MS WebDev Summit 07 and my first trip to the US of A

I’ve been putting of writing this entry for way too long, mostly because I’m lazy but also because at work the weeks and months after the trip were crazzzzy but I figured since I’m on my Christmas vacation and have nothing better to do then why not jot my adventure down.

Btw. Happy Holidays and a new year! :-)

So I was one of the people invited to the WebDev summit in Redmond, which was exciting for three reasons, I love going to conferences, meeting up with people I’ve been babbling to via emails, irc and all the other geeky communication ways, the second reason was that I had never gone to the States, ever. Now the third reason was the whole MS thing, seeing the MS campus, meeting MS employees, developers, marketing people, hearing about new products, how they intend to get more involved in the PHP community, etc.

So I flew in a day early and met up with Joshua E. where we rented a car and drove around Seattle, saw the sights and imagine, it wasn’t raining! A bit of sun and warmth even, a nice surprise which reminded me slightly of the weather in Iceland. We finally settled on going to the Sci Fi and Experience Music museum but first stopped at the Revolution Bar & Grill that’s located in same building as the museums, good food and service (I got asked by about 5 or 6 different people if the food was okey and if we wanted more, I’m just not used to that kind of service ;))

I had a blast at the museums but the Sci FI one was a bit of a let down, expected more but I got to see Yoda! Yay and in the EM one I saw some pretty neat things like the Sugar Hill costumes, scribbles by famous artists, a lot of cool instruments and more, I recommend taking the tour next time you stop by in Seattle. From there we went to the Space Needle and of course to the top, at about 520 feet (158.5 meters) at the O-Deck, the trip up only takes 40 secs and we had a 360° view of the whole city, pretty cool.

Now since I decided before the trip to not take my laptop with me (Shocker! and I’m going to a tech conf, what was I thinking) then I decided to visit the Apple store in the University Village to get my self a new laptop but to my amazement it was closed because they were changing the interior and there I was without a laptop and the summit was, well the day after … Now being a bit annoyed I started ranting to Josh while we walked around the corner and now my $deity looked upon me and graced me with the presence of a Sony Style shop where they sold those extremely cool laptops and I ended up buying this beauty carbon fiber casing, 1.7 lbs, draft N wireless card (works like a charm with an Airport extreme base station), got a 3 year warranty, a bigger battery, travel adapter, blue tooth mouse (can use it with my PS3 too), so basically I was set for the conference, even tho I’d have to learn how to use Vista and get things up and running at the conf.

After that whole fiasco we found good pizza place, had some beer and then found a hotel with free broadband internet and called it a day

The next day we drove to the airport and met up with some of the other attendees, Travis, Elizabeth M., Sara, Ben Ramsey, Paul M.J., Patrick and then had this interesting ride to the hotel with Travis, Liz and Sara where we constantly kept going the “scenic” route since apparently even with a car full of smart programmers we couldn’t navigate even if our life depended on it.

At the hotel we met some other people, Sean C. Paul Reinheimer, Nate and some of the other peeps and couple of us went to the Rockbottom to get some food in our system before we went back and later that evening went to the introduction event that MS had planned, where I got to know some new people, both from MS and the php community, there was some free booze involved so it was all good and fun :) After that most people went to sleep where as Joshua, Chris Kelly and Jesse Mullan both from Gallery and Markus Baker from the simpletest fame and I all went to some bar and threw back some extra set of beers for the heck of it and so we’d have hangovers the morning after while we listened to the Microsoft people throw some interesting things at us.

There were a lot of good talks they did but albeit not all about PHP as one would expect, some were about Ruby and products they were about to release and showed off and wanted some input on, developers tools tho so it was okey, I admit I stopped listening during some of those talks but there were many other interesting ones and Travis did a very good writeup of the talks so I won’t spent extra time doing the exact same thing, you can find it here Oh and also couple of the attending people did some short talks, including Josh and I where I got the honor of being the slide changer (dividing 15 mins between 2 guys just doesn’t cut it ;)) and Travis also covered that nicely.

One thing I really liked about this conference was the fact that we got meet real developers, have dinner with all the people that spoke at the conference and couple of other employee where a good amount of alcohol was involved, even some tequila! This allowed for a very lively discussion between the attending people and the MS devs.

I enjoyed the whole conference, big thumbs up on everything they did, perhaps except for my name but what can one expect, you can read about it here and I recommend you read what Sara has to say on the matter, she soooo sums up the problems I had, I mean damn it shouldn’t take me 20 mins to sign into a hotel, I think I should introduce MS and those hotels/airlines to Unicode stuff, something outside the a-z regime.

Now it was time to leave BUT my time in the states wasn’t over, for the next week after I was going to stay in Phoenix. AZ with Joshua to enjoy the good weather, we had ~35°C the whole time, damn nice given it was Nov and I’m used to around 0 at that time :)

Joshua, Chris, Duane (a nice guy we met at the conference, heads up a php dev team in Michigan) and I went to the airport at the same time and got this cool taxi, like a big jeep from GMC, damn fancy, beats going in those small taxis with a Indian driver (when I arrived in the states I decided to stay at a hotel 5 mins from the airport but didn’t want to walk, this Indian cab driver almost went ballistic on me for not walking), then we had lunch at a bar in the airport, it was the first time they demanded to see my passport when I ordered the beer, dang first time they denied me, it was 6 days before I turned 21, using my credit card always worked since it has a picture and a date of birth, always fooled the bar people because in Europe we use a reverse time format for days and month ;)

After that we caught the airplane in a half empty plane and now to keep things short, for once, we landed, I met Jen, one of Joshua’s friends and in the following days we did a lot of fun things, a state fair, visited a scary house for Halloween, I had my birthday and I got piss drunk just to say I that I legally bought beer in USA, I managed to finally enjoy football since Joshua was patient enough to explain it to me … properly, I managed to miss my flight due to the travel agency managed to give me the wrong time of leaving so I got to spend 3 extra days in the states because of that, got a little tanned in all the heat, ate at a lot of interesting food joints, partied with some fun friends Joshua has and a lot more.

All in all I had a blast, thanks everyone! :-) Hopefully I’ll be invited to next years WebSummit and even to Mix and if anyone gets an invite to either of those, I heartily recommend it, my opinion in Microsoft has gone up couple of notches :-)


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