It's become almost an annual ritual - heading off to Tech-Ed. I got up early this morning to do online check-in to make sure I have the 2nd exit row aisle seat, print out the sunset, civil twilight, etc. from this handy site, print out the weather forecast, my BitLocker recovery password, hotel confirmation number, Tech-Ed bar code, map of the Orange County Convention Center, and more. Did I mention that I'm a geek? Or did you just figure that out yourself?
This year, Microsoft (in its infinite wisdom) cut Tech-Ed into two pieces: a developer focused track (which is over now) and an IT Pro focused track (which I am heading off to). That's right, they broke Tech-Ed. Broke as in "borked". Someone must have decided that everyone has a tidy little job title like "senior developer who writes code and doesn't need to know about infrastructure" and "IT Architect who specifies SQL Servers and Active Directory but doesn't need to know anything about .Net or C#". Living in the real world, I tend to do a little of both. Actually now that I accepted a Team Lead job, a large portion of my time is spent in meetings and managing people / processes, but I still am able to spend some time creating images (IT Pro) and developing code (Developer). Perhaps Microsoft didn't really want to split Tech-Ed out into two: maybe they didn't have enough hotel rooms in the area to fit everyone? Or maybe Universal Studios couldn't stomach the thought of 15,000 drunk geeks walking around taking pictures of the T-Rex just as they went over the edge in the Jurassic Park ride (yes, last year that was me!). Either way, the sessions I will be attending are surprisingly bereft of titles like "Best practices to make your code multi-lingual" (I think they decided that with so much outsourcing half of the dialog boxes in the code we get are English-as-a-Second-Language anyway). Gone are the "Programming for the new Network Stack" sessions - they must have been last week.
Fortunately, they still have the "SOA358 Publishing and Extending Business Rules in Mainframe (CICS and IMS) and AS/400 Programs Using Microsoft Host Integration Server" session which, according to the really nice "session demand" graph appears to have one person attending it (with two speakers no less - I feel sorry for Paul Larsen and Ricardo Mendes). It's funny how I whine and complain that they don't have any of the coding sessions, when one look at my online schedule shows that I have double and triple booked most time slots. I'm actually down to where I must pick between "CLI360 Tricks of the Windows Vista Masters" and "SEC355 Privacy: The Why, What, and How" by seeing which one is being done by Steve Riley (an awesome speaker by the way). I also had to make sure when looking at sessions like "CLI369 Building the Perfect Master Image" that they aren't being done by Johan Arwidmark - a nice enough and very bright guy, but his "ya, I'm here from Sweden to tell you about the Windows PE" just gets annoying. Sorry, that quote is much better when I can deliver it out loud and mimic the voice and delivery.
After all of that going through the schedule and all, I still had several time slots where I have two or more sessions and I will have to decide at the last moment which one to go to. Probably the one by the least used restroom. Speaking of restrooms - have you ever been to Tech-Ed? Geek conferences like Tech-Ed are the only places on the planet where there are lines outside the men's bathroom and not the women's (as the male/female ratio at Tech-Ed is something like 20 to 1). I often find myself leaving sessions 10 minutes early to be first in line - like lining up for "Indiana Jones and the Last Urinal Available". At least they don't sell tickets... yet. If you are coming to Tech-Ed IT Pro in Orlando, maybe I'll see you in line for the John. I'll be the one wearing whatever Windows Mobil Hat, Server 2008 Pin, etc. supposedly will win me a prize.