SPTechCon San Francisco 2010 Recap

As mentioned in a recent post, I attended SPTechCon in San Francisco, CA on Feb 10-12, 2010.  This was the first time I had attended this conference (now in it’s second year,) but I can easily say it was one of the best conferences (both personally and professionally) that I have attended since I started actively attending in the past 3 years.  Here’s a quick recap of the conference with links at the bottom to the many pictures and videos that I took.

Arriving

Heading out to CA was a bit of a struggle.  Due to massive amounts of snow and other bad winter weather I opted to take an earlier (6am instead of 2pm) flight out on Tues Feb 9th.  The earlier flight helped, but I still ran into delays with my connection in Detroit, MI.  [Ed. note: Kudos to Delta for allowing me to change my flight time free of charge and compensating me with bonus sky miles due to delay.]  Despite the delays, I was happy to arrive with all of my luggage only 3 hours later than scheduled.  Sadly many other conference attendees and even some speakers were delayed by up to days.

Tuesday night was fun as I met up for dinner and drinks with a number of folks from the SharePoint 911 crew as well as other members of the End User SharePoint Live Blogging team.  This was the first conference I had volunteered to be a live blogger for, so it was good to meet some fellow volunteers ahead of time and get a feel for what to expect.  You can read archives of the live feeds here and a short explanation about our team of volunteers here.

Conference

SPTechCon was an amazing conference for two main reasons: the conference content and the networking opportunities.  First the content.  SPTechCon begins on Wednesday with 100-200 level workshops that are offered as full day or half day sessions.  Thursday and Friday follow up with 75 minute sessions with 8 offerings per time slot in a wide variety of focus areas ranging from admin to developer to business user and everything in between.  Here are the sessions I attended (many of which I live blogged.)

  • Phil Wicklund – SharePoint 101: The Developer
  • Laura Rogers – Making the Most of Out-of-the-Box Web Parts
  • Todd Klindt and Shane Young – Administering SharePoint 2010 with PowerShell
  • Heather Solomon – Migrating Custom Branding from MOSS 2007 to SharePoint 2010
  • Tom Rizzo – Thursday morning keynote
  • Michael Noel – Lessons Learned from Years of SharePoint Deployments
  • Paul Swider – The “Humanizing” of SharePoint
  • Jennifer Mason – Putting Together an Effective SharePoint Team
  • Mark Ferraz – Team Development for Delivering Complex Projects (missed first half due to lunch)
  • Mark Rackley – SharePoint Web Services: The ‘Special Sauce’ of SharePoint

What really impressed me was that I was able to learn some new things from some unlikely sources.  This includes Phil’s 101 developer, Laura’s out of the box web parts, and Jen’s team building sessions.  I like it when I can take a step back from so called “advanced topics” and revisit some of the basics and foundation areas to glean new information.  A big thanks goes out to all of the speakers for taking time to develop material, present, and answer countless questions from audience members.

Networking was the other reason I appreciated this conference.  I’ve been to a number of regional and national conferences in the past from Central Ohio Day of .Net to Stir Trek to SharePoint Saturdays to TechEd North America and many more.  All of these were great for connecting with the community of attendees, but somehow SPTechCon took it one step further.  I got to finally meet and get to know a number of great members of the SharePoint community (see pictures below for some of our hanging out.)  There are so many I want to list, but a quick few I have to at least thank here.  Mark Rackley (@mrackley) for being my roommate and giving us car rides numerous times (especially to ski shuttle at 5am,) Joel Oleson (@joeloleson) for also driving us around throughout the week, Mike Noel (@michaeltnoel) for giving us a tour of San Fran attractions, Eric Harlan (@ericharlan) for initiating the ski event and introducing me to a number of the other folks I met, Jen Mason (@jennifermason) for also introducing me to others, and Lori Gowin (@lorigowin) and Cathy Dew (@catpaint1) for helping when I had live blogging questions and providing lots of laughs.  Thanks to all of the others I met; I had a blast and hope to see you again soon at another event.

ShareSki

After many days spent at the conference, my friend Eric Harlan and I took 2 days to head up to Lake Tahoe for some skiing.  If any of you don’t know Eric, he’s quite an avid skier.  A quick look at the header image of his blog shows off that fact.  Eric was able to find a great deal for our ski trip through Bay Area Ski Bus.  The deal included shuttle ride from San Francisco to Tahoe, lift tickets for 2 days, 1 night in hotel, continental breakfast both mornings, and an apres-ski party (food, snacks, and drinks) both afternoons for $260ish per person.  That is an amazing deal considering lift tickets out West are fairly expensive and then you throw in shuttle, hotel room, food and drinks and it’s hard to believe they are making money.  Both Eric and I highly recommend them for anyone looking for a way to ski Tahoe if you are around the bay area in California.

Great  deal on shuttle aside, skiing was fun and enjoyable.  The first day we skied Northstar ski resort and the second we skied Sugar Bowl ski resort.  I’ve been skiing since I was about 10, but both resorts were larger than anything I’ve skied in the mid-west.  Weather could’ve been better as it was in the mid to high 40s during the day and not much cooler in the morning.  Happily I can report I only fell a handful of times with only one fall that was actually scary (think of a movie where the hero is sliding down a hill and can’t stop because it’s so steep, yea that was me.)  Overall I had a great time and don’t look forward to skiing the smaller hills back home from now on.

Photos and Links

Facebook album of below photos (includes tagging and comments, recommend this link more)

Ski video 1 – 360 panorama of Sugar Land

Ski video 2 – Eric showing off some sweet skills

Ski video 3 – Me skiing down the mountain

Conclusion

SPTechCon was a great conference to attend this year.  I got to learn some great content, meet amazing people, and get a short break away from work.  I’ll definitely look into attending the Boston SPTechCon later this year as I hear great things about that as well.  Big thanks out to all of the speakers, vendors, conference planners, and conference attendees for making this such a memorable event.  Look forward to the next great event.

 

-Frog Out

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