TechEd 2014 Week in Review

Most of the sessions I went to were decent.  I think there was only 1 or 2 time slots where I couldn’t find anything at all, and used that time to do hands on labs.  Here are what the highlights of my week were.

The first session I was extremely impressed with was the session on SQL for the non DBA.  Being as nearly every Microsoft product uses SQL, you would think that most of us techies would understand it better.  But call it good design, SQL is usually pretty rock solid, and something you really never think about.  This class gave a really good overview of the basics of SQL, and some basic considerations for a better performing instance.  If I had to choose the top piece of info, it would be learning about Ola Hallengren’s super popular SQL maintenance scripts ( http://ola.hallengren.com/ ).  I highly recommend watching this session when its available.

The next good session I went to was on Group Policy ( http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/NorthAmerica/2014/WIN-B328 ).  Couple of tidbits were that disabling an un-used section (either computer or user policy) does nearly nothing for speed.  The second thing was something I had noticed, but never looked into.  On windows 8, by default, login scripts are delayed and don’t run until 5 minutes after you log in.  This is so that your computer has more time to get started before they run.  This amount of time can be changed, I just didn’t even know it was there.

The SCCM community tools session was fantastic also ( http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/NorthAmerica/2014/PCIT-B320 ).  They basically talked about all the things available from community members that will make your job easier.  Learning about the PowerShell App Deployment Toolkit ( https://psappdeploytoolkit.codeplex.com/releases/view/110492 ) was a game changer.  I had been experimenting with a similar tool from Coretech, but this tool was even better.  It allows you to force a program to close before the Application Deployment Starts.  This is really good for doing things like updating Java which require your browser to be closed.  I highly recommend checking it out.

My top mentions in the community tools session were Ola Hallengren’s SQL maintenance scripts (same as above),   the automated documentation tool ( http://www.david-obrien.net/2014/01/30/update-inventory-script-makes-configmgr-life-easier/ ), and the Configuration Manager Support Center (from Microsoft http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=42645 ).  It well worth watching this session.

The Johan Arwidmark sessions are always filled with incredible knowledge, and this year was no different. I went to a couple of his during TechEd, and then also to the one he had on TechEd Day 5, put on by the Houston Microsoft User Group (HASMUG).  Unfortunately for everyone who wasn’t there, the one on Day 5 was the best.  They tried to record it, but I don’t think it worked.  It kind of rolled up all the best tricks from his sessions all week long in one place.  I will probably be doing a separate blog post later on just some of the things he talked about.

My overall thoughts on the conference are that it definitely was no MMS, but for me personally, it was still worthwhile.  I met a ton of new people, and really, talking to those people is sometimes better than sessions.  You can find out what works and what doesn’t in the real world, and what to be careful about.  The biggest bummer was there weren’t a ton of MMS style deep dives that were always popular even though they were promised to us.  Fortunately for me, I do more than just SCCM.  For those people who do SCCM for their entire job, I feel bad for them as they didn’t have many choices.  Hopefully that is fixed for next year.  I talked to someone who helped pick which sessions were approved, and he claimed that all the SCCM ones submitted had poorly written abstracts, and that is why there weren’t chosen.  They may very well be true, but then it would have been nice for them to go back and engage with those people and ask for better work instead of just dismissing them.  Instead, they made sure that past MMS attendees were going to write off TechEd for next year (if they hadn’t already) and become even more bitter.  If they truly wanted to integrate, then some more attention could have been paid.  Some people feel they weren’t chosen to speak because there wasn’t enough drinking of the Kool-Aid in them.  I’m sure as always, the reality is somewhere in the middle.

The second issue was location.  The convention center was very small, and some sessions were full so you couldn’t see them live.  It also was like 30 minutes from the airport, in a portion of town with nothing else to do.  Not a very good way to highlight a location.  Luckily tons of vendors stepped up and had after conference parties for something to do.  Thanks to them for all the good times.

One of the best parts of MMS/TechEd is always catching up with all your friends from previous years (and of course meeting new people also).  This year was no different.  Unfortunately, only 2 people from that group (besides me) returned because of the combining of events.  We still managed to have a good time, and help a few other people have good times too.  So thank you to all those people, without you, MMS/TechEd wouldn’t be the same!

Filed under: Uncategorized | Posted on May 19th, 2014 by CharlieMaurice

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