Monday, June 11, 2012

TechEd 2012

Dear DR365 readers, I've been asked by my benevolent employer to blog about my time at TechEd conference, an annual gathering of geeks, proudly celebrating their geekness and everything Microsoft. Assuming that my post will be screened and edited by several nervous marketing types, I thought I'd post it here in it's unadulterated form. The otherwise adulterated form can be seen here.

And... action!

Greetings from TechEd 2012. I'm your faithful blogger Doug White, Product Manager for Double-Take Availability for Windows and designated conference representative, reporting direct from Day One of the TechExpo, the trade show floor of Microsoft's annual geek-a-palooza.

My goal is to give you an inside look at what it's like to work at a high-class booth at the biggest Microsoft show of the year. For Vision Solutions, this is the biggest event in the history of the Double-Take brand. Not only are we launching Double-Take 6.0, the biggest, baddest, and bestest release in the storied history of Double-Take, but we're also bringing back the awesomeness that is the Double-Take TechEd party, with the new company band, Double-Vision. After a couple years in hibernation, the band is reborn, the product is evolved, and the swagger of Double-Take is back.

But enough hype, let's take a look at TechEd 2012...

It's a beautiful day at the OCCC,
which I think stands for Orlando Conference Center... C-something.

How does one celebrate 20 years of TechEd?

Apparently by standing in line.

Ok, TechEd is just about the best run conference on the planet, but I gotta point out the ludicrousness, or maybe it's "ludacrity", of one reeeealy long line for one station (expo only registrants), while all of the other stations were empty.

After standing in line, I went straight to standing in a semi-circle...

Obligatory pre-show meeting

"White shirts? Check! Black pants? Double-Check!! One, two, three QUALITY LEADS!!!"

The following is not our booth...
IT folks will stand in really long line for the slightest chance to win anything.
This is a fact that some vendors exploit, to the extreme.

Seriously, you're giving a way a Ducati?
(Thanks, again AvePoint.)

Wow, lunch time already? Sweet! Let's see what they've... oh, my...

Rubber chicken and beef-ish leather. I'll eat the noodles and veggies.

At TechEd, there are so many vendors, it takes a lot to stand out.

Some turn their employees into walking demo stations.

Some go to extremes to draw attention to themselves,
like bringing in jugglers

or if that doesn't work, a guy in a straight jacket on a unicycle.

Meanwhile, more self-assured companies use the opportunity of such a gathering to offer a service to their customers, current and future...

The seats on this bus have been sanitized for your protection by...

Vision Solutions, and Double-Take 6.0...
Keeping TechEd Cootie Free!

Hey look, someone finally found a good use for a Segway


The first day of booth duty at TechEd includes, thankfully, an afternoon break. I spent my break poolside...

No poolside beers were harmed in the taking of this photo.

But breaks are for the weak. In no time, it was back to the show floor for the mob that comes with the Microsoft reception, featuring free food and adult beverages.... hence the mob.

See, told ya... mob, and free food, in a big ol' wok.

Look! Hors d'oeuvres!
I did a Mini-Tart shooter, thank you very much.

Did I mention it is the 20th TechEd? Well, it's quite the deal. For the booze-fest, I mean "reception", they wheeled out huge cake, at least 8 feet long. Seriously... look...

Uh, no... my finger's not in the icing...

... much!  

The reception brings out all the geeks, and the longest lines are for... guess...

Food? Nope.

Beer? Nuh-uh.

A 15 second conversation with a booth babe? Wrong again.

No, the longest lines are for autographs... from the authors of a book on Microsoft SQL Server.

I am not making this up.
The line snakes around the corner and down the aisle.

So, it's not surprising that the show floor looks like this...

All guys, far as the eye can see, most with backpacks and untucked shirts

And sometimes you see something you wish you hadn't...

Drawers at half-mast.

The busiest booth, that wasn't dangling shiny objects in the geeks faces, was our booth.

Some of the lucky ones who scored passes to the Double-Take Evolution Experience party.

The rebirth of the band and the party brought many hundreds to see us, and to talk about real-time replication, and to register for the gig. In fact, there were so many, that the party has reached capacity. As popular as past Double-Take parties have been, we've never filled it up on the first night. I suspect Wednesday night will be epic. Sorry for those who will be missing out. Next year, come see us first thing.

After many great conversations with customers, and others just interested in learning more about keeping their data safe, the lights went down, and they kicked us out of the hall.

Before we left, we built a small memorial to the night's effort...

I call it "Tower of crappy beer".

Shuttle bus back to the hotel and down I sat to write my blog post... is what didn't happen.

What did happened was I changed out of my booth duds and crossed the street, with a plan to decompress from a day full of replication chit-chat.

My girlfriend and I, always looking out for an unusually good time, decided on a whim to take the mostly hidden elevator to BB King's blues bar. I loves me a good blues bar.

Turned out that the mostly hidden elevator is so well hidden that the staff of BB King's forgot to exclude it from entry with one of those velvet ropes. Before we knew it, we'd crashed a private party. So, of course, we excused ourselves and made for the exit.

No we didn't. We helped ourselves to some delicious BBQ ribs, fried chicken, and tequila.


And thank you, Schneider Electric!

And on the way back to the hotel, just for good measure...

I defiled the fountain in Orlando Pointe*

For those at TechEd 2012, stop by booth 2223 and say "Yo!" For those playing along at home, sorry you're not here. Start building your rationalizations, I mean business case, for attending TechEd 2013.

Geek on!

*For those unfamiliar, I have a thing for getting into fountains. It's harmless fun.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Review: Tap 'N' Run

I'm not sure I can explain the corrolation between runners and beer, but the evidence is there.

From the great tradition of Hash House Harriers ("a drinking club with a running problem"), to the Brew Mile races here in Indy and Louisville, to club runs that start and end the local pub, to coolers at the end of the trail for post-run carb replenishment, runners appear to have an above average taste for beer... after the run.

But what about during the run?

Certainly not, right? Who would want to drink beer in the middle of a run?

Oh, I don't know... me! And my running buddy Scott. And 2500 other people with questionable decision making skills.

That was what drew all of us to the city's first Tap 'N' Run, a 4K race that includes 4 beer stops. I am not making this up.

This is NOT a water stop.

You chug a beer before you cross the starting line. Then, roughly every kilometer (0.6-ish miles) there's another beer stop. Enter the Beer Chug zone, drink your beer, get back to running. The chugs are 4 oz, which is manageable, and it's good beer from Goose Island, which is critical since the chugs get kinda warm sitting in the sun. If you don't cheat, you'll have consumed a pint of craft beer during the run. And bonus, you'll also have burned off the calories from said beer, all in 4K.

1K Beer Chug station

So that's the run. Crazy, right? You don't know the half of it.

There's also a mustache contest that spawned dozens of 70's porn-star shaves. There's a short-shorts contest that produced way too many guys wearing way too revealing Daisy Duke cut-offs. And well over half of the runners were in costume. And we're talking about plain old Halloween recycling, there were beer-centric costumes...

We're all here for the beer, sister.

Like a carrot dangled in front of a mule,
a Bud kept this girl moving forward

Lederhosen? This is a beer run, not a beer garden!

and some rather adult-themed puns...

I wouldn't recommend rubbing Aladdin's lamp.

and some that were just wrong....
American Gladiators Lives!
But why?

and these two handsome bastards who went meta-costume, masquerading as guys too cool to dress up.

The costumes, the short distance, the absurdity or beer stops, and the 5:00pm start in Broadripple which provides ample opportunity for pre-race liquid carbo-loading, made for a festival type atmosphere.

Mass toast before the starting chug.

The course? Pretty boring. The jaw-dropping day-of cost of $46 was bordering on extortion. T-shirt isn't horrible. And the medal doubles as a bottle opener. Yes, you get a medal... for a 4K... I assume it's meant to be ironic.

Best fill-in-the-blank I saw was
"Beer makes me smrt."

Scott and I savored the event, meaning we wee slow. More jogged than ran. We did, though, pass dozens of our fellow "competitors" in the beer zones. Apparently the faster runners were less skilled chuggers. We proclaimed ourselves the unofficial winners.

Victory goes to those who are audacious enough to claim it.

The good folks at Jam Active have put on these hilarious, and fairly ridiculous, and totally fun events in several cities. If they come to your town, and you don't mind the pricey entry fee for a 4K, and you're pretty sure you can stomach a pint during a run without booting it, I highly recommend jumping into a Tap 'N' Run.

Good running,

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pulling out early

Nothing prepares you for a Half-Marathon like 9 flights, 4 hotel rooms, conference room chairs, bad food, restless sleep, jet lag, 25 minutes to empty and refill your suitcase, and a 2.5 hour drive to yet another hotel room.

Wait... did I say half-marathon? I meant half-marathon epic failure.

Yep, I pulled a DNF (Did Not Finish) last weekend.

Worse... I pulled a rare DNMITM2 (Did Not Make It To Mile 2).

I'd entered Sunburst 1/2 marathon in South Bend weeks ago, while still riding my Big Sur high, with the best intentions. Ok, maybe not the best intentions. The best intentions would be to train hard and prepare well for the race. The intention I had was to score a medal. That's more like a mediocre intention.

What I hadn't intended was to have two solid weeks of West Coast business travel leading up to the race.

Still, I gave it a go.

I stretched. I moaned. I stretched some more. I made my way to the start and took off at the gun, feeling optimistic. Well, I kept telling myself I was feeling optimistic. Deep down, I don't think I believed myself.

The easiest mile of any distance race is the first mile. If you're struggling that first mile, you can't expect it to get any better. You can hope, but it's just not going to happen. For me, the first mile was a tale of ever tightening hips and lower back. All of that well-meaning stretching was being undone. Rapidly. Then, the course turned away from downtown. From that point, every step took me further from the start, and my car. It was decision time, and the only reasonable decision was to step off the course. I'd gone 1.6 miles.

I jogged back to the start and, miraculously, found the bag I'd left at gear check, not yet tossed into whatever van was going to take it to the finish. That little bag held my wallet and my phone, which itself held directions to the hotel.

By the time I walked the two blocks to my car, I'd already picked up a slight limp, my right hip completely stiffened up. After 3 miles of running, I was in worse shape than I was after my marathon.

Every DNF sucks... wasted money, wasted time, general self-loathing. I hated that I couldn't finish, even though I knew that if I'd continued, I'd surely have wound up injured. Making a tough choice is rarely easy, even when you know it's the right choice. Choosing to quit needs to be a very tough choice, else it becomes too easy to throw in the towel at the first hint of self-doubt. You've gotta be tough, but, you gotta be smart, and if quitting is the right thing to do, you can't let your ego, or insatiable taste for medals, cause you to make a stupid decision.

I'll take my next race more seriously.

Ok, my next race will the the Tap N Run, which is by definition not to be taken seriously. But the one after that, totally serious.

And, I will stretch more between flights. Promise.

The moderately bright spot in this tale is that the medal that I coveted, and didn't earn, turned out to be pretty lame.

Good running,

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Happy Running Day

Today's National Running Day.

Go out and celebrate with a big steak!

Kidding. Enjoy your run today and be glad you have running in your life.

Good running,

PS - I run because it reminds me I'm alive. Why do you run?