Front Row Seats at TechEd 2008

The way to get a front row seat at TechEd isn’t to line up early, but rather to parachute into the conference.


Five weeks before the event, I met with Zach Owens and Anthony Carrabino to discuss if Southworks could help them put together an application to show off several cool features and technologies in SQL Server 2008. Anthony’s only request was that it be something amazing. And while Zach also wanted something cool, he really wanted whatever we created to be credible; as in, it had to be fully implemented. Nice pair, those two. So together we decided to create a Web application that:

  1. Submitted images and text to the cloud (i.e. SQL Server Data Services)
  2. Used Microsoft Sync Services to synchronize from the cloud to the local SQL database
  3. Used a WPF app with to perform SQL Server spatial queries and and Virtual Earth to display the results.
  4. Not quite sexy enough, Moe Khosravy thought he’d chip in and create a mobile app that would allow him to take a photo during the keynote which would be synced to the cloud and down to the local DB, and appear in the WPF app for the audience to see just before¬† Dave Campbell (SQL Technical Fellow) finished the demo. Okaaaaaaay.

(You can see a video of the TechEd demo here, and for a descriptions of the finished application, see excellent posts by Zach, Anthony, and Maxi)

But Lito, Johnny and I only ended up in Orlando because of the Southworks’ principle that we pack each other’s parachutes. Consider the person who leaps out of a flying airplane wearing a chute prepared by someone else, and what they must assume. For us, this principle means two key things:

  1. We all trust one another. We can take risks (5 weeks to sink or swim on a highly visible TechEd demo), knowing our colleagues will do their job with full commitment and give it their best effort.
  2. Just like the parachute packer, we recognize that those taking care of responsibilities out of view are just as essential as those with the name on the front of the plane and sitting in the cockpit. In the case of the TechEd demo, there were many people that stepped in to help, not only through code or suggestions, but also by taking care of other responsibilities to allow the team freedom to focus.

When it came time to celebrate the successful demo (while we were in Orlando, the rest of the company was watching it streamed live in Buenos Aires), we wanted to recognize everyone. Those of us in Orlando had a Trey Research T-shirt (created by Anthony for all of us to wear there) signed by Dave Campbell, Nigel Ellis (SSDS Architect), S. Somasegar (Senior VP), Brian Harry (Technical Fellow), Anthony, Moe, and Zach. We had it framed to and presented to the company to recognize everyone’s efforts, pilots and parachute packers alike.

TechEd T-Shirt

It’s a good feeling to be able to arrive a work and figuratively let go of the plane’s struts, knowing that you can trust those who took care of your ‘chute, and realize that when you pack another’s, it means something.

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