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Introduction

It has become both a ritual as well as a tradition for me to wrap up my personal SAP TechEd experience in a blog post, so here we go. As I’m just one in a million of people writing about the event it’s rather hard to come up with a unique twist to differentiate from all the excellent coverage … and add value! Therefore I’ve tried to stay true to my previous posts on the subject and once again go for a mix of personal impressions and composition… so here it is: SAP TechEd Las Vegas 2011 – a guided tour!

InnoJam Weekend – Gamification

Image courtesy by sap.eventserver.ch

I arrived in Vegas around 9:30pm on Sunday with the original plan to take it more easy this time around (last year’s schedule had been completely overbooked.) Well, guess the usual rules for (new year’s) resolution apply to TechEd plans as well (but I’m not complaining!) As I walked into the Innovation Weekend campus, which was well under-way at that time, I saw all the people flocking around round tables busily working on their use-cases. All I was about was to give a few hugs, shake some hands and do some chatting before calling it a day. Mark Finnernhad other plans though and once he spotted me he immediately asked me to join their team to help build his use-case:  the “Do I know you?” app. I’ve liked his idea from the beginning and the team he had gathered was outstanding, hence how could I have resisted his offer?!? 😉

I’ve never regretted that decision since working together with John AstillJohn Moy, Rukhshaan Omar, Hoang  Duong, Bala Prabahar, John Harrikey and Mark has been a blast and very successful at the same time. This has been my 4th InnoJam and in the past I had experienced that most projects are usually too ambitious and simply not doable within the 30h period of an InnoJam event. This time around it was different… Mark’s idea was as brilliant as simple – and certainly feasible in the given timeframe! Hence, I paired up with John Moy to work on the client side of the app. (For the more technical folks reading this: Chris Whealy‘s article on consuming  RESTful services exposed by Gateway via JavaScript gives you idea how to do it right, we rather just came up with a wild hack!)

 

Image courtesy by sap.eventserver.ch

At the end of the day, we came in 2nd place with our app, yet as I keep saying: InnoJam is like the Olympic Games – everybody who participates  is a winner! This year was no exception and the InnoJam Team lead by Anne Hardy once again did an amazing job pulling it all together. Kudos to Mario Herger (he’s been the one pushing gamification at SAP for years now!), Gigi Read , Jürgen Schmerder and the rest of the team!

If you want the full scoop or the nitty-gritty details… please consult the following links:

 

Keynotes

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Ladies first… so let’s start by talking about the highly anticipated guest-keynote by Dr. Jane McGonigal on Monday evening. Well, she certainly has a great presence on stage and knows how to captivate the audience (didn’t expect anything less from a TED speaker anyway!) I’ve been among those who had doubts about gamification of the enterprise beforehand (and I’m not yet fully converted either) however, she had some great arguments and I’d be happy to see some of the concepts of gamification being adopted by the enterprise. Fellow SCN  member Krishnakumar Ramamoorthy wrote a great blog about her keynote  and as I share most of his thoughts let me just refer to him and spare you my own recap on that topic.

Vishal’s keynote on Tuesday morning was all about HANA, HANA and HANA (see links below.) While personally I wasn’t really surprised about this fact, yet I heard others saying they were a bit disappointed about the (exclusive) focus on HANA and that they would have loved to hear more about mobility. Guess it’s hard to give all the new dimensions the attention they deserve within the keynote…

 

What I personally liked about Vishal’s keynote was the fact that Franz Färber (Lead Architect of the HANA team) got some face-time as he chatted with Vishal about the progress being made in the current development.  I got to know him in person a while back and what stuck with me from our first encounter was how well he did answer all my critical questions I asked him about in-memory technologies back then, eliminating my concerns. His team certainly achieved a lot since then and seeing the results now (and the ambitious roadmap ahead) I sincerely wish him and his team the well-deserved continuation of the success story! Common guys, let’s continue to kick a… (please mind the language!)

For those interested in a more technical debate about HANA  Dick Hirsch and John Appleby got you covered!

Demo Jam

Well, what can I say – Demo Jam has been and still is a MUST-ATTEND part of the SAP TechEd experience. This year we got to see a revamped show as Ian Kimbell: The New Face of SAP TechEd Demo Jam! took over the job of being the master of ceremony. Well, if anyone can step in the shoes of Craig Cmehil than it’s probably Ian.  He put up a very entertaining show and had the crowd laughing out loud more than once.

We saw very interesting demos again this year, no doubt about it. Yet, in my opinion the the most fascinating one ‘InnoBoard’ by Marek Kowalkiewicz (from SAP Research Australia)  took the crown rightfully. To be fair, he certainly enjoyed a great group of loud(!) supporters to cheer for him, however, as he’s been a Demo Jam contender more than once and he certainly got the right spirit it’s just fair in my book! And… InnoBoard is definitely a very interesting piece of innovative technology (where can I place my order? ;))

There’s yet another Demo Jam entry I really would like to point out, which is the O2H Framework demo by Nenghong Fu. Now I may sound biased (your call!), but given all the hype about HANA this approach on how-to ‘leverage in-memory computing without upgrading SAP ECC and without introducing any additional server or Java stack to the customer landscape’ certainly is worth mentioning. His team came up with this idea during our very own Innovation Challenge (executed in SAP Custom Development at the beginning of the year) and in my opinion he deserved being a contender in this year’s Demo Jam event. He may have lacked the show elements to get a real chance to win, yet if you’re looking for substance and technical innovation you may want to give it a closer look!

Before we continue to the next topic, I’d like to point you to Matt Harding‘s excellent blog about the spirit of DemoJam: The specified item was not found.

Embracing Inclusion to Drive Innovation/ Midnight Mobile Madness

Image courtesy by sap.eventserver.ch

There were two events taking place simultaneously on Wednesday Night. One was the ‘Embracing Inclusion to Drive Innovation – Design Thinking Workshop’ organized  by Marilyn Pratt, the other ‘Mobile Midnight Madness.’ I attended the former and all-in-all I had a great time with plenty of interesting and thought-provoking discussions on the topic. As I wrote a rather lengthy About ‘Embracing Inclusion to Drive Innovation’ about it this week already, I don’t feel like writing another recap, but instead leave it up to you to check out one of the blogs below to get all the details about this event:

As I did not attend Mobile Midnight Madness I cannot tell you about the experience first-hand. Yet, what I heard from others it was a great event with plenty of learnings and lots of freebies and giveaways! (What else would one want?) Check out Amr El Meleegy ‘s blog post to find out more.

One Republic in Concert

Image courtesy by sap.eventserver.ch

Hm, what can I say about this one?!? Basically, I feel like referring to what I said about last year’s concert. I did enjoy it(!), BUT it’s not the band that gets me there, but the outlook of hanging out with friends around an open bar. As such I wonder if it wouldn’t be a better idea to spend less money on the band, but instead use that budget to extend the timeline – because it is a great opportunity to mingle with customers and partners and have discussions that matter!

I remember that two years ago in Munich we had a setup that played much better (in my POV) as it was more of a lounge-like atmosphere with a less-known band playing. Live music is great, yet I wonder if booking a good local cover band and having a more-spread lounge bar wouldn’t be an alternative way of getting everybody to spend a great night together. Guess, I’ll have to submit an idea on Idea Place to see if I’m alone in that matter or not? 😉

The Networking Lounge

Let me tell you upfront – the Networking Lounge is where it’s at, because that’s where the conversations are taking place! See, for me (and many others) TechEd is all about networking and bonding. And due to the fact that I get to know more people each year and I got the people I know already soo much better it’s a simple formula: TechEd just gets better each year!

So yes, it’s all about the discussions and the conversations that happened. This year, there have been more opportunities than ever to engage and get to know interesting people and topics!

 

The Pods

I think this year it got obvious that the pods have outgrown themselves and have closed-up to the lectures and hands-on sessions in popularity and value-gain. Due to the fact that they are topic-centric and open all-day-long it’s easy to fetch them into your own personal schedule and make sure that you won’t miss the topics you’re the most interested in. Plus, due to their interactive nature, they greatly help in getting to talk to the experts and get tailor-fitted advice and insight. Given that upward trend we may need to think about how to scale the pods w/o them loosing their intimacy and interaction characteristics.

 

SCNotties

Alright, I admit it… I’m a big fan of this community insider competition! And I’m not saying that because I finally can call one of the much sought-after trophies my own (yeah!)… no, it’s because it just speaks for the spirit of the community to keep this going. The idea is said to have started by Craig Cmehil with his 30 seconds introduction videos he dared the community to post, and then it got formalized with the help of Jim Spath to make it what it is today: the one and only legendary SCNotty Awards! 😀

Well, if you ask me the whole thing is about making a fool of oneself in public. Now, that may sounds scary at first, but then that’s what it is all about – to dare to do something crazy in public! That sounds harder as it really is as you usually got great company 🙂 Hey, if everybody is making fun of themselves – why not join in and get to know some really nice people and kudos by doing so? Hm …  I think Sue Keohan did a much better job in showing you good reasons: Why do a #SCNotty?

Knowledge Quest

Here’s a new addition to the line-up… and a good looking one indeed! Don’t let the misleading title confuse you… it’s not about knowledge, but yet another clever way (hint: “gamification!”) of getting the people to connect and interact. Let’s face it… the questions were, well, how to put it… only mildly challenging may I say 😉 But that was probably never the point…

The point is to get the people motivated to engage – ask questions, get into discussions and collecting points by doing so. While the individual prizes (the usual tablet) is nice, yet I got the impression that most people participated for the greater cause: a donation to KaBoom. Here’s the Helping KaBOOM help children with SAP Volunteers” by John Astill.

Well, they surely had a very nice and energetic team on site and as such it was simply fun to talk to them and participate. Maybe it was the fact that they have used a photo showing my good buddy Aslan and myself in the promotion campaign, yet for some reason I felt I should put some serious effort in this activity… so happy we reached our goal on time! Thanks to everyone who put in a last minute effort… the fact that points get tripled on the last day saved us! 🙂

The SAP Community Network Team

Image courtesy by sap.eventserver.ch

I mean… let’s just face it, passion is key to success! SCN is the living proof of that in the tech industry. If it’s one thing that SAP can indeed be proud of, then it’s having been able to get together such an extra-ordinary ecosystem (and yes, that’s probably preaching to the converted!) Still, I think it’s always appropriate to give the fine folks of the SCN team  – who are at the heart of all of this – a serious shout-out!

So, far I have yet to get to know a member that is anything else but an amazingly smart and nice person…. and they rocked it again this year! Let me tell you…

They showed off the long anticipated new – completely replatformed – upcoming version of SCN 2.0! Ka-tsching!

For the community addicts out there it was probably the first time to get their hands on a sandbox system demoing the next generation of AWESOME 🙂 I heard (true!) stories about people tripling the designated time-frame (30min) to check out every little aspect of it. We are sure up for a treat at the end of November 🙂

Passion shows… you should have seen the sparkles in the eyes of Keith Elliott and Jason Chao while talking about their new baby. 🙂

So, but not only for that, but everything else that they do all year long and especially during TechEd they deserve some real kudos!

Oh and speaking of awesomeness… I tried to convince the team to ‘let us get hands-on an open API’ [without breaking the platform – hat tip to John Appleby!] They were all ears, yet given the sheer amount of features they got in their sleeves already we may would need some further persuasion to get it high on the wishlist. So, here’s an idea on Idea Place about that one – just to gauge interest for a developer program or the like.

Oh, and how could I continue w/o giving a special shout-out to my own Mentor Oliver Kohl?!? He’s the one making SCN 2.0 a reality from an implementation perspective. I’d say we are in good hands… 🙂

Sessions

Well, what can I say about the sessions? As every year I didn’t get to attend as many as I would have hoped for. There’s simply too much stuff happening’  at the same time! So, let me keep this section kind of short and just high-light two special sessions I got to see:

The first one was – simply put – a 50 min Demo Jam-like live experience with Matt and Alisdair going head-to-head and coding the app in real-time. They showed how simply and efficiently HTML5 mobile apps can be developed, with nothing but a text editor and Dropbox. Guys, what a great show! Now, I hope that they will consider writing a recap and putting the code out there (hint, hint!) as otherwise it may be lost for the masses (why don’t get ASUG sessions recorded by the way?!?)

The later was also very special, as we got a private session during lunch time! It’s been for sure the most geekiest lunch I’ve had in a long time as Sascha gave Alisdair and myself a quick walk-through, which naturally evolved into a broader discussion on RESTful topics towards the end. 😉

Maybe one last word about my own session… well, it’s been very exciting indeed to reach out to the community and give them a preview on what we got in store with our upcoming OnDemand platform and more specifically its Java capabilities. If you are interested in that topic (how could you not be?) please check my SAP NetWeaver OnDemand at TechEd … I would be happy to see you in Madrid!

Note-Worthy

Well, what else is there to say? Ok, here is some finger food… oh, talking about food – it was excellent and plenty (here’s proof!) No, for real… it always amazes me how they manage to cater to 6,500 people at once. SAP Teched certainly sets a very high standard in regards to keeping the attendees happy on that front. 🙂

WiFi… the usual suspect! Hm, this year we solely depended on the Venetian Event network, which worked alright during the event, except of for the keynote, when it was a complete mess! I do know enough about these things though to understand that the technology was never meant to support for 6,500 people at a time, so I won’t complain about it too much. Would have loved to join the tweeting, but hey… not a show-stopper either! 🙂

The app – finally we got a  mobile app to help us at the event! Surely, makes life much easier… tip: make sure to install and configure it up front!

 

Last, but not least – video coverage: Dennis Howlett and Jon Reed of JD-OD joined the official SAP TechEd live crew in broadcasting from and about the event. It’s hard to pick a few selected videos as they are all spot-on, so I suggest you pick your own favorites:

Wrap-up

As you can probably tell: I surely had a blast this year! Too much KoolAid? Well, I got called a fool for lesser things and I sure got my fix in Vegas! And then… with all the people I get to know it’s hard not to be a fan boy!

Well, that’s it – that’s been my TechEd experience… what about yours? Do you feel I captured the event in a rightful manner (if not, please leave a comment or even better … write a blog!)

To  those, who did not yet attend a TechEd conference so far – was I able to make you rethink your position? If not, you may want to read Thorsten Franz‘s Why I REALLY attend SAP TechEd?

Or maybe you set your mind and would want to go, but you struggle with getting the necessary approval/budget? Well, again it’s Thorsten who got some Convince Your Boss to Send You to SAP TechEd.

If all should fail, well, then here’s at least some tips on how-to take part from a distance: What can you do to keep up with TechEd Las Vegas when you cannot be there by Chris Kernaghan

Before I call it a day…. and I know it may sound lame after having you read all this (hope it was worth the time invested!), but if you really want to know what SAP TechEd is all about in a nutshell: then check out this fabulous video by JD-OD -> SAP TechEd – One word. 🙂

See you at SAP TechEd!

Further Info

Plenty of people share their unique views about the event. I tried to refer to some of the ones I liked best, yet with all these blog posts on SAP TechEd it’s almost impossible to read them all, hence please don’t hold it against me if I missed to include a specific blog post! (As it certainly wasn’t my intention to replace the RSS Feed I had to go for a hand-picked selection.)

I will however update this section with some more links as they pour in (and I am capable of catching up!) If you’d like to point out a specific one I should be aware of, please drop me a line… the more, the merrier! 🙂

Podcasts

For the people who prefer audio (amazed and flattered you made it all the way to the end of this blog!)

Shout-outs

To all the people I met during Teched – thanks for all the great talks and making my experience! Wish I could have  called all of you out individually in this post… you know who you are!

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23 Comments

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  1. Tammy Powlas
    This is a beautiful blog and thank you for taking the time to wrap it up.

    I missed Knowledge Quest (I did provide some questions and some people told me they got some right and wrong).

    I am glad I got to spend some time with you and to quote Graham Robinson about TechED it was “great mate”. 

    Tammy

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author
      Thanks Tammy! Yes, “great mate” would have summed it up as well. However, as I feel very privileged to got to go to Vegas (again!) I feel I owe it to my colleagues and peers to share the story..
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  2. Mark Yolton
    Thank you, Matthias, for this thoughtful and entertaining recap.  I am with you on all of it… with a couple notes:

    * Concert: Yes, we hear you on the importance of having time after the concert to mix and mingle with others. We’ve talked about it as a team and the rough estimate is that it would cost us about $50,000 for an additional hour of open bar. We’re going to make it work for next year, and maybe even for SAP TechEd Madrid.

    * Pods: Completely agree. They were so popular that they became unwieldy. Too many people crowded around to hear the expert talking. So we will come up with some ideas to preserve the informal nature of the pods but improve the experience.

    * Wifi: We did have our own wifi set-up in Las Vegas again this year with massive bandwidth.  A couple things hurt us: 1) a hardware problem we discovered with the vendor’s equipment (we broke it via massive activity) but they responded aggressively and flew-in new equipment the next day; 2) my-fi personal networks sucked a ton of bandwidth from what should have been double or triple the needed capacity.

    * SCN Team: Amen, I completely agree that the team members who work on SCN every day, and who contribute greatly to SAP TechEd every year, are an extraordinary bunch who are passionate about serving and delighting our customers, partners, and community members in our online community and in offline / in-person events like TechEd – and it shows.  Thank you for calling-out these great people for special recognition.

    And thank you, again, for this extraordinary recap of another fantastic event. 

    Regards,
    Mark Yolton

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author
      Hi Mark,

      I feel honored that you find my blog useful and that you took the time to immediately pick up on some of the ideas/suggestions! It’s very much appreciated.

      * Concert: That’s great news and even better what I had in mind! Give us the band and extended hours – nice! 🙂

      * Pods: Sounds great!

      * Wifi: I see. As I said it worked fine for the most of the event. Yes, I spotted tons of Mifi devices as well. Some familiar names 😉

      * SCN Team: My pleasure… credits where they are due!

      BR, Matthias

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  3. Gregory Misiorek
    Hi Matthias,

    so, when will we get an algorithm to do the curation you have done here? you have balanced text, links, and pictures very nicely to give an excellent recap of what was going on during the TechEd.

    what knocked my socks off is the link to the presentation by Nenghong Fu with bits of French and Mandarin, but what’s most imporatant with a promise of leveraging existing ERP installations through HANA.

    i want to drink more O2H, but didn’t know it existed until having seen it included in your extensive post.

    rgds,

    greg

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author
      Thanks Greg for your continuous support! I’m glad you like the curation. I may got carried away here or there, yet there was no going back either 🙂

      Yes, O2H is an interesting thing as it shows true innovation in the sense of taking certain ‘limitations’ and come up with a unique twist to a common challenge 🙂

      Cheers,
      Matthias

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author
      Likewise Greg and thanks for the compliments!

      Love what you do and how you mach sure that the secret gems are secured for the broader audience!

      Let’s keep it up!
      Matthias

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  4. Michelle Crapo
    The expert networking sessions were filled more this year.  I don’t know how the team could have fixed it.

    And so I leave it as a comment – the networking sessions were brimming full.  We don’t want to make it a huge room.  SO????

    Great blog!

    Michelle

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author
      Hi Michelle,

      oh yeah, seems I did indeed forget to mention the expert networking sessions. I’m sure I wrote a few lines about Natascha’s social media session somewhere… must have lost it in one of the iterations. :/

      Anyway, you’re right! They are getting traction for sure… just as he Pods do!

      BR, Matthias

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  5. Susan Keohan
    Dear Matthias, you certainly did a great job of capturing the excitement of SAPTechEd, calling out the great learning opportunities, and pointing out other valuable (or maybe not so much, in my case) blogs.  I do like your idea of a lesser band and a great networking night, but that’s how I am.  Still, One Republic was great.
    Last, you helped my PTWS abate, for a little while anyway.
    Cheers,
    Sue
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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author
      Hi Sue,
      thanks – it’s always great to hear coming from you! I really liked your blog and as a regular and SCNotty Award winner it’s great that you keep promoting (and participating!) in this!

      Yes, One Rebublic was great – I enjoyed great company throughout the concert 🙂

      About PTWS… wasn’t it (PSTW – Post SAP TechEd Withdrawal syndrome) what can I say… it’s part of it I guess. You’re not alone in this 🙂

      Cheers,
      Matthias (matt-ee-as)

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      1. Marek Kowalkiewicz
        I wish the answer was very obvious. 🙂 But please stay tuned. Our team is working hard on making it happen. It’s not next week, probably not next month, but who knows – maybe still this year. I do want to give this to the community to evaluate as soon as possible.
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  6. Marilyn Pratt
    As someone who enjoys curating content and reading the work of others, I’d like to say that beyond his mastery in language, image, thought and content, Matthias is an absolute genius when it comes to link love.  This piece shows how much thought and care a community-minded human being can take in recognizing colleagues, attendees, community members and other writers, bloggers, and authors.
    Just notice how many people can get a glow from this kind of brilliant recognition. 
    And lest we glow with too much self-satisfaction, there are also subtle hints for how to grow and improve the event.
    Bravo!
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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author
      Hi Marilyn,
      was blushing when I read that! For me, it’s been my pleasure to write that piece. As it’s been you who many of us aspire to in regards to fostering communities and bringing people together for the greater cause/good I feel honored to receive such feedback.

      Yes, it’s all about the people we meet and the discussions we have – given this unique opportunity to attend TechEd and tap into the minds of so many amazing people  – how could I not link back to them?!?

      Oh, and it’s always nice(r) to be the bearer of good news so talking about SAP TechEd is great fun!

      BR, Matthias

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  7. Matt Harding
    I can’t believe next TechEd (for me) is over a year away – and this quality recap (with so many links to more detail) just makes the time seem even longer away now.
    Anyway, at least we have Mastering Technologies in Australia to help alleviate the wait, and we’ll see if we can’t have a starring SAP Mentor (or two) from Germany join us there…Fingers crossed (I’ve asked).
    Ideas voted and commented upon and looking forward to getting my hands on NetWeaver OpenHouse (not to mention Marek’s free Holodeck)!
    Looking forward to your coverage of Madrid!
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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author
      Hi Matt,

      thanks for the kudos! Yeah, #PSTW syndrome is a known side-effect of too much SAP TechED KoolAid! 😀

      From what I could tell (from a distance) the ‘Mastering Technologies’ conferences in Australia are really setting a high-level. Last year’s speaker line-up was fab! I know lots of people who would be eager to go and who would be great additions to the line-up. So far ‘the powers there be’ has figured it out how to get a great group together and so – whoever gets to go certainly will have deserved the trust and play it forward!

      Special thanks for checking out the ideas and voicing your thoughts – “NW OpenHouse” would surely be a nice name, yet I wonder what our marketing department would say irt security, after all, that’s a major concern when it comes to the Cloud 😉

      Cheers mate! ttyl…

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  8. Kumud Singh
    Hi Matthias,
    This is a wonderful summary of the events at tech-ed Vegas.I enjoyed reading every part of it and would keep re-reading again links which I have not gone through.
    At the same time it opens up the thought that tech-ed in other locations as well should be as or greater than exciting/enriching as was there.
    Also, wanted to say that your SCNotty entry was too good. How did you capture inside water?

    Regards,
    Kumud

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