Tuesday, May 31, 2016

GPUG Amplify Anaheim 2016 - Pre-conference Day 3: Partner Day

It was a new day, Sunday, May 22 and it was time to register for Amplify. After meeting up with Pam for some brunch, I made my way to the registration area, with signs of the event placed throughout the corridors leading to the registration area.

Welcome and Registration banner
As it turned out, the Mekorma Hub was also in the process of being setup by the hotel staff. I came across a few of my colleagues at Mekorma, who were in the process of supervising The Hub setup.

Mekorma team - Left to right: Ora Goldman, Angel Blum, Eric Karie, Craig Clapman

Mekorma Hub being powered up
The registration area was just getting warmed up. Earlier, partners had signed up for a number of free training classes and were probably getting ready to swarm the registration desk. I went ahead and claimed my badge and went on tour throughout the different rooms checking to see what was going on.

Amplify Registration Desk

The first area I visited was the Expo booths, this time, a far cry from the big room that is customary or expected at events like GPUG Summit or the former Convergence. This was the first reality check as to what type of event Amplify would be. Seeing just a few booths was nonetheless encouraging as it reminds me that all major events we have today started out being small. But you could pretty much say the usual suspects were there: KwikTag, Olympic Systems, Rose ASP, Altec, eOne, Fastpath, Integrity Data, Journyx, to name a few. You can see the complete list of sponsors here.

Expo area
A short step ahead of the booths was the meal and general session area. There was space for about 400 people, again, a big contrast from the Convergence and Summit events.

Meal and General Session Area
On the way out, I came across one of DCE's audio/video engineers who was trying to connect some very sophisticated cameras to an Apple TV like receiver, but was not having success with the video feeding to the computer from the Apple device. This equipment was going to be used in the first ever live stream TV from the event -- more on this later.

Back at the booth, I came across Jay Manley, Director of Product Management and Altonique Burton, Executive Assistant at Mekorma. Jay had just arrived earlier to the hotel from his adventurous trip from Fargo.

Altonique Burton and Jay Manley
After a little kick back, it was time for the partner reception and update. We were treated to some really cool demos by John Dooley.
John Dooley on the future of software demos
Following John's presentation, it was time for Errol Schoenfish (Twitter: @eschoenfish) to talk about Project "Madeira". Madeira comes as Microsoft's SaaS only solution to compete with the likes of NetSuite and Quickbooks Online and to provide an entry level solution to products like Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, and even Dynamics AX.

Madeira is currently in preview and is available via your Office 365 subscription. You can access Madeira here. You can also read my getting started article here.

Next up was Chris Dubkins with Njevity to talk about a brand new solution called PowerGP Online, built from the ground up to be a SaaS based solution to access and transact with Microsoft Dynamics GP. PowerGP Online is currently available for the iPad and will be seeing other platforms soon after its release.

Chris Dubkins / Njevity
After a few more drinks and hi's it was time to go for dinner. My dinner was going to be a one-on-one review with my manager and colleague Jay Manley at Morton's.

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP

GPUG Amplify Anaheim 2016 - Pre-conference Day 2

On this Saturday morning, I got up and went downstairs around 10 AM. Of course, the days started out with a Tall Flat White, by far my favorite Starbucks cup of coffee. After ordering my coffee, I sat in the hotel lobby for an hour or so, trying to catch up on emails and some work. I then went around touring the place and making sure I would find the room where I would be presenting on Monday. Interestingly enough, the ballrooms were reserved for the California - Hawaii Elks Association who were hosting their 98th convention at the hotel from May 15 - May 18 with what I can only assume were "left overs" from that event. This great Association helps children with disabilities since 1950. Most of the members were checking out and the hotel staff was dismantling the ballrooms to quickly turn around and host a wedding.

I went back to my room and spent quite the rest of the afternoon sleeping and resting. Around 6 PM, I went down to the nFuse bar and met up with Craig and Pam who were wrapping up dinner. I munched on Pam's asparagus as I was quite hungry.

Pam Misialek with a plentiful order of asparagus
Craig and Pam left the area and I decided to order some dinner. In the meantime, I came across my good friend Jen Kuntz (Twitter: @JenKuntzGP) from Kuntz Consulting in Toronto, Canada. Jen joined in for a beer and kept me company while I was having dinner. Jen was just coming in from watching a baseball match as she's apparently a big fan of the game.

Jen Kuntz and I
I stayed down for a bit more and was joined by Kim Peterson, now with Interdyn BMI who began chatting for a bit. I moved over to the bar where I had a few more drinks while chatting with a Qatar Airways crew member who had just arrived in the hotel moments earlier from a 16-hour flight from Doha. It was around 2 AM and just about time to call it a night.

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP

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

Monday, May 9, 2016

5 Reasons to attend #GPUGAmplify 2016 in Anaheim, California

If you are not excited about the upcoming #GPUGAmplify conference, here are 5 reasons to attend:

1. It's in Anaheim, California. Yes, the home of Disneyland! Not only is Anaheim a great fun and entertaining place, but they also have an enviable weather, 5-star restaurants and food, and plenty to see. Anaheim's at the outskirts of Los Angeles, for those of us with big city mentality, so if you feel claustrophobic, a quick ride to LA and you will be in a totally different atmosphere.

2. Microsoft Support will be there! Have a chance to inquiry about upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics GP 2016, or the new HTML5 web client, or even that nagging issue in your environment that you've been dealing with for a while. In addition, those Fargo guys always seem to know where the cool bars are... don't ask!

3. Bob McAdam is busted his butt putting this thing together! We no longer have mama Kim, but we have one dedicated Bob McAdam who is been rallying up all the troops, from presenters, to facilities, to coordinating sponsors, to registering folks. The man has done it all! Why would you not correspond with your presence at the event? Take a look at the following articles by Bob to go deeper into what's coming:

GPUG Amplify Agenda Deep Dive (1/3)
GPUG Amplify Agenda Deep Dive (2/3)

4. Microsoft Business Solutions MVPs will be on site too! Now, talking about smart people with real life experience? How about the likes of Belinda Allen, Mark Polino, John Lowther, and yes, ME! We are all coming in strong with great sessions that you sure won't want to miss.

5. The final and most important reason is, you have a chance to make of Amplify what Convergence once represented to you and your company. Yes, granted, we are starting out small, but that does not mean we are not going to grow. We need you to make that happen! Register today!

See you from May 23 to May 25, 2016.

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP