2016 Sitecore MVP Summit – Day One

Like many of the MVPs who travelled to New Orleans this year, the trip began in the wee early hours of the morning. A 3:30am alarm gets me up and ready for the 4:00am taxi to the airport with a driver who thankfully understood I had no desire to chat at this hour of the morning and silently got me where I needed to go while I zoned out in the back.

After some hiccups trying to get my boarding tickets, I finally had what I needed and got through security just in time to grab a quick bite and start boarding. My colleague, great boss, and fellow MVP, @GlenMcInnis chats with me a bit while we wait to board and then we find our seats and get ready for the excitement.

My ‘feed’ keeps me entertained

WiFi extends to the plane, so I amuse myself with the morning’s tweets. It seems I’m not the only one travelling today!

We’re out on the tarmac when the pilot informs us he can’t get the second engine wound up. One of them is fine, but the captain is quite accurate that flying without the second engine is probably not a good idea. Let’s wait 10 minutes for maintenance, eh? Oh, wait, turning it off and on didn’t work? Well, back to the terminal everybody! This plane ain’t going anywhere.

The mad scramble

By the time I get off the plane, Glen already has Air Canada on the phone and has been informed we need to leave the terminal and go back to check-in, our connection to NOLA is toast. Back to ticketing we go and wait in the slow line while the Air Canada staff deal with all of us grumpy folks one by one. If not for Glen’s quick thinking, we would be at the back of this huge and slow-moving line.

One passenger behind me was originally on a later flight but that was cancelled and they were shifted to this earlier one (now cancelled). Apparently, the next Toronto flight is full. Yikes.

It takes some time, but Glen and I both get a chance to speak to an agent and work out a plan to get to New Orleans.

A couple at the counter next to me are trying to get to their all-inclusive honeymoon but might have to spend the first night of their honeymoon in a hotel near Pearson. Yeesh.

No luck for Glen, as his agent can only find connections to New Orleans that would get him there at 10pm or later. Glen had planned for an early Friday departure from Symposium, and with Wednesday already quiet, Glen decides to skip the trip and comes by to check on me.

The bad news (for Glen)

I inform him that my amazing Air Canada representative (why didn’t I take down her name?) somehow got me on a flight through Washington that would get me there by around 1:30pm local time. I’m good to go! Except that I need to go get my bag, redo security, and go through customs before my float boards in 30 minutes. It’s GO TIME!

I needed the exercise

I clear customs in record time and the express flight to Reagan Airport is unenventful, but I find myself de-planing in Terminal A only to be informed that my connecting flight is not in this terminal. Not only that, it’s at the geometrically opposite point of the airport. Terminal C. Oh, and did I mention I need to go talk to American Airlines first to translate my current boarding pass into a real boarding pass with proper details? As I pass the security guards I realize this also means going through security again.

So. I. Ran.

I’m certainly not the only person who runs in an airport to make a connection, but this morning I was definitely the only one I came across in Reagan Airport. Everyone was likely quite amused by a 6’5″ man in a bright red “I am an incompetent developer” shirt sprinting at full tilt across the entirety of Reagan Airport. I probably needed to work out those kinks from ball hockey yesterday, anyway.

Uhhh… where’s my boarding pass?

The line at American Airlines was short. Good sign! I got up to a super-helpful agent right away and I’m looking at the time thinking to myself :”Self, you are pretty awesome. It might be boarding time right now, but that posted boarding time was ridiculously early… that run got you here in good time. BOOYA!”

NOTE: Do not congratulate yourself in advance. Karma has a way of reminding you who’s the boss. It’s not Tony Danza. It definitely isn’t me.

My super-helpful agent prints out my boarding passes (no problems so far) and then says “I’ll just check that we’ve got everything you need” and disappears. Disappears with my brand-spanking-new boarding pass. And my original boarding pass I had gotten from Air Canada. I have no pass now.

Minutes pass.

My departure time is getting closer. I’m freaking out. Now I’m in Terminal C with no pass to go anywhere and down to 30 minutes to departure time. I query the other agents behind the counter for some help in tracking down my new buddy who has my passes, but no luck. Sweat is on my brow and it’s not from the run.

Crazytown – Population: Me

As my colleague Tannis would say: “This is Crazytown”. I’m freaking out. A magic door from the back opens and out pops the little man with my boarding passes. “That took a while” he exclaims and I whole-heartedly agree.

I do not share with him my inner thoughts that in another five minutes I was probably going to hire a bounty hounter or jump the counter myself and find him.

The paperwork is in place. My bag is already re-routed. I am re-assured by my re-appeared buddy behind the counter that I can clear security in plenty of time. TSA is all that stands in my way now to reaching #SitecoreMVPSummit at some point today.

The dash

I run the stairs (eff that escalator noise). I’m down to the concourse in a jiffy and to the security line. Things are looking up! The lines are short and the TSA staff are moving people through like a well-oiled machine. The minutes are counting down and I have 20 minutes to departure.

An ominous sign indicates to me that gates will be closed 10 minutes prior to departure.

The guy in front of me is having no luck. He somehow fails the personal screening scan and his bags fail screening as well. Please no. Not me too.

As an aside, those scanning machines where you throw your arms up need to be a few inches taller. Just sayin’. Tall people problems.

My screening is a green. Laptop bag yields no issues. Nobody steals my shoes. (Hasn’t happened yet, but you never know.) 15 minutes to departure time. 5 minutes to gate closure. One last dash!

I throw the laptop in the bag, sneakers on my feet (untied, of course, as this is no time to waste seconds tying up shoes) and start hustling. I finish packing stuff back in pockets, with my belt going back on in stages as I move through the crowd. Gate 44 should be right in front of me at (of course) the very far end of the Terminal concourse.

Nick of time

Directly ahead, in the distance, I can see gate 43. Gate 45 looms to the right of it full of people. Allrighty, let’s do…

Wait. Back up a second.

What? Where’s 44? My mother was very clear in teaching me that it went 43 THEN 44 BEFORE 45. Oh dear. Did I turn the wrong way? I spin around searching for signage.

“Paging American Airlines passenger Jason St-Cyr”

There it is. Tucked away behind a pillar. I scramble to the door, tweeting on the way, and show my newly-minted boarding pass.

“You are the last to board, we’ll be departing soon!”

Made it! I imagine them slamming the door behind me and muttering about lazy Canadians. It probably didn’t happen, but that’s where my head is at.

Arrival in MSE

The arrival at the airport is uneventful. The New Orleans airport is really quite nice and it’s easy to grab a taxi and get to the Hyatt Regency where everything is taking place. With a quick shout-out to the Interwebs, my fellows are able to guide me to where I need to be and it takes all of 30 seconds to find several colleagues and friends and be directed to a table. Turns out I missed some exciting stuff, so I’ll have to get the details from some of my colleagues later.

Sitecore handling feedback

One of the interesting topics from the afternoon was an overview of the process that Sitecore follows for taking input from internal and external sources to help direct the product roadmap. The basic principles they follow are similar to SAFe, which I’ve written about before. Nice to see a continuous flow of input to the product backlog.

From a tooling perspective, it seems like User Voice is the base for gathering all the info, but the tool I was most interested in was ProdPad which has multiple system integrations to allow you to see all the input you have on your product. I’m going to have to dig into that tool some more.

Enjoying some of New Orleans

While much of the contents of the sessions can’t be shared, the post-session evening was definitely something to write about. Live music, tables for Craps/Blackjack/Roulette, magicians, great food, and lots of good company! The river boat experience was a great idea and after great conversations with many MVPs the Nonlinear crew gathered up near the final leg and enjoyed the late night air.

NOTE: It was dark. 😉

Many folks dispersed to enjoy the evening after the river boat and a few of us helped Adrian celebrate his birthday at a local bar in the French Quarter. Happy Birthday Adrian!

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