I admit, I was pretty nervous about having to go all the way to Mountain View solo, without knowing anyone. I had posted as such on the SEW forums. When I got back to my room after another good hour of wondering around the Exhibit Hall, I had a private message from Joe Morin – offering to introduce me to some other people.
Joe advised being out front the Convention Center at around 6:00, despite the advertised departure time of 6:30. It was about 6 when I got his message, it was ten minutes later by time I got there. Well, he wasn’t kidding, there was a massive line by time I got there, and it grew very fast. I met Joe and he introduced me to several people. And off to Google we went.
On the bus, we were all ID’d and given wristbands for those over the legal drinking age of 21. Weird for me, since back home in Manitoba the drinking age is only 18. However, I clear the US drinking age by a few years, so I was given my bright yellow wristband.
I felt bad for everyone – the Google reps who were giving out the wristbands weren’t even putting them on for people. Have you ever tried to put a wristband on yourself? Not easy. Thankfully, I am a wristband pro. After several months now of wristbanding hundreds of people at the Winnipeg Blue Bomber games, I’ve learned a trick or two about putting a wristband on people of all shapes and sizes. Rob, who I was sitting beside, managed to get the sticky part right on his arm. After a quick rip and a bit of pain, Rob’s wristband was off his arm and I put it back on him nice and neat.
The entry way into the complex was lined with Google employees cheering and welcoming everyone as they came in. The theme of the party was Google Labs, with the decorations all themed as the Periodic Table of Elements, but with Google services as those elements. Very neat. We picked up our complimentary Google Dance shirts – WOW, not only did they have sizes OTHER then men’s large, but they actually had women’s shirts!! I was so impressed by that, after already surrendering my SES shirt to my significant other since no doubt he will get far more use out of an XL shirt than my little 5’2 frame ever could.
They were serving a wide variety of beer as well as wine. Now, I don’t drink, and despite several predictions of me being sloshed by the end of the night, I think I had one Coke and that was it. The food under the tent left something to be desired for the oh-so-picky eater that I am. I had half a corn dog and that was about it. What I didn’t know is that the Google cafeteria was open and serving a lot more food.
We headed upstairs to the University Room for the meet the engineers session. There weren’t a lot of people up there at first, but by time we were there, Matt and a Microsoft rep were into quite a debate. Joe decided to thrust me in front of Matt so he could see my “Cuttlette” shirt. He got quite a kick out of it and a few pictures were taken. Unfortunately, none with my camera so I am at the mercy of Joe, Matt, and whoever else’s cameras were used for my impromptu photo op.
The next hour or so was spent in the increasingly crowded room chatting with various people. I met Jessica Bowman from Enterprise Rent-a-Car and we became fast friends. I also chatted with Dan Thies for a while – he is a really great guy. Vanessa Fox used me once as a positive Google Sitemaps example. On Thursday, when I decided to launch this blog, I knew I’d need it indexed fast. I submitted a sitemap and within a half hour I was crawled and indexed. I don’t know if Googlebot was on steroids that day, but I was impressed and wasn’t afraid to tell people that using Google Sitemaps (a.k.a. Google Webmaster Central) is GREAT.
Eventually our group made it back over to the Labs area. By that time our group had become myself, Jessica, Sally, David, Craig, Rob, Juan, and Bruce Clay. We all, save for David who was chatting with the Analytics people, positioned ourselves in the giant cut out Google logo for a Polaroid moment. That picture will be posted as soon as I get home and get scan it.
By this time, there are thousands of people milling around and you can’t really move too much or see too much without bumping into people. Because the majority of the party was outside, this also meant that there was lots of smoke around. By 10:30 I was developing a nasty headache from the smoke and decided to call it a night. The others were going to stay, though at 11 they’d be kicking everyone out anyway. By time I got back to my hotel room, it was 11:30 and I pretty much dropped down and fell asleep right away. It was a great night