Tag Archives: TechEd

Virtual vs In-person Conferences

In the current pandemic situation (April 2020) a lot of events, both small and large, have had to close their doors and move from in-person to virtual on-line environments. There’s been a lot of chatter about this on the interwebs, and how some people favour the way of conferencing we have been forced into adopting.

From my perspective I find it hard to see how online meetings can match up to the in-person show. The section of the event where you’re sat quietly listening to a speaker, raising your hand with a question, or asking at the end, is similar between the two. Viewing from home you have a more comfortable chair but, on the flip side you must buy your own drinks and snacks. However, you are just watching an online webinar and the moment the session ends, you step out of that breakout back into your home life.

Distance-learning like this is great, but it’s just one component of what makes the traditional tech conference such a worthwhile experience. It’s that time when you’re not sat down listening to a presentation or trying out a lab that can really make the difference.

Discussions happen with random people on the show floor, in a queue, at the bar in the evenings, or even at the airports. The social component, even for an introvert, should not be underestimated. I’ve now got some great friends, gained unexpected knowledge, and understood things from different viewpoints thanks to tech conferences. It’s also one of the few ways of breaking out of the “bubble” of IT in my organisation and seeing what people do in similar functions in the wider world.

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Even the big events I’ve attended- VMworld, Cisco Live, Microsoft TechEd – I’ve gone into knowing few, or even zero, people at the event but always come away with new contacts, experiences, and friends. I don’t get any of that from the breakout sessions, it’s all from those bits in-between.

Getting out of the office (or these days the home-office) is an important method of separation and difficult to replicate without travelling to a conference (even if it’s just down the road). Without that separation it’s hard to avoid being (as) distracted by the day to day and able to concentrate on learning.

I’d love to be proven wrong. If someone can figure out how to answer this puzzle of doing the bits between and after the sessions well in an online environment I’d be overjoyed, but I’m still waiting for that to happen. Perhaps the London VMUG next week might surprise me.

TechEd Europe 2014

TechEd Europe 2014

TechEd Europe 2014After years of trying to get a place, I’m lucky enough to be spending the coming week at the premier Microsoft conference for Dev’s and IT Pro’s this side of the Atlantic- TechEd Europe 2014. It’s Europe’s largest annual tech conference and there’s a lot of content on offer- over 600 sessions to choose from during the week. Whilst I’m not going to see all of them, I’m hoping to spend the week absorbing as much information as possible.

As an exercise in both sharing information and also to aid my personal retention I’m planning to produce a brief and structured summary to accompany my no-doubt copious notes. I’ve chosen for simplicity to summarise each session in five bullet points- you can call them “takeaways” if you must. I’m also hoping to publish some or all of these highlights to this blog, so keep your eyes peeled!

So, to get me started and make sure I can count to 5, what do I want to achieve this week?

  1. Server. Learn more about Windows Server generally. Mainly from an onsite perspective but acknowledging the existence of the fluffy white elephant in the room called “Cloud”.
  2. SCOM. Go hands-on with Systems Centre Operations Manager. One of my projects this year is to overhaul our service monitoring and reporting setup and this may be a key part.
  3. Visual Studio, ASP.NET. Keeping up with the changes and opportunities in the dev side of my DevOps IT life.
  4. PowerShell. I’m hoping to both firm up and expand my existing knowledge here. I see PowerShell as a key technology in Windows Server management.
  5. Connections. Even in the run up to the event I’ve increased my interactions with other IT Pro’s through social media. In-person events are great for establishing these links.
TechEd First-Timer

2014 is my first time at Tech-Ed Europe