As always, there was much to love at Tech-Ede this year, my fifth in a row. As always, very strong content.
Web site: The website seems disjointed, living as it does as a subset of the Channel 9 site. It would be more professional to have its own website, like last year. This is an example of what I mean: http://tena2011.eventpoint.com/about#fbid=R9tUf6k_ZLO. Since this earlier site still exists, why was it decided to dump it and go live in a suburb off Channel 9?
Web site: Every year there seems to be some app for scheduling, for achievements, etc. Please settle on a consistent set of tools and use them every year. I get the impression that every year the Tech-Ed site is made anew. What, is there total turnover each year in the Tech-Ed web team?
Web site: On the Tech-Ed site there is no connection to the forums. I have to click on the blog to be able to do that. This is dubious design.
Web site: There is no directory, and no way to search for people from my company who might be attending. This was available a year or two ago. Is this so hard to arrange? Similarly there was no way to send messages to other attendees. Why not?
Web site: The absence of twitter is a great thing; the forums encourage permanence of content, which I like.
Web site: The Birds of a Feather surveys never worked from the links unless you fiddled with them and found a way to connect. I am concerned that this was not discovered in testing. The response will be made that the team was over-clocked, etc., and I can understand this. However, this is an argument in favor of using the same site year in and year out, so this can be done once and used repeatedly.
Web site: The Countdown show, which is all about Tech-Ed, never got call-outs in the blog or the forums, so far as I could see. What's up with that? It gives the impression of disjointed efforts not consistently coordinated, promoted, and guided by a single mind.
Web site: I would like to see a single site which lists major news, then sidebars with regular columns, like the blog and the Countdown. The headings at the top of the page would be Content/Logistics/Media/Community. Check out www.dead.net for an example of what I mean.
Web site: One thing done very well is the session pages, which list the session, attendee comments, adding to one's schedule, and evaluations and downloads.
Web site: After the conference everyone tends to forget and move on, but it would be interesting to have some statistics at some point, like which sessions and speakers were most popular. Even less serious stuff like "what was the best swag?" would be cool to see.
Keynote: Thank you, thank you for only spending one morning on keynotes. These are not why we attend!
Web site: The sessions presented at Tech-Ed have abiding value for many years afterwards. It would be cool to have a listing for each speaker of other sessions he/she has done over the years, which are still available at Tech-Ed Online.
Forums: Some 10,000 folks attend Tech-Ed, and about 30 of them post in the forums. And if you exclude posts about the awesome tablets and dysfunctional bags, it's more like ten. I wish there was something that could be done to make this more of a community. Having consistent staff who work with this for more than one conference would likely lead to more investment in the forums' success.
Bag: Many people like the bag, and I have them from way back. Just as we have an option to buy an additional conference party ticket, it would be nice to be able to buy an extra bag. Only when the bags are good, though, which leads me to my next point.
Bag: The bag was "super-green" but not super-durable. This is absolutely misplaced priorities. If the bag is not reliable due to tearing zippers, zipper seams, then it does not matter how green it is; it is useless and wasteful. This is not the first year this has been an issue, by the way. Please resolve to assure better quality. Green bags that no one can reliably use are no favor for the environment or common sense. My Taiwanese backpacks last forever, despite carrying MSPress books, lunches, and my massive laptop! It can be done!
Logistics: Serious bone to pick about the Wi-Fi. I had great reception in the sessions rooms, including even during the pre-con, but in the alumni lounge was totally offline. This is quite the opposite of last year. What's up with this? Has the type of wireless changed? If so, would it not be reasonable to tell people ahead of time? Isn't this the kind of logistical information it would make sense to pass along in advance? And why not have maximum connectivity throughout? Why create a caste system? Others in the Alumni Lounge reported the same problem. The IT support desk said they'd check it out, and also claimed that the wireless was not intended to support anything except "modern" machines. Since when?
Logistics: Event Force was excellent this year as they are every year.
Logistics: Not sure if this is logistics. The tablets were great, and something I have never seen in all my years at Tech-Ed (and my first Tech-Ed was 2001). Thanks very much for this; my wife adores hers.