That Sinking "TechEd" Feeling…

Turns out, even though I not at TechEd in New Orleans, I still am experiencing that sinking feeling in my stomach, reminding me that once again I probably have too many new things to learn and probably not enough time to learn them!

There have been a lot of great announcements coming out of the conference so far and it’s only half over.  Here are some highlights I recommend you check out:

  • On the Springboard Series Blog – What’s New for the Enterprise with Windows 8.1 by Stephen Rose.  Lots of new features to help make Windows 8 easier to support in your enterprise.
  • TechEd Keynote – Get a quick overview of everything on the horizon from Microsoft.
  • Transform the Datacenter – Jeffery Snover and Jeff Wollsey cover the 3 different ways you can use Microsoft technology to support datacenter operations in the cloud, on-premise or in hybrid forms.

And if you REALLY don’t know where to begin, click here and see a list of available presentations sorted by the most views.

Happy learning!

TechEd 2013 Is Just Around the Corner!

One of my most favorite IT Pro conferences is Microsoft TechEd.  This year would have been my 10th TechEd to attend in a row, but alas, I have a conflict and won’t be there this year.  Still, I wanted to mention a few things you might want to check out if YOU are going to be there.

  • If it’s your first time attending, you want to be sure to grab some sessions from some historically popular speakers. You can’t go wrong making sure that Jeffrey Snover, Greg Shields, Mark Russinovich, Mark Minasi, Stephen Rose, Paula Januszkiewicz, J. Peter Bruzzese, and Chris Henley are on your schedule.  Or at least a few of them. 🙂
  • Don’t forget to check out the great TechEd Primer on the Springboard Series Blog
  • Sometimes it can get overwhelming to sit in breakout session after breakout session. Don’t overlook the smaller venue Birds-of-a-Feather topics where the conversations can be more intimate and detail oriented.
  • If you are in certification mode, exams are 50% off!
  • Are you a woman in technology?  Do you know a woman in technology? Enjoy a sit-down lunch served while listening to a panel discussion at the Women in Technology Luncheon.  Support your female colleagues and beat the lunch line – win, win!
  • If it’s not your first time attending and you think you have the “stuff” to present at a future TechEd, don’t hesitate to participate in Speaker Idol. Hosted by Richard Campbell from RunAs Radio, you can win an all expenses paid speaking slot at the next TechEd.  The only rule is that you can’t have presented a TechEd breakout session in the past. 
  • What to make connections that last longer than a week? Don’t forget about the Community Resource Zone where you learn about resources to expand your professional network beyond the reach of the conference or your office walls.

No matter how you schedule your week, you won’t leave New Orleans disappointed.  You’ll have learned a few things, made a few new contacts and be geared up to start some new projects in the office.  If nothing else, don’t forget to come back and tell me what I missed!

TechEd 2012 Session Recap

As is likely with many of you, when I return from a conference that has taken me out of the office for more than a day or so, I have plenty of email and tasks to catch up with.  Now that I have a little bit of wiggle room, it’s time to try to watch all the sessions I missed at TechEd.

There is one little problem when you are mostly an IT generalist and attend a multi-track conference event.  You simply can’t be everywhere you want to be.  I’m so glad that sessions from TechEd are available after the conference for review, otherwise I’d miss out on some great stuff.

Here are some highlights of some of the sessions I attended or viewed so far:

EXL304 An Inside View of Microsoft Exchange 2010 SP2 – I listened to this yesterday and it highlights all the new features in SP2. Most are geared toward either multi-site or multi-tenant needs, but GAL segmentation might be useful for smaller organizations too, depending on your business needs. There are also over 600 bug fixes!

VIR317 Lessons from the Field: 22 VDI and RDS Mistakes You’ll Want to Avoid – a lively session with more RDS than VDI mistakes, particularly geared toward farms with more than one RDS Host.

SIA312 What’s New in Active Directory in Windows Server 2012 – A great summary of some of the cool AD features that come with Server 2012, particularly support for virtualized domain controllers while avoiding issues like USN Rollback.

WCL324 IPv6 Bootcamp: Get Up to Speed Quickly – IPv6 is here and if you are running Windows 7, you’ve already deployed it.  So don’t forget to spend a little time becoming more “in the know” about what’s probably already on your network.

And my to-do list of sessions to watch later!
  • SIA402 – How to (un)Destroy Your Active Directory: Reloaded
  • WSV321 – Windows PowerShell Crash Course
  • SIA300 – Ten Deadly Sins of Administrators about Windows Security
  • VIR308 – What’s New in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, Part 1
  • VIR309 – What’s New in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, Part 2

 I didn’t provide links to each session, but you can find them at MyTechEd or on MSDN’s Channel 9.

Hello TechEd NA!

Today I landed in *rainy* Orlando to attend my 9th Microsoft TechEd.  I know it’s my 9th because this year marks the 20th anniversary of the conference and alumni were given a button to write in how many years they’ve attended.

I couldn’t remember the exact number I’d been to offhand, so since I had to look it up, I’ll list them out here for those of you who’ve been attending along with me.  Perhaps we should have a 9-year veteran meetup!

2012 – Orlando, FL
2011 – Atlanta, GA
2010 – New Orleans, LA
2009 – Los Angeles, CA
2008 – Orlando, FL
2007 – Orlando, FL
2006 – Boston, MA
2005 – Orlando, FL
2004 – San Diego, CA

I have to say that my favorite locations so far have been San Diego, Boston and New Orleans. 

Finally, here a two quick tips for those of you who are first timers. 

1) If you feel like you must leave a sesson, don’t try to race to another one in the same time slot.  Either network down on the event floor or in the community areas, or stick with your first pick and find that one nugget of good info to take away.
2) Do not try to attend a session in every available slot of every day.  You will burn out by Wednesday and I will recognize you in the lunch line by the information that is suddenly dripping out of your ears.

TechEd 2011… Come and Gone!

Time sure flies when you spend nearly a week in conference-land!  I had a great time at TechEd in Atlanta this year, I spent a lot of time catching up with other Microsoft MVPs, staff and favorite vendors as well as making some new friends.  I also had a great time talking to other attendees about Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) during my session and in the Technical Learning Center during the week.

I didn’t catch as many sessions as I hoped to this year, but you and I can check out the recorded sessions at MSDN’s Channel 9.  I caught some sessions on Exchange 2010, but missed one on transitioning to Exchange 2010 because the room filled right before I arrived!  That will be on my to-do list when I return to the office next week for sure.

Next year, TechEd returns to Orlando in June.  Bring your walking shoes, as always.

TechEd 2011… Here I Come!

Are you gearing up for TechEd 2011 in Altanta, GA?  If so, I hope to see you around!

This year, I’m not only looking forward to attending some of the sessions and events, but I’ll also be presenting on MDOP.  If you want to check out some the tools in the MDOP and see some demos, be sure to add “WCL311: Solving Common IT Pro Pain Points with the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack” to you schedule.

Other things on my schedule this year are spending some time working the MDOP booth in the TLC area, hitting several of the Exchange 2010 sessions and enjoying the “Women in Technology” luncheon.

I’ll miss out on the Attendee party this year, but I expect it will be a great way to unwind after a packed 4 days of learning and networking.

Surviving TechEd

TechEd 2011 is drawing near, so I thought I’d share my personal list of “Rules to Survive TechEd”. Perhaps they will help you this year in Atlanta or at another multi-day conference you might have coming up.
  1. Register Early; Your Hotel is Key – Unless you have some special requirement or reason to stay at a particular hotel, you should register as early as possible so that you can pick a hotel within what you would consider walking distance to the conference center. I hate being at the mercy of the shuttles every morning.
  2. Prepare to Walk a Mile in Your Shoes – Most conference centers are large sprawling venues, last year TechEd spanned over a mile within the New Orleans Conference Center. Wear comfortable shoes and expect to get some exercise.
  3. Food and Beverage – Conference fare varies from year to year and location to location and it’s not always the highlight of the event. While some previous TechEds provided a hot breakfast and lunch, that’s not always the case. Also, depending on the contract of the venue, you may not find the soda brand of your choice provided. So you might have to make other arrangements or be flexible. The reality is that no matter what food is provided, not everyone is going to be happy.
  4. Know Where You’d Like To Be (but don’t expect to be everywhere) – Every year I as I work on building my schedule, I find that I want to be in several sessions at the same time or attend a session in every possible time slot. With over two dozen learning opportunities during the course of TechEd, my brain is simply on track to seize up and crash if I don’t pace myself. Take advantage of the content that will be posted online post-conference and skip a session or two. It’s amazing what a little down-time can do for you.
  5. Don’t Jump Sessions – It’s annoying when you have multiple sessions to choose from in one time slot and the one you decide on is a dud. However, don’t try to run over to your next pick. By the time you walk to the session, you’ll have missed a good portion of it and will likely not get as much out of it as you’d hope. Either stick with your first pick (since you’ll likely find at least one “jewel” to take away from it) or bail and take that time to hit a TLC or community lounge area – you might find an answer to a burning question there instead.
  6. How Much Swag Do You REALLY Need? – Seriously, a dozen vendor T-shirts? That flying pig? Another plastic thingamabob that glows green? I managed to get to the conference with only carry-on bags and I like to save those checked baggage fees for something other than branded pens and blinking buttons. Until vendors start bringing a stash of shirts smaller than an XL, I’ll keep swag collection to a minimum.  I prefer taking away new ideas for implementing technologies in my work or making new contacts for future conversations.
I’m looking forward to another great conference full of networking and learning opportunities.  If you don’t pass me tearing from end to end between sessions, look for me at the MDOP booth in the TLC.