Disclosure: SpiceWorld 2019

This is one of my regular disclosure posts. You can read more of them here.

SpiceWorld 2019

Spiceworks’ SpiceWorld 2019 conference was held in Austin, TX on 23-25 September 2019. I attended as a guest of Spiceworks.

Monday 23 September 2019

As mentioned in my previous disclosure post on Pure Accelerate, I moved hotels the week before to the JW Marriott. Spiceworks very kindly offered to extend my stay beyond the main conference nights as they weren’t paying for international flights to and from Austin, so the additional hotel nights probably ended up cheaper overall.

I got my badge for the conference mid-afternoon and had a briefing by Scale Computing and one of their partners: Leostream, who do VDI things. I’d had lunch with Jason the day before at his house in Austin, but we didn’t really discuss Scale at the time. The briefing ended up being mostly about Leostream, and it was vastly more interesting than I expected a VDI briefing to be.

In the evening we had a press and analyst reception at The Corner restaurant at the JW Marriott, which included a small buffet of TexMex food. I had a cleansing ale followed by a couple of very nice Old Fashioneds made with real maraschino cherries. This particular Marriott bar does them well, I know from past experience, as I normally wouldn’t bother with a bourbon-based cocktail. To eat I had a couple of serves of chips with guacamole and salsa, plus several mini-sliders.

It is important for corn chips to spill out from a wooden crate, apparently.

It is important for corn chips to spill out from a wooden crate, apparently.

A few press and Spiceworks folks then repaired to the outdoor seating and I switched to gin-and-tonic and large glasses of water as it was still quite hot outside. Spiceworks picked up the first round, and I/PivotNine paid for the second round. We solved problems of the world until near midnight before I headed to bed.

Tuesday 24 September 2019

For breakfast I grabbed a coffee at the convention centre before heading in to the opening keynote where Spiceworks chairman and founder Jay Hallberg spent time reassuring everyone that the recent acquisition by Ziff David B2B was going to be fine.

Lunch was a fairly forgettable buffet experience on the show floor with salad and an “Italian beef” thing that I think meant overcooked, though it was better with plenty of gravy/sauce.

I moved some briefings around so I could ensure I made it to Dr Kate Darling‘s keynote where she once again walked through her robots/AI-as-pets analogy. It’s remarkably robust. She told alarming tales of people refusing to attack her robot dinosaurs with a hatchet and of a Roomba named Meryl Sweep.

Dr Kate Darling explains AI at SpiceWorld 2019.

Dr Kate Darling explains AI at SpiceWorld 2019.

Lots more briefings in the afternoon and then I dropped my bag off at the hotel and headed to the SpiceWorld party at the Austin City Limits Moody Theatre. It was loosely cow-person themed, with a mechanical bull and an alarming coverband that oscillated between line-dancing tunes, slow dances, and covers of Usher’s Yeah.

I ate a selection of barbecue things (rice, some really quite good beans, brisket) and TexMex things (guacamole and these little tubular cigar things of rolled tortillas filled with some sort of meat that were then fried/deep-dried). To drink I tried one of the evening sponsor beverages at first. It was US phone-company purple and had a silly name. It was very sweet and I nursed it for a while, boggling at the band and a squadron of T-Rexes line-dancing.

I grabbed a beer after that and went to watch a journo mate and one of the Spiceworks staff attempt to ride the mechanical bull before calling it a night around 9pm and going back to my hotel for a relatively early bedtime as I had briefings from 9am.

Wednesday 25 September 2019

I grabbed a coffee at the convention centre for breakfast and headed up to the press/analyst lounge for my early briefing, then went down to the show floor to sort out a likely scheduling weirdness with my next briefing and spent some time chatting with people and seeing the parts of the show floor that I’d not had time to see the day before.

For lunch we had Franklin’s barbecue brought in for us, which was very tasty and I ate too much sausage and brisket. I also had a diet Dr Pepper.

Then we had a keynote by Brian Krebs about how we’re all cyberdoomed, after which I had a series of client phonecalls and emails to catch up on before the closing drinks in the foyer on the way out. I had a beer and chatted with a few people before escaping back to my hotel.

Brian Krebs explains what we can learn from data breaches at SpiceWorld 2019.

Brian Krebs explains what we can learn from data breaches at SpiceWorld 2019.

For dinner I didn’t feel like much. The combination of a big lunch of barbecue and another week of solid people-interaction meant I couldn’t face leaving my room for a meal I didn’t really want. Instead, I ate two bags of popcorn that Vonage had arranged to be put in my room the day before (advertising their booth that I saw but didn’t visit) and a brownie I’d snagged from the press lounge as I left, in my underwear while watching terrible movies on TV like the fully grown adult that I am.

Work travel is so terribly glamorous at times.

Thursday 26 September 2019

A friend who now runs marketing for a startup bought me breakfast in exchange for some advice about their marketing strategy. I had avocado toast with a side of poached eggs and a couple of really quite good lattes at The Corner restaurant.

Then it was time to check out and begin the long journey homewards.

I had intended to do some work in the American Airlines lounge at the airport, but the travel agent had booked me on an Alaska Airlines flight that, while ticketed as a Qantas flight was actually operated by Alaska, thus I was not allowed into the American lounge despite them being a oneworld alliance member and having top-tier oneworld status. The Byzantine rules that govern alliance lounge access are a royal pain in the behind at times.

It’s a small thing to complain about, really, but the inconvenience foisted on frequent travellers because corporate travel agents are trying to save money annoys me. It’s an example of misaligned incentives, and it’s why I’m spending an increasing amount of time double-checking every tiny detail of what someone else has already done and explaining for the eighth time this year why two hours isn’t enough time to transit from international to domestic through LAX or SFO.

So I read email on my phone instead and eventually bought myself a chicken burger sandwich thing because Alaska weren’t about to feed me at the back of the bus and timezones would mean dinner at some weird time according to my body clock.

I came home via SFO, so I had a shower and hung out at the Cathay Pacific lounge and had a snack of noodle soup and a glass of red wine before boarding my flight to Melbourne.

On landing, our PivotNine car service met me at the airport and took me home.

Swag, Etc.

  • Vonage arranged for two mid-sized bags of buttered popcorn to be placed in my room. They became dinner one night, as noted above.
  • A small bottle of Backblaze branded Sriracha hot sauce.
  • A Tiff’s Treats giftbox with two cookies in it.
  • A Spiceworks branded Boom 2 waterproof bluetooth speaker.
  • A Spiceworks branded pen.
  • A Spiceworks branded button that doubles as a bottle-opener.
  • A Spiceworks branded notebook.
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