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What to Do If You Don't Go to TechEd

The US version of Microsoft TechEd starts on June 5. In past years, my pre-TechEd columns have concentrated on things you should plan to see or do at the show. This year, however, I'm taking a different approach and suggesting some things to do if you aren't going to TechEd.
Make plans for future conferences. Microsoft has already announced the dates and location for TechEd 2006 (June 11-16 in Boston), and Windows IT Pro will present the Microsoft Exchange Connections show later this year (October 31-November 5 in San Diego, California--see the first URL below). Both events are likely to sell out, so you might as well spend a few minutes during the week sketching out your travel plans. Microsoft is offering several other iterations of TechEd this year in various regions (see the second URL below)--just in case you can't wait until next year.
Watch some Webcasts. Some interesting Webcasts are scheduled during TechEd. For example, on June 9 at 2:00 p.m. Pacific time, Scott Schnoll will present a live Webcast titled "Exchange 2003: Tips, Tricks and Shortcuts." Also available are on-demand Webcasts, such as "Understanding the Exchange Store." You can view the list of Webcasts on the TechEd Web site.
Watch some more Webcasts. The Microsoft TechNet site also contains a ton of archived Exchange-related Webcasts. The fastest way to find them is to visit the Exchange team blog (see the URL below) and search for Webcast. If you want to simulate the TechEd experience, turn off your office lights and set the font size on your monitor to a much smaller size than usual. Oh, and wear shorts.
Get better junk mail filtering. Microsoft released an update to the Outlook 2003 Junk Mail Filter on May 11, and WinDeveloper has a new tool called IMF Tune (see the URL below) that improves the Exchange Intelligent Message Filter's logging and lets you tweak its filtering options. I'll discuss IMF Tune in a future column.
Test your security knowledge. Microsoft is running an online security competition called the Gatekeeper Test for residents of 20 countries (excluding the United States). Two questions will be posted every weekday beginning June 6; the winners get bragging rights and some cool swag.
Stay home and play your Xbox. Paul Thurrott posted his Xbox Live gamertag (see the URL below), so I can do no less. If you get the urge to play a few rounds of Halo2 against a grownup who isn't particularly skilled, my gamertag is digitalCajun. But you'll have to wait until after TechEd to do so.
As for me, I'm not doing most of these things. Instead, I'll be hanging out in the pressroom at TechEd, then taking my wife and kids on a surprise trip to Walt Disney World. Maybe I'll see you there!
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