GPUG Summit 2016 Tampa USA - Part 3

The Microsoft show at the arena on the previous day (day zero), was a controversial late add-on to Summit. It was now day one of "proper" summit, after intros from Bob, Errol Shoenfish took to the stage and showed us power apps and talked Dynamics GP road maps and more.

errol

errol2

Obviously we all wanted to see the road map for GP. For the duration of summit they emphasised that development and investment in GP continues on, as it does with the rest of the Dynamics family.

roadmap

This was illustrated by this slide.

ongoing

Amber caught me and handed me something later in the day. This was awesome, Amber remembered, from earlier in the year, to bring the magazine with her that had my article in it! Thanks Amber you are an *all* star!

magazine

I also met and had a very long chat to Todd exchanging war stories and talking about the market for ISVs in this new, uncertain world we are entering. Turns out Todd was at some of the m-hance events in the UK, like the infamous Nottingham customer day, but I never met him at that time. 

todd

I really didn’t anticipate being stopped a few times during the day and being thanked by people for my blog or help i had offered on the GP forums. This was a new experience, this kind of acknowledgement was a real boost to my mood and will keep my making the effort in the future.

I do work with hardware devices and IoT too in my spare time. I got talking to Adam Juechter from Microsoft Azure IoT hub about IoT. I guess he was happy to find someone that actually knew what MQTT and CAN, service bus and other terms meant at an enterprise software show. I discovered a lot talking to him, more information to take home and play with. I didn’t realise how enterprise ready and robust the Azure IoT infrastructure has become, since last time I looked at it, admittedly some time ago now. I think it says something that Microsoft were pushing IoT at an enterprise software show too, it is a growth area for the future. 

I enjoyed presenting with Steve Endow, a session on high volume integrations. It was a tool agnostic, non-developer session that I thought worked well. Between us we have completed a LOT of complicated GP integrations, so there was some real experience between us to field the questions at the end of the session. 

I also spent time going to some other sessions and had lots of chats by the water coolers with other delegates. 

Night time

curry

In the evening Steve Endow took me out on an adventure, away from the safety of the conference part of town and on my first Uber taxi ride experience. Everyone knows that Steve takes his friends to be best places in town. He found an “unusual” restaurant, perfect for two vegetarians like us to eat, a pretty swish place it was that he found!

The Uber drivers picking us up and dropping us off both said we were lucky to get in this establishment, they would know, it being based at a gas station! Honestly you had to go through the gas station mini-mart to go to the washrooms, that were actually located on the outside wall of the gas station – Steve the experience was priceless!
It has to be said, the food was really good and I enjoyed some down time away from the noise and bustle of the summit, getting to know a bit more about Steve in the process.

… and finished the day with a walk back to the hotel, admiring the fountains by the STRAZ performing arts building... and the atmosphere on a warm evening.

straz1

straz2

GPUG Summit 2016 Tampa USA - Part 1
GPUG Summit 2016 Tampa USA - Part 2
GPUG Summit 2016 Tampa USA - Part 4
GPUG Summit 2016 Tampa USA - Part 5

 

GPUG Summit 2016 Tampa USA - Part 2

Microsoft had booked the Ice Hockey Arena booked for 2pm to give a keynote and launch Dynamics 365. That meant I had the morning to myself. I headed out of the hotel first thing (well perhaps 2nd thing haha), to discover the the hotel provides a efficient fleet of free shuttle busses, to anywhere within 2 miles of the hotel. This provided me with some easy mobility. I took the shuttle to the Publix supermarket that I’d seen the night before and picked up snacks and water for the week. I also bought some more to bring back home to the UK with me. Annoyingly I had not brought out my USA enabled phone SIM, so couldn’t call the shuttle to pick me up again. Knowing the location, I decided to walk over to the convention centre where the kind people at reception called the shuttle for me.

Waiting at the curb side for the shuttle I spotted a familiar face, walking with purpose my way, wearing in-ear headphones. It was Jen Kuntz – Canadian GP MVP! I called out and luckily was correct it was her. This was the first of many meet experiences over the week. Living in the UK it feels very detached from, what is at heart, a US/Canadian product community. Although the internet and social media helps bridge the ocean a little, it is still rare that you get the opportunity to meet people from the community. On this trip I got to meet people that I have known for many years, through different routes, phone calls, reading their blogs, by email enquiries over products or problems, or interacting on social media.

Being a person that loves hugs it was great to be met by a big hug from Jen, as she said, it felt appropriate! My shuttle arrived and Jen was off to what was to turn out to be a emotional, fire filled partner meeting with Microsoft. I was jealous to hear the MVPs had got an audience with Scott Guthrie the previous day too! I’d only been out for just over half an hour and I was meeting people already, this was a good feeling.

After clearing some emails for work at the hotel, sorting myself out with American money, American SIM in phone and some other bits and pieces I walked back into the convention centre, where I bumped into Jen again after registering, we went off to get some Mexican food from a nearby restaurant before the “big event” in the arena.

acum

It was interesting, if a little amusing, that among the promo "boys" and "girls" was Acumatica, bill board bombing the Microsoft event.

flag 

At the arena I met up with Steve Endow (GP MVP), Andrew Dean (Envisage Software) and Habib Salim. I have known Andrew for many years, and have collaborated with Steve and Andrew on meetings before but never got to meet them in the flesh. It was great to get the opportunity like this and felt like meeting old friends. Three Dynamics GP developers from United Kingdom, USA and Australia converged on the Arena right there and then!

three amigos

@Scottgu then did the keynote introducing the CRM aspects of Dynamics 365. –really there was some finance type content in there somewhere, I think...

scot2

scot

AI365

arena22cdm

 

Around the audience, there were mutterings about real world, when all the examples of the seamless smooth operations of D365 were shown in the slick videos and demos.

powerapps

Credit to them, Microsoft were showing an integrated experience that I don’t think is found elsewhere, just I struggled to see the ERP between the CRM –I guess financials is not as exciting to show?!

We did get shown power apps, something together with flow look interesting to look into at some point. There was also a very strange section with a UK brewing company, they broke the slick presentation a bit! WithoutWires got one of their outlook integrations shown, very nice.

relationship insights

The session closed with a Q&A that got a little more interesting as it was not as rehearsed.

“Q&A with @scottgu - if you choose to adopt (dyn365) it is easy, NAV & GP, migration tools available, but existing systems continue”

“Dynamics 365 first of many releases with significant advances, looked at integrating Dynamics across Microsoft #scottGu

“Dynamics CRM or AX online then it's a seamless move - AX on prem will continue #scottGu

“Hybrid solutions with on prem for your core and bridge out for optional cloud service extensions #gameChanger #ScottGU

It was obvious the on prem vs cloud issue was more important to the ERP people than MS had anticipated.

andy

This zero day Microsoft day was added onto the Summit, so it was lucky that I had added a day on to my schedule when I originally booked my flights. I had done so in case there was any pre-conference training I wanted to attend. You can see the introduction of D365 is causing disruption in the partner channel, there was lots of tight rope walking going on, trying to keep everyone happy during Summit this year. I think there is some adjusting to the new world for everyone to get their heads around and deal with. This means quite a lot of change for the partners and ISVs. I was involved in many discussions over the new products being introduced to the channel and the way they are marketed, what they are, how they are going to be sold, who is going to use them, where the sales are coming from, how ambitious the adoption targets are etc. Also ISVs are wondering where they fit in, partners wondering what their role is now in this software as service type delivery model. Thus with everyone wondering what the pie tastes like and how big a slice they can cut, it is all very unsettling. Oh and shhh don't even talk about the GP migration tool...

EXPO with David Musgrave...

We moved on from the arena walking over the road to the conference centre for Expo time. This is where I bumped into the GP legend David Musgrave MVP. David is a fixture when it comes to GP and a font of technical knowledge. He gave me the honour of letting me tour the expo hall with him, where he introduced me to so many people, most of whom I already knew from the GP community -but had not met in person. As we walked the expo hall, it actually amazed me just how many people that I knew. Meeting people in person means you learn new things about them, for example #Fact, David travels with a lubricated Rubix cube, indeed he has a collection back at home and can solve them in a reasonable time!

It was so special to get to spend some time with the MVPs in the evening too. Here is a gallery of the photos.

meet1

meet2

meet3

meet4

meet5

meet6

meet7

meet8

meet10

MVP meet

This alone was enough to come all this distance for, to experience all this in one day! Thank you all for being so welcoming and overwhelmingly friendly and being such pleasant people. I love this community!

GPUG Summit 2016 Tampa USA - Part 1
GPUG Summit 2016 Tampa USA - Part 3
GPUG Summit 2016 Tampa USA - Part 4
GPUG Summit 2016 Tampa USA - Part 5

GPUG Summit 2016 Tampa USA - Part 1

3D Printed Luggage Tag GPUG Summit 2016

To Tampa, 22hrs door – door

I printed my plastic luggage tag for GPUG Summit 2016 with my 3D printer and was ready to travel. The flight itinerary involved a flight from Newcastle in United Kingdom -> to London -> Miami -> Tampa. In all it took twenty two hours from door to door.

Flight

A380

First hop from Newcastle to London went well, with a quick and seamless journey between terminals at Heathrow. I did a few hours work on the laptop and then on arrival at the gate I looked out the window and found I was riding a double deck, A380 to Miami. All of a sudden the journey had become exciting! My first experience, flying out was on top deck, on return from Miami I would be on the bottom. I found the A380 a very pleasant aircraft to ride in, quieter and felt more open than a 747. BA have them fitted out with a good entertainment system. Although it offered a TV loaded with games, films, audio books, I didn't use it. A couple of times I have been transatlantic on planes with broken entertainment systems, so I had loaded up lots of audio and video podcasts to get through the journey on my iPhone. With the charging USB socket i was sorted. It was lovely to find no one next to me, providing some room to stretch and use the spare seat to put stuff on, making the journey unusually comfortable.

I avoided Charlotte and Atlanta airports as my transit airports, the timings were uncomfortably tight at those, so I went for the longer turn around at Miami. The experience at Miami airport was shocking compared to my experience at MCO in Orlando only the month before. I would say due to horrendous immigration lines, lack of crowd management, under staff and equipment resourcing for a busy set of flights landing at once. To cut a long story short, with lots of running, using crew lines through security, I made it at the last moment to the Tampa flight. The airline staff more or less bundled me on board, closed the door behind me and we were off- only to sit in a queue on the taxi way for fifty mins!

Landing at Tampa I was tired so I got a Taxi for $25 to the hotel. I was too tired and simply just wanted to get where I was going, so didn’t have the will to figure out the cheaper methods of transport at that late time of night.

Love at first sight Tampa

Even though I’d been awake by that point for 22 hours and was weary and knew I needed to get up in the morning, I needed to explore! I’m an investigative sort of person and thus couldn’t resist going for a walk to discover my home for the week and orientate myself. So within only moments of getting in my room I was back outside.

Tampa has a river walk that follows the river all around that part of town that hosts the convention centre. The walk passed the hotel and so I followed the walk right down to the convention centre. At least now, in the morning, I would know where I was going! I also spotted a Publix supermarket over the water, somewhere to get some supplies in the morning. I had already realised I’d forgotten a few small things in my hap-hazard packing for my trip. The river walk and public areas hanging off was so very pretty at night. Train tracks, bridges, fountains, riverside restaurants, full of romantic atmosphere, great architectural lighting of the bridges and the walkway itself. I experienced instant love for Tampa, so many others were out enjoying the evening air too, even at that late hour and I would be too if I lived in Tampa!

riverwalk1
riverwalk2
riverwalk3

I walked for an hour and a half and got back to my room to catch some sleep - 24hrs without sleep is a long day.

GPUG Summit 2016 Tampa USA - Part 2
GPUG Summit 2016 Tampa USA - Part 3
GPUG Summit 2016 Tampa USA - Part 4
GPUG Summit 2016 Tampa USA - Part 5

 

UK visitor to USA for conference, GPUG summit

If you are visiting the USA for a conference there are a few things to remember:

Passport

UK Passport

Obvious? – well amazing how many people realise at the last moment that the passport is expired. Check it early and get it renewed if its nearly at end of life.

Visa

esta logo

Once you have a modern electronic passport with chip, to visit the USA as a UK citizen, you must apply for an “ESTA”, to give you access to the USA. Go to the website fill in your details, it will cost you $14, at time of writing. This must be done at least 72 hours before you travel, but I would recommend doing so long before you need it, just in case there is a problem. If you are denied you will have to seek a full visa, a much more involved process. You can stay for ninety days under the ESTA and its valid for two years, handy for next year’s conference too!

Money & Currency Cards

VISA Mastercard logos

The US use different tokens to buy things with, called dollars, they are green and all look identical to each other, so when you get some beware handing over valued notes and getting incorrect change. It is essential to get some cash, preferably a good number of one dollar bills. The US service sector factors in tipping to the employee wages so tipping is an important part of the culture, people handling your bags, waiters, room service, cleaning maids, anyone who provides you a service should be offered a tip. You will find this eats up lots of one dollar bills over the duration of the trip. UK people tend to find this very difficult to get used to, don’t resent it you are not at home, the economy works differently.

If you are not on company expenses for the trip, then get a US currency card. currency cards allow you to get and lock the exchange rate at which cash is placed on the card. Cards, such as the FairFx card can be loaded with cash, usually any amount and topped up via a phone app or website with more while you are out there. The cards are “normal” VISA or Mastercard cards and work in the same way at point of sale. The cash sits on the card as US dollars, conversion usually at time of putting the credit on the card, unlike credit cards that take the exchange rate at time of purchase (that is less unpredictable). These cards are US dollar cards so do not experience a fixed transaction fee each time that you use them, unlike most UK sterling debit or credit cards would. Do this with two weeks to spare as it can take time for the card to arrive through the post. Keep an eye on exchange rates and hedge when you see a good rate by putting some cash on the card. I find this useful for micro transactions, such as automated vending, such as hotel clothes washers, or vending machines or some parking that only can take card payment. For these small payments the flat transaction fee on your standard bank card would make its use unattractive.

Documents

printer icon

It is wise to remember to bring your accommodation and other booking information to conference, what if there turns out to be two similar named hotels, paperwork helps when the taxi driver challenges you. Immigration officers can vary a lot in the scary factor. Like in most work places, some can be very officious and awkward, others can be lovely. I can not recommend highly enough that you have all your hotel booking information, conference booking information and especially hotel addresses and return travel documentation with you and easily at hand when entering the USA. Be very careful if you are being paid to present at the conference, this can lead you down a difficult path with immigration. It can be easier to ask for conference discounts or free accommodation in lieu of payment, to avoid this surfacing. Don’t lie about anything, as in worst cases, if they inspect your laptop and find the power points and arrangements on emails, your are on a slippery slope if you were glossing over details.

When you land in the US you will have to go through immigration before connecting to internal flights. Airports like Miami and Orlando MCO have the electronic fingerprinting and face recognition systems, for entry to the USA you have to click on one of two buttons, business or pleasure, you can imagine for some conferences this can be a grey area, there are plenty of forums with people debating the correct response, go check them out. If your company are paying for the flight, then its business IMO. This can be one of the questions asked. Having the correct paper work backing up any answers will almost always allow you to be waved though, but you will be so glad you had it all at hand if you are being singled out for extra attention.

Remember don’t bring any non-processed food into the US, like fruit or meats.

The above sounds worrying, but 99.9% of the time, getting in should not be a problem!

Power

USA UK adapter with four way and multi-USB supply

The USA have a different mains power system to the UK, you need an adapter to plug UK plugs into the mains and you MUST check on the label for the equipment you are plugging in, that it will work on 110VAC. Most plug top power supplies these days work on both European and US voltages and so laptop and phone chargers are usually fine. I always travel with a four way mains extension cable bought from a discount store, it is cheap so extremely light and has a foot of cable on it. For hotels I find this essential. Sometimes hotels have too few sockets, or mains sockets that are so loose that plugging an US-UK adapter then your plug top power supply in to the adapter is heavy enough to just fall out the socket, refusing to stay put. The four way extension instead allows a number of devices to be plugged in, placed on the table top thus taking the strain off the socket. Only the four way plug is in the wall.

Using a slim dedicated UK-USA adapter is much better than the bulky universal adapters for the same reason, the larger ones tend to just fall out the USA sockets. I would also recommend getting a multiple output USB power supply as shown in the photo, check it has high current output as cheap ones will not charge all the devices if plugged in at one. This allows for some chargers to be left at home and releases more mains sockets for laptop charging.

A portable lithium batter USB charger or two can also be helpful as if you are a twitter addict or just busy on the conference apps, the mobile phone can struggle to make it to the end of the after conference party, having a portable charger just gives that confidence that every last tweet can be read, or at least the number for a taxi home can be found after the party!

Mobile phone and data

Check your mobile phone or computer dongle contract for what charges you will incur in the USA, these are usually eye watering. I would recommend getting a Three Pay as you Go SIM, activate it and top it up the week before you go and get your phone unlocked so it can accept the SIM (if not already on the Three network). The data rates are cheap in the us and texts and calls are received at UK rates rather than at roaming rates. Free WIFI in the USA is easy to find, but where it matters in the conference, things can be different with many thousands of users trying to access one WIFI network. Mobile data gives another route to the internet, essential if twitter or checking facts during sessions is important to you.

Sun protection

We in the UK forget how strong the sun can be, Florida can be viscous and inflict real harm to the skins of UK visitors, bring sun protection, hats, sprays, cover ups. Check for the time of year what normal UV and heat is like. Florida can be very hot and humid, you were warned.

Accommodation

Booking as early as possible for your hotel, lets you get the fun of being closer to the action (after conference socials at hotel bars etc) and also keeps the taxi bills for transfer to the conference venue lower.

Eating

If you are not on company expenses then going to conference very expensive on the personal pocket, so look out for events that will give you a free feeding on evenings. No doubt this will be companies trying to court you, but will keep the family budget from being hit too hard.