Tech-Ed Israel 2008

[This is a summarization post for my international audience; For a more complete coverage, see my and many other bloggers’ impressions at Microsoft Israel’s blogosphere]

This week, the biennial Tech-Ed Israel conference took place in Eilat. I was fortunate enough to be sent there, as a blogger, along with 25 others, on Microsoft’s dime. Nice.

I’ve gone ahead and written quite a few posts about it on my (mostly) Hebrew blog, almost all of them from the conference itself, but I’ve decided to write down some of my impressions here as well:

  • This was the first time I was ever at a Tech-Ed, and it was a blast. Too bad it was only three days.
  • There was a ton of swag being handed out and a special kit was given to each blogger (including some extension cords and cables for our laptops, so we don’t go without ;) ).
  • On the organizational level, most of the things seemed to tick like clockwork, something which is far from obvious. Unfortunately, lectures constantly starting late and ending late soured the event. Wireless Internet connectivity was, however, almost everywhere, which is very cool and relatively new to Microsoft’s conferences in Israel.
  • Although the level of the lectures was high most of the time, it was as if some of the lectures were very shallow and only touched the surface of the material they were about (though a couple were far from that). As someone who is very in-tune with what’s going on technology-wise at Microsoft, I was disappointed by the fact that most of the lectures had no added value for me.
  • There were no surprises, when it came to technology. Microsoft’s newfangled release cycle, with alphas, betas and CTPs galore is good for the product, but it’s killing the ability to show innovation at conferences. Everything is out there already, just waiting to be discovered by the public themselves. When we’re talking about the near future, I can see Rosario is about to suffer the same fate.
  • It was a pleasure to mix and mingle with people from all over the country who were into exactly what you were doing. For me that meant meeting a lot of people I know, from close friends to people I haven’t seen in years: in a country of seven million, 3,500 people from the industry are a lot. :)
    Also, I found out Ido was engaged to be married this November! Mazal Tov, man!
  • Each time slot always had between 5 and 17 concurrent lectures, which had the potential to require me to clone myself to get to every one that I wanted to go to, but ended up with me defaulting to play Guitar Hero III on the XBox 360 stands (more on that in a bullet) when I found that none of the lectures in certain time slots tickled my fancy. Only once was I torn between going to one of two lectures. That’s a pretty big achievement, and not a good one at that.
  • There were two XBox 360 stands with big-assed screens, one of which constantly had Guitar Hero III playing, a game I fell for, won a prize at with Lior (woohoo) and whose soundtrack I continued humming for the remainder of the week. I had a blast playing.
    However, that was a bit odd, since to date no one is officially importing it to Israel. Yes, you heard right – there were two stands with game consoles no one can officially buy in the country. When would XBox 360 get the official Microsoft Israel seal of approval? Sometime around 2006. You get big points on marketing the units, Microsoft, but none for actually selling any.
  • Eric Rudder was there. I hadn’t noticed. On the other hand, I did get a chance to talk to Lisa Feigenbaum and Luke Hoban, both of whom were really nice and a great conversation.
  • Yosi Taguri (who works with me at NuConomy) and Lior Zoref from Microsoft Israel accompanied the conference with their video podcast, Yosi and Lior’s Experimental Broadcasts. They had some really funny skits and a cool see-through studio in the middle of the action to broadcast their interviews from. It was very cool and, although I can’t be certain, was also a nice touch for those who didn’t get to go to the conference.
  • The traditional second-night party was awesome, but I think the guys at Microsoft Israel were a little on the defensive after what happened in 2006, when there was too much alcohol and not enough non-alcoholic beverages (so much so that everyone was dead drunk by 3am and Luca Bolognese went up on the stage the next day hung over, only to receive the best score given to a lecturer in that Tech-Ed), so that all of the alcohol ran out an hour into the party. Hope they overcompensate for that in 2010. ;)
  • When I got home, I started reading through the 350+ blog posts about the conference (did I say 25 bloggers got a free pass?) and found out there were lots more things I simply missed, such as a real life Formula 1 car with a Formula 1 simulator in it and a stand featuring some of Microsoft Research’s products. The only thing missing from that was a Surface. :)

So why is this post here, on my English blog? Well, there are two reasons:

  1. See how much fun we had?
  2. You should come next time! :D
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