Thursday, December 11, 2008

Andy's Guide to Lotusphere - 2009 edition. Now in 3D!

Here we go true believers! It’s 30-some days until Lotusphere 2009 starts so that means it’s time for:

Andy’s Guide to Lotusphere – 2009 edition!
Insert trumpets, let loose the pigeons!

For the past couple of years, I have put together this guide to be a helpful resource for the wary Lotusphere first timer that may not know what to expect out of this pagan-like midwinter fest. If you follow the banter on, Facebook or Twitter, you notice that once you get hooked on Lotusphere, it is a hard habit to break and something that everyone in the Lotus community looks forward to!
What you will not find here is who the special guest speaker at the OGS . (As always, my money is on "The Shat", but that's just a guess. I've been guessing that for several years now and have never been right.)
What you will find is what I've learned from making the pilgrimage south each January. So here goes!

1. There are several web resources I recommend you check out ahead of time:
  • The official Lotusphere website. 'Nuff said.
  • The Taking Notes podcast. Just like last year, Bruce and Julian have had a chance to talk with Sandra Marcus, the Queen of Lotusphere. Her job is to make sure that this goes off without a hitch each year and they are a really interesting look behind the scenes.
  • Also, stop by Chris Miller's blog for his series of podcasts with the track managers from Lotusphere.
  • The Turtle - What can be said about the original, no hold barred, anti-establishment website run by Scott "The Turtle" Wenzel that hasn't already been said. This year, Scott has also created a Gonzo Wiki along with the Gonzo Lotusphere 2009 Page. Between these two sites, if you can't find out what you need to know about Lotusphere, then you may not be asking the right questions.
  • The Power of the Lotusphere Community - The Lotusphere blog! New this year is another great center for information from the four corners of the web regarding Lotusphere.
  • - The list of lists for the Lotus blogsphere. If you have not yet dipped your toes into the vast ocean of knowledge that is there for the taking on this site, then you don't know what you're missing. As Lotusphere grows closer, I'm sure that the site will come alive with Lotusphere related rhetoric and information.
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 a lot too.

3. Before you leave on your adventure, stop by that section in cosmetics at the Wal-Mart or Target 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. But most importantly PEPTO-BISMOL. I got REALLY ill last year at Lotusphere 08 and had to dish out a lot of money at the little store in the Dolphin for supplies. Bringing a small drug store with you can really save you some bucks. It's usually 3-4 times more on site. And yes, I am still bitter about getting sick down there last year.

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. Go to Genii Software's website and download the Lotusphere Agenda Database for 2009. 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 when planning your time. Especially great if you sync Notes with a mobile device like a BlackBerry, Palm and new this year, support for the iPhone! Ben Langhinrichs and the Turtle Partnership do a great job every year making this available to all. Thanks, guys! Also, don't be afraid to double-book your time. Let's say you're 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. And that happens a lot!

6. 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 afterward. Upside - You use them to win cool stuff like iPods!

7. Meet people and make contacts. Very useful and fun. Sitting in your hotel room at night is no fun. Get out and mingle, network and collaborate! If you arrive on Saturday and have nothing to do, wander on down to the Boardwalk area and stop in to the Big River Grille & Brewing Works. On Saturday afternoon, the Bloggers -and friends- Annual Lotusphere Dinner, BALD, takes place. It's nothing more then a bunch of Lotus geeks hanging out for a few adult soda pops and enjoying each others company. Then later in the evening on Saturday, wander on down to the ESPN bar for The Turtles get together. Always a fun time!

8. While we're on the topic of getting out and having fun, 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.)

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

11. Stop by the Jamfest. The name says it all. After the product showcase reception Monday night, it's over at the Atlantic Dance Hall on the Boardwalk.

12. 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.

13. Dress for Lotusphere is casual. Jeans, shorts, polos and t shirts seem to be the norm. Even kilts for some!

14. 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 are always real nice people and seem to appreciate someone thanking them.

15. Bring a plug strip with you. Most hotel rooms are limited on power outlets and having several outlets extra can always come in handy.

16. And don't forget all of your accessories power cords for charger! You don't want to show up Saturday and realize that you are short a power cord for your BlackBerry. Not that I've ever done something like that, ever.

17. 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!

18. 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.

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 one year. I'm sorry, $3 for a Snickers bar is just insane!

20. The most important point to take away from this is 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!

Addendum: One thing I keep forgetting to add into this list is the importance of water. During the breaks in the morning and afternoon along with coffee, there is a larger selection of Lotusphere water bottles. Get one to drink and a couple to store in your bag. Hydration is always important since you are constantly on the go. At the end of the week, you may have a few extra lying around your hotel room, but that's the purpose of hoarding it. It's there when you need it. I'm not much of a fan of drinking from the tap in the hotel room and it's nice to know that I have an ample supply around for morning cotton mouth. Who are we kidding here people, you are likely at some point having a beer or other grown up drink at one of the events in the evening which leads to morning ugliness in your mouth. A refreshing, albeit room temperature bottle or two of water lying around is a good thing to have!

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 comments to add to the list.


LotusphereBlog said...

Great post, Andy - some super information...

There is also our new Lotusphere Blog devoted to bringing news of how the Lotus community builds around the event. Take a look (and sorry for shameless plug!)...

Andy Donaldson said...

I cannot believe I forgot about you! You will be added to the list of websites. And shameless plugs are always allowed here ;-)

Ray Bilyk said...

Great post! A couple of things I would like to add:

- Don't forget about The Turtle's session called "The Turtle's Guide to Lotusphere 2009" - This looks like this is going to be a 'cannot miss' session!

- There are a few precious coffee breaks (not enough in my opinion) where you can get a beverage and a snack. Load up on the beverages and snacks (take a couple of extra with you), especially if they have fruit... or this awesome cookie with chocolate chips and broken pretzels (although I heard that they were missing last year... BRING THEM BACK!)

- If you are planning on bringing your laptop and you have a special plug for it, Lotusphere is NOT the time to find out that you are the only person at Lotusphere to have that sort of plug, especially if you have to present and your battery is drained!

- Like you said... have fun! Go there to learn and obtain knowledge, but the friendships you get there will last longer than the technology!

- A post like this one is worthy of a beverage... so if anyone is reading this, please buy Andy a beverage! He deserves it for quality information like this! He's done a lot of research to obtain this knowledge! (And yes Andy, you owe me!)

Peter Fay said...

Few more suggestions:
-If you're a business partner, don't miss Business Development Day on Sunday.
-Plan plenty of time in your schedule to wander the Partner Showcase
-If you're an Idol Wanna Be--stop by the Kimono at the Swan Hotel for some Karoke
-The Flying Fish restaurant on the Boardwalk has great seafood, make reservations
-Don't rent a car, you will be very frustrated when you are denied access to the parking lot at Dolphin/Swan
-The Dolphin Rotunda is the "cross roads" of Lotusphere
-Pace your self! It's a long week!

Fabio Pignatti said...

And dont't forget to bring home a C.U.L.T. shirt!

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