My week at TechEd 2013 in NOLA

Last week I attended my first TechEd. I am a Louisianaian and this was my first trip back since 2005 and my first trip to New Orleans (NOLA) since 1989. And the best part, I got to share all of the things I remember from my younger days with Jeff since he went with me. We had beignets and café au lait at Café du Monde, chateaubriand at Antoine’s, thin fried catfish and the ‘44’ from NOLA Hamburger and Seafood Company, and signature drinks from Bourbon Street. But I guess I better stick with the part that matters huh?

I must admit, that many people in one place is not really my normal way of spending a day much less a week. When I walked into the conference center on Monday morning, I could not believe how many people were there. The estimate was 10-12K in attendance. There were sessions that covered everything from SQL, to hacking, to debugging/troubleshooting, to PowerShell scripting. There were also sessions about the upcoming R2 releases of Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012. Gabe wrote up a great blog post about his experience as well.

Before the keynote, the Treme Brass Band performed while the MANY participants were streaming into the room. They were great. The Keynote touched on the upcoming Win 8.1 release, changes to the Azure hosting prices, a really cool demo of SQL 2014, and a dev session (I was completely lost during the part).

Microsoft offered special pricing on the Surface RT and Surface Pro and allowed each participant to purchase 1 of each. The line was hours long each day except for Thursday (no line at all). All of us tech dweebs of course, waited in the long lines rather than wait until the final day. What if they ran out, or you just had to have it to play around with during your downtime. Even waiting in line was cool because of the networking you got to do. My group consisted of a sys admin from Trek (we talked about our love for PowerShell – he works remote like we do so he didn’t know my buddy that works at Trek), a support engineer that works for the San Antonio library system keeping the computer lab up and running at all the libraries in the city, a guy from Harley Davidson, and an MCT Visual Studio dev trainer. Quite a diverse group of people as you can see. I also recommended to  a couple techies from South Africa to take a Swamp tour on an air boat. That has to be an experience like they have never had before. Tried to find them later to see what they thought but didn’t have any luck. Hope the gators or the swamp didn’t swallow them.

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Guess I need to get the time zone updated on mine – yes that is mine with the Steelers background.

I attended a couple PowerShell sessions, one was very basic intro stuff and the other was way over my head, and did multiple Hands-On labs. There were exam prep classes that were taught by MCTs and provided insight into the type questions that would be on the test and the best areas to focus on for studying. I also spent time in the Certification area because self-tests were free and all of the reference books were available. I ran into old colleagues from Lendingtree and also VHA. Chris from VHA is now very active in the PowerShell community and even worked the Scripting Guy booth. On Thursday, I successfully passed my upgrade test from Win 2008 and am now an MCSA: Windows Server 2012 and even got a ‘Certifiable’ t-shirt to prove my accomplishment. That was the most sought after shirt of the trip for me. I also went to the Microsoft store and grabbed a few onesies for my niece that will be here in a month or so. I am going to be the techie influence in this young ones life.

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The closing event was held at the Superdome, home of the New Orleans Saints. The renovations they did following Hurricane Katrina are very nice. Drew Brees spoke for a couple minutes and then tossed the football around the VooDoo (Arena Football League) field to the kids of attendees. Imagine catching one of those!

All in all, it was a great event. I learned a lot. Met some cool people. Hung out with Gabe and watched him win all the good prizes.

Terri is a Support Specialist at OrcsWeb, a hosted server company providing managed hosting solutions.

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