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 North Africa 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 category.
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 Tour.
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.