Check out the first post about the technology at the Microsoft Conference.

Vegas, baby! I had the opportunity to attend the Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 and ASP.NET 4.0 Launch conference in Las Vegas from April 12-14, 2010. Here’s my impression of the city.

The Travel Stuff

The Good

  • The Bellagio is the coolest hotel that we went to; which is good because that’s where the conference was.  There is a garden inside that must have had at least 10,000 flowers.  It smelled great and had interesting sculptures. The pool area was amazing and the water fountain show out front was spectacular.  Many of the other hotels have themes: Venice, Paris, Egypt, New York. I couldn’t quite figure out what the Bellagio’s theme was. I guess the theme must be Awesome.

    Flowers at the Bellagio

    Flowers at the Bellagio

  • There’s a free tram between the Bellagio and the Monte Carlo, passing through the new City Center.  We were happy to find it as it cut about 20 minutes of walking out of our self-enforced stroll to the Bellagio from our hotel.
  • Geekfest at the Jet Nighclub in the Mirage. Microsoft, Telerik, and a few other sponsors rented out the nightclub for the convention from 7:30 until 10:30. We rolled in around 8:30 to find the party really hopping. There was a live band on the stage and free beer and pizza.  There also happened to be a Little Black Dress convention sharing the nightclub with us. At least, that’s what it looked like at first. It became apparent that the extremely beautiful and friendly women came with the nightclub. Jason and I greatly enjoyed the Beauty and the Geek interactions. Most of the time, the girls looked very sociable and happy, but every once in a while you could see the disdain on their faces.  One poor girl was subjected to ten minutes of hand rubbing by one of the geeks.  You could see her say “My hands are sooo cold”, and then roll her eyes when he looked away. It was a fantastically entertaining evening.  Microsoft made 200 diehard fans with that move.
  • The Grand Canal at the Venetian is a real treat. We finally found it after going around in circles for fifteen minutes, and it was worth the trouble.  We grabbed some gelato and watched a flutist (I prefer flautist, but what do I know (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flautist)) play with his band mates, and pose with a gaggle of Japanese tourists while continuing to play.
    Grand Canal at the Venetian

    Grand Canal at the Venetian

  • We spent most of our free time walking up and down the strip. The hotels are all pretty cool, but my favorites in order were: Bellagio, Venetian, Caesar’s Palace, New York New York. We certainly didn’t make it in to all of them though.

The Bad

  • I was very grateful to Pete and Paul (my bosses at Mindscape @ Hanon McKendry) for sending Jason and I on this trip. Pete found us a deal for our hotel for the week, but I had to book it myself. When I went to Expedia, I found a hotel that was half the price of the one that Pete suggested and I thought it would be nice of me to book it. Plus, it was the Hooters Hotel and Casino.  It looked like fun, and Jason and I both thought the two mile round trip to the conference wouldn’t be bad.  We were very wrong. The hotel was a real hole in the wall, the walk was a drag after the first day, and we were off the beaten path.  When I looked at Google Maps, it seems like it was pretty close to everything. I did not realize the size of the city blocks in Vegas!
  • The food at the Bellagio was fairly disappointing. It was certainly fancy, but was not particularly tasty.
  • Show prices are high.  It is to be expected, I guess, but paying $65 to $150 dollars for a show just wasn’t in the budget.
  • Neither was $150 to $200 for golf. We thought that would be fun to do with our free time Wednesday afternoon, but not at that price.

The Ugly

  • If anyone was at the Kent County Airport on Sunday the 11th and found a silver iPod Shuffle on the ground, please return it to me. What a bad way to start the trip.
  • After the conference ended, we had a lot of time to kill before our plane home.  We didn’t have a hotel room to sleep in since we checked out in the morning, and we didn’t want to spend any money. It’s tough to kill time in Vegas without spending money, at least after you’ve already walked the strip ten times.  After wasting a lot of time, I spent the last 3 hours playing 1/2  No Limit Hold ‘Em.  That, at least, was fun. I only lost $11.
  • At the Geekfest, only beer was free. Since I don’t drink alcohol often, that wasn’t good for me. I chose a Red Bull, and had to pay $10 for it.  I paid more later – I was wide awake until three in the morning!
  • Our plane ride back was torturous. We took the red eye back. With the four hours of sleep the night before, and the fact that I just don’t sleep well on a plane, I was wiped out by the time I got home. The lady to my left didn’t have that problem. She slept the whole time and often wanted to use me as a pillow. I had to put both hands on her shoulder and push pretty hard to get her to move!

Denise hasn’t had a chance to go out to Vegas, so I’m sure we’ll make the trip back some day. I’m more interested in heading out to the mountains that ring the town, than I am in the Strip.  I can spend a few days there, but that is about the limit.

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