The two biggest conferences in Microsoft space (save PDC)
are coming up and I am already looking forward to be in San Diego
in two weeks and in Amsterdam
four weeks later. Those two events are always very special because they are
big, because they are really well organized and because I get to meet and party
with very many good friends who I see regularly at some place somewhere on
earth, but only once a year we’re all together.
As much as I value the technical education aspect of events like that (yes,
I do attend sessions, too), the
primary reason for me to go to TechEd is too meet friends and make new friends.
And the “networking” on the professional level that goes on at
TechEd is very important as well: There’s nothing in this industry as
valuable as learning from other people.
What I am also looking forward to is some time off when TechEd Amsterdam is
over. At that time, I will have been to 25 countries since January of this year
(several of them twice or even more often) and I would have to do some serious
analysis of my calendar to assess how many events it were. My friend Lester
Madden made the best comment on that sort of traveling lifestyle some time back
in February. We boarded one of those planes together and he threw himself into
the seat grinning sarcastically “Ah! Home, sweet home”.
So with the somewhat slow summer time ahead, I’d like to say “Thank
you for all the beer”, because Microsoft (most, but not all events were
hosted by them) certainly knows how to throw great parties. So here are my “Feierabend Awards”
for the first half of 2004 and before the “big two” events:
My “Winter/Spring 2004 Best Conference Party Award” goes
to: The Beach Party at Microsoft
TechEd Israel (Elat, Israel). Close runners up are the Arabian Night at the
Developer Conference 2004 (Casablanca, Morocco) and the “Wild West”
party at the NT
Konferenca 2004 in Portoroz, Slovenija.
My “Winter/Spring 2004 Best Organized-After-Work-Activity Award”
goes – hands down – to Microsoft Finland and their Architecture
Bootcamp in Ruka, where we did a 25km snow
mobile ride in beautiful northern Finland and afterwards had a very Finnish “now
let’s get naked with all the customers and go to Sauna” experience.
Runner up is a great evening hosted by Microsoft Turkey at Galata Tower in
Istanbul. The restaurant up there is an absolute tourist trap, but we had a fun
night and the views from up there can’t be beat.
My “Winter/Spring 2004 Best Beer Award” must
of course go to Dublin. Not much (except our
local beer in and around
Düsseldorf) beats a fresh Guinness. Along
with that goes the sub-award for “most inappropriate workplace
discussion” about how cleavage (Def. 6) is most
effectively used in business.
The “Winter/Spring 2004 Best Restaurant Award”
goes to the Vilamoura
Restaurant (Portuguese) at the Intercontinental Hotel in Sandton/Johannesburg for
absolutely awesome shellfish. Runner up is another Portuguese restaurant: the Doca
Peixe in Lisbon/Portugal. The special Best Homefood Award goes to Malek’s mother. The “Winter/Spring
2004 Best Nightclub Award” goes to the Amstrong
(sic!) Jazz Club (which it really isn’t) in Casablanca, Morocco.
The “Winter/Spring 2004 Gorgeous Event Hostesses Recruiting
Award” (sorry, but while that’s not strictly “after work”
that’s a category that I can’t leave out) has to be evenly split
between four winners: Morocco’s North Africa
Developer Conference 2004 (just ask Mr. Forte), Slovenija’s
NT Konferenca 2004
(reliable winner each year), the Longhorn Developer Preview event
in Budapest/Hungary and the MS EMEA Architect Forum
Event in Milan, Italy. Israel already won the best party event and that should
speak pretty much for itself. Therefore they’re runner up in this
The “Winter/Spring 2004 Best Travel Buddy Award”
goes to Arvindra Sehmi for the EMEA Architect Tour, and Lester Madden, Nigel
Watling, Hans Verbeeck, and David Chappell for the Longhorn Developer Preview
Finally, the “Winter/Spring 2004 Best Host Award”
goes to my great friend Malek Kemmou from
Morocco, whose house became “Speaker’s HQ” before, during and
after the NDC conference and who took us all around the country to experience Morocco
– and refused to let any of us pay for anything.