TechEd Australia: What they don’t tell delegates

Microsoft Australia’s TechEd on the Gold Coast finished late last week, and it was a cracker! Whilst it served as a harsh and sudden reminder that I’ve really let my technical skills slide quite badly, the event was also a fantastic way to catch up with my customers (i.e. my beloved MVPs), aswell as a chance to talk to other delegates about Microsoft and it’s products, shoot a video interview or two, catch up with alot of colleagues I admire greatly, and do a little professional networking.

However, whilst the primary benefit (and focus) of TechEd is learning all about the latest Microsoft technologies, there is a darker, seedier side to TechEd that Microsoft fails to mention in it’s glitzy MSDN Flash newsletter. The experience of coming to Gold Coast for TechEd without proper preparation can leave many delegates feeling a little raw, a little ‘unstable’. Since TechEd is confirmed to be heading back to Gold Coast in 2010, I think it’s only fair to warn people about this. As such, I bring you my top tips and observations for surviving TechEd Australia on the Gold Coast.

1 –Geeks work hard and play hard. Really hard. As in “My-Liver-now-needs-a-good-Mr-Sheening” hard. You should be aware of that.

2 – If you’re hanging with some of the more senior techies, be prepared for talk about what their favourite mainframe programming language was back in the day. Just nod and smile… You probably won’t have heard of any of these languages. You probably will never hear of them ever again.

3 – Being a non-technical person at a technical conference can be lonely ( I know this because somewhere along the way I became a ‘marketing guy’ and lost my ‘developer guy’ nametag). So let’s all go get drunk to forget our differences.

4 –Whilst on the topic of drunk, alot of Gold Coast bars ask you to cover up your tattoos. Which is weird, considering half of Gold Coast residents have full sleeve tattoos whilst the other half have butterflies or dolphins tattooed on their lower back.

5 – Whilst (still) on the topic of drunk, Thursday night is ‘Ladies Night’ at Surfer’s Paradise, where ladies drink either for free or for half price, depending on the venue. This might sound great to some of you single fellas, right up until the all male revue begins in the bar you’ve chosen and Mr Australia starts working to pay the bills.

6 –Don’t think TechEd on the Gold Coast’s all parties, meeting people and boozing though – far from it. Be prepared for people to suggest you stay in to play board games instead of hitting the rides at the afterparty at DreamWorld. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Here’s looking at you, @orinthomas 😉 Also, be prepared for people to bring their video gaming experience with them for nighttime entertainment. Here’s looking at you, @deepfresh.

7 –Also be prepared to wake up to find strangers sleeping in their underwear on the living room couch of the place you’ve rented. Apparently that’s what everyone does at TechEd. (My room-mate – whose identity shall remain a mystery – was, by the way, the most inspirational room mate ever – a true case study in getting the most out of TechEd).  

8 – Best way to drive online buzz during an event? Give everyone attending a free netbook so they can all tweet on a decent sized screen throughout the entire event. That was inspired. Literally thousands upon thousands of tweets over the course of the week were hashtagged with #auteched.

9 – Follow the Scout’s Motto – ‘Be Prepared’… You’ll need to build up a nice sleep surplus prior to hitting the Gold Coast to make up for the sleep debt you’re about to incur.

10 – Any special guest speakers visiting the event from American will (without exception) really love Vegemite. Trust me. You should bring plenty of Vegemite sandwiches, and load the stuff on really thick. It’ll make their day.


TechEd’s opening keynote speaker and geek favourite Sarah Ford loves the Vegemite. Someone please send her a case of the stuff.

11 –Whilst on the topic of a balanced diet, starchy / high GI foods give you a quick sugar fix, but then send you into a sugar glut (i.e. they’ll send you to sleep). So if you’re hoping to pay attention in the afternoon sessions at TechEd, try to avoid those coffee-cup-saucer-sized chocolate freckles at afternoon tea.

12 –Finally, don’t let your feelings be too hurt if someone doesn’t have time to sit down to have a good one-on-one pow-wow with you at TechEd. There’s so much going during the week that people will inevitably be a little distracted sometimes. I guess this is my way of saying sorry to all those folk who I had to say “I’ll catch you later, I’m running late for…”. I meant to catch up with every one of you, but it’s difficult, as I’m sure you know. I’ll catch you all soon.


Got any more tips for surviving TechEd on the Gold Coast? Leave them in the comments section below! 🙂


2 Responses to “TechEd Australia: What they don’t tell delegates”

  1. September 13, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Nice to meet you this week Nick. There was some good advice here…some of which would have been handy at beginning of week!
    One tip was to get round and network with as many people from Microsoft as you can and thought leaders such as Masters and MVP. It’s a great way to get to know the amazing guys in the Microsoft ecosystem and to be able to open the opporutnity to keep in contact via email in the future.

  2. September 14, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Thanks for the post, somehow we managed to miss this event on our Gold Coast Blog, and as attendees. We will be watching out for it next year and adding tech ed 2010 to our diaries, hopefully on the Gold Coast. Jame (GCA)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 18 other followers

My Twitter feed

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Flickr Photos

September 2009
« Aug   Oct »

%d bloggers like this: