Venetian, Las Vegas, Nevada December 1-6
What. A. Week!
That pretty much sums it up. This was my third re:Invent, first as a AWS Data Hero. The week started with the flight in, and it's been pretty much non-stop from there. On the flight home, I actually nodded off, and I'm the type of person who cannot sleep while moving. That's in addition to returning from a long vacation driving across western states bypassing a snowstorm and high winds for two days just to get home to make my Las Vegas flight the next day.
Anyhow, after I arrived Sunday afternoon and checked in at the Venetian, I immediately unpacked then went out to look for a friend of mine who is also deaf. Thrilled seeing other deafies at the conference since we can easily share our experiences in the language we are most comfortable in, American Sign Language. After some time, went off to attend a data heroes dinner Sunday night where I got to meet up with my Developer Summit buddies: Alavro and Alex, and meeting new faces in Helen and Goran for the Database side. Also met the heroes of Analytics -- Guillermo, Manrique, and Matt. The cool thing about the evening in addition to the great food and company; we met with some AWS product managers & developers behind open source RDS, analytics, et al.
The next morning on Monday, I volunteered to take the Analytics Speciality beta exam -- on a negative note, I don't think I passed (I'll find out in a couple of weeks!). At least got in the experience of taking a beta exam for the first time. I have a Big Data Speciality certificate that the Analytics Speciality is replacing, it is different since it's almost all caught up with the plethora of announcements AWS had made in the past 2 years or so. For example, Amazon ML was covered in the Big Data exam, but in this one, it doesn't appear to have Amazon ML questions. The questions often seem to heavily revolving around RedShift, S3, Glue, and Athena. It wasn't under later after I spoke with Beth who is a Product Marketer of Training & Certification that the beta exams are typically long and you won't get an pass/fail notice until a few weeks so we need to have some patience there. In beta exams, there are 85 questions and they give you 220 minutes to complete. I had to look it up -- three hours and forty minutes! I finished mine with 8 minutes to spare. Hey, I wanted to be SURE!
After the exam and getting some lunch and coffee to wake up, it was time to meet another deaf attendee, make our introductions, then take in a session and actually learn something. Started things off with a DocumentDB Streams session. Afterwards, hit the Venetian expo floor to collect some swag; , t-shirts, and stickers. Later that evening, went out with the greater heroes cohorts at a different hotel. Meet some of what you might say are celebrities in the AWS community. It was amazing being in their presence and actually talking to them -- and finding out they're humans who are just as passionate as I am about the technology behind AWS. They're more of a hero than I am -- I know I'm a hero too but they're the trendsetters and paved the way for us later heroes! Ah yes, we got to meet arguably the face of AWS, Werner Vogels. He's a big presence in the room and talked music for quite some time. (Check out his shirt in the photo -- same shirt he wore during his keynote!) From the looks of things, if Werner wasn't the CTO of AWS, he'd probably be tolling away hours making some music.
Waking up to Tuesday -- we have the much anticipated Andy Jassy keynote. The theme that resonated with me about his talk this year was something like "SageMaker all the things". Machine Learning seems to be all the rage these days so it ties in with the keynote nicely. Plus, the big announcement about the RA3 nodes for RedShift, i.e. separating the computing from the storage, to better compete with Snowflake takes the cake too. Grabbed a box lunch then off to a session. Headed back to the expo room to interview alongside Helen and Goran talking about being a data hero. Later than evening, we had Taco Tuesday/Meet the Heroes event where the re:Invent attendees may meet us and hang out. I connected with a friend from my home area with a Community Hero who's a pro with security, so that's a win for everyone. Also met other deaf attendees there -- turns out it's truly a small world -- one was my former co-worker at an old company, one I went to college with, and one who's new to the cloud.
A late start to the day on Wednesday since I need me some recovery time, plus need to get some work in too. Took in a couple of sessions, then that afternoon had an scheduled interview with MJ Scott of "MJ on CQ" Twitch fame. She made the interview fun and kept things loose -- I was nervous but I do wonder if she was more nervous than I am! We had a blooper where she handed me the mic, but since I don't speak in front of the camera, she realized her mistake and took it back. Hilarious! I hope I'll have a gif of it somewhere and make it a meme. (sorry, MJ!) During the interview, I spoke about how the Analytics beta exam went -- pretty much rehashed what I said earlier in this post. That evening, there's no shortage of sponsor-based parties to attend -- took in a nightclub with friends to boot.
The last full day, Thursday. This is the day where you have to give it your all -- 16-18 hours. Keynote, sessions, expo, party. Had to get up early for some breakfast to get in line for a good spot for Werner Vogel's keynote. Well worth the blast of announcements. Took in some afternoon sessions -- got a good one on architecture. Headed over to the expo for the last time to check out the Developer Lounge. There I was approached by folks from India asking me to go to their country and do a talk on databases. Would be fun to make a visit there, see what happens. Afterwards, rested a bit before going to a dinner function then to the re:Play party. At the party, my group would eat, drink, check out great music, plus catch a spiffy drone show -- 'til about midnight.
Friday morning the day we wind down the week, and I was about ready to go home. Took in a @edjgeek session on SAM at the Content Hub -- recommend watching at least one of his talks! -- the comedic deliveries lightens things up; then an event-driven architecture session from two at OfferUp -- loved the talk and we had a lively post-talk discussion and made some connections. Finally called it quits for the conference as I had to head to the airport to go home to my lovely family!
It's smorgasaboard of technologies you can take in. Seriously, even if you don't do AWS, there is something for you to learn. Of course, there'd be an AWS angle to it, however the stuff you learn, whatever technology that is, you may apply it to your on-prem services running open source software, or dare I say it, applying that same concepts towards competiting cloud platforms. I've met many people who came to the conference under the WePowerTech grant and it helped strengthen the diversity of the conference. If you're a tech geek and part of an underdeserved population, I strongly encourage you to apply for the #WePowerTech grant. Keep an eye peeled for this grant for free admission to re:Invent around September/October 2020.
What. A. Week!