TechDays Labs in Toronto from the HockeyGeekGirl perspective


Wow! it’s over already really? But I was just getting warmed up! Tuesday and Wednesday, the Toronto Congress Center was overrun with technology enthusiasts ready to learn all new tools, features, and tips and tricks from the experts at TechDays Toronto.

If you were looking for me and didn’t find me, that’s because I spent two days locked up in thelabs. I am so excited about this new offering at TechDays. For the first time we had sessions called Instructor Led Labs (ILL) where attendees got to not only learn about a product but try it out as well. We had a lab for every track: phone , cloud , architecture , development tools , management , data platform. Attendees could either launch the labs from their own laptops or use one of the laptops we set up for their use. More often than not, every laptop we provided was in use as developers tried out Test Manager for the first time walking through the instructions to define Test plans, or system administrators got their hands on System Center Orchestrator to see what it could do.

There is an incredible infrastructure behind the scenes that supports these labs. The entire infrastructure is designed to make it as easy as possible for you to try out the products. As an attendee you go to a launch page and choose a lab to launch. Two windows open on your desktop, one provides you a manual with steps you can follow, the other gives you access to one or more virtual machines where you can launch the product and try it out. At TechDays we went the extra mile and the VMs are actually launched ahead of time so you don’t even have to wait for them to load, you just connect and start playing.

Now bear with me for a moment as this is relevant. I laughed this morning when I was packing up my gear and I looked at my running shoes. Look closely at the picture above, notice anything? Those aren’t the same sneakers! The right shoe is my Brooks Sneaker, the left is my Saucony sneaker! Apparently when I left for the airport I grabbed one sneaker from each pair! I had worn them for two days and hadn’t even noticed! In a strange way, that was a great summary of the labs. Sure I can walk, job and run just fine in a pair of mismatched sneakers, but it’s not as good as it could be, something is just a little bit off.  We had lots of attendees having great experiences in the labs, but it seemed like it could be even better somehow. We learned a couple of really important lessons. Number one! Make sure the abstracts make it clear this session is a lab and not just another breakout. We had attendees arriving in the room looking at me baffled when I asked if they wanted to use one of  our machines or their own. Of course a few attendees fell in love with this lab format and came back over and over again to the ILL sessions. We also discovered many attendees didn’t know they could do the labs on their own laptops, and didn’t bring their laptops to the show, so we’ll trying to do a better job communicating that in the future as well. When you come to TechDays Vancouver or Montreal, bring your laptop! It’s also worth noting you need and Windows Vista with the most recent Service Packs, or Windows 7  with Internet Explorer 7 or higher to launch the labs.

There’s still time to check this all out for yourself at TechDays Vancouver (Nov 15,16) and TechDays Montreal (Nov 29,30) register today and come by the labs to say hi! But if you are unable to attend TechDays you don’t have to miss out. We are going to have all those Instructor Led Labs and more available for you to launch later this fall! Keep an eye on the TechDays website for details.

In trying to keep with my traditional blog posts: Today’s Top 5

Top 5 things I have screwed up when packing for a trip

  1. Forgot to pack the charger for my <portable electronic device of choice> (hate to think how often I bought chargers at airports or had to borrow from kindly co-workers and friends, btw thanks for loaning me your phone cable so I could charge my phone at TechDays Kim!)
  2. Used a really cheap suitcase and when it got wet, the purple dye ran onto my clothes (kudos to Air Canada who gave me a cheque to cover the cost of replacing all the clothes that were damaged!)
  3. Forgetting to put shampoo in a separate bag and having it open and spill ALL over my clothes
  4. One Saucony One Brooks Running shoe
  5. One black, one blue dress shoe, both for the left foot (had to wear a dress suit and sneakers to teach all week!)