Today started with travel. That's a little white lie; today started with work email, overnight cleanup of a couple of minor issues, then finishing up packing and heading off to DTW. The security lines were surprisingly long at all three stations (on both the lower and upper levels), but I had plenty of time. We were all on board the plane for an on-time departure but catering was running late so we got out about 11 minutes later than planned. A bit of a bumpy ride but nothing too severe; the small children around me were mostly quiet. (In the row ahead of me, on either side of the aisle, the wife did threaten to pants her husband; I didn't say anything about applauding or getting out the $1 bills, though I was tempted.)
Arrived in Orlando only about 5 minutes behind schedule. Got off the plane, got to the shuttle service, bought my ticket, and waited another 30 minutes or so for the right van to arrive and load up. Got to the hotel, checked in, got to my room, unpacked, and realized I'd lost my personal (flip) cell phone. Went to lunch before it got too late and then started making phone calls. It's not at the hotel (who will call me if they find it), the shuttle service hasn't got it in their lost-and-found (though I need to check again on Thursday afternoon), the airport doesn't have it, and the airline hasn't found it (they'll contact me if they do). I suspended the service with the provider, so if someone has it they can't run up any charges; it looks like I'll have to get a new phone once I get home.
After lunch I grabbed my registration information and figured out what sessions to which I was likely to go. Went down to the Pavilion for the opening reception which became a tapas-style buffet dinner. They had an open bar (beer, wine, soft drinks, but no liquor), and the food was plentiful and tasty:
- Appetizers (passed):
- Beef, blue cheese, and fried onions (served on spoons)
- Cheese and bean quesadilla rolls, with sour cream and pico de gallo
- Thai-marinated chicken with cilantro garnish (served on spoons)
- Beef brisket
- Buffalo chicken sliders
- Portobello sliders
- Roasted salmon and spoon cornbread
- Seared scallop over butternut squash puree with a fried sage leaf
During the reception, they had twin pianists from Las Vegas in to play and perform. They were decent, the music was eclectic, and most of the audience was lame. I feel sorry for them trying to get anyone to listen, let alone participate.
Managed to wake up without the alarm going off, and finally rolled out of bed around 6am. Got the usual morning email cleanup taken care of, and fixed some disk space issues in my Production and QA environments. Shaved, showered, dressed, and got down to breakfast shortly before they opened at 7:45am. Breakfast was fresh fruit (with optional passionfruit yogurt sauce), egg-n-cheese croissant sandwiches (with or without sliced ham inside), plus a toasting station and coffee and juices. Had an interesting chat with a couple of other gentlemen whose names I've since forgotten, one from Montreal and one from California.
The sessions I attended:
- 9am, BPM 101: Making Sense of It All and Transforming Your Business — A quick overview to marketing concepts and how a web site can help.
- 10:05am, Logical Architecture & Network Topology for Web, Social, and Portal Systems — A high-level overview of topology ideas.
- 11:10am, Innvation Lab: Usability Testing — I participated in a usability study for WEM 8.2.
- 1:30pm, General Session — A high-level marketing presentation.
- 3:20pm, Innovation Lab: Resolving Issues with Support — I participated in an interactive session to improve the support process.
- 4:40pm, Online Marketing (WEM Focus) — Demonstrations of WEM's marketing tools.
For dinner, since my colleague didn't manage to get our sales representatives (either from the vendor or our primary consulting company) to treat us, the three of us went out for Cuban food. He and I split the gaucho plato, which was a mixed grill: chicken (in a citrus-herb marinade), chorizo, shrimp, and two different cuts of beef (flat iron and sirloin), plus huge spicy onion rings and a side of mashed potatoes. The food was excellent (though the kitchen sent out the mashed potatoes as an appetizer first, which confused both us and our waiter when he came by to check on us; they brought out a fresh order with the food), as was the service, and the mango mojito didn't hurt either.
After dinner we drove back to the hotel complex and I pretty much went up to my room to crash.
Woke up without the alarm again around 4:30am, managed to doze until 6am. Did the morning email, fixed an issue in my QA environment, reran the environmental-synchronization scripts, started writing up this trip report, then showered and headed down to breakfast.
I attended the following sessions:
- 9am, WEM Roadmap — All morning I attended a dedicated session on WEM product development with a case study from Colgate.
- 1:30pm, WEM Publishing Endpoints and Delivery Agents — A deep-dive techinical discussion of EPs and DAs in WEM 8.x (and VCM 7.x).
- 2:50pm, Performance Diagnostics and Monitoring for WEM (with OPNET Panorama) — A demo of the features in Panorama (now AIX).
- 4:10pm, Upgrading to WEM 8.1 — A discussion of how to upgrade in place to WEM 8.1 (which won't work for us as we do a hardware refresh at the same time).
After the breakout sessions ended, Shanti and I cornered one of the Escalations Engineers we've worked a lot with and had a very productive hour-long meeting with him.
Caught the bus to the off-site dinner event. Open Text had rented out the entire Harry Potter space at Universal Studios, so we had a British wizarding themed dinner. There was (of course) roast beef, as well as fish and chips, shepherd's pie, Cornish pasties, and a large supply of desserts. Despite the open bar I stuck mainly with water, and I didn't go on any of the rides, but had a delightful time nevertheless. When I'd had enough I caught the bus back to the hotel and went to bed.
I woke up without the alarm again — seriously, I never set the alarm clock all week — and finished packing. After the breakfast (quesadillas today) I headed over to the innovation lab for a session redesigning the customer portal using paper mockups and sticky notes. That took about an hour, and when it was over it was effectively time to catch the shuttle to the airport.
Got to the airport and went to the lost luggage office for the airline, as they had my (personal) cell phone in the lost and found. Got that with no hassles (and verified the device serial number against the number the carrier had given me), got through Security, grabbed a quick lunch, and headed to my gate. I got there about 2 hours early and the next gate over was for another direct flight to Detroit. I asked if there were seats available for stand-by.
Agent: <taps keyboard> Coach has checked in full, but I do have two first class seats. Me: Out of curiosity, what would it cost to take one? Agent: <taps keyboard> $206. Me: Sold!
Seriously, to get home 2 hours earlier, not have to spend 2 hours in the airport (and not have to make small talk with colleagues when they get there)? And the free drinks and extra snacks and more leg room and butt room? It was pretty much a no-brainer.
Got into Metro and got back to my car in time to hit rush hour as I got back to Ann Arbor. I'd chosen, perhaps not wisely, to go to a restaurant for dinner since I'd had no produce or thawed food at home (having been gone for a week); it took fully 15 minutes to get from the bottom of the off-ramp onto the road at the top. Dined, went home, unpacked, and crashed.