While this was edited a little bit while putting it in to the blog, it was mostly kept as it was originally written at the San Diego International Airport.
Here I sit, two hours until my flight back to Tampa (via Phoenix), using the Notes app on my iPad to compose my thoughts for later transcription into something that shows up on the blog … because Verizon service sucks here, the Wi-Fi service sucks here, and even the Sprint MiFi work gave me is struggling to send anything.
What hasn’t changed
Breakfast and lunch sucked again this year. I understand that it’s hard to arrange meals for 25,000 people, but we were spoiled by 2013 in Orlando – the food was hot and it was easier to find someone you knew if you wanted to share a meal with them. Now, meals are all spread out all over the place, choices sucked, and finding someone would cost roughly half of the time you had between sessions to eat. Essentially, it was San Francisco a little further south. With less (no) Dr. Pepper (unless purchased elsewhere). And if you know me, you know that that didn’t go over well at all.
You get a backpack. This year’s seems quite durable, but the style wasn’t all to my liking; more like a messenger bag than a backpack (only one strap), and it definitely has a lot less capacity than last year’s bag. I’d be happy to use it if it had more of a backpack (dual strap) setup and a little more room (I could barely fit the stuff I had in last year’s backpack in the new one, and I had had room to spare in the old one).
Wi-Fi was rock solid, as it has always been. Go figure … it’s Cisco.
So – what was new about this year can I tell you when compared to last year?
Well, of course I was in a different hotel. The Porto Vista was one of the farthest away hotels from the venue (San Diego Convention Center). This made it an issue if you wanted to walk (well over a mile away), but it was a convention hotel, and thus was on the bus route. In fact, it was the first stop for the bus. This is a good thing, because on certain days, even the second stop would have trouble getting anyone on the bus.
As hotels go, the Porto Vista wasn’t the best I’ve been in. The plumbing needed help (it sounded old and the tub leaked water on the floor when I showered, and the toilet would run every so often), the room was small, and I had no view. Oh, there was also a supreme lack of power plugs; I had to unplug a lamp, microwave, and TV to charge everything that needed charging at one point.
Other than that, it was adequate by far. Free breakfast that put what Cisco Live was trying to feed us to shame (actual eggs, bacon, sausage!). The bed was not rock hard. The water was hot when I wanted it to be. While the floor below mine was a parking area, I didn’t hear much in the way of car noise (maybe one honk), and I didn’t notice a whole lot of noise from outside of the room when I was there.
I took a test this year. When it comes to scheduling a test, it depends on why you’re testing:
- If you have no expectation of passing and are just taking it because it’s a free exam (I call it “recon”), it really doesn’t matter when you schedule it.
- If you’ve studied and you think you’re going to pass, then Monday should be the last day you consider to schedule your exam. The day after the Customer Appreciation Event would be the worst.
Oh, did I mention that Areosmith was the Customer Appreciation Event? Easily the best customer appreciation event by far.
The opening Keynote on Monday (kind of John Chambers‘ last hurrah as outgoing CEO) was opened by OK Go!
The closing Keynote on Thursday?
I wasn’t sure what to expect from either Richard Branson (2013) or Sal Kahn (2014). I was pleasantly surprised by both. This year, we got Mike Rowe. I had a lot of expectations of what we would hear from Mike, and I wasn’t at all disappointed – he met all of the expectations, and exceeded a few in an unexpected way …
See, the Twitter gang, at the close of the Cisco Lives I’ve been to, takes two group photos: one to open the event near the Tweetup Lounge, and one near the Cisco Live! sign (which is out on the grass somewhere). We ran a bit late this year getting out to the sign, and I was personally not surprised to see that they were almost done tearing the sign down and packing it away. We grabbed what letters we could, arranged ourselves between them. Myself? Roughly in the middle, sitting cross legged in the front row.
Suddenly, there was Mike Rowe lying on the grass in front of me, smiling at the camera.
That made up for the missing sign for me, and topped off another (in spite of a few negatives) wonderful Cisco Live.
Thanks goes to every member of the Cisco Live team. And it can’t be said enough: