TechEd 2011 – Day 0 #msteched

Here I am at another TechEd, and once again my daily post is a full day (or two depending on how you count) behind. I should be in bed right now, but I’m going to man up and write something.

I don’t normally do the Pre-Conference Sessions, so I like to call the Sunday before, Day 0. The main goal for the day was to register at the convention center, the Georgia World Congress Center (henceforth the GWCC), get familiar with the layout of the GWCC, pickup the Krewe Pins, and enjoy the Krewe Meet ‘n Greet, all in that order.

I met up with Jeff Guillet (aka @expta), fellow Krewe member and all-around Exchange rock star, at the Embassy Suites where he mooched some free oatmeal while I ate breakfast. Afterwards it was off to the GWCC and probably the fastest registration process ever. The new touch-screen stations from HP were pretty slick. Before you knew it we had our bags and were off exploring.

We’re occupying buildings B and C and one auditorium in A, so we’re covering a lot of ground. Much of it is vertical with four floors of session rooms with which to contend. One highlight of the tour was the TechEd Alumni Lounge, a private area just for those of us who have been to previous TechEds. While it was empty when we visited, it was quite a different story the following day. Very popular, and I expect (and hope) we see this continued.

I had to leave in order to have lunch with a dear friend from my Exxon days in SoCal. We lunched at Ted’s Montana Grill, and I have to say it was probably the best bison burger I’ve ever had. Combine that with some delicious onion rings and free pickles and you have yourself a fine meal. Ted, please bring your bison to St. Louis!

Later, Krewe buttons in hand and a tech support call back home (home home, not work home), it was time for dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse at the hotel where Mike Bender (aka @thekrewe), the unofficial leader of The Krewe, met up and then we were off to the party.

STATS became Krewe Central for the next several hours as 150+ Krewe, new and old, gathered for drinks and good times courtesy of our sponsors, Xiotech, Datacore, New Horizons and others whom I can’t recall just now, so I apologize to them for my forgetfulness. I know Tiffany Ingargiola (aka @TiffanyWI), of New Horizons and the Queen of the Krewe, will jog my memory and let me acknowledge the others.

There was a special remembrance of Chris Walker who we lost last year as a result of a motorcycle accident. Chris may be gone, but he was with us in spirit. There was a slideshow running on the monitors throughout the night with pictures from previous TechEds and there were several pictures of Chris, always being playful and smiling, and I know I speak for everyone when I say we miss him dearly.

We closed the place down around 12:30, headed back to our respective hotels, and called the evening an unqualified success. Hopefully all of our guests agreed that this was a great way to kickoff TechEd. Not sure it was going to help much in terms of getting up the next morning for the keynote, but that wasn’t our problem.

Photos for the day are available on Flickr in the Flickr Set TechEd 2011 05-15, and if I get around to it, I’ll add a few to this post.