mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

What happens in Vegas goes on my blog...

So I spent the last 6 days and 5 nights in Las Vegas - I got back very late last night. I was there for MMS 2010, a conference on Microsoft Management software. The relevant portion of it for me was SCCM, System Center Configuration Manager, which performs such things as software deployment to Windows computers. I went with another coworker, who actually does more with SCCM than I do.

There was a lot of info at the conference - it was overwhelming, especially since I haven't have been doing a whole lot of deep technical stuff with SCCM of late. Still, it was interesting to see things like what the next versions will look like, what it's capable of, ect. By listening to, say, another organization's talk about how they are deploying Win7 - in an organization that has almost nothing in common with ours - it gave some more thoughts on things that I need to address in our deployment.

Of course, besides the technical aspects, it was a free trip to Vegas, a city I've never been to before. Hell, I've never been further west than Indiana before. It meant flying, something I haven't done in nearly a decade.

So what did I think of Vegas? Meh. The conference - and our room - was at the Palazzo. Our room was sweet - great view of the north part of the Strip, 3 LCD tv's (one in the bathroom), a giant sectional couch, remote-control blinds. But it also nickles and dimes you - $13/day for wireless internet, $40 a day per person to use the gym (err, spa), ect. The gym thing irked me, because I try to keep up on my workouts, especially when I'm eating a ton. I did a little early-morning walking around Vegas, which was interesting, but not real helpful to my waistline.

I don't really gamble and don't drink much - and neither does the coworker I was with - so most of Vegas was lost on me. I dropped a few bucks in the penny slots, but that was about it. I got some good pics of Freemont St. and of the Strip and ate some good but horrifically unhealthy meals. I went to the "parties" that the conference throws, which one drunk fellow attendee described as "a bunch of dudes standing around drinking free beer", which pretty much sums it up - probably 90% of MMS attendees can pee standing up. My coworker and I did end up hanging out at Stripburger several times it's a restaurant and bar in the Fashion Show mall across from our hotel. In addition to being a nice place to watch people walk up and down the strip, it featured milkshakes, fried pickle slices, and $2 Sierra Nevada drafts after 11pm (but alas, closed at midnight).

There were only a couple sessions Friday morning, none of which was really relevant to us, so we ended up renting a car and driving around for a few hours before heading to the airport. We hit the Gold and Silver Pawnshop from the History Channel show Pawn Stars - only to get kicked out 2 minutes later because they needed to film an episode. We drove out to Red Rocks, a national park featuring a whole bunch of big mountains - I got some great pics. We briefly stopped by Fry's Electronics, but between lack of time and the need to take a plane home I left empty-handed.

Vegas is an interesting place to visit, and I'm hoping I make next year's MMS conference (which evidently is at Mandalay Bay). Still, by the end I was kind of looking forward to going home. Vegas is pretty much built around things I'm either not into or suck at - spending money, gambling, partying, sex. Unlike most places, which are designed to make you fit in, Vegas is designed to make it seem like everyone is richer, better looking, and hipper than you - it wants to aspire to, or pretend to be, a free-spending player, which ain't me. It also didn't help that it was filled with couples, many of which seemed to be a cute girl on the arm of a guy who looked like a total douche, mixed in with a few that appeared to be older guys with hookers. Vegas is absurd - 50 story luxury resorts next to strip malls 2 blocks away from lots used to store trailers. It's giant buildings trying to pretend they are something else - Venice without the poop-filled canals, Paris without rioting youth, a castle, a circus - all designed to get you to gamble. But you can't get away from gambling - every gas station we passed driving to Red Rocks boasted video poker, the Vegas airport had rows of slots, lest you find yourself stuck at the gate with some money left that you need to lose before your flight. I have nothing against gambling - if that's what people want to do - but it's not my idea of fun. Which makes it a nice city to visit, but I don't think I'd want to live there.


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