No, it's not the PDC 2008 World Champion Darts competition, but actually it is one of the coolest conferences on the planet. Microsoft's PDC 2008 (which stands for Professional Developer Conference) is a conference that is focused on the future Microsoft technologies. While TechEd is focused on the here and now - PDC focuses on things that are coming in the next 18 months or so.
This is by far my favorite conference as there is quite a bit of energy and the crowd is excited and hungry for knowledge. You will find that there is a lot to do at this conference. Get ready for learning, excitement, and fun.
So, I have to pack today - here is my short list of some items to take based upon my experiences in these conferences:
** A BIG BIG suitcase. Even if you are not bringing much in the way of clothes and other items, you should bring something that gives you plenty of room to bring stuff back in. When I go to PDC or TechEd, I always bring back lots of vendor handouts which includes books, t-shirts, and more. I actually hit my record at TechEd 2008 and got 18 t-shirts from the event! That takes a lot of room in your suitcase. When I was at Oracle's OpenWorld - they handed out blankets (I got two).
** Your Laptop - I shouldn't have to say this - but, all true geeks have their laptop with them all the time.
** Electrical cord and/or outlet expander - You are going to find yourself at a conference with thousands of other geeks walking around with laptops. Sometimes you will be in a conference room sitting on the chair that is a good 5 feet from an outlet that you need. You will also sometimes be in places with all the available outlets taken by other geeks - in these cases, you can get in on the free electricity.
** Business cards - One of the best things about Microsoft conferences is that there is so many networking opportunities. People will ask for your business cards, so bring plenty! Also, you will be receiving a lot cards in return.
** Pen/Pencil - Since you are receiving a lot of business cards - if you don't write about the person on the back of the card, or what you promised - you will NOT remember when you get home. Be prepared!
** Digital Camera - Come prepared to get blackmail photos of your friends and colleagues. Also, you never know if you are suddenly standing next to Steve Ballmer and can grab the photo of your life! ;)
** Funny T-Shirt! - With 11,000 people, you are going to need to stand out in the crowd somewhat. A funny t-shirt is always a hit. "Hey did you see the guy with that Obama/McCain/Ballmer/Gates t-shirt ... oh man was he funny." .... see you would be remembered. Maybe you can make a Ballmer T-Shirt made that says this? - kidding of course!
** Bottle opener - For the evenings. Always be prepared.
** Aspirin and breath mints - For the mornings.
Here are some other tips I have for being at a conference of this type:
- When you see food or drink - grab some and make sure you have a stash in your backpack. These food items appear and disappear from the conference and many times you will be glad you have what you took.
- Don't get caught up with the sessions - though the sessions are quite valuable and great to attend, the conference is not only this. You will find that there is a lot of value in networking with all of the Microsoft staff members that are in the team booths in the exhibition hall. How many chances do you get to do a one-on-one with people from the teams of the technologies that you are using in your company? Not many, don't pass on this opportunity.
- Remember that you are going to be doing a LOT of walking on what feels like pure concrete. Come with good shoes.