunday, started the conference on Monday, and ended on Friday. This year, the pre-con content was on Monday and the sessions didn’t start until Tuesday.

Since I wasn’t visiting Disney World on this trip (I know, hard to believe), I flew in on Monday morning and rode the Mears shuttle to my hotel, the Embassy Suites on International Drive. The Residence Inn at Sea World, where I stayed last year, was a great place to stay, but a bit off the beaten path. I wanted to stay closer to the convention center (OCCC) this year and the Embassy Suites was a nice distance. Plus when you’re staying somewhere for several days, you can’t beat a suite.

After I checked in, I hopped on the bus over to OCCC and registered at the conference, picked up my backpack (thumbs up for the bag), and did a quick check of inventory at the TechEd store. I usually pick up a conference polo shirt, but was disappointed to find out that they were sold out of XL IT Pro shirts. Excuse me? Mid-way through Monday, the day before the show really starts, and you’re out of XL shirts? Who is in charge of inventory? Next time, don’t bring so many S shirts and bring enough XLs. So I picked up a T-shirt instead. I know, who buys a t-shirt at TechEd. What can I say, I’d like to have something I would actually wear outside the house and not just for working out or painting.

Afterwards, I walked over to Pointe Orlando and had lunch at Taverna Opa, a Greek restaurant on the upper level. Excellent choice. Fresh hummus to start. Yum! Pointe Orlando was pretty rundown back in 2005 when I stopped by for some TechEd party/event. They’ve put a lot of money into it and it shows.

Sorted through the bag. Big change this year was the inclusion of a water bottle. Turns out Microsoft isn’t providing water bottles in the coolers this year. Instead they’re providing water stations that we can use to fill up our water bottles. Unfortunately, the water bottles are polycarbonate number 7. Ring a bell? You probably remember hearing the news stories about issues related to bisphenol-A leaching from the plastic. Bisphenol-A mimics estrogen and concerns have been raised about its impact on people. Each water bottle contains a slip of paper that mentions the controversy about this kind of plastic and says that the FDA says it is safe and so on. If you have to put a warning label on the water bottle you’re handing out, you’re probably better off just ordering some new bottles. I’ll just reuse my Dasani bottle made from PETE number 1 thank you. I’ll put the Microsoft/NetApp bottle on my swag shelf at work complete with warnings inside.

After lunch, I jumped on the I-Ride trolley to head up to the Disney outlet store at Prime Outlets up north. Picked up some small plush from Hong Kong Disneyland. How do these wind up at outlet stores in the US? Didn’t see much else until I noticed a display that had one leather jacket on it. During my trip in April I tried to buy a Mickey Mouse leather jacket that was marked down to $150, but they were out of my size (XL). I asked the sales associate if they had any XLs, so he pulled the jacket off the display and sure enough it was an XL. I went over to the one mirror in the store to try it on and check out how it looks. The zipper was a bit hard to get going (it will need a little graphite when I get home), so it took several times to get it to zip up which included taking it off and on a few times. I eventually got the knack of using the zipper which was good because in the heat and humidity of the day, I thought I was going to pass out while wearing this heavy leather jacket. Won’t be wearing this home.

I left and took the trolley back to my hotel, treasure in hand. Checked email and did some work things before heading to the Party with the Pros at Glo Lounge. The crowd was pretty light but it eventually started to fill up. There were veggie trays, some snacks, book giveaways, and everyone received a free drink coupon. Nothing earth-shattering, but a nice event, and if they can get more sponsors for next year, hopefully it’ll turn into something bigger. Kudos to Doug Spindler, Pacific IT Pros, and Bart Martens, CommunityWorks, for putting this event together. Had a good conversation with someone here all the way from Goteborg in Sweden.

After the giveaways were done, I headed over to Don Pablo’s for dinner. Nothing spectacular, but it was close, and I was in the mood for Mexican food. Back o the hotel and called it a night.