This is one of my regular disclosure posts. You can read more of them here. This one is about AWS re:Invent 2018.
Travel and Accommodation
I flew Qantas economy class to and from Las Vegas, and stayed at the New York, New York hotel for the week, paid for by PivotNine. Next time I think I’ll try out Treasure Island as it seems to be affordably priced and closer to the venue.
Airport transfers were also paid for by PivotNine, using a car service we use in Melbourne, and Lyft in Las Vegas. I also used Lyft for getting to the convention in the morning because walking would take longer than I wanted to take if I wanted to sleep past 5:30am. Which I did.
Most of the time I walked, though, particularly in the evenings between finishing meetings at the show and meeting people for dinner. After being stuck inside a convention centre all day, it was nice to walk around and just take in the early-evening sights and sounds of Vegas as it starts gearing up for the nighttime. The gardens near the front of the Mirage and Caesar’s Palace are quite nice, and the fountain at the Bellagio is fun to watch before it gets really busy later at night. It’s not fun to walk around outside in the middle of the year when Vegas is stupidly hot, but at this time in November/December it was pleasantly cool and good for clearing the mind.
Silicon Angle Media (they of Wikibon and TheCube) made a contribution towards my travel and accommodation expenses, and arranged a show-floor-only access pass. I’m seriously considering this method for other analyst-related travel, particularly flights, because of a few annoying experiences of travel agents booking flights that add stress and hassle to an already busy schedule.
Food, Drink, Etc.
Sunday 25 November 2018
Breakfast was at the Qantas First Lounge at Melbourne international airport. I had my usual poached eggs and a coffee, savouring what I know will be my last good coffee for a while.
Other meals were on the plane until breakfast again at the LAX lounge after a shower to wash off 14 hours of metal-tube gunk. Poached eggs again, with mushrooms and a coffee.
Lunch was a roast beef sandwich from a place in the New York, New York casino before I went back to my room to try to stay on top of email and ongoing customer projects. I skipped dinner because I had lunch fairly late, but I did grab some ice-cream from the Häagen-Dazs in the casino: chocolate and rum-and-raisin.
An early night to catch up on some sleep before the show started in earnest.
Monday 26 November 2018
Monday was mostly spent working in my hotel room. I grabbed coffee from a place downstairs in the casino that does an okay job, and a sandwich for lunch from the same sandwich place I like.
Dinner was nibbles at the Mesosphere reception at the Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan hotel. I also had two gin-and-tonics while chatting with a systems architect who had lots of interesting things to say about Kubernetes, OpenStack, Mesos, and migrating enterprises to cloud native technologies in general. It was worth attending just for this one conversation.
I popped my head in at the Cohesity party at Omnia nightclub and arrived in time to catch the start of Shaq doing a DJ set, introduced by Cohesity’s CMO, Lynn Lucas. They had a big turnout, and the venue itself was spectacular. I had one gin-and-tonic and a couple of bottles of water before calling it a night and walking back to my hotel. With a big week of conference ahead, getting to bed by 10:30pm was important.
Tuesday 27 November 2018
Breakfast was a coffee from the little Italian-esque place in the NYNY casino, and I also purchased what turned out to be the worst ham-and-cheese croissant I have ever had. It really had no right to call itself a croissant, and generations of French pastry chefs would no doubt have rioted had they discovered its existence.
Lesson learned, I resolved never to purchase food from there again.
Lunch was at the conference, a forgettable boxed-lunch experience of a sandwich, diet coke, and a small packet of Doritos. Enough to fuel the machine through the afternoon.
Dinner was with friends at Lotus of Siam, paid for by Stephen Foskett of Gestalt IT. We had the usual selection of dishes served family style—garlic prawns, larb, Penang duck, pad thai—and I had a Singha beer to accompany it. I did try a glass of a Riesling that is apparently great and hard to find, except at Lotus, and it seemed fine.
I don’t generally drink Riesling as it’s not my preference, so I can’t really tell you if it was indeed a good one or not. It wasn’t a bad one, which is my standard for table wine.
Wednesday 28 November 2018
Remembering my lesson of the day before, I stuck with coffee for breakfast, and after the feast of Thai food from the night before, I didn’t really need anything more than that.
Lunch was again the box lunch offering at the convention. The sandwich was slightly better than the day before, from memory; the bread wasn’t quite as dry and there was a potato-salad thing that I enjoyed. I saved the coconut slice dessert offering for later, and never ended up eating it.
Dinner was a Pure Storage analyst and exec dinner at Picasso restaurant in the Bellagio. We were on a terrace that overlooks the fountain at the front of the Bellagio, but you’re looking at it from behind, so it’s a different experience to seeing it as you walk past.
We had three courses, and from memory I had oysters as appetiser, a filet steak (medium rare) for main, and tiramisu for dessert. I had a glass of champagne on arrival and while talking with people before sitting down, and a couple of glasses of red wine (a Cabernet blend of some sort) during dinner.
Pure Storage is a PivotNine client.
Thursday 29 November 2018
Breakfast was with a friend at a food court near the conference at 7am. I had a coffee and a sausage-and-egg muffin thing. They picked up the meal.
Lunch was at the conference again, another forgettable sandwich from a boxed lunch thing.
For dinner I caught up with Laz Vekiarides from ClearSky Data at a lovely place called Milos at the Cosmopolitan. We had octopus as a starter, which was divine, and a greek salad. For main we had a whole fish chosen from the in-restaurant fish market thing. It’s a bit of a gimmick, but it proves the fish you’re getting in the middle of a desert is really fresh. We also had a side of steamed Horta, which is a kind of spinach.
Since the conference was over for both of us, we slowly made our way through a bottle and a half of Greek red wine of a fairly light style that Laz picked out, and a couple of bottles of sparkling mineral water. It was probably more wine than I needed, but it’d been a long and busy week.
For dessert I had baklava, and it was perfect. The honey ice cream was just slightly sweet, and provided an excellent contrast to the sugary pastry and walnuts of the baklava.
Milos isn’t a cheap place to eat, but the food is consistently amazing and well worth it. The octopus is the best I have ever had, and cooked to perfection every time. If you’re up for a fancy meal, give it a try.
I went for a bit of a wander along the strip to walk off most of the wine before falling into bed around 11pm.
Friday 30 November 2018
I slept in a bit for the first time all week and grabbed a coffee from my usual place mid-morning before finishing packing and checking out.
Lunch was at Ruby’s Diner at Las Vegas airport, the first and only hamburger of the trip, surprisingly. Not quite as good as those at Johnny Rocket’s, but still pretty good.
Dinner was in the LAX Qantas lounge before getting on my flight back home.
- A BMC branded rectangular USB battery pack with a lint-free screen cleaner thing on one side that one of the folks from TheCUBE snagged for me.
- A small remote-control quadcopter toy with a cage around it to prevent you from breaking the rotors, which happened a lot to the only other quadcopter I’ve played with. One of the folks from TheCUBE very kindly grabbed it for me when he found out I have a child.