My first MVP Summit

On Sunday I started the trek across country from Charlotte, NC to Seattle, WA to attend my first Microsoft MVP Summit in Bellevue, WA. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I am somewhat shy when in a new place, especially when I am alone. Now, for sure, I wasn’t alone but would be joining approximately 1300 other MVPs from around the world.

While waiting to board my flight, there was a page for Scott Forsyth. Suddenly, I was no longer traveling solo. I worked with Scott at OrcsWeb so now I had a travel buddy. I knew once we landed, I would have someone who knew the ropes. We landed safely a long 6 hour flight later and met at baggage claim. We shared a taxi and caught up on old times.

I had also met Toi Wright when I spoke at her user Group conference in Dallas last month so I knew she would also be attending. Microsoft puts on great events. There was an MVP Showcase on Sunday night and in the course of that 3 hours, I was lucky enough to run into both Scott and Toi and began meeting other MVPs both in my discipline (IIS) and other technologies. Both Scott and Toi have been MVPs for many years so they already know other members of our community and were sure to introduce me while we were making our way around the Showcase and the sessions/breaks.

There was a 1st Time MVP’er event that I also attended on Sunday. This provided information on how to get the most of the event (the big secret – don’t hide in your room, get out and network).

Over the course of the Summit, I met many people that I have corresponded with virtually. I wore my Orcs Web shirt on Tuesday. Many MVPs that host sites with us came up to introduce themselves. I was also able to catch up with Brady Gaster. I worked with him many years ago and he was the person that introduced me to Orcs Web and started this awesome journey that I am now on. It was nice to be able to thank him in person.

Today, I am returning home after having a great week of networking and information exchange with my product group team. I truly enjoyed this experience. Safe travels for everyone heading back to your respective homes over the next few days. Adios until next year.

My niece has arrived

I seldom write blog posts that are not technical in nature but this one just has to happen. On Friday, July 12th at 5:11AM EST, my sister gave birth to Reece Alexandra Smart. This is my first niece born of my blood. She was 7 lbs 3 oz and 19 inches long. My sister has dreamed of being a mother since she was very young. I, on the other hand, have loved being an aunt for most of my adult life. I have many nieces and nephews on my husband’s side of the family and we have a great time with them. Reece lives 20 minutes from us and rather than ‘growing up’ with her, we will just be ready to spoil the pants off her and make her mom and dad regret giving us the freedom to do it. 🙂

Welcome to the world ‘littlest one’. I gave her this nickname because my sister has always been my ‘little one’. As I was leaving the hospital today I said ‘bye little one’ and Aron answered with ‘bye AuntT’. I let her know I was referring to her and hence the nickname ‘littlest one’ came about. That is kinda long. Will have to come up with a new one for Reece as she grows up.

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.

TechEd 2013–Arrival

Being a native Louisianaian currently living in South Carolina, I was stoked to see that TechEd was in New Orleans (NOLA) this year. I was offered the opportunity to go and quickly jumped on it and began planning my trip. Yes, this would be a working trip but I was ensuring a day on each side for sight seeing and partaking of the food that I have greatly missed.

So on Sunday, 6/2, our adventure began. I was so happy that I chose a direct flight after I heard about the fun my Co-Worker Gabe had getting from Charlotte to NOLA. By 11AM, Jeff and I were in NOLA and checked in to our hotel, Bourbon Orleans. We caught the shuttle over so I could get registered and picked up all of my SWAG. I then decided to go and get my promotionally priced Surfaces or Surfi; not sure of the plural. Smile Registration started at 10AM so I figured I was early enough to beat the crowd, get in and out, and be ready to explore. Boy was I wrong! The line was already about a 2 hour wait. I decided to bail (we had until Thursday to get them so what was the rush). The rest of the day was spent getting settled in and scoping out the hood. I chose to hit Pat O’Briens first since the wait line is LONG later in the day. We ate a late lunch/early dinner (gumbo, ettouffe, red beans and rice, and jambalaya sampler)  and of course, I had a signature Hurricane. We then went back to the room so I could verify my schedule and sessions that I would be attending on Monday.

Stay tuned for TechEd 2013 – The week

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

Samsung Galaxy S3

I upgraded my Motorola Atrix to the Samsung Galaxy S3 this week. The difference in the 2 phones is amazing. Part of this is due to the awesome screen and graphics on the S3. Another difference is ice cream sandwich. This O/S is pretty slick. My husband, who regularly mentions my ‘inferior’ phone, is even entranced by it. He is an iPhone user of course. The size of the phone is bigger than a lot of them, but not so large that it feels uncomfortable. If you are ready for an upgrade, this phone is available on all of the major carriers. It is definitely worth a look.