Hey everyone, I’m in New Orleans for Microsoft TechEd North America 2010 – so for the next four days and nights, I’ll be doing my best to photograph and blog about what I’ve seen, heard and ate in the deep South.
The conference begins early tomorrow (Monday) morning, so today is a travel day for Microsoft zealots all across North America. My connecting flight in Houston was a 737 loaded to the brim with guys (and a few gals) dressed in not-my-very-best-because-I’m-traveling business casual and chunky laptop bags. I guess Fashion 101 will continue to be one badly needed but missing breakout session topic.
Houston to New Orleans was all of an hour’s flight, after which we collected our bags from the medium-sized and easy to navigate Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. There we collectively encountered our first surprise of the day: Everyone seemed to have assumed that an airport-to-hotel shuttle service was part of the TechEd package, something airport employees denied. This led to long lines at the taxi stand, which my two coworkers and I were savvy enough to bypass by heading to the second terminal and use its stand instead.
Check in at Le Pavillon was a snap (actually as I write this, at 10:19 PM, the hotel still seems pretty quiet) so we headed right back out into the 4 PM heat to walk the twenty minutes to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. And boy, it’s hot in Louisiana. I’ve seen hotter in terms of sheer temperature, but the humidity down here is incredible. It’s like a thin jacket of moisture you put on as soon as you walk out of an air-conditioned building. It’s enough to cause condensation on your camera lens and eyeglasses immediately. It’s kind of shocking.
We’re at the convention centre for a purpose: To get our identification badges before tomorrow’s crush, and to pick up whatever swag Microsoft’s got on offer this year. (Bearing in mind, of course, that the conference’s not insubstantial entrance fee makes calling this stuff swag slightly misleading.)
Swag this year? Let’s see:
- A Microsoft TechEd 2010 laptop backpack
- A Microsoft TechEd 2010 metal water bottle (this will come in handy and is much appreciated)
- A t-shirt with “Windows Embedded” printed on the breast and “Microsoft Business Intelligence” on the back, along with a silhouette of New Orleans – in size medium
- A Microsoft TechEd 2010 notepad
- A trial CD of Microsoft Forefront Business Ready Security
- About forty pieces of glossy advertisements by sponsors of the conference that I automatically placed in the recycling bag in my hotel room
We grab a free pop drink on our way out and head for a closeby restaurant – for all three of us, this will be our first meal of the day. Strangely enough, most of the city seems to be closed down and our first choice and recommendation is a bust. Off, then, to Mulate’s, The Original Cajun Restaurant, selected by virtue of its location directly across the street from the convention centre. I have the fried alligator (better than the grilled alligator, which my coworker orders for comparison) and the hamburger steak lafayette. It’s passable.
Back to the hotel, then, for the night. I pledge to visit the hotel’s rooftop pool and still might, but a shower and bed seem more likely as we’ll need to be up and out the door tomorrow at 7:30 AM. Perhaps I’ll take a quick peek just for the sake of seeing if what the views are like from the top. In other case, this’ll be all from me tonight. Goodnight, and on to Day One tomorrow!