After missing out for two years on Microsoft Build I was lucky enough to get an irresistible offer from the Mixed Reality team at Microsoft to join this year’s developer conference in Seattle and naturally I seized this opportunity without second thoughts. This post summarizes the pre-event days – Saturday and Sunday before the show.
The travel itself was almost uneventful. Or rather – almost was uneventful. I have flown from Prague to Philadelphia and then on to Seattle. The only hiccup manifested itself once I arrived late Saturday to Seattle and found out my luggage was delayed. However, American Airlines dealt with that situation gracefully and delivered it on the next day to hotel.
Sunday was my free day to explore Seattle and as a first-timer here, I had quite a few plans.
Right in the morning I went to Homegrown – a sandwich place nearby, which promised one of the best sandwiches around. And the reviews were true. I had a egg and bacon sandwich and it was wonderful.
Just around the corner after breakfast I visited the Starbucks Reserve. Because Starbucks was founded in Seattle, this is the place that acts as the showcase of the whole brand and is located quite near the very first Starbucks located next to Pike Place Market. The Reserve is a unique place, where you can enjoy coffee from a special, Reserve-only menu, but also purchase some cool swag and see the roastery itself.
Before lunch I visited the Seattle Space Needle, which is almost an requirement, if you want a proof that you have been to this city. I joined a group of friends from Czech Republic and up we went. The height of it is immense and the view is incredible as well. Unfortunately, it is now not possible to stroll around the whole perimeter of the tower, because it is currently undergoing a major reconstruction that is adding a glass floor underneath the restaurant floor.
As a Geocacher I searched for some Geocaches around. The first one I found was just next to the Space Needle so it was quite challenging to make the find stealthily.
For lunch I went to The 5 Point Café nearby. This is a very cozy place with great food and a unusual specialty – on the men’s toilet is a periscope installed, which allows guests to see the Space Needle. I had a chicken burger for lunch which suited me nicely after no-dinner Saturday evening.
Next up was Amazon Go. This new smart shop is open in Seattle since January and offers a unique experience. You can walk in by scanning a code from your Amazon Go app installed on phone, then pick anything you want from the shelves and just leave. Without paying. In the shop there is an intricate system of cameras that track the movement of all visitors and their actions. It automatically tracks what you take off the shelve as well as what you return back. And the system is very precise. Trust me, I tried to fool it by taking many items off shelve, then returning them in random order and so on, but in the end I was really charged for exactly what I took.
My next destination was the Pike Place Market. In addition to several Geocaches I just couldn’t resist finding there, it is a place where you can get a selection of fresh products from farmers. The actual market is very crowded, so I only peeked inside. In the street itself you can also find the first Starbucks store I have mentioned above and many other interesting shops. What caught my attention is that most stores here and even in whole Seattle have a quality rating sign so you as a visitor know that you are not risking any food-related health issues.
Finally, in the area I had to take a look at the infamous Gum Wall, which is literally a brick wall covered with chewing gum. People have been sticking gum here since 1993. It is super weird!
And now, because Build registration time has come, I headed to the Washington Convention Center. The conference venue is huge. It resides on both sides of the streets and the two parts are connected with so-called Skybridge. The registration took place in the main building and when I arrived about 30 minutes after start, the queue was already stretching across the whole third floor. After waiting for quite a bit I received my conference badge and Build 2018 t-shirt.
Waiting in a line makes you hungry, so I visited the Cheesecake Factory across the street, particularly curious because I still remember it from The Big Bang Theory. The cheesecake was really great and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The final Sunday plan took place in Sheraton hotel next to Washington Convention Center, where Microsoft held the Windows Developer Awards. Joe Belfiore took the stage and raised a glass and confirmed support to the developers of Windows apps, which was a very nice and definitely reassuring thing to see. The winners have received their prizes and they were very much deserved, as the apps are really the prime examples of exceptional Windows apps. The unexpected surprise was the Ninja Cat of the Year award, which was given to Oren Novotny, as the most active and helpful member of the Windows open-source developer community. We all thank you Oren!!
I headed back to hotel soon to get some sleep, because I was still feeling quite groggy after the long flight. And with day 1 ahead, being ready and fresh was necessary!