It’s that time of year again, time for another Innovate conference.  As has been the case for the past few years, this year’s IBM Innovate conference will be held at the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin resort.  I am not writing this blog post just to tell you about the conference, we have a bunch of marketing types that do that.  What I want to do is publicize where I will be during the conference, some interesting things that you might like to see, and give you some pointers and tips for surviving the conference.

Where’s Tox?

This year I will be focused on the Rational Emerging technologies, and most of my focus will be on IBM’s new BlueMix offering.  I will be working a pedestal in the Innovate Labs on the main conference floor.  Stop down and ask me to show you what BlueMix can do.  I’ll show you how you can quickly start up a project to create cloud based applications, using a cloud based development environment.  Once you understand how this works, and the resources that you have, it can become a really powerful way to leverage innovation within your software development organization.

I also have a session on Wednesday afternoon, which takes me back to my Jazz roots, entitled DRD1400Common CLM Administrator Deployment Challenges.  This session will get into the patterns that I have seen (along with my co-presenters) in customers looking to deploy the Jazz solutions.  We’ll talk about some of the technical approaches that successful organizations have used for deploying Jazz, as well as some of the organizational challenges that are frequently encountered.  You’ll need to excuse this shameless self-promotion of my own session, but I would like to get a good conversation on this so I can help people do this successfully.

What’s Good This year?

Anything that I am involved with (grin).  Seriously, I like my session on CLM Administration mentioned above, but it may not be for everyone.  I do think that everyone can get some benefit by learning about our BlueMix offering.  There will be several pedestals dedicated to BlueMix, so you should stop by a couple and see what all of the excitement is about.  There are also some sessions dedicated to BlueMix.  There are 10 sessions dedicated to BlueMix, but here are the ones that caught my eye:

Some of the other sessions that have caught my eye this year include sessions on Watson, Mobile Quality Assurance,  and DevOps.  Here are my favorites:

How Do I Survive Innovate?

Innovate is held in Florida, in June.  It’s hot, it’s humid, and it can wear you down.  I have found that having this on a Disney property can also be a somewhat expensive proposition, since meals and drinks on the Disney properties tend to be a bit expensive.

So what do I do to survive Innovate?  I will either rent a car, or take a cab, from the airport to the Swan & Dolphin.  On the way to the hotel, I will pick up a case (yes, a case) of my favorite soda.  Refreshments can be found at the conference, but not always when you need them.  It’s hot, and I get thirsty.  Your hotel room will have a small refrigerator  so why not get what you like, and keep it cold.  It helps me cope with the heat, and I spend less time worried about finding refreshments.  I also tend to dress down, and wear light clothing.  I hope people are there to listen to my ideas, and not to judge my fashion sense.

If I rent a car, I try to eat some meals away from the Swan & Dolphin.  I can eat at a more reasonable price, and I can get more variety.  I can run out and get a pizza or sub, and spend a lot less.  After attending Innovate at the Swan & Dolphin for the last 5 years (it might be more, it’s so hard to remember), I am bored with the limited options that I have for food.  Having this kind of flexibility is really helpful, and makes surviving the week much easier.

One of the best things to do at the conference is to talk to other people and discover new ideas and approaches towards the use of our tools, and software development in general.  So I try to keep myself flexible, and leave gaps in my schedule for talking to people.  Some of the best learning opportunities at Innovate have occurred for me in the random “hallway conversations” that I have had with people.  I try to keep an up-to-date calendar with me at all times, and I usually use something like Google calendar that I can access from a smartphone.  I am usually on the go quite a bit, so I often don’t have time to crack open my laptop to check my schedule.  Having something that I can access via a mobile device (phone or tablet) is critical.

Finally it is important to know the layout of the place.  It can be easy to get lost.  The Dolphin has a couple of elevator banks, so know which one your room is off of.  Most of the conference takes place at the Dolphin, so be familiar with where the various meeting rooms are.  At the Lobby level, there is registration, and the Asia, Oceanic, and Australian conference rooms.  There are also the Europe conference rooms, which typically are held for red carpet lounges, presentation support, and other things like that.  If you go downstairs, you get to the Convention hall level, where you see most of the convention pedestals, and where they serve meals.  If you go upstairs, you get to the Ballroom level, with all of the Northern and Southern Hemisphere meeting rooms.  Some sessions are held in the Swan, and those meeting rooms are all in the same block of Swan meeting rooms.  To get here from the Dolphin, just walk across to the Swan, turn right at the fountain inside the Swan, and the meeting areas will be in front of you.

I hope that you find some of this helpful, and I hope that your time at IBM Innovate 2014 is enjoyable and productive.  If you see me, don’t hesitate to stop, introduce yourself, and let me know if any of this was helpful or informative for you.  Then we can talk about the challenges of software development, and have one of those “hallway conversations” that can be such a valuable experience from the conference.

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