Eric Stewart: Running Off At The Mouth

CiscoLive 2017: Still Learning, Still Having Fun

by Eric Stewart on Jul.07, 2017, under Networking, Technology

So yet again we see me starting the week on Saturday, traveling very early in the morning from Tampa in order to land very early in Las Vegas.  Which is fine, because it gives me a day to fail to acclimate to the dry air, in spite of my attempts to proactively do so.  I used Lyft this year instead of Uber, but for the casual user, they’re one in the same (and honestly, a lot of the drivers seem to drive for either one).  Lyft got me where I needed to be if I didn’t have access to a bus and didn’t want to walk.

You can’t get enough of this in Las Vegas.

Before I get the ball rolling though I want to say thank you to all of the Cisco Live staff, especially those at the Social Media Hub and Kathleen Mudge.  They work hard all week making the Cisco Live perfect.  It seems inadequate to just say “Thank you!” but that’s all I can think of saying.

I stayed at the Signature at MGM Grand.  All rooms are suites.  My particular suite was very large.  I could get winded walking around the room.  But the room was comfortable (if a bit warm even with both A/C controls set to 68F) and met all the needs for me for the little bit I spent there awake … and also met all the needs for sleeping.  It was actually closer than the main MGM Grand to where the busses would meet us … but the shortcut involved walking outside for more than three minutes, which is dangerous if you’re not prepared for it.  I walked (which took a lot longer than you’d think) from the Signature through the MGM shops and casino and then outside for a little bit to the Walgreens nearby, and bought Ayr, a six pack of large water bottles, and a 20 oz bottle of Dr. Pepper (outside of dinner one night, the last one until I got back to Tampa).  Going from the 50+% humidity of Florida to the 10% humidity of Las Vegas is always a shock, and involves a bloody nose (even with preparation).

This Year’s Backpack

I spent the rest of Saturday meeting up with Twitter friends (and visiting the Mob Museum, which was fascinating but a bit too crowded to just hang out reading all of the history), and visiting Mandalay Bay to get registered and pick up the backpack.  Last year’s was good enough (it lasted the year), but this year’s seems a little more durable in construction.  However, the pocket arrangement (especially for the laptop) is a bit odd and lacks some of the pockets I liked from last year’s.  I might go back to last year’s as my daily backpack at some point …

Sunday saw me with only an afternoon four-hour seminar.  I approached this year looking to absorb as much knowledge as I could about MPLS, one of the (many) holes in my networking knowledge.  But the four-hour seminar was about Troubleshooting MPLS.  That’s fine, but Wednesday I managed to schedule a hands-on Intro class (with a variety of classes in between at varying levels of the knowledge spectrum).  And so, we come to my first (and I think this year, the biggest) complaint about Cisco Live: they could really do a better job of scheduling related classes in a more appropriate manner.  Perhaps they should start thinking of technology or areas as tracks, and plan for people to follow a concept through the week.

Given that I’ve voiced my biggest complaint, let’s get all of my other ones out of the way:

  • Again, Coke and Pepsi at the same time!  But no Dr. Pepper, Mt. Dew … really, the variety of what was available to drink was severely lacking.  And while drinking water was provided in the form of cups and dispensers, there wasn’t a bottle of water provided by the venue.
  • The number of people is just becoming a bit too much for Mandalay Bay (in combination with MGM Grand) to handle.  This year, testing and hands on labs were switched with the management classes, meaning that management classes were at Mandalay Bay instead of the MGM Grand.  Great for the management folks, but that meant that going from Mandalay Bay to the testing center or a hands-on lab meant banking at least 30 minutes of travel (possibly more if traffic got really bad) to get from Mandalay Bay to the MGM Grand.
  • I have this issue with cheese (taste mostly), and am starting to resent having to pull it off of stuff.  It’s not a “no dairy” issue, it’s just that I don’t usually like cheese (with very few exceptions) and in most of my life don’t find myself having to work around that, so I feel silly asking for “special meals”.  Lunch always involved having to pull cheese off of something (and depending on the type of cheese, it would severely limit my options) and only one breakfast had an alternative that didn’t require eating only half the meal.  I understand the difficulty of feeding 28,000+ people, so pre-prepared/boxed meals are easiest to provide.  But I’m going to have to figure something out for next year, since work won’t provide the per diem for breakfast or lunch if it’s provided.

Sunday afternoon saw the arrival TweetUp:

Ready for the week!

All throughout the week I’m working on learning people’s names.  I’ve seen many of these folks at several of the Cisco Lives I’ve been to, but I’m horrible with names.

This guy was easy to hang out with; he didn’t talk too much, and didn’t expect you to talk either.

Socially it’s really an odd week for me.  The natural introversion I suffer from is broken by familiarity with some folks and a common frame of reference with everyone.  It’s amazing how far that goes, even when the knowledge sets within that frame of reference vary greatly.  We’re all there to learn more, and those who know more are more than ready to teach those that want to learn.

Anyway, back to the week …

Monday saw my first real breakfast (Sunday I slept in, watched the F1 race, and didn’t get to Mandalay Bay until around 10am – and breakfast then was a donut in the NetVet Lounge).  Somebody heard us at some point – breakfast had a hot (but preprepared) option (that had cheese on it, so I couldn’t partake without working at taking the cheese off of something).  Lunch was still a box lunch, but that’s a little more acceptable when there are more areas to obtain lunch from (I found a quiet spot not too far away from where I hung out that had boxes available, so I didn’t have to go all the way to the main meal areas).  This year I was invited to several vendor parties; I booked two, but skipped them both.  I needed the evenings to myself to relax and prepare for the next day.

The CAE Hat – one of five colors, anyway

Wednesday saw the Customer Appreciation Event.  It started with blinky fedoras (in five colors from the theme of the week) and continued on with Bruno Mars (no opening act).  I wasn’t a fan (and it took me a while before I realized I had heard some of the music before), but he is a talented singer/entertainer and I very much enjoyed the concert.  It did end earlier than usual, which for me is actually fine – I had an 8:30am class (which turns out was not what I was expecting, but I wouldn’t have known that if I didn’t go).

Finally, Thursday ended with a visit from Bryan Cranston.  No, he didn’t tell us that the key to success was to make large quantities of meth.  But one of the key take-aways from his talk, while in the frame of interviewing for a job, could be applied to anything:

“Don’t go to a job interview thinking or acting like you ‘need’ a job.  Go thinking that you’re there to ‘do a job’.”

Desperation isn’t productive.

I was up way too late that night, since I could hang out with my friends; the regular red-eye would have had me missing Bryan Cranston, so I stayed until the following morning.  Next year promises to be a good year, since it’s going to be Orlando, Florida, just right around the corner.  Can’t wait to see all my Cisco Live friends again!

Saturday, before the chaos

My CCNA and CCNP instructor. Might have got here without him … but he made it easier.

Conference Survey Cap

I tweeted way too much.

28,000 of my closest friends. And Bruno Mars.

Miss them already, can’t wait until next year!

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