Gettin' Down in Detroit: The 2005 Launch Party

I saw that Jason Mauss wrote about his experience at the San Fransisco 2005 Launch Party, so I thought I'd share my experience at the Detroit venue. Because it wasn't the "real" Launch Party, we didn't have anything fancy like a speech from Steve Balmer, songs performed by AC/DC, or appearances by the guys from Orange County Choppers. But it was still a good time. Please bare with my lack of actual photographs, as I did not have the foresight to bring a camera.

Although the "doors" to the event opened at 7:30AM, the insatiable desire for inexpensive liquor required a stop at the duty-free shop first. I loaded up on Courvoisier, Chambord Royale, and many other fine spirits, saving easily $80 - $100. The US Customs agent even waived the "required" $2.85 duty per liter. He was surprisingly much nicer than the Canadian Customs agent, who demanded a birth certificate, a certificate certifying the birth certificate, the presence of my parents to certify the certified birth certificate, and a certificate certifying my parents are really my parents. Either that or a passport.

Tax-free Booze

The event was at the Renaissance Center, located in the heart of downtown. Despite being the tallest building in 100-square miles, it was surprisngly difficult to find, especially if you're unfamiliar Detroitonese, the language of the locals. They call it the "Ren Cen" and I'm surprised that any out-of-towner would find it.

The Ren Cen

Arriving there at 8:30, it was a bit disappointing to have to shell out $12.00 for parking. But such a high price does offer us protection from the Linux Crashers, who have a hard enough time getting a car to go downtown, let alone money to pay for parking. You know who I'm talking about, right? Those basement-dwelling fanboys who go to Microsoft conferences armed with Ubuntoo discs and try to dissuade people from attending because the carpet is not open source. They actually used to protest the building being "closed source," until someone pointed them to the city planning department for architectural diagrams.

Coming in so late offered one other large disadvantage: missing out on many of the cooler freebies given out by the vendors. Here's a quick classification/rarity guide on the Detroit Launch Event vendor free stuff:

  • Laser Pen (Rare) - Offered by Berbee, this was by far the coolest give-away. Only a few lucky attendies scored this combination pen/laser pointer. Surprisingly, no one abused these devices during the sessions.
  • Blinking Yo-yo (Rare) - I somehow managed to get one of these. It was really cool until I realized it was not a "sleeper" yo-yo, so I gave it away to a colleague.
  • Blinking HP Necklace (Uncommon) - About a third of the attendees had these, leading to two simultaneous yet conflicting feelings: "those are incredibly tacky" and "I wish I had one."
  • Quest Software Weeble (Uncommon) - I don't know what these were called actually, but it was just a yellow cotton ball with paper feet and plastic eyes glued on. Despite having an uncommon rarity, no one really wanted these.
  • Intel Mints (Uncommon) - These were in a neat, small metal container. They are borderline rare, mostly because you had to actually talk to the rep to get one. They were not just lying out like everything else.
  • Pens (Common) - A handful of vendors were giving these away, giving to a good variety of pens. All however were cheap and plastic.
  • Post-It Pads (Common) - Surprisingly, only one vendor was giving these away. Probably a good thing, just one less thing to end up in the landfill after the event.

Fortunately, there was plenty of free continental breakfast food. A good variety of bagels, danishes, and other pastries. The most notable thing from breakfast (and possibly even the day) was the itsy-bitsy jars of honey. They are about half the size of the mini-jars of jelly, and a fourth the size of baby-food containers. I was left speechless at the absolute adorableness of these mini-jars. I think I ended up with 12 of these.

Too cute to eat

After breakfast, there was the keynote speech and then a technical session. Not quite sure if there's anything more I can say about those.

Lunch time was absolutely incredible. There were tables and tables *stacked* with boxed lunches. I felt bad that they ordered so many more lunches than attendees, so I took three. My colleague was a bit less generous and had two. We also snapped up a highly-treasured premium: seats at a table. That's right, we were actually sitting down for lunch. I probably would have considering trading the seat for a blinking pendant and two pens, though. The boxed lunches were pretty good, too. I was only able to eat one, the others went in my already-overstuffed bags of goodies.

After lunch, they had another technical session.

I was "wowed" yet again after the second technical session. The community area was filled with lots of snacks: peanuts, pretzels, white-cheddar popcorn, etc. They even had this awful-tasting energy drink called Rockstar. Tried as I might, I was only able to down half of it. I was really hoping I'd like it, too, because there were a whole lot of them available. I did consider taking home a few, but I just couldn't imagine ever getting desperate enough to drink one of those again.

Gives you the energy to throw it away

My colleague and I decided to turn in the evaluation forms early and get the T-Shirt and SQL-Server/VS.NET/BizTalk software before there was a rush. And wow, let me tell you, that was quite a moment. It's one thing to experience Visual Studio 2005 through your buddy's work's MSDN subscription, but you really feel alive having your own, fully-licensed copy of the software. I'm still buzzing from that.

Things went a bit down hill from there. I was a bit disappointed at the next break between sessions three and four. It was very bleak. There were hordes of developers, all hungry and thirsty, scavenging through the remaining pop, water, and Rockstar drinks from the previous breaks. I felt bad for them; some were so desperate that they had to buy drinks the vending machines. Thankfully, I had about a weeks-worth of snacks and beverages saved up from the other breaks, so I was good to go.

All in all, it was a fun event. If you weren't able to make it, make sure to catch the "Best Of" tour starting next month. There probably won't be any vendors set up, and I doubt you'll see much free food, but you'll get the software. It's so worth it for that. If anyone is planning on attending the Brooklyn, Ohio "best of" event, I'll see you there!


  • Hey,

    Too bad I did not get to go :-(. Glad you had a fun time.


  • Ya, MSDN events tend to be really good about the food (technet too). The goodies at the last technet event I went to in september was cruddy deck of cards tho.

    Some of my past MS bling includes 8' rj-45 network cables that retract into a palm sized container (very cool), key chains (also cool), clipboards, and many MANY pens and tshirts. I am still hoping that one day they'll give up ceramic coffee cups, as I collect coffee cups.

    I'm looking forward to the event later this month here in canada. I wonder if the honey is a local thing or if we'll see 'em here too!

  • Oh, and my favorite MS blink to date : The VS.NET messenger bag/backpack from the VB Bigger and better tour (I have TWO!)

    And let's not forget all the books....

    Dang, ya know, developers get more out of MS than their shareholders do!

  • Awe, sounds like a lot more fun than the launch party in Toronto :( We only got two halves of a sandwich, some mediocre pasta and some disgusting apple-somethings for lunch. The best goodies that were be given out were hockey pucks (thanks Symantec) and some backpacks.

    It was pretty fun thou, really cool to get all the software :D

  • I'm glad you could make it to the Detroit Launch event and that you had a good time. Have fun with Visual Studio!

  • It's great to see that you are focusing on the important aspects of these events. :-)

  • Sounds like a smart thing, open source buildings. Built only when the council has verified that it won't break, and you can verify it yourself if you don't trust it. Pity this isn't done with software that handles our critical information, and we have to live with simple promises on the security and safety of those systems. Oh well, I guess I have a natural distrust of programmers , because I know what they're like -- I am one myself. :)

  • Stop with the taking open source buildings seriously thing, already!

    That B*nne M*man stuf is the devil's work - it's "Franch", you know - ze "Franch" make it.

    You should be smearing yourself with this:

    Now, I shall go back to reading TDWTF and smearing stuff on things...

  • "Bonne maman" is the main confiture brand in France. I'm astonished that 1) they produce honey 2) in the US under a french brand.

  • Whenever I see I building downtown I ask "What would Gaudi do here". I think he would love that much glass, but only after he gets his workmen to smash it to smaller pieces.

    We need some creative architechs who know how to build something that lasts, is function, and beatiful. Which is why I specified Gaudi and not some others.

    BTW, did you demand the source to the carpet? How else would you know if it causes cancer in lab rats if you can look at the source and try it yourself? ;)

  • I live in Scotland and we get the road shows

    here too, although I have never seen Steve Balmer or such. We get to talk to the uSoft UK

    people and are all very nice down-to-earth

    chaps, could easily be confused with Linux hippy geeks (you know them who want it all for nought and wear penguin badges!)

    We get the fair laid on too; bags of crisps

    and sconnes, notepads and the inevitable CDs.

    There's always an unseemly rush for these and you can soon eek out the Linux Crashers.

    Is it a Beta, Beta2, RC2 or what for SQL Server etc, I always get confused with uSoft

    releases and product I alone in this respect!

  • > You know who I'm talking about, right? Those basement-dwelling fanboys who go to Microsoft conferences


    > It's one thing to experience Visual Studio 2005 through your buddy's work's MSDN subscription, but you really feel alive having your own, fully-licensed copy of the software. I'm still buzzing from that.

    Too bad I missed the fanboi slapfights :)

  • Just passing by.

    LOL, since when did humour become open source , lol ?!?!


    Keep up the blogging. It was fun reading your blog after downloading SmartPaste. Now I must go back to the MSDN website to download the other tool that featured in "Ten Essential Tools :

    Visual Studio Add-Ins Every Developer Should Download Now" .

  • Rockstar is amazing. I could drink it all day. But I'd rather not die of heart attack and too many stimulants at once.

    One or two every now and then is fine.

    I love the taste.

    If the "NERDS" candy was liquid and carbonated, it would be this drink.

  • At a time of
    of high bandwidth for internet users, why do people still worry about keeping webpages they build under 100k??

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