Here is my traditional post where I disclose all the schwag and corporate largesse that I have accepted as part of attending a conference event.
I do this because I am well aware of the bias inducing aspects of accepting these gifts, and it seems to help me keep from getting too won over. Companies do this to make you like them more, and it works. Given that I’m inside my own brain, it’s hard for me to objectively evaluate just how much influence these companies have over me in exchange for shiny baubles and booze. By putting it all down in obsessive detail, I hope to let you make up your own mind how much to trust my opinion.
There and Back Again
I attended VMworld 2014 as a guest of VMware, travelling as a journalist on assignment to cover the conference for iTNews.com.au. This means VMware paid for my ticket to VMworld, return economy flights (on Qantas/American Airlines), and accommodation during the event. I paid for two additional nights myself (at a different hotel) because I wanted to arrive a couple of days early and adjust to the local timezone, see some of the surrounds, and attend a bunch of pre-conference activities on Sunday.
Prior to VMworld, Tintri sent me a black golf shirt embroidered with my twitter handle on the left breast and a single star indicating I’m a first time vExpert. Other people have five or more stars. The Tintri logo is on one sleeve, so tastefully understated, which is nice.
Friday 22 August
I paid for all my own incidentals and meals. Various people bought rounds of drinks out of their own pockets, as did I. I’ll be claiming mine as part of cash expenses involved in living away from home.
Saturday 23 August
Incidentals and meals were again paid for myself.
I bought myself a new phone because I managed to lose mine the night before. I am now wrestling with a Verizon custom ROM that locks me out of functions of my own device that I specifically bought because it was unlocked and needed to work overseas. It looks like I bought slightly the wrong model and now I can’t use Telstra 4G because it’s on the one frequency this phone doesn’t have. Grr.
Sunday 24 August 2014
I ran in the charity Fun Run, which I paid for myself. I got a t-shirt and a personal best time for my efforts, as well as a small bottle of water, some caffeinated jubes, and a small packet of cereal ball things. Just the thing for recovering from a 5k run after no breakfast.
VMworld gave a bag of stuff to all attendees, from which I kept these items:
- The backpack, which will replace another very old backback my son uses for swimming gear that has finally disintegrated.
- A spun-aluminium water-bottle with one of those screw-in lids with a hole for attaching to things.
- The VMworld 2014 t-shirt.
- A VMworld 2014 notepad.
I moved my stuff from the hotel I paid to be at (the W San Francisco, a modern/hip/funky hotel) to the InterContinental, a nice hotel with a more mainstream feeling.
Simon Sharwood from The Register very kindly bought me lunch at a place at the Ferry Building: a very tasty ham sandwich and a cola drink that was called “Real Cola” or something, and yet contained no caffeine at all. #sadface.
I met up with Doug Fallstrom from Coho Data, who bought me a coffee and explained their product line and philosophy to me.
I donated $5 to the Wounded Warriors charity #v0dgeball event, and got a handsome embroidered headband I can wear to annoy my wife. I also got to see Joe Onisick in bunny ears.
Dinner was courtesy of VMware, a press event at Luce restaurant at the InterContinental. This was a sit-down, 3 course meal with some lovely local wines. I had a beer, one glass of white, and one of red, matching wines with food.
Earlier in the day, I had a good chat to Peter Smith from Infinio about the new version 2.0, and the lovely Carrie Reber gave me a pass into the VMunderground party, which I attended. I had a couple of beers, and got a little light-up plastic imitation ice-cube thing with Infinio branding. It lights up when you close the contacts with a liquid, like in a drink, or sticking it on your tongue, which my son finds hilarious.
Monday 25 August 2014
The first big day of the conference. I had breakfast in the press room; a ham and cheese croissant, some fruit, and a scone-like pastry thing. I also drank what was labelled as “Seattle’s Finest Coffee” which is both hilarious and sad.
I spent some time on the show floor, and picked up the Tegile vExpert gift of a 2200mAh USB power brick, and a fleece pullover custom-embroidered with my twitter handle and vExpert 2014 on it. The logo is on the back of the neck, and is tastefully understated, plus it actually fits me well.
Lunch was in the press room, and they’ve all blurred together now. I think today was some sort of lasagne thing. I had a can of Dr Pepper, which I am a big fan of when I’m in the USA.
I attended the Influencer reception (basically press and analysts) at the St. Regis hotel and had a beer while chatting about various bits and pieces with other attendees (including compatriot Paul Wallbank). Then it was off to the SolidFire party at the Thirsty Bear Brewing Company, and a lovely chocolately ale thing. The Tech Field Day crew were there, and I managed to say hi to CEO Dave Wright, though I doubt he remembered who I was. I also finally met Hans de Leenheer in the flesh.
I popped in to the Tegile party next door for a brief time, and nursed a beer while chatting with a fellow vExpert whose name unfortunately escapes me.
Lastly I stopped in at the Nutanix party, bumping into @discoposse and the Tech Field Day crew again, and was just in time to sing happy birthday to CEO Dheeraj Pandey. I had a gin and tonic and a bottle of water, and a chat with Dheeraj, Tom Hollingsworth, and Stephen Foskett, though Dheeraj and Stephen had more to talk about than we mere hangers on.
I had a client conference call from midnight Pacific Time, and somewhere along the way I’d forgotten to have a proper dinner, so I paid for a room-service chicken club sandwich out of my own pocket. It was very tasty, though that might have just been because I was hungry.
Tuesday 26 August 2014
Tuesday started with a 7:30am briefing with Pat Gelsinger (I grabbed a bottle of water) before breakfast in the press room. I forget what breakfast was, but it was nothing amazing, I assure you.
I walked the show floor again, catching up with various vendors, mostly storage ones, doing research for my upcoming Buyer’s Guide to Primary Storage. Micron Storage gave me a bacon scented t-shirt for listening to their spiel, and I was also given a 120Gb Micron SSD because they couldn’t find a USB stick. It will be going into this desktop machine I’m using now as cache once I find the time to install it.
Nimble storage gave me a vExpert 2014 t-shirt, which is too big and will become a painting/gym shirt or get donated to charity. SolidFire were giving away pairs of cycling socks, and I wish I’d grabbed more than one pair, because they’re quite good!
Tuesday night was a bunch of parties again. First stop was the HyTrust party at Press Club, where I had 2 glasses of very nice local Zinfandel and a great catchup with my friend Sarah Vela from Dell. I also met the famous Guruimran Khalsa as I was about to leave.
Next stop was the Highland Capital Partners party, where I bumped into good friend Howard Marks, and the folks from X-IO Storage. I had a couple of glasses of red, not quite as nice as the Zinfandel I must admit.
I popped into the vExpert dinner venue, but had largely missed the crowd by now, alas. I fairly quickly moved on to #vBacon, and nursed a glass of wine while chatting to John Troyer, Phoummala Schmidt, and the irrepressible Amy Lewis.
Wednesday 27 August 2014
Another day, another press room breakfast involving a substance almost but not quite entirely unlike coffee.
Lunch was courtesy of Nutanix, at the Thirsty Bear Brewing Company, after a substantial briefing with Howard Ting and Josh Odgers on the company and its plans. This was particularly apropos after my article published the day before. More on this anon. Lunch was bain marie shrimp with a cajun spice (I was feeling brave, and suffered no ill-effects, plus it was reasonably tasty), and I had a diet coke.
The afternoon was some more time on the show floor, and a 5-hour energy thing courtesy of X-IO Storage.
Dinner was some ricepaper rolls I paid for myself. I went to the VMware party briefly, and had a couple of glasses of cheap red wine out of a plastic cup (classy!) before bailing for the vBeers Tweetup organised by Hans de Leenheer at Mikeller bar. Lots of great conversations, and I also finally met Calvin Zito in person. Drinks were bought out of my own pocket, though again we bought drinks for one another, so it probably mostly evened out, but I might well owe someone a beer at some point in the future.
I rounded out the evening by catching up with folks at #vStogies, and finally met up with my good friend Bob Plankers who gave me one of his cigars that he had brought in a portable humidor. This is a man who takes cigars very seriously indeed. I quit smoking years ago, so it was somewhat wasted on me. I also had a beer, which I paid for.
There may or may not have been some karaoke after that. My lips are sealed.
Thursday 28 August 2014
Thursday was field trip day, and I went on the press bus out to the VMware campus in Palo Alto after another press room breakfast.
Lunch was catered, and had a wonderful salad of leaves, summer berries, and lightly candied pecans alongside some chicken and beef bain marie things.
I honestly can’t remember what I did for dinner on Thursday. I’ll update this post if I do.
Friday 29 August 2014
I skipped breakfast on Friday in favour of a sleep-in, and had lunch with Mike Laverick at Mel’s Diner, paid for ourselves.
The rest of the trip home was also incidentals out of my own pocket.
If there’s anything I’ve missed, do let me know and I’ll update this post.