Inside Lotusphere, Outside the Agenda
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What doesn't make it to the official agenda
By Chris Miller
After my 16 or so years attending Lotusphere, I've learned there is an incredible amount of activity that takes place during the week that never makes the official agenda. Some started as silly adventures and grew into annual events. Others you have to hunt and dig for like buried treasures. Here is a rundown of things to look forward to if you are attending, and some others that have vanished.
Hog Ride - I am not sure how many "official years" this is for the Saturday morning tour. Each year a group of attendees from all over the world get together and rent Harley Davidson motorcycles (aka hogs). Then they take off with a loud roar around central Florida. It is rumored that one or two is lost each year to alligators, or comes driving in days later after enjoying the freedom of the motorcycle ride. If you are interested then I suggest getting in touch with Paul Mooney via this blog posting for all the information.
B.A.L.D. (Bloggers Annual Lotusphere Dinner) - This annual event is where you find bloggers and more having a lunch and beverage on Saturday afternoon. Anyone is welcome at the Big River Grille on the Boardwalk from 3:30pm-? and is actually encouraged. If you have never met any bloggers, podcasters or presenters, here is the place. Do not be afraid to approach. While many look scary, they are in fact, passive and sleepy. (I will let you guess the other meaning of the annual event from some of the founders you will see sitting there.)
Turtle's ESPN Bonanza - this event takes place later in the evening on the far side of the Boardwalk at the ESPN Club. Once again the BALD group migrates their way across to welcome all the late Saturday arrivals. Normally it starts around 8pm and makes it's way until ESPN closes.
I just put this in here to let you know I didn't forget about the day. However, with sessions all day and then the beach party that night, I would suggest skipping to the 'All Week" category below. That's how you'll find everyone after the party!
Note from the editor: Newbie Tour
Adding this year's Newbie Tour (something a veteran like Chris wouldn't need to be concerned with!):
Whether it's your first Lotusphere or you've been away for a while, hit the ground running (or at least jogging) with the 2012 Newbie Tour Of Lotusphere. 18-year veteran The Turtle will guide you around the conference, talk about how to get around, what to see and do, where to find things, how to stay connected, and introduce you to some important people who make Lotusphere possible. Starts 4pm in the Dolphin Rotunda
UK Night - Towards the end of the evening as the sponsor floor closes, numerous partners sponsor an event called UK Night at Shula's bar. The event runs from 8-10pm and is rumored to have wiped Shula's bar clear out of liquid! You need to track down one of the sponsors to get your ticket however. So be on the lookout.
Great Geek Challenge - this second annual event is being put on by Nerd Girls (who also have a BOF and session you should definitely attend). It is held Tuesday evening and contains many laughs and brain teasers tossed together. It is a sponsored event, meaning free food and drink will be providedwhile you rack your brain taking the challenge. There are also prizes for winning teams and answers, so come prepared. It starts at 8pm but filled to capacity last year, so get there early. You can come with a team, or come alone and latch onto another team!
Box Lunch - each year on Thursday we have the boxed lunch with the magic pretzel cookies. If weather permits, everyone heads to the lake between the Swan and Dolphin to catch some sun and toast themselves from four days of total hotel gloom and darkness.
Blogger Open - This is a great way to wind down the week when Lotusphere comes to an end and you want to relax Thursday evening. Come and join a laughingly competitive miniature golf session for anyone that registers. The event is free for everyone, courtesy of the sponsors. There are prizes for lowest and highest scores, so bring your best (or worst!) game.
If you want to find large gatherings of people late into the evening, there are two places to look: Kimonos in the Swan, and the Dolphin Lobby Bar/ fountain area. Both of these are popular meeting places for weary attendees. Special note: leave the badge in your room or get ridiculed!
A good way to find everyone is watch for swarms on Foursquare or just follow the crowd like a lemming. Do not be afraid to sit down and introduce yourself to another conference attendee. You may end up talking to someone you've communicated with online for years!
Chris Miller is the Director of Messaging & Collaboration for Connectria, an Advanced IBM Business Partner based in the US. He is the founder of IamLUG and presents globally at UKLUG, ILUG, AUSLUG, BLUG and NLLUG, Lotusphere, The View Admin conferences, and provides Domino upgrade seminars. Chris is the author of Lotus certification exams and is a Certified Lotus Instructor. He authored a book on the Sametime Gateway and currently is developing the Sametime Guide. Chris is also certified across the IBM software portfolio in administration including Advanced Security. Known online as “IdoNotes”, Chris runs webcasts, podcasts, and screencasts through Spiked Studio Productions, Consultant In Your Pocket, IdoSphere, TheSocialNetworker and more. He has written for e-Pro Magazine, BYTE, Mashable and aNewDomain.