I just returned home from TechEd last Friday and looking back on things I have to say that the overall experience was wonderful. It’s kind of hard to try and explain it to someone who has never been before, but simply stated it’s an opportunity where you get to listen to industry experts (i.e. Mark Minasi, Mark Russonovich to name a few) lecturing on a wide range of subjects (for me it was Active Directory and troubleshooting Server performance, respectively) and gain inside knowledge on things. You really do walk away from it a wiser man (or woman). To get an idea of what I’m talking about, visit the TechEd online site (http://www.msteched.com/) to see what was being offered. For this year, the session content along with the availability of hands-on labs was simply unbelieveable! I think this is really worth sharing, but if you have any special dietary requirements (kosher, vegetarin, etc), they do go out of the way to accomodate you for breakfast and lunch. However, for dinner you’re on your own.
And talk about convenience, Prometric had an onsite testing facility that afforded one the opportunity to take any test for 50% off (and yes, this included the second shot option as well). Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to take the Windows 7 exam (70-680) and passed! For anyone thinking of going in the future, I would suggest initially signing up for as many sessions (as well as some that are not directly relevant to what you do but are interesting nonetheless) along with any labs that you can utilize to reinforce what you’ve learned and just plan to work hard. But be sure to enjoy the moment, though, as it only happens once a year.
I know everything sounds good up to this point (I don’t work for MS nor am I affiliated in any way) and you may be asking if I have any complaints that I would like to raise. Unfortunately I do but please keep in mind that they are minor at best when compared to the overall experience.
1. Aside from the bookstore (which was only offering a 20% discount on all books including some that were over 2 years old!), there was no actual Microsoft store. I was really looking forward to seeing what cool things could be found.
2. The closing party was at Mardi Gras World. While it was really neat to see the various props and floats used in Mardi Gras along with seeing how they’re made, it was just too small of a venue to try and squeeze over 10,000 people into at one time.
3. Being serenaded in the middle of the night by a band that only knows one song outside the window to your hotel room. Good times, let me tell you!
Oh well, maybe things will be different next year in Atlanta, GA for 2011.