My Week at //build/ Part 2

An interesting thing happened to me this week. A coworker came to my desk JAZZED UP. He told me he had read Part 1 & could feel my excitement through my post. It’s incredibly fun to be told what resonates with people. He told me he could totally identify with my description of dreaming to go to a big conference & going all the way up to the checkout step before bailing. He shared that he actually did that for the big JQuery conference that happened this weekend. It’s funny how long these take to write, but how worth it a reaction like that can make it.

In part 2, I’ll stick to the first day of the conference. It was so eventful I’m breaking it into its own blog post to try to keep the length of each one of these reasonable, so here it goes:

//build/ Day 1

The keynote started at 9am Tuesday, after a very nice breakfast was served, starting at 7am.

Walking to the keynote, I noticed men who reminded me of Ghostbusters circling the halls. Coolest backpacks ever. They were refilling our coffee from those things!

“Who ya gonna call?”

I can’t imagine what goes into planning something like this conference. I’ve never seen anything this well-orchestrated, and I certainly have never been around this many developers.

Breathtaking stage setup!
I snapped this as I walked into the day1 keynote a bit early.
I took a seat up front, toward the right.

As I walked toward the front, I recognized Kate Gregory (@gregcons), sitting in the audience, and introduced myself. I learned her name after watching her Pluralsight courses on Extending Visual Studio. She is amazing, confident, unbelievably well-spoken, a great teacher, and a great role model.

(Unfortunately blurry) picture I took, trying to show how big the arena was, and how many people were there.

This entry is verbose enough without my recap of sessions you can watch on Channel 9, but I do want to note that I got to see all of these AMAZING people speak IRL during the first Keynote from the 2nd row:

It was during this morning keynote that the announcement was made that every attendee of the conference would be receiving a Windows 8 Tablet. Right after that announcement, I got a text from my husband that said, “I just saw you!” Lo & behold, he was right. There I am, at around 1:28:23 in the black shirt (probably tweeting this): 2nd row, third seat  Proof hehe. But even better, that spot in the video from about 1:28:20 through 1:28:35 shows how many people were in that keynote. Thousands!

After the morning sessions, we broke for lunch. On my way to the Dining Hall, I took this picture to illustrate a huge benefit of being a nerd girl:

Line to men’s restroom

Line to women’s restroom

The number of people who had to be fed & back in the arena in 1.5 hours was crazy. Here’s a picture I took in “line” to eat.

Lunch Rush in Dining Hall during day 1, 11:30-1pm break

They had buffet tables around the entire circumference of the room. It was pretty amazing to see how streamlined it was. After texting my DE from Dallas, Chris Koenig, asking if he could meet me (didn’t want to be the kid sitting alone in the school cafeteria), I ate lunch with him as he pointed out the big brains in the room he recognized (he tried to introduce me to a few but I was feeling very shy that day). It’s so so so so SO great to see / meet up with friends at events where you know so few.

After lunch, Big Picture sessions continued until 5:30, when the Welcome Reception started. Afternoon speakers included:

  • Chris Jones, Senior Vice President, Windows Live
  • Jensen Harris, Director of Program Management for the Windows User Experience team
  • Aleš Holeček, Windows Team Engineer
  • John Sheehan, Microsoft Architect
  • Kieran Mockford, Principal Architect VS Pro (whom I actually met, in person, at Thursday night’s “Ask the Experts”)
  • Chris Sells, Program Manager in the Developer Division

I got to the Welcome Reception late because I stood in line for the Samsung Windows Developer Preview PC (Windows 8 Developer Slate), given out to all “green badge” (non-employee & non-speaker) attendees.

The line for the Slate

They announced slates would be given out that day, starting at 5:30pm. The last session ended about 15 minutes early.

I did not leave early to stand in line for the slate. Heck, I was unsure if I even qualified for one since I had won my (what turned out to be even more golden) ticket.

By the time I found the end of the line for the slate, it was down the halls, out the door & wrapping around the building. The line was not moving at all… until (close to) 5:30, and thus it began.

5,000 people standing in line, waiting for developer slates


The line for attendees to pick up their tablets moved incredibly fast

2011-09-13-17-30-41_thumbAs the line moved through the hall, I hopped from plug to plug trying to charge my cell phone, Although it slowed from the video above once we got closer to the distribution hall, it consistently moved too fast for me to charge my phone at any hall plug for more than a few minutes. Wow!

After less than an hour, it was my turn in line (yes! I actually got one!)

There are some really great facts (like a distribution rate of 1 per second) on this blog post, and this Channel 9 video is very interesting, as Mike Angiulo unboxes & talks about the slates being hand-imaged by employees to ensure the latest build (no pun intended).

Day 1 Welcome Reception

Microsoft knows what makes tech folks happy. The day 1 reception was awesome.

2011-09-13 @18-32-582011-09-13 @19-46-042011-09-13 @19-46-552011-09-13 @19-47-072011-09-13 @19-47-192011-09-13 @19-47-39

Reception activities included retro, arcade-style video games (Frogger, Galaga, Pacman, etc), Foosball, Pinball machines, Air hockey, open bars, dessert tables, and the most entertaining area of all, the “wall o’Kinect,” surrounded by beanbags near power plugs.

Do you know what that means? That means those of us walking around alone could stealthily slink down into a beanbag & play with our slates while watching people (brave enough to) Kinect in public. Words can’t capture how great this was, so here’s a video: 

Epic =)


I talked with Brandon Satrom & Clark Sell again at the reception for a while & got to show them the slate (employee attendees didn’t get them). I was also able to meet up with @RobinDotNet through the power of Twitter at Tuesday’s reception. Interesting but useless fact: she had trouble finding me because she didn’t know to look for a girl. Meeting her was very cool. I’ve followed her on Twitter for a long time.

I walked around the booths & saw Rachel Appel near the DevExpress booth. She made me feel so very welcome (the fact that she even remembered me was unbelievable); then she introduced me to @RachelReese of #TheRachii.

I am not a good enough wordsmith to put into words how welcoming Rachel Reese was to me. This was the first time we had ever met. I can honestly say there have been times I haven’t felt that welcomed by my own mother. It was really great, and the more I talked with her through the rest of the week, the more I adored her even more. 2 seconds with #TheRachii and you will not question why they’re so beloved.

I also visited with Seth Juarez from Devexpress briefly while picking up my ticket for their Thursday night Dev Express party. I met Seth when he spoke at Dallas Day O .NET in March. He did a talk on Machine Learning in the Expert Track room, and I have never seen so many hard-core developers walk out of a room, nodding, admitting they weren’t smart enough for that content (before or since) but I did that day. The noteworthy part of that experience was Seth’s genuine desire for feedback, and his humble demeanor. If you haven’t heard Seth’s interview on This Developer’s Life, it’s fascinating. Super-smart, motivated, passionate people without a chip on their shoulder are my favorite, and I’ve gotten to meet more at community events than I actually thought existed.

Speaking of which, toward the end of the reception, I ran into Glenn Block & had the privilege of talking to him for about 45 minutes (and I got to be the cool kid & show him my slate too hehe).

So it’s no secret that Glenn is brilliant, but the thing that surprised me the most was how nice he was. It didn’t come across as just a courteous, polite nice, though. It was an “I feel like I’ve known this guy my whole life” best-friend-from-high-school or favorite-brother-you-don’t-fight-with comfortable-nice. How could you be that smart, work for Microsoft, and not have a megalomaniac ego… or not react to the general public-of-strong-Microsoft-opinions by becoming defensive (like what happened to this guy)? How can you make someone who just met you feel so comfortable they debate the “pure” definition of REST vs the “Kleenex is another name for tissue” perception of REST? Hell I was proud I knew the term, “idempotent,” and Glenn challenged me with, “yes, but what’s the difference between idempotent and safe?” Only at an event like this can you be told by the Program Manager for WCF, “I’ll take your idempotent & raise you a safe,” and NOT be made to feel like a complete ignoramus (though in retrospect I’m sure I should have haha).

Random RANDOM tangent alert (for analogy sake): I used to have a pitt bull named Brown Sugar. She was the sweetest dog I’ve ever met, and fascinating to watch. In the company of other dogs, they always barked & yapped to try to prove who was alpha. Sugar would just stand there, as if to say, “whassup?” She’d play if the other dog could, but she wouldn’t bark back. She wouldn’t try to attack. She just stood there, happy, chilling out, confident, dignified. Glenn is pitt-bull-awesome =)

After talking to Glenn, I headed back to my hotel & got to work. I had pictures & videos to download from my phone, my digital camera & my flip. I had to charge my cell phone & my laptop. I had to charge (and play with!) my new slate. I wish I had taken a picture of what I woke up to the next morning. It looked like a robot threw up in my hotel room, and it was awesome =D

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