Microsoft Ignite–Day 0

This year I gained my Microsoft Certification, and was thereby qualified to apply to be a Certified Ambassador at Microsoft Ignite (the mega-all-things-Microsoft) event (20,000 attendees!). I applied, and to my surprise, was selected. So here I am in Atlanta, prepping to be a Microsoft Certified Ambassador for the next five days. What does this entail? Mostly answering a lot of questions (most of which I don’t yet know the answers to), encouraging people to get certification (ca ching ca ching), and manning the Certification booth on the Expo floor. We have a special shirt we have to wear, and yes, a mandatory hoodie. Good thing the conference center is freezing!

Most of my fellow Ambassadors are seasoned at this–in fact they have a term for someone like  me–an “MCT baby”. They seem to be a diverse group although I haven’t met them all yet. Some are certainly from overseas–I met one from Mumbai as I was walking in, and many are from the US. Nobody from Chicago–the closest is South Bend Indiana. There are two other women there (so far), but both appear to be younger than I am. They certainly seem friendly, and willing to share their knowledge. None of them look to be undernourished, which is good news for me as I want to be on the income upswing sometime soon! 🙂

The venue, the Georgia World Congress Center, is gi-normous. (That’s a technical term, for those of you who don’t know!) It is actually three buildings linked by bridges and tunnels and endless up/down escalators–think Escher. I was worried about not having worked out today but turns out I probably walked 10,000 steps just inside the building. Oh, and they have plenty of Women’s washrooms! I actually saw a line for the Men’s washroom today. Then again, the preponderance of men at the conference may explain that. I had a good chuckle at the mens’ expense.

I did get to attend one seminar today, on a product called Power BI (Business Intelligence). It is a tool that allow you to slurp in (another technical term) data and then do some very cool graphs, charts and other visualizations. It is a step up from Pivot Tables and works closely with more robust data analysis tools like “R”. I was worried that it would be above my capabilities, but as I have taken some intro classes to “R”, and worked extensively with Excel and pivot tables, I really didn’t have any problems keeping up. I was delighted to see that even tech giants struggle with the basics. I walked into the session about 45 minutes after the start time, and their wi-fi wasn’t working and the portal they had set up for everyone to use was crashing because they hadn’t anticipated that number of people hitting it all at once. Even giants have feet of clay. The speaker was amazing. Apparently he was filling in for the speakers who were supposed to be there (family problems), he had all kinds of technical issues, he didn’t even have his own laptop, and he was calm and funny and engaging. Boy howdee that wouldn’t have been me! He told me that he used to spend a lot of time in Chicago (in the winter) and hated it–now there’s a surprise. Then he came once in the summer, and it was a revelation. True dat.

Tomorrow is the first full day of work. I will be manning the Certification Prep area, so I will certainly have some tales from the front.