Demos Happen {Here}

As part of the "Heroes Happen {Here}" promotion of the Microsoft 2008 Product releases (namely Windows 2008 Server, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL 2008), Microsoft Australia ran a promotion called "Demos Happen {Here}". Rog42 (Roger Lawrence, Microsoft’s Group Manager Evangelism for AU) was running the comp.

Motivation:
I can’t honestly see any benefit in my going to Tech-Ed, except I really enjoy going. From a company perspective the ROI is less than 0, as I’m out un-billable for 3 days, looking at cool tech stuff… and the ticket costs come out of my department’s bottom line. When I found out that the prize for this comp was free tickets to tech-ed, I quickly had a look at the entrants on the website – I think about 3 weeks to go there were 4 entrants, including one from New South Wales (Cool, I sez to meself – I’ve got a 50% chance if I turn up at the gate, much like these guys). So I whipped up a demo that discussed a strategy for moving from a physical SharePoint server with a Separate DB Server to a load-balanced SharePoint farm, using the original physical server as well as a virtual server… the goal being to get it done with no downtime… in under 2 hours.

The toughest part was getting the demo to a point where I could show the salient bits within a 10-minute window (as it happened, I was a few seconds over on the night – one of the criteria was to be under 10 minutes and to discuss at least one of the new technologies… d’oh!). I eventually used TechSmith’s Camtasia product, then sped up the boring bits (the Physical Server Backup and the restore took about an hour in total). By the time the demo closed, there were 12 or 13 entrants in NSW… and my odds had lengthened considerably. I also knew if this guy showed, we’d all be column fodder šŸ™‚

When you try and add a Virtual Machine to an NLB Cluster, it fails to converge:
The reason for the blog entry is that while going to a Network Load-Balanced Web Front End, I had no end of trouble trying to get the Hyper-V Virtual Server to converge. I tried and tried and tried, but it just wouldn’t stay happy. There’s a hotfix available for this which include some manual steps – the good thing is that if you run into the same problem, the hotfix gets installed on the affected guest, and not on the host (so the affected environment is just the virtual server you are creating from the backup, and hell if installing hotfixes makes you wet your pants, snapshot it and move on). The hotfix is here – http://support.microsoft.com/kb/953828. Worked a treat.

Now as for the comp itself:
Great idea – very community-spirited. I think next year, the following enhancements to the process could make it even better:

  • Have a way of "Registering Intent To Enter" – use this to send out Terms and Conditions, judging criteria, disqualification rules to the participants. It won’t get everyone on the same page, but I think some people could have modified their presentations slightly and done much better.
  • Have a 1-minute warning or a big-ass countdown clock visible to the presenter. When you’re up there, 10 minutes feels like 3 or 4. Knowing is more accurate than guessing.
  • 4 slices of pizza per attendee is a good estimate – but any pizza is better than no pizza, so the catering was appreciated šŸ™‚
  • For me, the idea was to try and win Tech-ed tickets and to get some practice presenting. A video of my presentation would have been awesome to get my hands on. So would have the tix, but there was only 1 prize per state.
  • It would have been good to see how the non-winners rated – I feel I did ok, but I don’t really know. The winner was really slick. If (for example) I scored low on "storyline" then it would have given me something to go back and identify opportunities for improvement in other presentations I give. This feedback could be a personal report, rather than in front of everyone.

Cheers!

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About Brad Saide

I'm a SharePoint consultant. I'm also slowly going bald, seem to have a permanent spare tyre around my waist and enjoy socialising with friends over a beer or 10. The last 2 may possibly be related. Started working with SharePoint when the first version was in limited beta release (participated in the Technology Adoption Program while at Woolworths) and have been committed to the adoption of the technology as a business enabler ever since.
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