Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Andy's Guide to Lotusphere - 2008 edition

With December finally upon us and the huge increase in Lotusphere interest, I figured I would go ahead and post the "Andy's Guide to Lotusphere - 2008 edition". What you will not find here is the answer to who the special guest speaker is at the Opening General Session or where the Wednesday night party is. (BTW-My money is on Shatner for the OGS, that's been my guess for the past couple of years)
What you will find is what I've learned from my last several pilgrimages to Orlando in January. If it's your first time at Lotusphere, fear not young traveler! Hopefully this guide will help you along your journey.
(Update: This is a growing list, so as I think of things I will add them toward the bottom)

1. There are several web resources I recommend you check out ahead of time:
  • The Taking Notes podcast episode 70. Sandra Marcus, the person in charge of putting together our annual Lotus love-fest, was interviewed by Bruce and Julian and gave a LOT of really good information and insight to Lotusphere2008.
  • Check out Chris Miller's series of podcasts as he talks with all of the different track managers for Lotusphere. Available at the IdoNotes website.
  • "The Totally Unofficial Gonzo Lotusphere Page". This is the original unofficial website for our beloved Lotusphere. Lots of good information in this site, as well as discussions about all things Lotusphere in the "Talk" section. There isn't much new information posted this year, but if you spend some time going through the older stuff you will find a lot of helpful information.
  • Read blogs. Don't just take my word for it. Check out what others in the Lotus blogging community have to say about Lotusphere. Not sure about what blogs to read? Check out the list of blogs both from the links on my site or on Lotusreport.com.
2. Go and get yourself a new pair of tennis/walking shoes NOW. Wear them and break them in. This will save your feet some pain after the first day of walking around the conference. And you will do a LOT of walking around while you are there. You may also want to get a new pack of white socks at Wal-Mart or Target. The real cushy kind. Those help too.

3. While at the Wal-Mart or Target, stop by that section in cosmetics that has all the neat little travel sized stuff and pick up anything you can think of that you may need! Aspirin, Advil, Tylenol, Nyquil, baby powder, Qtips, etc, etc. You can usually buy the stuff at one of the hotels on site, but you'll usually pay 2-3 times the price.

4. Your conference badge is your life. DO NOT LOSE IT! Pretend you're Gollum and the badge is your "precious". If you lose it, you're out of luck!

5. Pay attention to your badge this year as well. They come in two different colors, Yellow and White. The color of your badge means that you will either attend the 8:00 AM OGS with the yellow badge or 11:00 AM OGS with the white badge.

6. Go to Genii Software's website and download the Lotusphere Agenda Database for 2008 when it is available! It's a Notes Journal database that contains the sessions, their descriptions, location and times. It has a handy add to calendar button. Very useful on planning your time. Especially great if you sync Notes with a mobile device like a BlackBerry or Palm. Ben Langhinrichs does a great job every year making this available to all. Thanks, Ben! Also, don't be afraid to double-book your time. Let's say your in one session and it's not exactly what you are hoping for. With enough planning, you can look at your schedule and jump into another session at the same time that may be more of what you are looking for.

7. If you need to, order more business cards now. You will go through a lot of them. Downside - Your phone will ring for a couple of weeks afterwards. Upside - You use them to win cool stuff like iPods!

8. Meet people and make contacts. Very useful and fun.

9. Your first time at Lotusphere is like your first day at college. You will be wandering around wondering where in the hell SW10 is. Ask people! Or if you look lost enough, (like I did my first year), someone will help you out.

10. Go to the vendor sponsored events at night. They are always a lot of fun, (and saves you from having to find something for dinner that fits your expense account).

11. If you are certified take advantage of the Certification Lounge. Hang out, get some eats, and get a chair message.

12. Stop by the Jamfest. The name says it all. This year it's moved over to the Atlantic Dance Hall on The Boardwalk!

13. Pay attention to the weather forecasts leading up to Lotusphere. Orlando can be really nice and warm in January but it can also get downright cold at night. Pack appropriately.

14. Dress for Lotusphere is casual. Jeans, shorts, polos and t shirts seem to be the norm. Even kilts for some! But don't take the Gollum comment I made earlier too literally. Running around in a loin cloth calling your badge "precious" may cause people look at you funny. If I see it, I'll look, take pictures and blog about it!

15. Don't miss breakfast and lunch. I've really enjoyed the food that the catering folks put out for us. Especially at breakfast. Drink lots of OJ, eat a bran muffin or two and have a bowl of cereal. Really pays off for the rest of the day. Also, be sure to thank the nice folks that are there taking care of us. They always seem like real nice people and seem to appreciate someone thanking them.

16. Speaking of food, this year all dining will be done in ONE place! No more having to worry about if you are in the tent over at the Swan or the Dolphin dining room. All breakfasts and lunches are now at the Dolphin Pacific Hall! Plus, another new addition this year is the "Express Lane" to grab food on the go without having to wait in line and find a place to eat.

17. Richard Schwartz recently posted a great idea on IdeaJam as well as his blog. Pack a power strip! At the end of the day, you usually have your laptop, call phone, BlackBerry, iPod and whatever else in your bag that all needs recharged. You never know where in your hotel room the power outlets will be!

18. And speaking of power....don't forget all your cords! Nothing worse then getting somewhere and realizing your BlackBerry is almost dead and you don't have a charging cable with you. Not that that has EVER happened to...me.

19. When Lotusphere is over and you're getting ready to jump a plane home, be sure to check your receipt from the hotel. The Swan and Dolphin are notorious for charging you for things you didn't use, like the mini-bar in the hotel room. They almost got me last year. I'm sorry, $3 for a Snickers bar is just insane!

20. Stop into the developer labs and have all your burning questions answered! All of the top folks from IBM are there to help you through all of those tough questions you've been meaning to ask! Also, if they have the User Experience lab again this year, it's really cool! Check them out!

21. Take Visio's with you of your environment. What better way to explain the layout of your environment than to have the graphical representations of it with you.

22. Most importantly, have fun! Lotusphere is what YOU make of it. Take advantage of everything that you can, but pace yourself. You will be drinking from the fire hose of knowledge and sometimes by Wednesday, you may start burning out. Take it easy, take care of yourself, but just have fun!

So there you have it! These are the most important points that I have to offer about making the most of your Lotusphere experience. If you have anything to add, PLEASE feel free to leave additional comments below.


Chris Whisonant said...

Great stuff LOL @ #14!!!

IdoNotes said...

Andy, don't forget my annual podcast series (http://www.IdoNotes.com and click the podcasts) where I talk to each track manager. Bob and Ed are already completed and Rocky is next.

Plus the new Lotusphere user on Twitter is started to get everyone connected and following up to the minute news

Turtle said...

I may not be updating the site at gonzolotusphere.com (depends on renewing a cross-cert). That's actually not the main site. Try http://www.weightlessdog.com. There's also a new wiki at http://www.weightlessdog.com/gonzowiki.nsf to which all veterans are invited to contribute.


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