Category Archives: 13193

Announcing the 7th Annual UC Roundtable at TechEd 2014, Houston!





I’m pleased to announce the 7th Annual UC Roundtable at Microsoft TechEd North America 2014 in Houston, TX!






The purpose of the UC Roundtable is to gather Exchange and Lync admins, MCMs, MVPs, Exchange product group members, architects, and experts for a free-flowing discussion about issues, questions, and experiences related to Exchange, Office 365, and Lync Server.  If you work with Exchange, Office 365, or Lync you need to be here!



The UC Roundtable will be held Wednesday, May 14, 2014 from 6:00-8:00PM CDT and will be within walking distance or a short cab ride from the TechEd hotels. A special thanks to my friends at F5 who will be hosting the event for the third year in a row!



Please RSVP to jeff@expta.com for event details and location. I will email you with the location details once they’re set.



Help spread the word and I hope you can join me!






Tips for Families at TechEd 2013 in New Orleans




Are you bringing your family with you to TechEd in New Orleans this year?  My wife, Amy, has some tips for you!



We went to NOLA two years ago for Thanksgiving. We had a great time and I’m sorry to be missing it this year, but the kids are older and school is not out at TechEd time. However, I thought I would offer some advice for families like I’ve done in the past for TechEd Orlando.

First, you must have beignets every morning for breakfast. I believe it is a law within city limits. :) Café Du Monde is, of course, famous for their beignets and chicory coffee and definitely worth the visit.  It’s right off Jackson Square where the horse carriages gather. But there is another one, Café Beignet, on Royal St and Bienville.  It is smaller, less crowded, and arguably has better beignets.

Second, if you have kids under the age of 15, have them off Bourbon Street/area by 7pm. It’s not dangerous at all, it just gets loud and the language gets rougher when the younger crowd who started at noon come out for fresh air.

Third, go all the way down to the end of Decatur St. to the French Market Place. It’s an open air market with stalls selling all the touristy things you’ll see in the shops, but much cheaper. Things like masks, boas, beads, and more.

Places to go:
  • The Audubon Zoo was very cool. Not big or anything, just a lovely piece of land out in the garden district easily accessed from most downtown hotels by trolley.
  • At Mardi Gras World you can take a tour and see how the famous floats are made.
  • Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar is the oldest surviving building in New Orleans and dates back to the early 1700’s. It has survived numerous floods and fires. It has no internal electricity because as a historical landmark, the structure of the building must be maintained. They cannot drill and run electricity into the building so it is essentially run off extension cords. Most of the “ghost tours” start from there which are fun.
  • The WWII museum is amazing and you can easily spend the whole day there. It’s also less than a block from the Confederate Museum. Both are a “don’t miss”.
  • Take the Saint Charles Trolley and walk around the garden district to check out the beautiful houses. While you’re there, maybe visit Lafayette Cemetery #1.
  • Ride the horse carriages around the French Quarter.
  • Check out Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub (the oldest operating jazz club in NOLA). It’s on Bourbon street and great fun.
Remember to always bring water and sunscreen with you wherever you go.  It’s going to be warm this time of year.  Have fun!!!




Announcing the Sixth Annual UC Roundtable at TechEd 2013!




I’m pleased to announce the Sixth Annual UC Roundtable at Microsoft TechEd North America 2013 in New Orleans, LA!





The purpose of the UC Roundtable is to gather Exchange and Lync MCMs, MVPs, Exchange product group members, admins, architects, and experts for a free-flowing discussion about issues, questions, and experiences related to Exchange and Lync Server.  If you work with Exchange or Lync you need to be here!



This will be an after hours event within walking distance of the TechEd hotels.  Location details and dates are in the works.



Please RSVP to jeff@expta.com for event details and location.  Spread the word and I hope you can make it!








Discount Tickets to Universal Studios Orlando for TechEd Attendees




As reported on the TechEd Blog, Universal Studios is offering special reduced pricing to Universal Studios Theme Park in Orlando exclusively to TechEd attendees.  These specially discounted tickets are $25 and are available on certain days: June 10th, 15th, 16th and 17th.



I’ve followed up on this with both Universal and Brandy Pepper, Sr. Marketing Manager – TechEd Team.  Here are the details:

  • Attendees buy their tickets at the Universal box office.
  • The tickets are $25 each and valid only for attendees with TechEd badges*.
  • If you call the Universal Studios Orlando box office, they may not know about this special pricing.  Don’t worry, box office staff will be informed on days when the tickets are available.
  • If you have questions or need information prior to going to the park to purchase the ticket send an email to v-brpepp@microsoft.com

* Special offer valid for entry into Universal Studios Florida during the dates noted above only. Offer not valid for entry to Islands of Adventure. Each attendee must present a valid conference badge for eligibility.


You can also enjoy Universal CityWalk for June 11-14!


At night, enjoy unlimited club-to-club access and incredible music and entertainment at Universal CityWalk.  TechEd attendees will receive COMPLIMENTARY* admission to select CityWalk venues.  Includes Red Coconut Club, Bob Marley – A Tribute to Freedom, Pat O’Brien’s, CityWalk’s Rising Star and the groove.

* Complimentary admission valid Monday, June 11 through Thursday, June 14, 2012.  Present your TechEd conference badge at any Guest Services ticket window at CityWalk to receive your complimentary credentials.  Valid photo identification required

The TechEd 2012 Bags (yes, plural)




This year Microsoft is giving you a selction of TechEd bags to chose from. 



These bags are made by LooptWorks, an eco-friendly company that makes mens wear, womens wear, and other gear out of scrap materials and overruns from other manufacturers.  It’s a completely different way of recycling called “upcycling”.  Perhaps they’re even made of out of old undrinkable TechEd 2009 water bottles.  You can read more details about the materials used in these bags from the TechEd blog post, Upcycled Materials used in the Making of the TechEd 2012 Bag.



According to LooptWorks, each backpack conserves 33.6 Gallons of water and averted 71% of carbon emissions.  Bravo to the TechEd team for using such an innovative manufacturer!



Thanks to my good friend, Scott Ladewig for the link to the photo.

Update for the UC Roundtable at TechEd Orlando

I’m very happy to announce that I’m joining forces again this year with the Microsoft Certified Master: Exchange Program and F5 for the 5th Annual UC Roundtable!







 This is a great opportunity to meet and greet the Exchange MCMs and the Microsoft Exchange Product Group at Micosoft TechEd in Orlando.  Appetizers and drinks will be served, compliments of our friends at F5!



Bring your Exchange and Lync questions for a fun evening of discussions around both products.  MCM Program Manager David Bjurman-Birr will be there to answer questions about the MCM:Exchange program, as will others, like me, who have gone through the program.



Please RSVP to jeff@expta.com.  Formal registration details will be be going out soon to those who RSVP to me.



The location is not announced yet, but the date and time if the event will be

Wednesday, June 13, 2012.  6:00-8:00PM

RSVP now and mark your calendars!


Fifth Annual UC Roundtable at TechEd 2012 in Orlando





I’m pleased to announce the Fifth Annual UC Roundtable at Microsoft TechEd North America 2012 in Orlando, FL!





The purpose of the UC Roundtable is to gather Exchange and Lync MCMs, MVPs, product group members, admins, architects, and experts for a free-flowing discussion about issues, questions, and experiences related to Exchange and Lync Server.  If you work with Exchange or Lync you need to be here!



This will be an after hours event near the Orange County Conference Center.  Location details and dates are in the works.  And for those of you who attended the Fourth Annual UC Roundtable, I promise it won’t be here:)



Please RSVP to jeff@expta.com for event details and location.  I hope you can make it!





TechEd 2013 will be in San Francisco


TechEd 2013



Microsoft TechEd 2013 will be in San Francisco, CA.  The dates are May 6 – May 9, 2013.



Shamelessly copied word-for-word from Scott Ladewig’s blog:




Usually one of the most anticipated pieces of news each year at Microsoft TechEd is where the location will be for the following year. Usually we have to wait to get the conference guide and see the pitch for the next year to find out. Not this year.

Someone on Twitter, @PeterConrad4, passed along a link from the Moscone Center web site that shows TechEd 2013 will be in San Francisco! Dates for the conference will be May 6-9, 2013, in Moscone North, South, and West. This will be the first time the conference has been held in the City by the Bay.



Right in my own backyard!  Awesome, except for the fact that I’ll probably have to drive to it every day.  :(

Tips and Tricks for Families at TechEd 2012 in Orlando

My wife, Amy, wrote the following helpful tips for families who will be accompanying their significant other to TechEd in Orlando:




You’ll most likely be in a hotel on or near International Drive. There is a trolley called the I-Ride Trolley that runs up and down the street. Buy the 7 day ticket pass at your hotel’s concierge. The trolleys run about every 15 to 20 minutes at stops all along the drive. There are well marked signs for the trolleys and they are so much more comfortable than walking in the heat with kids.





There’s tons to do on International Drive. Lots of different themed mini golf places, the Wet ‘n Wild water slide park, an upside down museum (WonderWorks), and a go-kart park. Be sure to check your hotel for discount tickets and coupons – they’re everywhere.




There are not a lot of “kid” places to eat, just a Denny’s, Chuck E. Cheese’s, and a
huge McDonald’s with a fun zone. If you order in, like pizza or something, remember that there are thousands of guests in town for the conference and it could, and probably will, take well over an hour to get the food delivered. The other restaurants get very busy in the evening, so call ahead for reservations. There are no grocery stores are nearby.







Take advantage of the breakfasts at your hotel and grab a few extra pieces of fruit for the room and hungry kids for later. Have your husband or wife bring back extras of all the snack handouts from the conference. You could practically feed off of these alone for the week. It’s usually all grab and go, prepackaged stuff from granola bars, to cookies, to Power Bars.








Remember it’s going to be hot and humid, so be realistic about how much you and your children can do. I find that mine are very happy to get the afternoon off to just play in the pool at the hotel. It also helps if your hotel offers an adult “happy hour.” :-)




Most hotels offer shuttle service to Disney World and other parks (Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Epcot, Sea World, etc). Check at the front desk the day before, as you might need to reserve a seat.


Theme parks are all fun but choose wisely based on your children’s ages. If they are over 10 then
Animal Kingdom in Disney World would be OK, but might be bored with the rest of the “princess” thing. Universal Studios is fun for older kids, but not for younger ones due to height requirements on most rides. Islands of Adventure is a good dual choice with things for older and younger kids and is near a nice “downtown” area called CityWalk with restaurants and shops just outside the park.


If you have a car, Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral is not that far away. It’s only about 40 minutes, but remember that there are toll roads all over the state so have lots of change handy. The Kennedy Center is amazing and worth going to if you can make it. You can spend the whole day there. If no car, check with the concierge for a tour group. Allow a full day to enjoy it all. It will be in the mid 90’s and humid, so hats, sun block and lots of water are a necessity.


UPDATE – My husband just got back from TechEd Atlanta and told me that it would be in Orlando again next year.  It reminded me that I had written up some tips for him to post the last time in 2008 and I wanted to take the opportunity to update that info.

In 2008 Orlando, my kids were 8 and 12.  If we go next year, they’ll be 12 and 16.  I say “if we go” only due to the difficult timing with school ending the same week.  Otherwise, we would definitely go again!  The kids still mention things we did that week and ask when we can go back.  We’d probably do most of the same things again, but as ours are now older, perhaps not Disneyworld.

I reviewed my previous blog to see what I might change and I do feel everything is still pertinent with a few notes.

GatorLand was a place I forgot to mention, which is just a short drive outside Orlando.  It was fun and kitschy.  It’s a little place, but great in quirky sort of way; like a mini zoo.

I would also recommend renting a stroller at the big parks.  Even if your kids are old enough to walk it, what with the heat and humidity it was nice to have someplace to put them (even with legs hanging over the side) and not have them complaining (except about whose turn it was).  Also it gives you someplace to put your backpack and water bottles.   What with my oldest being 16 next year, maybe I can ride in the stroller next time and have him push me.  :)  I can just hear the, “Mom, you’re embarrassing me”, now.

Lastly, I can see an opportunity for a beginning of the week get-together/meet-and-greet for spouses with or without children.  If you’ve gone with your spouse before, you know we basically don’t see them all week.  It might be nice to have an opportunity to meet each other at the beginning of the week and see who you might want to hook up with.  Who knows, with enough interest, maybe we could qualify for group discount admission to the theme parks.

Amy
TechEd veteran and mother of an 11 and 15 year old



Do you have other tips for TechEd travelers with families? Leave a comment below!

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