Looking back at #azureconf 2013 … a story on Azure talks, bacon, ice-cream and broomsticks … #meetbe

042613_2220_Lookingback1.pngIt has been a fun and stress packed week. I’ve gotten a chance to go to the mothership: Microsoft Redmond to speak during Azureconf, an online conference on Windows Azure. There were only 8 speakers involved in the entire conference, and among those were 3 Belgians. For such a small country, we were really well showing our presence. Even better it was almost 50% of the Azug crew who were present there! Together with my buddies Kristof Rennen and Maarten Balliauw, we were treated as kings and got the chance to meet up with old friends. Good guys like Cory Fowler ( @SyntaxC4 )and Scott Klein (@SQLScott ). Unfortunately the other founding member of Azureconf wasn’t there, namely Brady Gaster ( @bradygaster ). You should follow these guys on twitter if you don’t already !! They organized the entire thing and guided us with wisdom and stress relieving tips. Brady, Cory and Scott : you guys rule and we owe a lot to you !!

The conference was opened by Scott “the Gu” Guthrie, speaking highly on the new IaaS GA, and generic Windows Azure Material.

Maarten (@maartenballiauw / http://blog.maartenballiauw.be) had a great talk on Windows Azure Websites and also one on Myget. Kristof (@kristofrennen / http://blog.kristofrennen.be) had his session on real world architecture with mobile services, but the only difference with him was that he prerecorded his session the previous day. I myself had a basic talk on Media Services capabilities and how to use it through workflows and players for different platforms. Among the other speakers we had Vishwas Lele, Eric Boyd and Chris Woodruff, definitely not the lesser names in my humble opinion. I felt among gods. This was my first big talk as an MVP, and it even felt like a maiden voyage. But it went nicely in the end.

All the talks have been aired live, have been recorded during and can be found on the Channel 9 pages.

Direct links to the talks

It has also been a great platform of leverage for the upcoming Global Windows Azure Bootcamp event of 27th of April. They gave us all the forum we needed to make sure people would notice the event (so thanks again for that guys!).

Aside from having the Azureconf and speaking there, we had a great time around the Bellevue area and during the trip and travel itself. Our hosts provided us with a great hotel and on day one, we decided to go with an American breakfast. Potential cardiac issues aside, Maarten came up with a quote around bacon: “Everything tastes better with bacon. Except bacon. Bacon tastes better with honey.”

On that bombshell and on a filled stomach, we took off for some of the other big companies around Seattle: Boeing’s Future of Flight museum. While our taxi driver initially had no clue on where to take us and offered us to take a peek at a different museum (not elaborating), we got there. Impressive to see even a Boeing 747 looks small in the big factory hall those guys have. The taxi driver even came back for us and on the way to Bellevue we had a strange conversation (again, not elaborating but let’s say he had some biological facts on men and women to share).

Great thing to visit btw, the Boeing Factory that is, even I was allowed in J

But without Twitter and evidence gear J (that was a pretty expensive locker at that moment … )

After that, we had a quick peek around Best Buy to check for electronics and a quick peek around in a local beverage store that had endless shelves of wine and beer. And strange signs on the wall: “ID will be checked for everyone under thirty”. Good thing we had our eldest team member with us: Mike. Or dad, as we like to call him J

What better to end the day than with a beer? A beer with great company! Mark Brown joined us for a drink at Joey’s and when my friends ordered Total Domination from one of the waitresses, I could not help laughing out loud. Tried it myself and found out the Total Domination IPA by Ninkasi Breweries is pretty good beer.

On Monday, we headed over to the Channel 9 studios, using one of the 3000 shuttle busses driving around to get prepared for our talks, setting things up and doing some dry runs. Kristof was being pre-recorded already in the morning and could spend the rest of the event as a tourist … I mean relaxing. After an amazing tip from Panos, we found the stash of ice cream, and we had a few … well we had a LOT but then again who doesn’t like ice cream anyway?

At noon Cory had the great idea of having lunch, so we headed over to building 25 and had a “small’ bite, only 11 pieces of pizza to be exact, which seemed to be a funny thing for the others, no clue why. Have to admit we finished the complete pile of it. And we thought the Americans were the big eaters. After we got back, we went back to preparing our sessions … well basically eating more ice cream.

After a great day on campus, we went back to Bellevue to meet with fellow Windows Azure MVP Anton Staykov. We had a great dinner, great talks and a lot of fun. And because we didn’t have much food during the day, we had some more ice cream ;-p.

Not elaborating on the things that happened in the room afterwards, but when statements like “if you got an issue, you need a tissue” are being used, things are seriously wrong.

Getting up on Tuesday was a unique experience, one to cherish for the rest of our lives: Mike not being the most active guy of our gang J. Both Maarten and he were mentally getting ready for their sessions, while we headed over to campus using the first shuttle. We did our sessions (in an empty studio, no live audience) and ate some more ice cream. Those blueberry and grape popsicles are great!

Me prepping in the studio

Maarten going for his sixth Popsicle ….

Wednesday? Travel day. We found a ‘curb-side check-in”, in essence a check-in counter right outside the airport on the curb. Hence the name, probably. Let’s hope our bags make it to Amsterdam and this as not just a guy taking everyone’s luggage and handing out fake boarding passes.

It’s been a great couple of days, we had a lot of fun and are looking forward to go back! This post was written on the plane back, and that also came with a couple of nice sights :

PS: Kristof and Maarten seem to have hijacked my Surface while asleep and added the tale about our road trip. I decided to keep their fun anecdotes in.

PS2: Mike did not mean “while asleep”, instead he meant “while snoring” – Kristof and Maarten

PS3: If you ever fly to Seattle, then never fly Azug Air with these 2 “Swedish Cupboards” (look it up J ) as pilots ….

Or you might end up like me ….. with very bad seats J


Happy TechMike J


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