It's been awhile! I was at lotusphere for the last week, and have compiled a short, relaxed journal........ok - it's neither..:) If you want the summary - here it is:
Lots of walking, standing, drinking, sun. Very little sleep and snow.
The week before
For most of the week before, with the exception of Tuesday, I had worked from about 8 or 9am until 1am each day preparing for this show…….
I finished work and arrived home by about 8:30pm. I headed over to steve’s place to stay over so we could share a taxi to the airport the next morning. While doing laundry I helped steve get his computer ready. My laundry finished up around midnight, so I finally went to sleep.
I didn’t sleep all that well, and we had to be up by a little after 3am anyways, as we needed to be at the airport for 4am or so to catch a 6:30am international flight. The flights were fine – I had a transfer through new york, and didn’t arrive in Orlando until about noon. Steve was flying air transat (no points), so his was direct. I did get about a ½ hour of sleep on the planes – a quick, useful nap. I found a mears shuttle to take me to the hotel, but it routes through all the terminals first – so it was about 2pm until I arrived at the hotel – New Orleans Port Riverside (on the Disney property). Of course the shuttle was full of people staying at the same hotel, so check-in took another hour. The hotel room was pretty good – patterned after brear rabbit. After a quick unpack, I went to steve’s hotel room to check it out (as his was in a different group of buildings) – it was more Victorian. The hotel is more of a resort as it has small buildings scattered through a fairly large area. At steve’s I fell asleep for a bit – squeezed in another ½ hour of so of sleep. Once emma arrived, I was booted out and went back to my hotel room and watched a bit of tv. We went to dinner at the main lodge around 6 or 7pm, then steve and emma went back to the hotel room (as she was jet-lagged). I felt like going out, and wanted to check out the “ESPN unofficial lotusphere party”. I asked the various staff members where the club was, and was directed in a number of ways. Deciding that it was most likely in downtown Disney, I grabbed a bus and headed down. The next staff member said that the ESPN bar was in Pleasure Island, so I grabbed the $25 ticket, and headed in. Pleasure Island is great – but there wasn’t any ESPN bar, I later found out that the ESPN club was at the boardwalk. Pleasure Island was great – it’s the busiest I’ve seen it. We “rang in the new year”, as they do every Saturday – with fireworks, a live band, and more. I went to all the different bars, of course drinking those *intense* rum drinks all along! By the time I got back to the hotel room, it was about 2am or so before I went to bed.
Up Sunday morning at about 7 or 8am to get ready for the show. After breakfast, I think we arrived at the dolphin hotel by about 9 or 10am. Steve and emma went to a business development day seminar, while I worked on setting up the booth – more testing and preparations. Keith arrived a little before noon – so we headed out to lunch – having a couple beers of course. Afterward keith went back to the hotel room to work on the book hile steve/emma went to another session. I was back at the booth preparing/testing/setting up – I ended up calling various Ardexus developers to see if they could be in early Monday as I had found some bugs that needed to get fixed. We headed back to the hotel to get ready at about 5pm – it turned out that keith was in the same building as I was – so I picked up some corona’s and went over to visit. We had to hop the bus by about 6:30pm for the Sunday night reception poolside at the dolphin hotel (where the conference was held). There was food galore, and lots of alcohol stands! There were two live bands, and at least a few thousand people there. We ran into the IT people for a customer, who were looking to talk to us for some various business reasons. We also ran into some ACS and Lockheed Martin people we knew – we ended up spending most of the night with them. The welcome reception ended around 10:30pm, so we went over to the “bluezoo” bar, which was also quite packed. Keith hadn’t been to a bar that packed in – as he said – 20 years. We met some more people there – by the time we found a table to sit down, I was outside with some new people smoking away (marlboro’s baby)! The various people I met there I ended up hanging out with during the week on and off – at least one of the companies represented by the people there is strongly interested in our software (as I found out later – pays to network!). We left around midnight – but I didn’t get to bed til around 2am again, as I met more people on the way, and wanted to squeeze in a quick replication.
We had a breakfast scheduled with the customer from the night before for around 8:30am – so I met up with keith for 7:45am. Keith had forgotten that he needed to check out, so we called the customer to delay until 9am. After a quick breakfast at our hotel and keith checking out, we hopped in his car to head over to the hotel. Once arriving at the dolphin, we found out that we couldn’t park there, and were diverted to the lotusphere auxiliary parking lot, near epcot. Finding it was tough and annoying, followed by a shuttle back to the dolphin that seemed to wait forever. We called the customer again to tell them that we were going to be another 10-20 minutes – they were already waiting for us at the pre-arranged spot. After finally arriving at the dolphin, we found them and went for a coffee/tea to discuss some integration/quality issues. We had a great discussion, but I had to rush back to the show floor to finalize setting up, as the product showcase opened at 10:30am – and I couldn’t get out of the meeting until about 10:15. I ran over and quickly set up – replicating quickly to get the fixes, and finalizing my computer configuration. The booth opened, and immediately we had interest. We had an absolutely great booth location – right off the main hallway, about 5 booths down from the entrance escalator. I had hoped to go to a few conference sessions, but we had far too much interest for me to leave. Keith left around 11am, and John arrived at around 2:30pm or so – it was useful to have some “grey hair” for appearance’s sake. The show floor was open from 10:30am until 8:30pm – a very long time to remain standing! From 6:00 to 8:30pm was the “Product Showcase Reception” – where they wheel out some beer/wine carts with a few snacks and a number of attendees come down to drink/network/etc. For reference sake, last year we scanned 40 badges in total across the 3 days. The first day alone we scanned 125 badges! It was extremely busy, and many of the people we talked to were real leads interested in purchasing our software. Afterwards, steve and emma went back to the hotel, but I wanted to carry on the networking! I was going to try to meet a potential client from Bunn Corporation at a piano bar in the Swan hotel – but I couldn’t find him (I was also hanging out with a potential client from a produce company in Monterey CA who just cancelled his relavis contract). We ended up back at the Blue Zoo – it wasn’t as busy, but there were more people there that I had met that day. Solutions by Design II was there among others, and I met some more people! When we arrived at the bar, I was just about to buy a round of drinks when I realized that I had left my wallet in the booth! There was no way to get to it, so I was out of luck. Abell, from the produce company, ended up covering me for the night – and it was a good night! Once again I went to sleep around 2am or so – as we basically closed the bar. By this point my feet were absolutely killing me.
This morning was a bit tougher to get up, but I was still up by about 7:45am. We were to meet at the front desk by 8:30am, in order to catch the bus and arrive at the booth for when the floor opens (9am). Of course, the bus that was sitting there at 8:30am was now on a ½ hour schedule, so wasn’t planning on leaving until 9am. We grabbed a taxi instead, and when we arrived at the dolphin hotel I ran ‘like the wind’ to the booth to quickly get set up. I arrived with literally 2 minutes to go, and had everything up just in time. We had another great day – collecting another 75 scans (200 in two days!). One again the traffic was steady, so I couldn’t get to any conference sessions. The product showcase was open from 9am until 6pm, so it was another long day of standing. By this point, all of us had extremely sore feet (as we were all wearing dress shoes as well). As I hadn’t had dinner the night before, or breakfast that morning, I skipped out for 20 minutes to have the “all-in-one” meal at around 11:30am. This made it unnecessary for any lunch, and we were headed for a big dinner anyways that night. We had reserved a table at Shula’s steakhouse for 5:30pm for dinner with the same customers (more of a “no-shop-talk” type of get-together). As the show floor was open until 6pm, I manned the booth with John, while steve and emma went to dinner. They waited for me to arrive, but I couldn’t get there until 6:45pm – as once again we were basically the last vendor to leave! It seems that the people who are really interested in our software would arrive near the end of the day so they could get more attention – and you can’t say “well, gotta go!” The dinner was excellent, as a $600 USD dinner for 5 people should be! I think the customer, our biggest client, was looking for a good dinner “on the vendor”. We were scheduled to meet decision labs for their user group party at “Jelly Rolls” for 9pm – so after dinner we went over with the customer guys. The bar turned out to be a “dueling piano’s” bar – and it was absolutely hilarious. The four performers on stage (while two took a break the other two would perform) were amazing. They would perform popular songs requested by the audience, and the audience would dance and sing along at the top of their voice! Check your shame at the door for this place..:) I was sending drinks over to Abell to repay him for the drinks from the night before. We also were partying a bit with the guys from Accpac CRM – one of them asked for a job! Funny. I also met some other friends there who I had met earlier once again – but I don’t really remember that much as there was at least 4 bar tabs running that I knew about. Somehow I spend another $60 USD. We closed the bar once again, and I made it back to the hotel for 3am this time.
Up at my favourite time of 7:30am again – god my feet hurt. No time to complain – off to the product showcase for a 9am start. Final day though! The show was a bit slower – I think we only ended up with another 40 names or so – but we had a lot of repeat visitors. I did make it to one session – but left early as it was essentially useless. The day went by a bit faster – and ended at 5:00pm. We packed up everything – which wasn’t much. All 250 t-shirts were gone, the 50 SCMgr CDs were gone (I could have given away 300!), and we only had about 20 datasheets left! A quick bus back to the hotel had us there for 5:30pm, and we (steve/emma, & myself) were going to meet at our hotel lobby at 6:30pm to catch the bus to universal studios for the official 2004 lotusphere party – more on that later! I thought – well, here’s an hour to take off my shoes, kick back with a beer and cigarette, and watch some tv! I went to go get ice to cool the beer (using cups), but quickly realized that the card to open my door was inside my hotel room – and I was outside. Yes – locked myself out. I had called the front desk to have them deliver me a proper ice bucket, so I waited for them to arrive. I ended up with about 20 minutes to relax – at least that night I could wear my running shoes! We met at the lobby, got on the bus, and headed over to universal. Basically, IBM/Lotus reserve an entire theme park each year from 7:30pm until 10:45pm for all the conference attendees and partners. This year was universal studios – but no the roller coaster side. Instead, it was the regular side with the “making of” stuff. It was good – we ended up going on twister, earthquake, Men in Black, and Back to the Future. MiB was probably the most fun, with the exception that emma was selected as a stage volunteer for the “making of” part of earthquake. She was on stage on the top of a submarine – and they had fun with the blue screen behind her and the other volunteers. In between each ride we would hit a beer stand (also free), and quickly chug a beer on the way to the next ride!! We were thinking of going over to pleasure island, but steve/emma were too tired (wink wink). I didn’t really feel like going either, so I just went to the riverside hotel bar (our hotel) for a bit. I ran into some Research in Motion guys I had met before – so we ended up having a few beers. I got to bed reasonably early by comparison – around 1:30am.
Thursday morning I could have gone to some actual sessions as Thursday was a “session-only” full day. Most of the sessions seemed useless, however, as they were geared towards technology that I didn’t really care about (workplace, websphere, etc) – at least for now. I decided to sleep in instead. Of course, my body is now used to getting very little sleep – so I woke up at 9am and just watched some tv. At least I caught up on the current news. Around 11am, I got out and headed back to the dolphin to take advantage of their wifi-enabled lobby. It was extremely fast – averaging 390kbps downloads! After an hour of catching up on email and some attempted work on financials I went to grab lunch. Of course I met the people at the table I chose, and one of the guys there is working for an insurance company that is looking for software like ours. Amazing. He had even sent me an email by Thursday afternoon! Then it was back to the lobby – but I went to grab a tea first. As my luck goes, I met another person (from the produce company) that I had been hanging out with on and off all week. We talked for a bit – more about business this time. Then, it was off to the airport – a $60 cab ride! Ahhh….back on the plane, but once again I had to transfer through new york. Nothing worse then going from florida to the north east – particularly if there was a brutal storm across the north east and everything is completely covered in snow! Like a fool I left my jacket in my checked luggage, so walking to (and off) the American Eagle plane was fun (you walk across the runway, as it’s a puddle jumper). Home by 11pm! TOO MUCH SNOW!!!!