Seems like only yesterday that we were down at the LA Convention Center, closing up after the panel sessions, enjoying one last espresso at the embedded Starbucks, wondering one more time what the “Wondrous Guy” (the guy on the PDC banners who is staring skyward) was thinking, and then we were all jetting off in different directions into the particulate-enhanced sunset.

But we were back this week! You’d think that we would have the layout and appearance of the place permanently imprinted in our brains by now, but it really is helpful to wander the halls, rooms, and other spaces as you contemplate new ideas and improvements.

Jeff was there, looking for the Community Angle, as were as the “Business Owner” and the “Logistics Owner”, our logistics contractor, and a designer from the Shell team...

We almost had the whole place to ourselves… the “California Gift Show” was setting up in the “South Exhibit Hall” where, during PDC’03, attendees scarfed-down meals and visited exhibitors, sponsors, and Microsoft product booths. Instead of ISVs stocking booths with brochures and evaluation CDs and filling bowls with hard candy and pens that light up, you had an infinite variety of vendors arranging an infinite variety of… “gifts”. If you’re in LA this weekend you might check it out and let me know what you bought.

We spent a lot of time contemplating the “South Exhibit Hall”. Despite the chaotic scene created by hundreds of “gift” vendors setting up, it was very helpful to see the space again. We have great hopes that we’ll be able to execute on some ideas we have for that space this time around, making it a community hub for the show. The one-liner is that we’re considering physically aggregating the Hands-on Labs, Track Lounges, Ask the Experts, Exhibitors, Sponsors, Product Pavilions, and meal “features” as elements in a single structured area. If you’re not in a breakout, you might be drawn to this area to connect up with someone, relax and eat a donut, talk to an exhibitor, try out some code, find someone who knows something you want to know, etc.

As a software guy, I’m used to the easy symbolic manipulation of abstractions, but that won’t do for the PDC when you’re aiming to turn a 346k sq-ft space (we took to calling it the "Big A** Room") into a comfy living room. You need to see it and walk it. Fortunately, these musings are backed by a very experienced logistics team at Microsoft, who are in turn backed by a really really experienced logistics company, Realtime Productions. Ok, it’s probably not on the same scale as, say, hitting a 1 second launch window for launching a comet probe, but it’s complicated enough that you need to and smooth execution requires you to be “hands-on” enough that you just can’t throw lots of people at the problem… if you know what I mean.