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Cisco Live 2014
Well here we are again. Cisco Live 2014 and it's in San Francisco this year. So far I am enjoying the conference. It is definitely a lot better experience the second time around. That first time is just so beyond anything you can possibly prepare for. This year I came prepared for the chaos and also had the ability to have a co-worker go with me. Which helps not be alone in the sea of crazy. Also, unlike last year, I have both had a friend in town that can show me around and let me fill some down town and I have had contact with some vendors so I can network some more with their engineers. I can't tell you how much I like to be able to meet the engineers.
I also am very happy that I was able to get in early this year and sign up for the actual breakout sessions I really wanted to be in. The only complaint I really have this year about the format is the seemingly lack of scheduling context. For example, we are really looking at using OTV to bridge layer 2 between our data centers. So of course I want to take as many OTV classes as I can get my hands on. This has been proven hard since some are scheduled at the same time. Also, and equally frustrating, is I have the advance OTV sessions scheduled before the more introductory session. So I'm going to go in and have my brain start bleeding before I get a good look at the intro information.
Other than that I really have received a ton of information and again this year I can't even begin to put a value on this conference. I love that I have access to so many areas of the portfolio and that if I really need it I can find an expert on the technologies we are using or are looking at using.
On a professional development level work asked me to re-cert my CCNA (which I let laps a couple years ago). I attempted the exam last year but life kicked me around and I wasn't really able to study beforehand. Which wasn't even half the problem, because when I walked into the testing center last year I had no idea there would be a 1,000 people in there. Lets just say my ADD was completely destroying my ability to take the test. Finally, I forgot to review the test format and I actually forgot that you can't go back on questions. So all those conditions combined killed me and I missed passing the test by about 10 points. This year I knew what was coming and even though I didn't get to study as much as I wanted, I was prepared for the rest of it. Long story a little shorter, I passed it with a good margin. Now on to my CCNP...
To wrap up, this is a much better experience this year than last. Even though I think the conference was a bit better run last year. I hate Orlando but it handled the crowd much better and made it much nicer to get from session to session. I hope I can attend next year to see how San Jose goes and hopefully get even more out of it being my third year.
Oh and maybe before I go I should mention that I have been in many, many cities over my years. Never have I ever been somewhere where the homeless and crazy are so prevalent and in your face. The level of crazy here is just beyond description. On the flip side of it though, the (non bum) locals are fantastically laid back and chill. In fact it's almost odd how nice people seem to be. Especially in the service industry. The bar tenders, waitresses, and such. So it's such an odd social scene. I'm glad I made it here.