October 22, 2009: SpiceWorld Austin

I was pretty tired when the alarm went off this morning. I dragged myself out of bed, checked email and all of that stuff then jumped into the shower.  I was ready in good time and out the door a few minutes before eight.  So roughly three hours of sleep.  Probably not a wise way to start the week.

I stepped out of the hotel into a surprisingly brisk, yet very sunny, morning.  I am not quite sure what to expect from Austin weather.  So far, so good.

The drive to SoCo and the Alamo Drafthouse Theater was fairly easy although the GPS was extremely confused and really wanted to slam me into the side of a ramp.

I arrived a little late for breakfast but there was still plenty to eat and plenty of time to eat it.  The breakfast burritos that they had were really good and there were plenty of vegetarian options too, which is always a concern in Texas.  While eating breakfast I ran into someone that I knew from the SpiceWorks community and we ate breakfast together.  It turned out that we were also on some email correspondence with each other separately and had not realized that we were talking to the same people in three different locations.  That is one of the awesome things about SpiceWorks (and SpiceCorps too) – getting to meet people in person and making those connections that you had not imagined were there previously.

After breakfast I can into the keynote.  I was quite late but Dave and Justin had saved me a seat right in the middle of the front row which was awesome.  This keynote ended up being the only single session that I was able to completely attend all week, which was very unfortunate.

After the keynote I got to stay in the same theatre for the “coffee talk with the founders” as the four founders of SpiceWorks discussed the state of the company and the software and the market.  Then it was time for Dave and my panel discussion: “How to Do More with Less & Be Indispensible in a Down Economy” which was quite fun. Michael Coté from Redmonk was our moderator.  Michael is a bit of an IT celebrity and a really great moderator.  It was a lot of fun being on his panel.  I also, apparently, publicly coined the term “residential datacenter” during the panel discussion.  I was told that throughout the week people would be heard to be discussing “residential datacenters.”  We’ve been using the term for a long time.  I’d forgotten that it was an internal term and not a general one.  Well, it’s general now!

After the panel discussion there was too much office work to be done and my laptop was running low on charge so I set up shop at the “power station” in the hallway of the conference and worked from there.  There was open WiFi at the show and that worked great so I was able to just work away in the hallway.  Several people, like Dave, Grey, Maggie, Justin, Jen, etc., came over and hung out at the power station so I was never lonely.  Actually being there rather than in sessions was probably the best way for me to get to meet a lot of people.  It ended up working out really well.

Lunch was awesome.  It was a big BBQ so the carnivores definitely make out but the salad and grilled veggie sandwiches were awesome for us veggies.  Definitely plenty of food for everyone.

I spent the afternoon in the hallway still.  There was a lot of work to do and I just did not have the option of being pulled away from my laptop.  I am very thankful for my new HP laptop.  It was really important for me to have a powerful workstation that I could use this week rather than working from one of the smaller, older laptops that we have been using.  I am really going to appreciate this machine when we are in Walt Disney World in November.  What a difference it is going to make then!

After the show was done for the day they had buses come and take us to Maggie Mae’s in downtown Austin near sixth.  Avaya was sponsoring tonight and had a special SpiceWorks cocktail made just for the occasion but it was a bit of a girly drink (cranberry vodka martini like thing… um, no) so most everyone avoided it.  We went for the beer instead.

I ended up never making it really into the party but was at the bar, right near the entrance, for the entire evening.  The night out at Maggie Mae’s was great, though, because I really got a chance to meet tons of people that I really did not get to see at SpiceWorld itself.  It was a very nice party. I do wish that I had had a chance to head outside onto the terrace and see the action out there too but there was a lot of great conversation going on by the bar so I am glad that I was around for that most definitely.  It has been an entire day of meeting awesome people.  I am most definitely coming back to SpiceWorld Austin next year.  I am very sad that I am not able to schedule it to make it to SpiceWorld London but that is just four days after Dominica, Liesl and I returned from ten days in Florida so there is no way that I could make that.

While we were at Maggie Mae’s I met Jarrad who introduced himself to me and told me that he reads Sheep Guarding Llama semi regularly!  That is always one of the most surprising things to hear, especially when you are very far from home.  I am not quite so surprised when I hear it from family and friends or even from neighbours with whom I share a lot of things (driveways, UPS drivers, etc.) but when I am over halfway across the country (and a very large country it is) and you find out that someone knows all about you because they read your blog it is very weird indeed!  It isn’t like SGL is a tech journal.  This is me just rambling on about nothing in particular.

After the party at Maggie Mae’s wrapped up a handful of us decided that it was time to head out for the real after party.  It ended up being just five of us, Darren, Jarrad, Dave, Ted and myself heading out to Sixth Street, right around the corner, to experience Austin.  Three Austinites and two out of towners (Ft. Lauderdale and New York) out for the serious SpiceWorld after event.

We ended up at a little place called Touche’s.  The Sixth Street stretch would really remind you of the bar district of Montreal for those who are used to the north’s party towns rather that the south west’s.  I got a chance to experience the apparently Austin classic, a Flaming Dr. Pepper.  From reading the description on Wikipedia it sounds pretty tame.  But when you get it in a tiny bar in Austin and the barmaid lights her hands on fire and breaths fire from the bar to the back wall setting your drinks and the bar itself on fire it seems a lot more impressive.

We had a really good time out at Touche’s.  It was tempting to go pub crawling but I have to speak tomorrow and everyone needs to get up quite early to get to the conference.  So we called it a night around two, I think.  It was around three in the morning when I finally got to bed.  Plenty of time to get three more hours of sleep before getting up tomorrow.  It was nice getting a chance to see the “real Austin” that Austin is famous for – the UT party district.

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