I returned from the MVP Summit recently and it really lived up to everything that I heard about it. Unfortunately, I was not able to make it last year, but everybody said such great things about it that I was really looking forward to attending this year. It definitely lived up to it's expectations.
I have never been to the Redmond Campus before, so that was a real treat. When you are there, the physical size of Microsoft really hits you. The campus consists of one building after another, each one being the size of a medium to large size company alone. It is really tremendous and you could only get through thanks to a very effective transport system (with some very friendly drivers to boot). When you consider that this is just one campus and that there are numerous campuses all over the world, it really shows just how large the company is. At the campus, the XML MVP group met with the developers and product managers of the products and technologies that we use every day, all day. We had conversations with them, discussion in detail any questions that we had, give our opinions and discuss what is coming down the pike. It is nice to experience a company that values feedback so highly. Best of all, this was all face to face with the people who actually develope the products (literally) . Having face to face discussions with these folks was really exciting!!!! I can't wait for the next time to visit.
The Keynote was given by Bill Gates and I had never seen him before in person. Like just about everybody else in the audience, we were star struck! Bill Gates is an incredible individual at many levels and the keynote was definitely the biggest highlight of the event for me. The Q&A after the keynote was almost as informative as the keynote itself and I was amazed at how well all of the questions were answered. There are some truly incredible technologies coming down the pike and it is very exciting to be a part of it.
Lastly, I had a chance to meet with alot of people that I have only emailed with and chatted with online only. Here are some folks that I met up with. Some of them have photos, but I would love to get other photos that I was in, so I am in the proces of hunting dow a list.
Lorenzo Barbieri and Mighell Locuratolo - These are good friends of mine from the Italian .NET Community. I have had extensive conversations with them both over the years. I chat with Mighell on a very regular basis and I was really happy to have met them in person.
Ken Lin - He was an earlier contributor to community-credit. I had a chance to meet with him, Nori Chun, Paul Lo and other members of the Hong Kong .NET Community.
Ryan Olshan - We chat on a regular basis, but this is the first time that we actually met in person. After the dinners we went out on the town with a bunch of folks and it was really a blast!
Joe Healy, Stan Schultes and Rafael Munoz - We had some great times after the regular events ended. Getting together at events like this really increases the fun by a factor of 10. I must say that some of the best conversations that I had at the Summit took place here.
Hima Bindu Vejella - She and I have talked extensively regarding community-credit.com. It was great to meet her, Abishek Kant, and the other members of the India .NET Community. One other thing that was interesting about meeting people from the Indian development community is that many of them have never met in person. It is funny, a few of them live about 5 minutes away from each other and the first time that they met in person was when there were both 12,000 miles away from home. I can tell you from my experience with community-credit.com, they are definitely an active community.
Bruce Thomas - I have met Bruce a few times in the past and he somebody who I admire for the work that he has done. In fact, his wrote the app that CodeCampEvals.com was based on.
Shaun Walker, Nik Kalyani and Leigh Pointer - It was a real pleasure meeting them. The funny thing is that Shaun Walker was speaking at a conference that I was also speaking at, but never really had a chance to meet up, so it was great to say hello. I had also spoken with Nik Kalyani a few times on the phone a while back, but never met. I met Leigh Pointer for the first time, but we had a bunch of things to discuss that we will definitely be working on something together in the very near future
Greg Young - I do not have a picture, but Greg has been very helpful with community-credit.com as well as a good person to chat with and to get opinions on. He always has a refreshing point of view. It was great to meet in person.
Terri Morton - We met up at a few places at the Summit. I enjoyed some of the conversations that she and I had and it was nice to have them face to face. She is the program manager for Telligent, of which this discussion board was built on. She even contributed this great Real Technology Hero - Mr "I got an error" guy
Laurent Duveau - I met him and the Canadian MVPs. They really added a new level to the event by all showing up in bright red hockey Jerseys. I had a chance to give him his award and prizes in person. The canadian guys seems to be having alot more fun than anybody else.
Russ Fustino - This is the person who nominated my for my MVP, so I have you to thank for being there in the first place. Thanks Russ!!! It was a great time!
These are all of the people that I have taken pictures with (trying to track all of the photos down and will be updating this post). I did meet a number of other folks, so let me give a shout out to everybody that I met at the summit, new acquaintences and old alike. Online is great, but it is always better to meet face to face. Also, let me send a big thank to Joe Healy, Russ Fustino and everybody at Microsoft that helped to make it happen!!!!
Between technical knowledge, meeting fellow computer geeks in person, visiting Microsoft Campus and seeing Bill Gates speak, I had the time of my life!!!! I can't wait until next year!