Tuesday, May 31, 2016

GPUG Amplify Anaheim 2016 - Pre-conference Day 1

I did not want to let the opportunity pass without really transmitting my experiences at GPUG and Microsoft's first major venture after the now defunct Microsoft Convergence, which I attended for several, several years as a presenter. So here is what Amplify 2016 Anaheim was like for me.

I decided to arrive into Anaheim on Friday, May 20 to basically get some rest and stave off jet lag. Although, Atlanta is on the East Coast of the United States and its only 3 hours ahead of the Pacific timezone, you would be surprised at how those 3 hours can throw your system completely off. Upon arriving at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) from yet another uneventful trip on Delta Airlines, I proceeded to baggage claim to get my luggage. Exiting the airport, I was trying to figure out how I would get to Anaheim. As it turned out, there are a couple of ways: a) your traditional taxi cab, which would cost on or around $120 - $130, b) a shared van service, which can be hired either for private transport at $110 or as a shared ride for about $30. However, if you do decide to go the shared ride, you are in for a treat as there are about 10 to 15 stops to pick up additional passengers from various locations throughout Los Angeles, adding several hours to your trip, and c) Uber, however this service can be quite controversial from the airport and you may be looked upon by all taxi cab drivers as a traitor.

I personally decided to go the van route, although as a private service. My driver, Cesar Chavez from Philippines was very delightful and entertaining. He was quite the character, playing 80's music and telling me stories from his early days living in Manila.

Cesar Chavez
The drive was surprisingly quick, at only 45 minutes from LAX to the Anaheim Marriott. Frankly, I had never been to Anaheim, but had heard about the traffic horror stories. Thank goodness this was not my case.

Check in at the Marriott was a breeze (as its customary). I received my keys, went upstairs and began the usual unpacking ritual that follows a long trip. I pretty much setup my computer and accessories in a very methodical way (OK, I admit, I trouble with OCD!).

Computer, Accessories, and a bit more
After getting all my stuff together, it was time to go down stairs to pickup some coffee at the Starbucks within the hotel -- very convenient, if you ask me. After picking up my coffee, I sat in the lobby of the hotel and relaxed for a bit, before running into Microsoft's Pam Misialek (Twitter: @PamMisialek) and Mekorma's Craig Klapman (Twitter: @MekormaCraig). We quickly arranged to go to dinner at Joe's Crab Shack, just about a mile away from the hotel.

Pam Misialek enjoying a mighty lobster
At Joe's Crab Shack, a mighty controversy was born as a result of ordering a simple house salad. Craig requested a salad and asked what dressings were available to garnish it. The waitress proceeded to mention all the usual suspects: vinaigrette, ranch, blue cheese, vinegar, and maybe a couple more. Craig was very undecided so the waitress proceeded to offer Caesar dressing, to which Craig replied, "Yes!". The waitress proceeded to ask if Craig wanted a Caesar salad. We all stared at each other with this dumbfounded look in our faces, not quite sure what to make of the waitress' suggestion. Craig responded without hesitation, "No! I want a house salad with Caesar dressing.". The waitress once more replied, "So, a Caesar salad.". Craig once more said, "No!". The waitress proceeded to bring a house salad with a side of Caesar dressing as requested by Craig, but the damage was already done. Never had I been involved in such a deep philosophical conversation as to what constitutes or doesn't constitute a Caesar salad, but as it turned out, many people had agreed with Craig. In other words, not because you order a side of Caesar dressing it means you want a Caesar salad if that makes sense at all... See? Half of this article is already dedicated to the topic.

Anyways, back to the hotel to get some rest, but not without a quick view shot from the room I was in.

View from the 17th floor of the Anaheim Marriott
Stay tuned for Pre-conference Day 2.

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP

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