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By now I’ve had time to unload my loot, get some sleep, and start combing through the stack of tech rags, marking articles I want to read at a later time, and combing through the massive blog backlog from the past week.  I’ve posted a general summary of each day.  What I wanted to do now was take a moment and just write a little about the entire week… some observations and things that just hit me.

Logistics:Look, no matter who or where it is, putting on an event where you have 11,000+ people in multiple hotels, all meeting at the same convention center every day for a week is impressive… I don’t care how much money you have.  With that being said, the logistics and smoothness of the event was quite impressive to me.  What ~really~ got me was the busses.  Microsoft took the chartered busses they setup as shuttles from the hotels to the convention center and branded them from tire to roof with their products… check out the Visual Studio and SQL Server bus!  Not all busses were done up, but many were.

The transportation was nicely done.  Yes, at times we had to wait a while for a bus, but for the most part they were very timely.  Even the shot to and from Universal Studios Thursday night was very smooth.

Food: The food was quite good!  Well, those meals I did eat.  I found myself hitting the free PowerBars quite a few days as meal replacements.  I understand there were no plans for hot breakfasts, but after a few complaints Monday morning, there were eggs, bacon, sausage, and other selections out for the rest of the week!  There were plenty of snack tables scattered throughout as well as coffee, soft drink, and water tables.  And all of it was included in the registration costs!  Very impressive.

Network Access, Wireless, Internet Cafe: Unfortunately the wireless setup wasn’t reliable.  I talked to a crew girl on Tuesday night who said that there were some rouge routers, but mostly it was an issue with RF interference due to a ton of power being run through the building.  Regardless, I was able to get a hardwired connection just about every time I looked for one between sessions and I never had a hard time finding a spot to plop down and check for repeat sessions being posted or my work/personal email.  Speaking of repeat sessions…

Repeat Sessions:This is the only thing that I really have a gripe about.  I would have liked to see the repeat sessions posted a littler more prominently and earlier.  I think the RSS feed was sending them out, but without wireless, that wasn’t something to rely on.  I did see the kiosks posting the repeats, but with so many open spots (50 I think), it wasn’t feasible to sit and wait for them to all scroll through.  I don’t think CommNet (the conference website) ever got a complete list… that’s just my impression.  What would have been cool would have been if we could have subscribed to alerts for specific sessions and if a repeat was posted, we got something sent to our MSN alerts.  That way, I could have configured it to send me an SMS on my Treo.  Not a huge issue.

Cabanas & Birds of a Feather Sessions:The cabana idea was fantastic.  Not sure if this was new for 2005, but very cool.  You knew where to go if you had specific questions.  I spent most of my cabana time at the Portals Cabana as that’s where SharePoint and MCMS were based.  But I also frequented the SQL, VSTS, Office, and architecture cabanas for some specific questions.

I only hit four BOF sessions, and only stayed for two (Test Driven Development is Design! and Unit Testing Web Apps).  The former was fantastic, but the latter was disappointing (only three people showed up).  I wish I had really put a little more effort into selecting the right ones before I headed down to Orlando.  But a great idea!

TabletPC’s:I was surprised how many people had Tablet PC’s on hand in the sessions.  Seemed I saw at least five people in each session with them.  I never expected there to be so many. 

There was also a deal where if you were wearing a special Windows XP blue button (given away for free at the Microsoft Pavilion in the Expo), you could be stopped and win a Toshiba TabletPC!  On Tuesday night when Heather Solomon, Todd Bleeker, and I were working on some SharePoint goodness, a guy sat down at the table next to us and was unpacking his that he just picked up.  Man, I was dying for one of those… and I still am!

I also checked out the new IBM ThinkPad TabletPC that was shown during Monday’s keynote… very thin and sharp!  Can I have one?  Can I expense it?

Freebies:Of course we got some freebies.  The VSTS team was giving away a book that explained all aspects of the VSTS solution.  I picked one up and hope to have time to tear through it on an upcoming vacation. 

In addition, the VSTS team was giving away a DVD of a pre-configured VirtualPC of the entire VSTS suite… looking forward to booting that one up.

We also got a voucher for a free license of SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition when it’s released RTM (what they said in a keynote was a $5 million gift!).

Expo Prizes:There must have been about 50 Sony PSP’s given away this week.  I tried a few of the booths, but never won.  Oh well, it was worth the shot.

I’ll post more about the Expo later.

Random thought… I saw two t-shirts that I have to mention.  One, well I don’t know why it’s funny, but all it said on it was “I got loaded with BizTalk Server 2004 and all I got was a connected enterprise”… the other (which I managed to get one) was by ScriptLogic.  All it had on the front was: “c:\users” and on the next line “less often…”.

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