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Author's profile photo Jim Spath

Thursday – #ASUG2010 #SapphireNow – Homeward Bound

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   I’ve picked 5 trends to discuss in this final blog post about ASUG 2010 / SAP Sapphire (“Now”): – travel, video, environmentalism, mobile technology, and shiny new toys.  Given the overload of content during the week, it’s fairly likely that I’ll have rejoinders to other topics, people, and subject, but I need to wrap this series up and move on.

Travel

Moving from place to place is a blessing and a curse.  When I think about it, I am happy to be in one place, and I’m happy to be moving.  But thinking about moving, waiting to move, and being blocked from moving are each small sacrifices.  Me preparing to get to the ASUG Annual Conference included getting travel approval, deciding which registration to select (speaker, volunteer, blogger, SAP Mentor), hacking through hotel lists, and all the last minute “what did I forget” transitions.

Choosing a travel means was fairly easy, as I’ve been from Maryland to Florida before, and have a favorite airline, had a number of direct flights to choose, and a wide range of dates.  I picked early Sunday morning since I wanted to spend time at home at least part of the weekend, though in prior years I’ve gone Friday or Saturday to enjoy the Florida outdoors, or suffer an extra day indoors for a pre-conference event (and suffer in the sense of more artificial light, not in the sense of an long meeting).

As it turns out, an alternate transport mode to Florida would have been a road trip; I learned only on my way home that Marty Krist drove, so adding my passenger status would not have increased his vehicle carbon emissions much.  Since ASUG and Sapphire are in Orlando once again in 2011, I’ve added the I-95 option to my choices.

In case anyone missed my tweets, SDN and ASUG posts, or video, I’m a big supporter of the bike taxis in Orlando.  As mentioned above, I’ll probably write more about this topic later.   In the photos below are a few moments in time with the RediPedi Cab drivers and passengers.  I chose a hotel close enough to walk to the convention center.  This will help me hit my goal of the entire business trip costing under $1,000.

Before hitting the next topic, and as a segue into video (YouTube has a category Travel & Events), the deadline for ASUG customer presentations at TechEd 2010 (Las Vegas) has been extended.  If you’re like me, you got in the office Friday, caught up with email, the latest office buzz, started filing your travel report (mine was done in the airport Thursday by emailing links to my last five blog posts), unpacking your bags and figuring out which priority project was next.  You didn’t sit down and start proposing a topic for the next event.  And asking your manager if you can leave again, as the first conversation after nearly a week out of the office, is, well, aggressive.

 

XcelsiusGurus (Mico Yuk, founder, and friends) said:

 

 RT @sapteched: We’re extending call for ASUG Cust. sessions- #SAPTechEd until 5/30, submit once hm from #ASUG #SAPPHIRE http://bit.ly/bAQ1Pp

6:36 PM May 20th  via HootSuite  
http://twitter.com/XcelsiusGurus/status/14389441516

That shortened URL goes to:

 

http://www.sapteched.com/speakersite/home.htm?PT=asug_2d08c45269e

 

As of now, the site still says the deadline is May 23, but I believe the 30th is correct.  But don’t delay much longer!

“The deadline to enter a session proposal is 5:00 p.m. PDT on May 23, 2010.

 

Video

 

Other than electronic gadgets (see “Shiny Toys” below), I can’t think of anything more explosive in the last few years than video. With a camera costing under $100, yiu can shoot decent footage  (in the sense of physically watchable, not in the sense of interesting or compelling).  And a proliferation of video distribution channels, decrease in memory and storage costs, and higher bandwidth has meant more and more MOV and MP4 files floating around.  Believe me, our storage team and I are tackling this pretty regularly.

You might be saying “boring Jim, we know this” and you are right.  It is both boring to quote growth statistics and to say that video is commonplace.  So I’ll talk about the content, the production process, and the advertising world, from a Consumers Report kind of guy.

As an SAP Mentor, I’m given recognitions and opportunities, in return for the effort I have spent being a community presence.  At ASUG/Sapphire this year, Mentors received high-definition, pocket sized video cameras for use at the conference.  And we were given, in a sense, the keys to the kingdom, with permission to film anything and upload it to our own YouTube channel (own meaning the Mentors as a group, not us individually).  

I had spoken to chief Mentor herder Mark Finnern prior to the conference about the distraction from event content absorption by stopping and pulling out a camera to record someone.  Plus, we were required to have signed papers (yes, paper, in the sustainable software “ecosystem” – boy I detest that word even more in this context), meaning you had to convince people they would not get in any trouble at work, at home, or anywhere else, for talking to you.  Fortunately, I’ve worked on that technique from my years of travel by public transportation.

 

There were several interviews that “got away”, either because of corporate speaking restrictions, or the moment came and went and the video camera stayed out of sight.  In the best tradition of fishing stories though, I’m sure those tales will be embellished over time.  On the flip side (get it?) there are the outtakes.  Those are the films shot without an SAP video release, after hours, or simply camera flubs.  If you know my twitter handle, you can find my YouTube channel.  I only have 1 or 2 so far, but there’s a good chance some of the raw footage I have on my laptop could make a director’s cut (right, Abesh?).

 

The results at the end of the week are 56 uploads (including a couple done beforehand).  I shot and uploaded 9 by Thursday evening, so I think I’ve contributed my fair share.  I’m more proud of the number of women I interviewed (4) than of the total number, as I think you’ll find women continuing to be underrepresented by many media reports at and about the Sapphire conference (ASUG is a different story, for another day).

 

See our work on:

www.youtube.com/user/sapmentors

 

I’m not responsible for the music on the beginning and ending.  It’s a small price to pay (having to listen to that over and over) to be able to capture and broadcast the “voice of the customer” at the event. We didn’t have anywhere near the time that might be required for custom, legal tunes, on each video.  Our original instructions were to record a standard introduction of ourselves to add to each video.  I chose spontaneity instead, so you’ll likely see me on the shot for a couple seconds, then a pan to the subject.  I had a small tripod, but I chose to go hand-held, one take, and posting right away.  I think that reinforces the immediacy of the content, though I’ll certainly be looking for feedback (and an unobtrusive light tripod, or maybe hiking stick mono-pod).

 

Dennis Howlett and I had a couple short conversations about whether SAP was obligating us by giving the video cameras.  I understand and respect his opinion, but I’ve already uploaded videos (check out the “BITI Influence Model”) that challenge and perhaps even mock the status quo.  I don’t feel in the least bit constrained on what I report, though it does make sense to talk about software and such (not that some of my content does), and if I had it to do over, I’d include the Mentor splash screen but silence the audio.

 

Jon Reed and I talked about next steps for more recording projects, probably with intro music that we create fresh.  I’d like to throw change ups, not fastballs.

 

Another Mentor wrote the group with tips on advertising our videos.  I understand the perspective, and while I would like to see my stuff get a lot of page views (I was thrilled one of my blogs hit number one of the month on SDN this week, at least for a day), I’m fine crowd sourcing the word, and letting it go viral if it goes.

 

Environmentalism

 

I’m going to say less about this topic (at least on the SDN blog) than you might think.  I tried to give away 5 water bottles, and memberships to the Leave No Trace organization, once again this year.  I did give away 5, though I didn’t find everyone that had posted on the discussion forum thread:

The Third Annual “Want a Free Water Bottle” offer – ASUG2010 / SapphireNow 
 

The honors go to:

  • Tammy Powlas
  • Abesh Bhattacharjee
  • Alvaro Tejada
  • Phil Gleadhill
  • Catherine Ojeda 

 

The Leave No Trace people will be in touch.

 

I saw someone had uploaded video shots of Al Gore, but that they had been taken down by YouTube.  I’m sure there is a legal reason for this, as he was paid to speak.  But why suppress distribution of the message he related on the dangers the world faces? It seems to prove what he was saying, that people often choose the short term gain over the long term safety.  If anyone has a valid link to Mr. Gore’s speech, unencumbered by surrounding advertising, please let me know.

 

Mobile Technology

 

I was going to be able to write more about trends in mobile technology, then SAP bought Sybase, my presentation track had a scheduling nightmare, and I ended up with meeting request after meeting request up until (and actually well after) the last minute.  I can’t talk about my session with Kevin Nix (it never happened), I won’t talk about the vendor booths (they were hard to find, and I was way too overbooked to do skull session everywhere I wanted to be), and the session with Prachant Chatterjee was too short, with my time sliced razor thin. 

However, I will say that it was quite a pleasure to listen to Prachant.  He didn’t try to wow us with slides, he was direct, he didn’t sugar coat anything, and he explained why he was unable to speak to a subject, and promised to get back with answers he did not have right then.  He was quite believable.

After  moderating 4 ASUG education session on Mobile Technologies, I came away with from the conference with more than one possible direction.  Certainly devices continue to evolve, Apple’s presence is growing, and business intelligence at your fingertips is the holy grail of  solution providers, inside your company and out.  Security should be an opening lead for any play in that space, ruggedized devices are probably worth their extra initial investment, and battery technology is a key differentiator in my book (especially after seeing Chip Rodgers disassembling his phone outside the Santana concert, complaining about battery life).

All four of my planned sessions went off, though not without glitches, such as fire drills and missing co-speakers.  I plan to host those  2 sessions again (Jeff Duly, and the Sky Technologies/Securit one) to fill in the missing pieces.  All of them were excellent, and I got a small chuckle out of Jae from Samsung telling me he had not seen my phone model “in a long time”, which leads to the next topic.

 

 

Shiny new toys

 

As I thought about all the new devices, new code, new product names, new acquisitions, and the rest, I was reminded of atomic weapons: “just because you possess a technology does not mandate you deploy it.”  Anyone who looks at may car knows that I believe in fully depreciating investments, and that constant churn of configurations leads to instability not to the progress intended.

I know I’m in the minority, particularly with the type of crowd that is motivated, and permitted to attend these events.  DBAs and system administrators, using the tools that work for them, get left home, while the decision makers look at the latest and supposedly greatest out there.  I’m fortunate to travel as I do, but it can be a disappointment to see the shopping frenzy that is generated by the psychological manipulation of people.

 

I was aghast when I saw the huge wall of “studio” windows, not to mention the huge monitor banks.  Yes, there is a cute video, that I haven’t seen, of techies playing with their shiny toys.  I’m as uninterested in that content as I am in videos of talking cats.  When I see the huge investment, the colossal waste for such a short term experience, I am left shaking my head about how much worse it can get.  And with customer software fees, to boot.

 

Media

 

I’ll let the remaining pictures tell the story of traveling home.  There is one outside the Santana concert.  I left my phone in the case during the show so I could enjoy the music without outside electronic distraction.

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