Southern Africa, Surveys, and the Single Person Flight
In no particular order of course but let's start with Surveys. If you are NOT residing in the United States or Canada (aka you are from the rest of the world) then we want to hear from you and you might win a cool MP3 player as a result. Read below for more information:
Survey: How did you initially learn to use BizTalk? What are your preferences for learning new topics? What can we do to make BizTalk easier to learn and use? Send e-mail to email@example.com to obtain a secure code and link to the survey. Complete the survey for a chance to win a portable MP3 player!
Southern Africa: I'm currently in Heathrow Airport. A while back (about 20 hours or so) I was rafting on the Zambesi River under Victoria Falls before I jumped in a plane to South Africa. In another 15 hours or so I'll be home. I enjoyed talking to folks at TechEd South Africa on Workflow, Integration and BizTalk Server. I've also really enjoyed the holiday part of my trip including seeing the animals in Kruger, which was fun, but on reflection the Kruger trip is better suited to folks who don't like quite as much exercise as I do as there is a lot of sitting and staring involved. Riding an elephant, hanging out on a raft and generally chilling at Victoria Falls were all good for my well being as was the sunshine and the heat.
Single Person Flight - British Airways 6289:
I flew from South Africa to Livingstone in Zambia with British Airways on a Boeing 737-300 series. Ok I know what you are thinking, Scott that's super interesting but why are you telling me this? Well - this particular flight was scheduled to leave at 7am all to maximize my time in the day at Victoria Falls (I'm not really into the hang around on a beach type of holiday I had things to see!). Anyways I get to the check-in counter around 5:30am and the flight is listed on the board but with no check-in counter and all the other flights had check-in counters listed. Oh, oh - here we go - I guess the flight was cancelled and "there goes my holiday" were my first thoughts. I wandered the pretty much empty airport and eventually a kind lady in a British Airways suit came by. I asked about the flight with no check-in desk and she asked for my name (which I thought was odd). Once I told her my name she responded with "Oh, you are the passenger on that flight". Yes, apparently my last minute scheduling had landed me a plane all to myself! Much to my surprise they didn't cancel the flight (because the plane was supposed to pick-up a large group of Italian tourists on the return leg). So there I was - the only passenger on a Boeing 737-300 - definitely a once in a life-time experience. I got to the boarding gate with plenty of time to avoid the queues<g> and the ground-staff were joking with me (actually I'm not sure it was joking because they started with "so you are the guy we had to wake up at 5am for after a hard weekend of weddings and parties") but anyways let's just say that the electronic boarding sign at the gate read "BA 6289 - Livingstone" as you would expect, with an additional line added just for prosperity - "Especially for Mr Woodgate" by the time I boarded. The fun continued on the plane as I selected my seat. I started in economy class on row 6 in a window seat, but got bored with that and moved to row 10 which had a better view and then I thought what the heck I need an upgrade so I meandered into business class and tested out a few seats before settling in row 4A. The crew completely spoiled me - indeed all 4 of the super friendly cabin crew came and served various parts of the meal, shared pictures of experiences at Victoria Falls, and the captain introduced the flight for me personally. But it got better - as we got close to the falls the crew called me up into the cockpit (like what used to happen in a different world 30 years ago for little kids) and as he banked to the right I got a perfect view of Victoria Falls directly from the cockpit of a 737 (no need to do the helicopter tour after that).
I want to extend a big huge thanks to the team @ British Airways for maximizing my enjoyment and making me feel like a billionaire for an hour or three :).
P.S. I think (if I can read my email right) the BizTalk Server CTP build for Launch will be Build 1388.