As a long time Lotusphere person, I am reminded of Bruce Springsteen after he played, and won, the Academy Award in 1994 for his song the Streets of Philadelphia and said this "And thank you all for inviting me to your party."
I came out to Impact not sure what to expect. At times Websphere is my friend and at times a hard companion, but I found a great community of people here so far that rival my friends in the Lotus/ICS world.
My journey to Impact 2013 held in Las Vegas at the Venetian hotel, started at 5:00am Sunday morning. Head over to the airport and got through security just in time to board my flight that left at 7:30 am and on time I might add. We landed in Dallas on time, waited about half an hour and filled up with a few people, but most of the flight was empty. I guess everyone was staying in Dallas. We got to Las Vegas on time, my bag was the fifth one off the plane. Off I go to catch a shuttle and....my first delay. We waited almost 45 minutes for a shuttle to take us to the hotel and then it took about 30 minutes. Those of us hanging out already knew we were going the right place because Lotusphere backpacks, IBM paraphernalia was attached to each of us.
Obviously, I did not get that "I'm home" feeling, as I do when I walk into the Dolphin hotel in Orlando. My bewilderment at where things are and how to get there reminds me just how hard Connect must be for someone new to the conference. The Venetian is a beautiful hotel and all I can say is WOW! The Dolphin and Swan rooms have nothing next to the Venetian hotel! Vegas really knows how to take care of people. Once you get your bearings, you should be fine.
By the time I got registered and charged some devices, I missed lunch and most of BP day. Picked up my badge, business partners have blue pouches, and my Champion ribbon. Off I went to find where we were making a commercial shoot with the other 34 IBM Websphere Champions coming to the conference. What seems like a simple thing, repeat your line 3-4 times, turns into a lesson in elocution and stage voices. I think the Redbook video I did over the summer was easier, because it was less formal. Either way, I look forward to seeing how we all come out and hope you enjoy the videos too at some point once we can post them.
After the shoot, I went to listen to a session on leveraging IBM Worklight for your mobile needs. More on Worklight over the week. We have a break, when I went to call home and then down to the conference floor for the BP reception and first look at the exhibition hall. From the diagram it looks huge and it is. Inside the hall is "The Social Playground", in the back, where I will spend some time doing smaller talks and answering questions about being a Champion. I ran into a few old friends, met some new ones and joined the GWC, the Global Websphere Community, The GWC had a remote control car field setup and a race car sitting by their area.
I am amazed at how many people there are here and the number of tracks and sessions. I thought Connect was over filled, this makes that look like kids play. There are over 40 sessions running concurrently at some points! It would take weeks to catch up to every session you missed. My guess is they can't really do this as a 2 week conference, but seriously, how do people get anything out of this when they are so overwhelmed with options. And great options usually too!
Looking forward to Monday, Forest Whitaker, a great actor and film maker, is the guest, THEY TELL PEOPLE in advance at IMPACT who is the speaker. Lotusphere and Connect we have had to wait to see who we run into in the Dolphin Rotunda due to the secrecy. Which actually to me is better due to the various betting and anticipation that we all work on up to the moment they take the stage.
Look for more tweets, posts and details over the next few days but I can feel the love of other Champions. Off I go to find the general populace and where they hang out instead of ESPN, Kimono's or the Dolphin bar.
PS - There is a contest on for everyone to take a picture with an IBM Champion and post them with a #ibmchamp if you want to find me, follow me on Twitter and 4Square as @lotusevangelist.