Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Krewe: A Primer

Greetings again True Believers!

Let's talk The Krewe. Many of you reading this are already familiar with the group. However, there are many  that may simply be following us on Twitter or Facebook, but have no real idea what the story is. So I thought I would take some time to talk about the group.


So let’s start at the beginning…Where did The Krewe come from? Well, it started in early 2007 on TechEd Connect, an older version of MyTechEd, with three words: Where’s The Party? Started by Cliff and Brandon as a way to connect with other people looking at TechEd in Orlando, it quickly grew to an online community posting with over 125 followers. Through Connect, friendships were made and plans were laid for TechEd 2007. It had humble beginnings: an I-Drive pub crawl, T-Shirts and membership cards. As this was my first TechEd, I did not fully participate in the group activities but I enjoyed the camaraderie and friendships that took root.


Fast forward to 2008 and this is where things changed. Still using connect, many of us discussed ways to communicate during the conference. Many of us were on Twitter So I had a great idea…why not create a twitter feed for the group. Thus was born @TheKrewe. Originally, the idea was to use the feed as a way to “herd the cats” and to let people know what Vendors were giving away cool stuff. From the start it was a hit, we found cool stuff, each other, and even an occasional party.

And from there, we have grown exponentially. Close to 600 twitter followers and 300+ on Facebook, we have become a big and some would say influential community in the IT community. Our members include Industry leaders, MVPs, IT Pros, Developers, and the list goes on.


So now that you know where The Krewe came from, let’s talk about what we do? Basically, we are a community in which attendees and non-attendees of Microsoft TechEd can connect. While some will focus on our beginnings as “The Party Group”, the vendor parties/events are simply ways we get people to connect outside the sessions and expo hall. One of those events is the annual Meet N Greet on the Sunday before TechEd. This is an event we started in New Orleans in 2009 as a way for Krewe members to see old friends and meet some new friends.


And once TechEd is over, it is the online community that takes over. Mostly on Twitter, many of us interact on a daily, if not hourly basis. It’s like being at work with all your friends, but you can’t physically hang with them. For me, this is a huge thing as I’m a teacher so I do not work side-by-side with anyone; I’m kind of the captain of my own ship so I don’t get a lot of professional IT interaction like when I worked in the private sector. Also, it is such a huge networking resource. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve been assisted by or assisted other Krewe members with technical issues. It’s like having your own “Geek Squad” but this squad has MVPs and industry experts at the ready. IMHO, you can’t buy that kind of networking. So get involved because you we only get returns if you make investments.


So I think that about covers it. We again have big plans for TechEd 2012 in Orlando as we return to the place it all began so keep listening and we’ll keep you posted. Make sure you are following @TheKrewe and The Krewe of TechEd on Facebook, along with my postings on myTechEd

See you in Orlando!


Cheers!

Mike (aka @MichaelBender)

P.S. @TheKrewe doesn’t follow everyone who’s following us to keep things less complicated. If you want to connect with me, follow @MichaelBender.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My TechEd Experience...

Good evening True Believers!

It's been a long time and I've been itching to write on a more regular basis.  So what better to talk about than one of my favorite events of the year:  Microsoft TechEd.  TechEd is Microsoft's premier educational conference for IT pros and Developers.  This year, TechEd will be held on June 10-13th in Orlando, FL. 

Since things with The Krewe (more on that later) and TechEd are picking up, I thought it would be a good time to revisit TechEd years gone by and why TechEd is a huge priority for me.


First a little background, I'm a technical instructor at a technical college in Madison, WI.  My background is Windows infrastructure with a recent addition of VMware virtualization.  I teach all  of our Windows Server classes.  I've also written a college textbook on Windows Server 2008, or W2kOcho.  As a teacher and an author AND a technology geek, keeping up-to-date is imperative and a full time job at times. 

So my first TechEd was 2007 in Orlando.  It wasn't my first conference, but it was the largest one I had ever been to.  I didn't know anyone at the show but ended up running into a group called The Krewe who have grown into my extended family, but more on that later.  So I went to sessions, talked with vendors and reps from Microsoft, and hung out with other geeks day and night.  It was awesome!  And when it was over, I couldn't wait for the next year.  Why?  To hang out with the friends I'd met and learn about the newest Microsoft technologies from the Experts.

The next year, 2008, gave us the releases of Window Server 2008 and Windows Vista.  There was so much great information on both products that it was hard to choose where to start, but I focused on Server as that was where my passion and most of my class work was.  Lucky for me, I was able to work with the Server 2008 beta.  With that skill and my connections & info from TechEd, I was able to get a contract to write a college textbook on Windows Server 2008.  I tell you definitively that would not have happened without TechEd....hands down no brainer!

Fast forward to the Summer of 2011.  A good friend and fellow Krewe member, Brian Bell, reached out to me and asked me to assist his company.  This assistance came with a huge benefit.  It allowed me to join Brian as a member of the Windows Server vNext Technology Adoption Program (TAP).  After 4 days of super-secret training on the next version of Windows, I realized how lucky I was to get hands-on access to Microsoft's next OS.  And this was only made possible through TechEd...Because Brian and I met through The Krewe at TechEd. 

Over the years, I've met hundreds of people through TechEd, many of which I keep in touch with on a regular basis and whom make up the "Ultimate Geek Rolodex".  I am with a single tweet or email of some of the smartest, brightest and coolest IT Geeks on the planet.  While the product information is top notch, the networking connections I've made are invaluable and irreplaceable.

So I can't wait to get back to Orlando, meet up with The Krewe, get my learn on, and fly my Geek Flag! 

You should be there too...Mike