I’m sitting here in Yokohama, Japan in the middle of rehearsals for my keynote of Tech-Ed Japan. Honestly, getting the big room is both easier and harder than you’d expect. It’s easier because you have a bunch of demos that other people have to do so your total time on stage is shorter. It's harder because it's the big room. I was trying to work out the number of seats - I figured there are around 3000 on the main floor & there are 2 balconys.
I think I have done Tech-Ed’s over the years in at least 13 countries – but that was more when it first stated than the last couple of years. I have done the main Keynote in Australia and New Zealand before, but they are much smaller shows than here in Japan. And they didn’t want me in Aussie this year because they had some Aussie group who do animation composition on Windows (this is something Sun has focused on for ages). Maybe it was because of the grief they got last year when we showed off some Vista stuff before we were meant to.
In Japan, I also have the weirdness of translation as you go along. First of all, I had to write out my talk a couple of weeks ago. That would be weird except for the fact I need to stay on message with BobMu’s Orlando Tech-Ed Keynote & there was a transcription for that. In the end I kept about 50% of that & had to build a bunch more in. From the stage, I see 4 screens. A timer, an English copy, a Japanese copy of the slides and the script.
Anyone who knows me or has seen me talk knows I am a *little* less scripted than that, normally. For translation, they have a system kinda like the United nations where someone translates as you go along & it goes to headphones in the seats – the trick is to leave enough gaps between sentences so they can catch up. Generally, you don’t want to have the sentences go on too long. The demos are in Japanese so there will be switching between langs. The translator gets to translate those to English.
When I did WinHEC over here in June, they used that system & it worked out to be really pretty easy method. Except for the writing the talk out in advance, of course (shout out to Sean McGrane for doing most of the WinHEC talk). In China for WinHEC, they got you to talk got a while & had a translator that would stand up & repeat what you’d say – that ended up ok, but you really have to make sure you don’t get on a rant - it also meant you covered a load less ground than in japan. Apparently one guy in WinHEC China read a script & got the translator to translate every sentence as he went along. That would drive me crazy. I get to meet my translators in a little while.
For the Keynote, we also have another 9 systems on stage for demos. This includes a big NEC NX7700 which will demo Hot replace & Hot add in WS08. Shout out to my cool demos buds Moriya-san, Saito-san, Asano-san and Kondo-san are doing & they get the hard work. Also my main man, Makoto (or Ishizaka-san) has been helping me out & being my minder here.
The conference is in Yokohama – it’s about another 30 mins on the train from Tokyo – really its kinda the suburbs. Tokyo didn't really stop from there to here. There is a huge amusement park right beside the hotel & luckily I don’t get the view of the big ol’ Ferris wheel. It’s beside a river & the view from my room is pretty industrial. I like the view, actually – it’s kinda like a friends old view of the industrial/port part of south of downtown Seattle. I think where the convention center & the hotels (Intercontinental –where I am at & Pan Pacific next door) must have been built in the early 90s as a land reclaim because it’s obviously new & planned. Under the Pan Pacific is a big US themed mall. It’s weird – it’s kinda like going to the supermall in Auburn near Seattle. For all my stone throwing on American Imperialism, I was thankful they has a Starbucks just now because I needed a shot or 3. I understand someone from the US talking about a US imperialism when they are in that country talking in English is strange.
As I said Yokohama is a little further out. Narita, the airport that serves Tokyo is about a 60 minute train ride from the central Tokyo station. You can get what they call an airport limousine – which is a bus to get either in or out. I prefer the train which runs very efficiently & is comfortable. Also, JR East is the train company – running on Windows Server…
They are playing the naming video before I go on (here for those who have not seen it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZbSa8xj1c8 )– they love Harleys over here and got a Road King from Harley-Davidson Japan – I get to ride it onto the stage at the start of my talk. Of course, I won’t ride it on – we can’t even run it on stage. They have a slidey thing it is sitting on, I just sit on it & some dudes are going to push it out behind me. They also want me to wear my Leather Jacket (which I brought over, all 2 cows worth of leather) I hope I don’t have to wear ti too long because it weighs about 50 lbs & is hot – it is about 95 degrees here today. I did the ride the bike on stage thing with Brian Valentine back in 2000 where we rode onto the stage at the Georgia Dome for the Microsoft Global Summit. He was, as per usual, in a pink tutu. I don’t know why he loved to wear that thing so much but it was doing stuff like that that made the sales folks love him so much. We had a party later that night & Brian sat on the bike & had people take pictures with him in his getup. He did a sales challenge – the people who sold the most win2k that year would get the bike. I can’t remember who won it, but I burnt my leg on the damn thing when I went to pick it up for the Georgia Dome…
The thing that is tough right now is my voice is super croaky. It has not been the same since I went to Japan & China in June. Talking at Blackhat in Las Vegas certainly didn’t help (or more precisely, the party) – I have been telling people I have Vegas accent. I have been on a steady diet of tea with lemon & honey. I am also going to get an early night tonight – after our 8.30 rehearsal.
p.s. Last time I was here in Japan, I stayed in the Lost in Translation hotel – it was cool. We had a great Shabu-shabu dinner – I can’t understand why no one does that in the US – especially with the millions of Sushi & Teriyaki places in Seattle.
p.p.s. the Lost in Translation Hotel is the Park Hyatt in Shinjuku