Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 Launch Events Complete – AKA the 7 Stone Tour

I’ve just arrived home and had lunch after an exhausting week, doing the MS Ireland community launch events for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 in Belfast and Dublin.

On Monday I met up with Dave Northey in Microsoft, parked my car and picked up our demo kit.  Dave drove us up to Belfast where we dropped off the gear in the BMC college.  We then checked into the Hilton hotel.

The Hilton is overrated.  The only edible food is the double paté beef burger.  That seems to be a common theme in all hotels these days.  I’d have gone for a salad but prawn Ceaser salads don’t do it for me (or anyone?).  Hence the title: “The 7 Stone Tour”: I reckon each of us put on a stone of weight in this tour.  The Hilton also charges £15 for wired only Internet (no wireless) per 24 hours.  That’s €20 in Dublin.  And what is it with hotels being (a) way too hot, (b) only having thick heavy duvets on the beds making it impossible to sleep and (c) not having a single light to illuminate the room like any normal room?  There’s a dozen light switches to turn on or off at night and in the morning.

We were in early to set up for a student only event where Wilbour Craddock (MS) did a mixture of Windows 7 and and home session.  Once the prizes came out the kids started asking questions.  It was pizza for lunch followed by our business launch event.  That seemed to go well.  The MS guys had set up the server infrastructure in a test room and accessed it via VPN.  That simplified the move and setup.  My deployment lab is a simple setup now.  In the evening (after a trip to Subway) we had the IT @ home event by Wilbour.  That was very interactive and I got involved a little when deployment questions came up.  We left the gear in a secure room for the night to collect it in the morning.

Back at the hotel bar we had a few drinks and discussed the feedback forms.  I felt drained.  The room we did the events in was very hot with no fresh air.  That came up in the feedback.  25% of the forms complained about the acoustics.  I’d agree with that: there was a bad echo that the speakers couldn’t overcome.  And the screens were also a bit low.

On Wednesday we collected the gear and returned south to Dublin where we would be using a room provided by DIT Kevin Street.  Myself and Dave enlisted the help of the student volunteers to get stuff moved onto the stage.  This room looked good.  Big stage and good acoustics.  It allowed for 350 seats too.  We were set up in no time.  The AV company set up two HUGE screens nice and high up.  Back at the hotel we discussed ideas.  One of them was to use a webcam during Will’s “touch” demo to show his hands on the screen of his laptop manipulating the demo application.

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An early start for us in the college for the student event on Thursday.  Lots of interaction – it mainly became a Q&A session with some of the kids really impressing the MS folks.  The afternoon session kicked off.

There was a huge amount of moaning and complaining on boards.ie about tickets for these events.  Usually at a tech event there is about 50% of registrants who don’t turn up.  With a launch that’s lower and a free copy of Windows 7 Ultimate should lower it again.  MS overbooked the room to allow for people not turning up.  Only 265 people turned up out of around 430 confirmed registrants.  The room had 350 seats.  Nuff said.

The afternoon session went fairly well.  We were being recorded on video cameras for this one.  The AV guys did an awesome job.  Everything was slick.  The demo’s went well.  We celebrated by having dinner in Eddie Rockets … chilli dogs and chilli fries do a stomach good after a week of eating burgers 🙂

The evening “at home” session was weird.  One moany guy dominated proceedings, complaining that there aren’t enough number keys on his keyboard and not understanding that you can’t plug 3G gaming graphics cards into a virtual machine.  Dumb ass!  By the end of this session we were all entirely shattered.  14 hours on the go can really drain you.  We had one very quiet drink in the hotel bar before slinking back to our rooms.

Friday morning was a stripped down business launch session with just myself, Dave and Will.  We had 2 hours to do what needed 2 and a half hours.  A good number of the registrants turned up which was great.  This session was added to deal with the demand for the previous day’s business session.  Apart from one little Internet issue this was our best session by far.  We didn’t have a coffee break and it just flowed.  Everything fell into place nicely and we didn’t miss anything.  We managed to wrap up on time.  We then had 30 minutes to clear the venue because the college had another event on.  40 minutes later I was back in MS picking up my car and on the way back to the house.

I’m totally exhausted now.  I’ve done a few bits of work and send some mails that had to be sent.  Hopefully those of you who were there over the last few weeks enjoyed the sessions and learned something useful.  I enjoyed demo-ing MAP, the application compatibility toolkit, XP Mode, Microsoft Security Essentials, BitLocker-To-Go and MDT 2010 to deploy and operating system.  Thanks to the folks in MS for allowing me to join in on the tour and thanks to those of you who came along!

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