VMworld: Day 3 – Things to Bring

The third part in this VMworld blog series will focus on the things I have found myself glad to have brought, or that I wish I had brought.

A messenger bag/back pack
This is one of the things I’m going to most strongly advocate.  “Wait, don’t you get a back pack when you register, dude?” Yes, you get a backpack registering for VMworld – but that means so did 22,000 other people.  I would rather carry around my own DIFFERENT bag and not worry about mixing it up with somebody else’s.  Whether your choice is a backpack or messenger style, a bag is an absolute must.  It carries everything else you need; as well as all the other crap that you don’t need but will undoubtedly end up with.

A small computing device
Whether your mobile computing device of choice is an iPad, a tablet, or an ultrabook – bring it.  Keeping up on news between sessions, BYOD labs, taking notes, social media, etc etc etc… And, since you’re going to be lugging this device around for an entire week, you don’t want it to be some 11 pound monster laptop.  My Lenovo ultrabook is about 2 lbs and has been a great fit.  Some type of mobile computing device is a must at VMworld.  In fact, if you’re considering attending VMworld and not bringing one, then you are a bad person.

A wifi-tether hotspot capable mobile phone
The wifi at VMworld can get pretty painful when thousands of people with multiple devices connect to it.  Therefore, you will want to have a backup plan.  Since the 4G LTE signal is pretty solid in San Francisco, I’ve found myself using my mobile phone as an access point more often than traditional Wi-Fi (even at my hotel).  If you have an android phone, you can root it and install Wi-Fi tether.  Otherwise, there may be extra costs associated with tethering.  In those cases, you’ll just have to weigh your online needs vs. the costs.  Granted, this is not a silver bullet solution.  Because some of the lower level sessions end up with poor signal and 4G LTE can also suffer speed issues with so many devices connected in a small area.

Headphones
Listen to music in between sessions.  Listen to music walking around the city.  Keep headphones in your ears even if they are plugged into nothing.  This way, you can talk to the vendors that you actually want to talk to vs being pestered non-stop.  People are really alot less likely to talk to you when you have headphones on, so it gives you the chance to be the one choose your conversations.

Sunglasses
The Moscone Center seems to be built out of highly reflective mirrors that amplify the sunlight into the main lobbies no matter what building you’re in, and no matter what time of day or angle of the sun.  Even a short walk across the street from Moscone North to Moscone South is difficult.  I found myself pulling out sunglasses for every short walk outside and keeping them on until I made it past the lobbies of the main conference centers.  Then you’ll also have the bonus of vendors failing to make eye contact with you.  Therefore, I highly recommend sunglasses and headphones be utilized together for a complete vendor repellent solution.  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great products and solutions to check out from plenty of really intresting and reputable vendors.  I just want to be in control of how often my badge gets scanned and only by the people at booths I feel like visiting.

Comfortable shoes
The official VMworld faq will tell you that the attire for the conference should be “business casual”.  That is BS.  People will wear t-shirts, shorts, sandals, and really anything in between.  And you know what? Nobody cares. I’m not telling  you to dress like a schmuck.  I’m telling you that being comfortable is more important than looking your best.  Even if you manage to book a hotel right next to Moscone, you end up walking a LOT.  Overall, just make sure to avoid buying a new pair of dress shoes and thinking you’ll break them in at VMworld.  There’s nothing wrong with a decent looking pair of comfortable casual shoes.

A charger for every device you’re carrying
The heavy use of my phone and ultrabook left their respective batteries hurting.  I dimmed my laptop’s screen to try to conserve as much as possible, but I still had to charge it later in the afternoon.  I used my phone’s GPS constantly to get to dinners, vendor events, and off-site sessions.  I would not have been happy should either of these things ended up with a dead battery later in the day.   Luckily I could jack my phone into my ultrabook and keep it juicing up during sessions.

This is still my first VMworld, so this list may grow or change – but so far these are my “must have” items that I take with me and use constantly throughout the day.