VMworld 2015 Conference Tips

VMworld is only a month away, and as every seasoned conference veteran knows, there are a number of tips that will make the experience better.

I’ve put together my favorite tips for VMworld, and I’ve grouped the tips into categories based on

Social

  • If you haven’t already done so, sign up for Twitter.  The #VMworld hashtag is one of the primary communications channels for conference attendees.  You can also follow sessions by using the session number as a hashtag.
  • Add the “Unofficial VMworld Bloggers List” to your RSS feed. (Note: Link does not work.  Will update when I have an updated  link.)  Bloggers will recap sessions they find interesting or provide analysis of the keynote contents.
  • Be sure to sign up for VMunderground – the best community-led event of the weekend.  This year, it will be at the City View right across from the Moscone Center.
  • Talk to your vendors and tell them you’re going.  Chances are they will have a booth.  They may also have a customer appreciation event that you can score tickets to. 
  • Ask your local VMUG leaders if they know anyone from your area that is going, and find a time to do a local meetup sometime during the conference.

Packing and Travel

  • You’ll be walking around a lot, so clean out your backpack before you leave.  Chances are, you won’t need that Cisco rollover cable or a bitdriver set during the conference.  VMware also provides a notebook, so you can leave yours at home.  If you plan to use the conference backpack, then there is no point in bringing along items that you will have to repack to bring home.
  • The average high temperature for late August is 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  The lows are around 55 degrees.  Pack accordingly, and don’t forget to bring a light coat as it can get a little chilly at night. 
  • Leave a little room in your suitcase to bring stuff back.  The VMworld conference kit usually includes a backpack of some sort, and T-shirts are a popular vendor giveaway.  FedEx and UPS both have retail locations on Kearny Street if you would prefer to ship stuff instead of bringing it on the plane.
  • If you forget anything, there is a Target in the Metreon, which is right across the street from Moscone.

Technology

  • This is another area where travelling light is key as you will have to carry it around for most of the day. 
  • Bring extra batteries or battery packs for your devices.  You will be on your phone, tablet, and laptop all day, and you may not get a chance to recharge them during the day, so it is wise to have a power bank, such as this 13000 mAh battery pack, to keep your mobile devices topped off.
  • Don’t forget to bring your chargers.  There is an Apple store nearby for Apple products, but finding chargers for other laptop brands might be difficult.  Target should have chargers for other mobile devices.

General Conference Info

  • You will be standing and walking a lot.  Comfortable, broken-in shoes are a must.  If you plan to buy new shoes, buy them soon and start breaking them in so you avoid blisters and other foot injuries.
  • It may also be a good idea to start going for a walk a couple of times a week just to prepare.  If you don’t, you may be a little sore after the first day or two. 
  • Drink water frequently.  The VMworld Welcome Kit includes a water bottle, and there are water coolers around Moscone that you can use to fill it.

Sessions

  • Plan your schedule early as popular sessions may fill up quickly.
  • If a session is full, add yourself to the waiting list.
  • If you are interested in two sessions that overlap, book one and add the other to your Interest list.  The schedule changes frequently, and you may get an opportunity to register for both.
  • Every session is recorded, so don’t worry if you miss one.  You can always download and watch the video later.
  • Register for Group Discussions.  They’re a good opportunity to talk to your peers and experts from VMware.  These sessions are small, so register early if you want to guarantee a spot.

Solutions Exchange

  • Block off time in your schedule to peruse the Solutions Exchange.  You want to spend time here talking to vendors.
  • Make it a point to stop by booths for vendors that you already do business with.  This is a good time to ask your vendors’ experts and get your questions answered.

Places to Eat Near Moscone

San Francisco has a lot of good cuisine.  They’re especially noted for their Asian cuisine, which is sadly not reflect in the list below. 

  • Oasis Grill – Located across the street from Moscone West.  Servers gyros and Mediterranean
  • Super Duper Burger – Located on the north side of the Yeurba Buena Garden, this place is known for burgers, garlic fries (with fresh garlic), soft-serve ice cream
  • Mel’s Drive In – 50’s style diner near Moscone with excellent breakfast.
  • Thirsty Bear – Located on Howard just east of Third Street.  Known for craft bear and spanish-style cuisine.
  • The Melt – A few blocks away from Moscone at the corner of Minna and New Montgomery, this is a grilled cheese and soup place.
  • Boudin – A local chain with a few locations around Moscone.  Known for their Sourdough bread.
  • Ghirardelli – The famed chocolatier.  The location at Market and Montgomery is also an ice cream shop that is open late.
  • Lori’s Diner – Located at Powell and Sutter, this 50’s style diner is open 24/7 so you can get some post-party breakfast.

And finally – Sushirrito on New Montgomery.  It’s a sushi burrito.  Need I say more??

Other Stuff

  • Go out and enjoy yourself.
  • There is an online registry of events for the week at http://www.vmworld.com/en/gatherings.html.  Go out and socialize with your peers.
  • Even if you don’t know who the bands are, go to the VMworld party.  The last time it was at AT&T Park, it was a blast.
  • If packed events aren’t your thing, go explore the city.  Although a lot of museums close by 6:00 PM, restaurants on Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli’s are open late. 

Safety

  • San Francisco has a large indigent population.  Be careful when handling money in public or using ATMs.  (Note: This is a general safety tip for any large American city.  You don’t want to make yourself a victim or be “aggressively panhandled.”)
  • San Francisco has some rough areas, and its not hard to get lost and wander into them.  Many of the conference hotels are near Union Square, and it is very easy to take a wrong turn and wander into the Tenderloin District. 
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