Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Detroit Launch Event

I had to leave the San Francisco post-launch party early (before Cheap Trick took the stage) in order to catch a train to the airport. I wanted to give myself plenty of time, just in case I was victim of one of those random strip searches. No such luck!

The red-eye flight back was delayed because the co-pilot's oxygen mask was broken. I'm thinking, "Have a little faith that you won't need it, dude, and let's get this bird in the air." Despite being exhausted, I found it hard to sleep because I couldn't get comfortable.

I did notice a guy sitting a couple rows in front of me who looked REALLY familiar, and he was wearing one of the Staff T-Shirts from the launch event. I didn't recall if I talked to him, or if he was a speaker, or what... I decided that I would find him later and ask. (more on that in another post)

I guess that eventually, I fell asleep, because I don't remember most of the 4 hour flight. I arrived at DTW around 6:30 AM, and headed over to the rental counter to pick up a car.

Some time later, I found myself downtown Detroit, trying to figure out where to park at the RenCen. After maybe 15 minutes, and a U-Turn at the tunnel entrance (the tunnel to Canada, that is), I finally entered the building. But, nothing was marked! I was expecting banners and signs, like at the San Fran event, but nothing. You wouldn't have even thought that there was a Microsoft event in the building if you didn't already know.

I knew that the event was at the Marriott, so I kept following any sign that I found with the Marriott logo on it. Eventually, after maybe 15 more minutes of wandering around, I ended up at the event registration booths where I picked up my long-sleeve Microsoft speaker shirt, and my name tag. The Renaissance center has to be one of the most confusing venues that I have ever been to.

Now, for most of the previous day, I wore a "Windows Mobile" hat, trying to score a smart phone. Let's just say that without showering that morning, that I was not having a good hair day. I should have just put the hat back on, but in my sleep-deprived state of mind, I figured that somehow funky hair looked better than wearing a hat would. After actually getting a good night of sleep, I realized that I was probably wrong. Oh, well.

I spent a good portion of the morning at the User Groups booth, where we gave away a lot of swag (books and T-Shirts) via a registration application. People would sign up using our application (written by MVP and INETA Liaison Greg Huber), and upon clicking "Save", would be informed as to whether or not they were an "instant winner". This worked surprisingly well, and was very popular.

Local Regional Director and author Bill Wagner also hung around the User Group booth for a while. I think I was joking around when I asked him to sign my copy of Effective C#, and said to just put "To Jason, With Love, Carl Franklin", as if I didn't know who Bill was. He gets done, and now my book says: To Jason, With Carl Franklin's Love, Bill Wagner....

The keynote was a little less spectacular than the previous day's. ;-) But, in talking with people, they still left with a feeling of excitement about the products. And they didn't know what they had missed.

I spent most of the afternoon in the Ask The Experts area. San Francisco had all of the "experts" together in one area. Detroit separated the Developer area from the Data area (which is where I was assigned). Nonetheless, I travelled over to the other side a couple of different times, and met people like Patrick Steele (from GANG), Alex Lowe (from Telligent), and Eric Maino (from Microsoft). There were more people that I talked with, but their names escape me at the moment.

Though I didn't attend any of the sessions, it appeared to be a successful event. And everyone walked away with their free copies of VS 2005 Standard and SQL 2005 Standard.