We weren't too late last night, so getting up the next morning wasn't all that tough. Got to the Fish Bowl early, the first heat of Speaker Idol was at 9:45am. I spent a lot of the morning in email exchanges with folks for the three panels: Identity, VSTS and ASP.NET Scalability. I realized the stage is best set up for four panelists, each with headsets, plus Carl and I sitting off to the side with our own headsets, and then there's one wireless wand microphone on the floor.
In between panel emails there are emails from nervous Speaker Idol contestants, confirming rules, asking for suggestions, and so on.
Ten minutes before Heat 1 begins, we realize not all the judges can make it. I pulled Chris Kinsman in to cover for Joel who had a session.
Good news is, all the contestants show up. And then a big crowd shows up, over a hundred people. The AV guys are awesome, get everyone geared up and things moves right along. The competitors for the first heat were Mike Azocar, Bill Baldasti and Bob Roudebush. Going last was Kent Alstad, our first wild card. All the presentations are excellent, the judges complain about having to pick a winner, but do their job. The first heat winner is selected: its Bob Roudebush, with his great demonstration of the File Server Resource Manager in Windows Server 2003 R2.
At the end of Heat 1, the wildcard slots quickly disappeared. My four wild cards, in order of the heats, are Kent Alstad, Mark Miller, Rob Windsor and Steve Smith.
When the heat is over, I change shirts and head for the Strangeloop booth which has just opened. Lee is there now, arriving late last night. Things are in full swing, lots of people visiting the booth, seeing the demo, taking data sheets and getting excited about what we're up to. During that time the judges for the Best of Tech Ed competition came by to see AppScaler. We were very excited to be a Finalist, and the judge seemed to "get" what AppScaler was all about.
After helping out for a couple of hours I headed back to the Fish Bowl to gear up for Speaker Idol Heat 2 and continue sorting out who and when for the .NET Rocks panels. Change back to the DNR shirt.
Speaker Idol Heat 2 goes even smoother. The contestants are Brad McGehee, Alain Tadros, Dandy Weyn and the wild card, none other than Mark Miller (who knew he'd never presented at Tech Ed?). Again, the presentations are killer effective. Its amazing how much information these guys can pack into five minutes. The judges rule and Alain Tadros wins with a great code-on-the-fly demo of anonymous delegates.
I spent the rest of the afternoon locking down the panels, sending out invites. We'd have two panels on Wednesday, in between the Speaker Idol heats. First would be the ASP.NET Scalability panel, then the VSTS panel. On Thursday morning we'd do the Identity panel and the Speaker Idol finals. With the details locked down, I fired off the scheduling info to the CommNet folks to get it posted out to the Tech Ed attendees.
In the midst of all this, Greg Hughes arrived. Greg has been my co-host on RunAs Radio from the very beginning of the show, but this was the first time we'd actually met face to face. Our goal for RunAs was to get four interviews recorded with interesting folks at Tech Ed. We debated topics for awhile, but the list tightened up to IIS7, Network Access Protection, Forefront/ISA, Server Virtualization, Cardspace/Identity and anything else Longhorn Server we could find.
As the afternoon wound down, Carl and I rip out the Wednesday morning bluecast message. The mission turns to finding a good dinner. Orlando restaurants are plentiful, but mediocre for the most part. I guess its the nature of the place... its a total tourist town, and there really isn't any penalty for having a lousy restaurant, people keep showing up.
But we were told by numerous folks in the know that Vitos Chop House was the place to go. So we went. Greg, Mark Dunn, Carl & Tina and I all headed over there for a big steak dinner. Lo and behold, sitting a couple of tables away was the entire DevExpress gang, including Mark Miller! The dinner was good (when you're in a town of one star restaurants, being a three star makes you a knock out), and ultimately Mark came and sat with us as well. Lots of laughter and silliness. Our noise attracts attention, Chris Kinsman finds us from the other end of the restaurant.
We split up from dinner. Carl head for The Groove to jam. Mark Miller and I adjourn to the hotel bar to talk for awhile (I drank, Mark doesn't need alcohol). In bed shortly after midnight. Tomorrow is the half way mark!