When I got into the Rosen yesterday evening, I discovered that the server box had arrived from Denver. I left it at the bell desk, since there was no reason to drag it up to the room. But since I'd chatted with Birgit and Virginia that evening, we agreed to meet in the morning, get the beastie over to the tradeshow and set up. Jon, Josh and Kent were also arriving today.
I had wisely stocked myself up with bottles of water when I was over at Tech Ed registering, so I could deal with the after affects of significant amounts of scotch consumed the night before. Tech Ed is the Super Bowl of Microsoft Conferences, and you don't want to miss a bit of it. So its up late partying every night, and up early the next morning to get to work.
So we all gathered at the Strangeloop booth, reviewed the demos and went over procedures in general. I also had my box of shirts.
My life for this Tech Ed is a complex one. I have a lot of shirts, and depending on what work I'm doing, I have to change shirts. I have the following shirts:
- Tech Ed Speaker Shirt (for speaking, duh!)
- .NET Rocks Shirt (all DNR related events)
- Strangeloop Shirt (whenever I'm going to be at the booth)
So over the course of the day, I'm going to switch between these shirts several times. I wear a t-shirt underneath to avoid horrifying anyone. And where do I do all this quick change work? Why, in the Fish Bowl!
After checking in at the Strangeloop booth, I headed over to the Virtual Tech Ed stage, where The 64 Bit Question, Speaker Idol and all the .NET Rocks panels were going to take place. In behind the stage is a video recording studio and an editing room, each of which have two walls of plexiglass. They look like people aquariums, and were quickly dubbed The Fish Bowl. And that's when I finally met Zaak and Katrina in person. Zaak runs Virtual Tech Ed, and we'd been on the phone with each other at least once a week for the past two months. The Virtual Tech Ed stage was the fruition of all the work we'd been doing.
Carl and I took over one corner of the Fish Bowl and met a number of the other inhabitants, including Dean Andrews, who was working with a group of folks who do Bluecasting. Bluecasting utilizes Bluetooth technology to push content (in this case, MP3 files) onto Bluetooth devices, like cell phones. Dean wanted to make it easy for people to find out what was available on the Virtual Tech Ed web site. After talking to him for a few minutes I offered up the services of Carl and I. We have lots of practice making short bits (2-3 minutes) with music and news. We planned to create one for every day of the conference.
It was around that time that Steve Forte and Pat Hynds showed up. Pat and Duane Laflotte had a conference session on Identity right after lunch, and they had an idea. Since fundamentally Identity is all about how you know who someone is, they wanted to do a physical demonstration. So Pat and Duane asked Steve and I to impersonate them. We would show up early for the session, walk up on stage and start presenting it. Steve went so far as to grab a piece of paper and scrawl "Patrick Hynds" on it and stuff it in front of his own Tempo Tempo Forte Forte name tag.
When the time came, Steve and I went on stage and dropped into our usual pre-session duet banter, only calling each other Pat and Duane. When it was actually time to start, we introduced ourselves and started the session. I even made a point of fumbling over the pronunciation of Duane's last name. About two minutes into it, Pat and Duane rush in, apologize for being late, and say "what are you guys doing on stage?" We get into an argument about who is really supposed to be presenting the session. Pat had left his badge on the podium, so he picks it up and puts it on. Steve runs into the crowd and asks an attendee, "doesn't my badge say Patrick Hynds" which of course it does, in badly scrawled pen. Then Pat says "But I'm Patrick Hynds, I have the official badge!" and someone else from the audience yells out "He just picked that badge up from the podium!"
So then we held a poll, asking the audience who they thought the real Patrick Hynds was. And most people picked Steve! Then we flipped the slide and showed photos along side the names. The crowd laughed. That was mine and Steve's cue to get out of the way, and Patrick dropped directly into "How DO you know for certain who someone is?"
The gag worked, and it made a point about Identity. Mission accomplished. Back to the floor, visited the Developer Learning Center area and chatted with Erika Maki about putting together some panels for .NET Rocks. She suggested VSTS, which I thought was a fine idea. Next stop, the RD booth where Steve stayed and ultimately I ended up back at the Fish Bowl.
While I was off being silly on stage, Carl was working hard on getting The 64 Bit Question slide deck finalized. We had pulled all the prizes together and sorted out the questions into Developer, IT Pro and .NET Rocks Trivia categories. The swag was wide ranging: from polar fleece sweaters to USB keys to software packages from Telerik, Data Dynamics and DevExpress. While we were comparing notes and organizing that, I had sent out an email to all of the Speaker Idol contestants to meet at the Virtual Tech Ed stage for a briefing. I was also starting to pull together the various panel ideas we had, including a panel on Identity and a panel on ASP.NET Scaling. Lots and lots of emails.
Speaker Idol briefing went well, but on such short notice, only about half the contestants showed up. The judges (Steve, Kate, Michele and Joel) dropped by as well. We talked about the flow of the stage, how all laptops are prepped in advance as well as mike checks. The routine on stage itself: Carl and I introduce you, ask you a bit about yourself, then get off the stage so you can do your five minute presentation. When you're done, we all clap, Carl and I return to the stage, talk to the judges a bit, they offer their critique, and the next contestant comes up. When all the contestants are done, they all return to the stage and the judges pick a winner. We also talked about wildcard participants - there are three contestants per heat, selected in advance. But there's room for four in each heat, so someone watching a heat can come up afterward and we'll put them into the next heat. I had already found a wild card for the first heat, I figured the rest would go quickly.
At 6pm Carl and I started The 64 Bit Question, just as folks were headed down for the opening of the sponsor booths. We drew a big crowd, mostly IT folks (wish we had more IT questions), and the swag went quickly. Some of the questions are quite funny, and the audience has a good time. After an hour or so, all the goodies are given out and we can head over to the Strangeloop booth.
So count the shirt changes: in the morning I arrived in a civilian shirt. By noon I changed to a speaker shirt for the Identity gag. Then I changed to the DNR shirt for the Speaker Idol briefing and 64 Bit Question. Then into the Strangeloop shirt to help out at the booth. Finally I switched back to the civ shirt as the reception ended and we could go to dinner. Somewhere in all that, Kent arrived as well. Before heading out Carl and I ducked into the Fish Bowl for awhile and laid down the Tuesday Bluecast recording. After that we ate at Jacks in the Rosen Plaza hotel. We were underwhelmed with the food, but the company was good - Strangeloopers (Jon, Josh, Kent, Virginia and Birgit) plus Steve and Carl.
Sometime in the afternoon I discovered that Scott Hanselman had blogged about the blogging session he'd contributed so much to (he asked me for my notes so that he could). Its at http://www.hanselman.com/blog/BlogInteresting32WaysToKeepYourBlogFromSucking.aspx
Tomorrow would be the first heats of Speaker Idol, and things would really get moving!