On Day 1: Changes
Well, after the keynote session this morning, my experience at SMB Nation took a very quick left turn. As such, with the exception of participating in the MVP Panel session, I did not attend another session during the day tracks so, as such, I have nothing to report on those.
You see, yesterday I spent the day as a vendor, and it was quite a different experience.
This year, Harry agreed to let me sell copies of the SBS 2003 Unleashed book at the conference, specifically at the Community table (booth 108 for those at the show, in the back corner near the food extras). So right after the keynote, during the scheduled 45-minute "market expo" time, I headed back to the community booth, set up the display, and suddenly became "Eriq Neale, Vendor" instead of "Eriq Neale, Speaker and Attendee."
The community booth was a really happening place to start the morning. I'm working the booth along with folks from SMBTN, the SBS MVPs, and the SBS User Group community. Others have placed materials on the community table, including Jeff Middleton (an invite to his Saturday night party at Pub 85), Dana Epp (a discount for his Firewall Dashboard product), and a few other items. We had quite a few reps from SMBTN present to start the vendor time, and Handy Andy, who represents most of the groups represented by the "community" designation, hung out there quite a bit as well. At times, it was rather crowded inside the booth.
My plan was to set up and be available to sell the book during the "vendor time" and then break out with everyone else to attend some of the sessions. There were still a large number of attendees wandering the vendor hall at the start of the next session, however, so I opted to stay in my vendor hat for that session. There was only one presentation of the four being offered that I was sort of interested in, and if I didn't miss it, it wouldn't be the end of the world. And it wasn't.
After that session was the lunch break along with more vendor time, and the vendors were offered the option of getting lunch before the lunch rush came through, and I took advantage of that offer. Good thing I did, because once the crowd started through, the vendor hall was a madhouse again. Overall, I had a large number of people come by the table, see the book, and let me know that not only did they have it, but also they found it to be really valuable to them. I also heard from a number of user group members that they had finally received their eval copies within the last month (we've only been trying to get them out to user groups since January, and it finally came together, thanks in great part to Tim Barrett!) What I didn't do, however, was sell a single copy before the start of the afternoon sessions.
Which I also missed. I fully intended to go to Dana's session on security, but at the end of the lunch rush, I was exhausted, so opted to stay at the booth, just because it would be easier. And good thing I did, because that's when the book sales started. During the third session and the following market expo period, I sold several copies to grateful recipients. I was also able to get the majority of the authors in attendance at the show (except Chad Gross - I'll get you tomorrow) to sign the two copies I'm keeping for myself with all the author signatures.
I did break after that to sit in on the MVP panel discussion, which was taped by Tim Barrett and will probably be available for offline viewing later, so I won't dwell on the content here. But in the course of the discussion, a question about Group Policy came up, and we were able to point out that the book has two chapters on Group Policy. I mention that because immediately after the panel discussion, I sold another set of books to people who wanted to read up on GP because they heard about it in the panel discussion.
We packed up the booth right at 7pm and made our way over to Wayne Small's world record server build attempt on SBS R2. Sorry, Wayne, but I was exhausted from a long day of playing vendor, so a group of us cut out before the end and I headed back to the hotel and will crash as soon as I get this entry done.
So it was a very different experience for me this year over last for the first day, and I'm going to change it up a bit tomorrow and get more of the community feel again. But for now, I've got to wrap up and get some shut-eye so I'm rested and ready for my Mac talk tomorrow.