Technical Conference -- 02/10/03

So here I am at a technical conference.

For those of you who wonder what people do at a technical conference, here's a run down of my day so far...
  • Breakfast 7:30 - 8:45 -- I got there about 7:45 -- it's only one floor down from my room but I swear the elevator bank is about half a mile down the corridor from my room and then the hike to the ballroom where our breakfast was being served was at least a mile. Yeah, okay, so I exaggerate but nevertheless it did take me ten minutes to get there from my room. Met up with someone from my group, then joined a couple more for extra coffee.
  • Keynote Address 9:00 - 10:30 -- we were actually herded out of the breakfast area at 8:45 and into the adjoining ballroom for introductory remarks prior to the presentation of the keynote speaker. (There are around six hundred people attending this conference.) The speaker is a senior scientist (he refers to himself as the "chief cat-herder and lead scapegoat") with our company (a Ph.D) and a key individual in the development of the family of software products that now form a major portion of our sales portfolio (and which is the topic of this conference). He spoke about future directions for these products; i.e., what we will see next year... a good speaker, covered some very detailed technical stuff with a dry wit, informal rich in technical contentl.
  • Coffee break 10:30 - 10:45
  • Technical Session 10:45 -- 12:15 -- There were a choice of five presentations -- plus the opportunity to take certification exams, some hands-on labs (restricted, obviously, to just a few participants), and some exhibits run by companies that product software that integrates with our software. I picked the presentation on new features coming in a new release of a particular product, due out next month (it was very good, although it was difficult for the presenters to squeeze everything into only an hour and a half... actually, they ran almost ten minutes over).
  • Lunch 12:15 -- 1:15
    After eating I stepped outside for fresh air and sunshine and took a few pictures -- this is Caesar's Palace, across the street from our conference at the Flamingo.

  • Technical Session 1:15 - 2:45 -- This time I went to one dealing with the integration of web portals with third party products and back-end systems.
  • Coffee Break 2:45 - 3:00
  • Technical Session 3:00 - 4:30 -- This time I went to one on knowledge management activities (about some database systems set up to capture and diseminate technical information).
  • Coffee Break 4:30 - 4:45
  • Team Meetings 4:45 - 6:30 -- My team (we are a very small group out of this mass) did not have a team meeting scheduled -- ours will come later this week -- so I took advantage of this time to go to a suite we had filled with Ethernet connections to plug in my laptop and do company email, update my timesheet, and various other administrivia chores. I also took a short walk, phoned home, and typed a lot of this entry. I'm glad we didn't have a team meeting; my brain is tired and my body doesn't seem to trust my watch that has been set to local time -- after all, back in Rhode Island it's three hours later than it is here.
  • Break 6:30 - 7:00
  • Welcome Reception 7:00 -- 10:00 -- This is dinner served in the form of a layout of various munchies (veggies and dip, lasagna, shrimp, etc.) and chef's stations for custom carving of roast beef or turkey. All eaten while standing around cocktail party style chatting with people. Oh, and beverages, including beer and wine. And wandering entertainers: an Elvis impersonator, a juggling mime, a balloon magician... and the bubble lady who blew chains of bubbles, inserted a bubble inside another, etc.,... and my favorite, a white-haired gentleman who did marvelous sleight-of-hand card tricks, impossible to catch him even close-up. My left heel (plantar fascitis) is killing me but I'm having a good time hangning out with a group including colleagues from my department as well as from Pittsburgh and Austin and Canada and England... we are about the last people to leave the ballroom, (long after things have been cleared away and hotel staff are setting up tables for breakfast), talking, joking, fooling around with digital cameras and balloons and two flamingo statues, so that it was after eleven before I got back to my room. Please note that eleven at night here is the same as two a.m. back in Rhode Island.

And that is Day One of the conference. I am exhausted, it is midnight according to my wristwatch (but three a.m. according to my laptop which is still on Eastern Standard Time) and I am going to sleep because Tuesday's breakfast starts at seven.

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