Un-Mix 2008

Published on Author Rob WindsorLeave a comment

It was an experiment. Hanging out in Vegas during Mix without actually attending Mix.

The Experiment
It had been over a year since I’d been to Vegas and I was feeling the itch. I hadn’t been to Mix in previous years so I considered giving it a shot. The problem was that I’d already decided to go to Tech Ed and was seriously considering the PDC so, while VISA would be very happy for me to shell out for Mix, my accountant would chase me down and beat me with her abacus. The solution I came up with was to use travel rewards points for the flight and hotel and then to beg everyone I knew for a conference pass. The first part worked out just fine but it turns out that getting a pass for Mix is harder than getting Steve Ballmer to make Google his default search engine. Thus, the experiment.

I’ve always thought that networking is a major part of the value of a conference so I decided to see how much I could do by just hanging out at the Venetian for two days. I was confident that I could find someone to attach myself to so I could get invited to dinner, drinks or some kind of influencer party. Three of my colleagues from ObjectSharp were there as well so hanging out with them was an option if I couldn’t find someone better.  🙂

Un-Mix – Day 0
I did an architecture talk at the Vancouver Heroes Happen {Here} event the day before the conference started so I didn’t arrive until about midnight. I briefly considered heading over the the conference hotel to see if anyone was there but I was pretty beat and decided to stay at my hotel and lose some money at the Craps table instead.

Un-Mix – Day 1
The keynotes were streamed live so I started the day in my room checking out what Ray Ozzie, Scott Guthrie and the gang had to say.  This was definitely one of the better keynotes I’ve seen. I’ve been down on WPF since it came out (not because of the technology itself but because of the state of the tooling around it) but seeing NBC’s Olympics app, Circ de Soleil’s recruiting app, and the Hard Rock Cafe Memorabilia app gave me pause. Maybe it’s time to learn XAML after all.

After the keynote I headed over to the Venetian to find the conference. I just looked for people with badges and walked in opposite direction. Before I got though the casino I bumped into Richard Campbell, Steven Fotre, and Steve Smith on the hunt for a Starbucks. We walked around for a bit, found the Starbucks in Harrah’s and then headed back to the Venetian. As we got into the conference area I looked for a place in a common area to settle down and use some free wifi.

I’ve been to the conference center at Mandaly Bay before and there is a wide area with a couple shops and places to sit just below the escalators to the conference rooms. I was hoping to find the same thing at the Venetian but as we got closer I realized it wasn’t to be. I kept following my three companions up a couple escalators and down a hall realizing that I’d stepped over the border into Mixville – the Open Spaces room to be exact.

At this point I had a decision to make, head back downstairs or stay where I was and be inconspicuous – I chose the latter. I plopped myself down in a white canvas chair (wondering if I was ever going to get my developer sized butt out of the thing) and hung out with the guys. Mark Dunn was there and so was a slightly “tired” Miguel Castro. About five minutes after we got there, Carl Franklin came over and busted out his guitar.

Now, if you want to do some networking, hanging out with Carl and Richard is the place to be. They are definitely people magnets. I had a chance to catch up with a bunch of people I only get to see at conferences and had a great time. At one point Josh Holmes came over and asked me to follow him. I saw Josh doing video interviews earlier so I was concerned that he wanted to interview me. It turned out that he just wanted to hook me up with a guy who was looking for information on user groups in the Toronto area. After we spoke though, Josh did come over and interview the people I was hanging out with. Luckily he started with Carl who was opposite me so I kept my mouth shut hoping Josh wouldn’t swing the camera my way – he didn’t. It turns out that it was a mute point anyway because at the same time someone else was doing an interview about 10 feet away with me clearly in the background. So much for staying inconspicuous.

Microsoft Regional Directors React to the Keynote

On IE8, Silverlight and the Keynote

Towards the end of the day I spent some time with Derek Hatchard and made plans to sit down with him the next day to record some audio for his podcast. As the day waned people started heading out to get ready for the attendee party. I wasn’t ballsy enough to try and crash that so I headed back to my hotel for some dinner and to give away some more of my money to the delightful people at the Craps table.

Un-Mix – Day 2
After pressing my luck the previous day I decided to spend most of day two in my room catching up on email and relaxing. I’d made plans to meet Derek in the late afternoon to record the podcast and then had an official invite to a Canadian attendee gathering at the V-Bar. 

I met Derek about 6:00 and we found a quiet place in a hallway to record. We talked about WCF and the goings on at Mix for more than an hour. I’m certain it would have been recorded in the annals of time as the greatest podcast ever but Derek decided to format the hard drive in his laptop without backing up the files first. We’ll be re-recording tomorrow.

My final bit of Un-Mix 2008 was spent at the party at the V-Bar. I had a chance to catch up with my ObjectSharp colleagues and meet some people over drinks. The most interesting part of the night was watching the servers. It was very obvious that they were anxious for the geeks to leave so the swanky, jet-set crowd could come in and start tipping.

All-in-all it was a good time but I’m not sure if I’m going to do Un-Mix 2009. If I do, I need to get a decent area to hang out at the bottom of the escalator. I’ll also podcast/videocast my experience.


Miguel is a Party Animal   Carl Sings   Captured on Video   DevCasting

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