I’ve been running around the world a bit lately, and falling a bit behind on all of the things I’d like to talk about. We had a great time at TechEd 2008 IT Professionals EMEA – I had a chance to talk to quite a few folks, although I didn’t really have the time to sleep much! It was an improvement over the last conference though – I managed to make it through with absolutely no broken limbs!

As has become a bit of a tradition for me, I’d like to spend a few minutes reflecting on the review scores and determining how I can improve what we’re doing into the future.

Here’s the data. Rather than expressing raw scores, I’m using percentages because I am combining data from 3 categories (breakouts, interactive sessions, and instructor led labs) and it seemed somewhat disingenuous of me to do otherwise.

  Shims1 Shims2 FixingApps UAC UAC-R ShimsLab
Satisfaction 7% 8% 6% 75% 20% 25%
Quality 7% 12% 13% 77% 32% 27%
Knowledge 7% 14% 6% 50% 32% 16%
Presentation Skills 15% 13% 20% 61% 32% 50%
Demos/Proctor 6% 21% 11% 77% 25% 30%
Average 9% 15% 14% 75% 27% 34%

Let’s have a look at the comments now:

Shims1

Mouth watering - can't wait for the second part :-)

Oh.My.God. This topic and especially the speaker presenting it was the best so far! Just amazing topic which to me came completely out of the bushes! After the session I wanted to go back to hotel and cry myself to sleep because I've missed this Microsoft idea/software earlier! This session and the ideas presented alone made my Tech-ed trip worth my time and my employers money :) Thanks a lot!

Seemed more of a 300 than a 400 level session, though with such a knowledgeable speaker he made it all look relatively straightforward.

used as an overview and managed to gain the understanding I wanted, nice to see that effort is being made for the user/ customer to not have to heavily re-invest if already working in VISTA however as an organization we are still at XP so a understanding of how much capability is sustained would help further as we may even end having to move to WINDOWS 7.

very good speaker

Very good speakers, captures your attention and educates.

Shims2

Chris dude, YOU ROCK!

don't stop!

FixingApps

A bit slow start on the topic but with a good sense of humor and very good advices.

Almost all of the talking was done by the presentors unfortunately. I just came here to get to know more about " being" a non-admin user and possible tricks I could use to find out about application incompatibilities, which proved to be very usefull. Have to vist and briowse the blogs more often.

Chris and Aaron are like a geeky version of the Odd Couple.. ;)

Extremely good session aimed at my primary role!!!

Great session. Thank you.

Needs to be more technical - more tools, to show, etc. But very good otherwise, thanks!

This was aimed at exactly what I have to do day-to-day. The speakers weer really entertaining and knew their stuff. Really good.

UAC

Last exercise didn't work on any computers, including instructors. Could have been deeper

The lab manual had some inconsistencies w/ actual application...instruction varied quite a bit from the manual

UAC-R

Felt the lab should go a little deeper - The CLI309 Vista security presentation covered all the aspects in the lab and more besides. I had hoped the lab might expand on this a little.

Forget the ugley Lunchbags. poor quality

ShimsLab

During the first half of the lab, Chris Jackson was too fast in doing commands on the shims GUIs and, even worst, at a certain point he started doing a set of actions completely different from the lab manual, as his colleague confirmed when I asked him what Chris was doing. Re my perspection of the tool itself: it is quite useful, even if the core "command lines" statement to insert are not straight-forward at all.

Good instructor, finally someone who does this stuff in high speed! Excellent!

sometimes a little too fast, but it was the passion ;-)

The only drawback is that the diagnosing of problems wasn't in the lab. It was only about applying fixes, not about determining what to fix.

Very interesting demos... but conducted too too fast by the instructor! A mistake at the beginning... and oups! impossible to rejoin the instructor. But to help myself in my late, the lab manual saved me!

Went too fast, not explaining key concepts


So, what did I learn from this?

I probably only need one shims session. The room is a bit emptier by the time we get to the second one, and the need to go as deep as I can is probably not a universal one. Yes, I notice the drop in scores on demos, particularly when my sessions are 100% demo!

All demos works. For the second conference in a row, I elided powerpoints and never missed them. And that really resonated with folks. I’m thinking that’s working (though I’m likely to shake things up again next go-around).

You can teach an old dog new tricks. This conference, I worked with the on-site speaking coach to specifically target chalk talks / interactive sessions. Though I had the added benefit of working with a partner, I can definitely see improvement over previous conferences. However, we did get nailed somewhat on presentation skills, which tells me we could do some work to give you a better show. We’re both used to being solo acts. More room to grow.

Work on ILL skills if I want to play in that space. To be honest, I haven’t even seen a lot of these, so I’m not particularly versed in them. Also, I’m not sure if this is an area I want to grow into to be honest. But what can I say, I didn’t even ask for these – they just showed up on my schedule one day.

…which leads me to:

Don’t deliver somebody else’s stuff. Yeah. You deserve better. That loud sound of suckage from the first of two UAC labs? I had never even SEEN the lab before I got there. I thought I was going to be a proctor. We turned people loose, I looked at it, and I thought: “this sucks!” So I tried to improvise, but it was obvious that I wasn’t quite ready to do so. The second go around went noticeably better! And the Shims lab? That was my breakout turned into a lab somehow. I had to wing that one, and cut some stuff from the middle. I still had to go too fast in order to finish. So, yeah. I need to learn to say no (not that I was asked – somebody just signed me up and didn’t even bother to tell me). But with the one miserable exception, I hope I at least turned things around to make the investment of time valuable for folks.

Oh, and of course:

Make better lunches. Because, of course, the presenter at a session is directly responsible for the food at an event, so be sure to leave lots of comments to us about this, and give us bad scores when that happens. That will teach us. I made really crappy lunch bags for people coming to my session. Mark Russinovich was making Beef Wellington for his attendees, Steve Riley whipped up a savory brisket, and Jesper Johansson caught you a delicious bass.