One of the highlights of my visit to Microsoft TechEd 2006 was my interaction with Technocrats - be it at the Ask the Experts (ATE) pavilion where I was invited as one, or outside it.
In addition to meeting intelligent geeks that had challenging questions aplenty, I also got to meet and interact with two stalwarts in the Microsoft Visual Studio development team - namely, Steve Teixeira (Group Program Manager - Visual C++) and Ayman Shoukry (Program Manager - Visual C++).
Both Steve and Ayman were present at the TechEd not only as representatives of the Visual C++ teams but also as speakers that made an outstanding impression with the delegates attending their presentations. The general consensus was that TechEd should feature more sessions for those into C++ programming.
After the first day of the conference, Steve invited all the VC++ MVPs along with Ayman and Danny Thorpe from Windows Live to a dinner at an Italian Restaurant. In course of dinner I got acquainted with fellow VC++ MVPs - Bruno van Dooren, a delegate from Belgium; and Marcus Heege, a speaker from Germany. I already knew of Bruno from the MVP Private Newsgroups and while it was the first time that Marcus and I met, Deutsch and Deutschland helped us establish an immediate connection.
Here is a snap from that evening (Bruno who left early is missing)...
It was a nice evening with us discussing all and sundry - cultures, people, travel and technology (Shh... Technology is beyond the realms of this BLOG, remember!). Interesting to note was Steve's ability to understand a good amount of what the waitress said in Spanish - something that made me wonder if I could recollect the French I've learnt - un peu, perhaps.
In addition to their speaking engagements, Steve and Ayman were also present at the ATE pavilion - this however was really not the first time that I got to know of them.
It was only 3 months ago that Codeguru (that popular online software development forum that has me for a Moderator) featured a special chat forum ("Slow Chat: Visual C++: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow") where members could interact with the Visual C++ Product Team. Ayman and Steve have both been active in this Slow Chat and hence, they were in effect no strangers. For instance, here is one discussion where Ayman (Codeguru: aymans) and I had both contributed to. Similarly, Steve (Codeguru: steixeira) had responses I knew of to other threads in this forum. World is such a small place - little did I know then that I would be meeting these two in person. I must add that these people were as approachable and knowledgeable as their online avatars seemed to be.
A couple of days later, as I took a tram on my way back - I saw the winner of the Speaker Idol contest and C# MVP take a seat facing me. It was a no-brainer and I invited Bart de Smet to join me for dinner. He obliged and we enjoyed a good evening together.
TechEd is to me as much about people as it is about technology. I believe, I got the best of both, and hope to see all those mentioned in here during the MVP Summit at Seattle scheduled in March of 2007.
I had a wonderful time in Barcelona, even got featured on the VC++ Team BLOG (thanks, Steve!) - and can only say that Microsoft Tech Ed 2006 beat my expectations.
Looking forward - 2007 has all the makings of a challenging year what with two TechEds of interest to me. SAP TechEd that I should be visiting in the role of a speaker presenting SAP's latest deployment tool that should roll our products to all our customers - architected by me, and Microsoft TechEd as... Time will tell!