Impressions of TechEd Europe 2012

Editor’s note: The following blog post was written by Window’s Expert – Consumer MVP Hal Hostetler

Hello and welcome from Amsterdam and TechEd Europe 2012! Orlando was so much fun that I just had to head over here to do it some more. So far, things are both the same and very different at the same time. The conference, itself, is very similar to Orlando – the booths and vendors are mostly the same; the hall we’re in is similar, though smaller. The attendees I meet and talk to are the same bright, cheerful, knowledgeable folks I encountered in Orlando. The main difference is Amsterdam, itself…what a beautiful city! My wife and I had Monday free, so we went down to the City Center (the Dam) and played tourist. We looked at the sights and tried to keep from being trampled by the throngs of fellow tourists. The weather here is highly unpredictable, going from cloudy, cold, and rainy to clear, warm, and sunny within just a few hours, VERY unlike summertime in Tucson! The lesson here is to pack both summer and winter clothing and be sure to bring an umbrella.

The conference started on Tuesday. I found very little setup when I got here, so I spent the first few hours setting up the photo booth. Setup was a bit difficult as we had no Internet service all morning and into the afternoon. When it finally returned, I was able to complete the setup and get the show on the road. Our location is at the front of the Expo hall, rather than the very back, where we were in Orlando. In fact, we’re right next to the battling robots, who made the journey across the sea in fine fashion. These mechanical maulers are as big a hit here as they were in Orlando and having them right next door means the crowds they draw are in prime position for our photo shoot. The Microsoft Channel 9 mini studio is also next door, so we’ve had a number of dignitaries stop by and chat after they finish their TV interviews. As in Orlando, the Delegate Reception was held Tuesday evening – lots of happy folks eating, enjoying the Dutch beer, and sharing experiences here at the RAI Convention Center.

Wednesday is busy! The photo booth is up and running flawlessly and we had quite a number of folks stop by to have their pictures taken. We’re only running one computer as there isn’t enough room in the booth to have all the props setup at once, plus we have to move them out of the way at lunchtime to make room for the red robot’s Kinect controller. I suppose I should try my hand at driving one of them; see if I can knock the other robot’s block off and release all those pent-up hostilities…trouble is, I’m having so much fun I’d be hard pressed to find hostility to release. I’ve had a chance to chat with a number of folks that attended Orlando; so far, the jury is still out on which event folks like the best. On the one hand, you have the USA with a bigger venue, more people, more vendors, pretty much more everything, while Amsterdam is smaller, more intimate, not quite so much walking, and not nearly so hot. Unlike TENA, the Delegate party is tonight, not Friday after the event concludes. We’re headed to the Amsterdam Arena for food, drink, and big TV screens to watch the UEFA semi-final match between Spain and Portugal. Soccer is THE spectator sport here in Europe; it will be interesting to watch how a big crowd of fans react. I’ll be back shortly with thoughts on the gathering and a wrap-up of the final two days.