Readers of the other blog, the more technical one, will know that I have been at Collaborate 08 in Denver, CO. I’ll write about the presentation itself over on the Rittman Mead blog – and I’ll post up the paper so that the interested can take a look.
When I was booking my flights I found that I could get a good deal on flights from British Midland and using the direct United Airlines route from London to Denver, especially as I could part pay in frequent flyer points. I suppose that seats are perhaps slightly smaller that BA’s but for a person of my modest stature it doesn’t matter that much. The plane flies quickly, the meals are not toxic and at the end of the day all I am doing is travelling so is there any value in paying for ‘extra comforts’?
The out bound flight was a few minutes late leaving (unlike Mark’s flight with BA which was cancelled) but we more than made up time on the journey. By one of the odd, small world things the passenger next to me was also going to a conference in Colorado, but not my one, but the odd thing was that her department head when she was a PhD student was a friend of mine. Two meals and two snacks later we arrived in Denver and were told by the ground staff to walk as quickly as possible to the border control as another transatlantic flight was just 2 minutes behind and if we got to the hall first we would be out first. I guess it took just ten minutes to get to the head of the line and be processed and then on to the shuttle bus to the hotel.
The hotel was just across the street from the convention center and my room actually overlooked the large blue bear at the doorway to the halls, so little chance of getting lost later in the week. Forced myself to stay up to 9:30 PM (or 4:30 AM UK time) in the hope of getting more in the swing of US time – did this by sitting in the bar drinking cranberry juice and eating a pulled pork sandwich, If I stayed in the room I would have fallen asleep. The strategy didn’t quite work – I still woke around midnight and then seemed to wake hourly before deciding enough was enough and down for a 6:30 breakfast; then on to the convention center to pick up the bag, tee-shirt, water bottle and speaker gift before braving the hotel gym followed by a short walk along the 16th Street Mall to find a store that sold Fruit Loops… don’t ask!
First event of the conference was a speakers induction session with a guest speaker explaining about giving impact followed by the SIG social which gave me my first chance to meet strangers – bumped into Jeremy Schneider whose blog I dip into – nothing wrong with a DWer being widely read! Towards the end of the evening Mark rang to say he had arrived (24+ hours late) we agreed to meet for breakfast the next morning which again turned out to be at 6:30 AM…
Mark and I have written about the technical sessions and the move from heat to snow overnight so I won’t duplicate that here (except in the blog title, oh, and this paragraph) but you must not forget the social aspects of the conference – I met people that I only knew of through their presence on email or the internet, amongst others (and meaning to offend the omissions), Dan Norris, Ameed Taylor, the team from Vlamis Software Solutions, many of the Oracle product management guys; it was great to associate faces with them all. I also met up with old faces – the Apex Evangelists, Alex Gorbachev, David Kurtz (who used to live 500 yards (or metres would be close enough) from me in when we both lived in Reading), the various UKOUG folk.
Thursday and my flight home came too quickly – shared a ride back to the airport with John Scott and Dimitri Gielis – checked in to be told my seat will be allocated at the gate, declined the offer of an upgrade to business class for $250 (the bed seat may be worth while, but the ‘better’ food wouldn’t) as it happened I sat right at the back next to a chatty Colorado girl who promptly told me I had been drinking the wrong beer all week and it should have been ‘Fat Tire’. And I broke my Heathrow touchdown to home record – 2 hours 5 minutes from landing; that’s taxi to the stand, deplane (and I was right at the back) through border control, pick up luggage, clear customs, catch the train to London, cross to Euston and catch a train back to Milton Keynes then travel to my house