So following on from my previous post that can be found here, this is my summary of yet another successful day at the event at the National Space Centre in Leicester.

The day began with a delicious breakfast at the hotel followed by writing the Day 1 post. We all then got on the bus and headed back to the venue where we were greeted with tea, coffee and pastries. A few minutes of networking opportunities followed before we were treated to another ‘launch’ of the Blue Streak rocket so we could be told to head back into The Shuttle Suites for the start of the day’s content.

It began with a talk about the current state of play at Microsoft, in terms of recent re-organisations in the company and the change of the MVP Program to it’s new home under the great Scott Guthrie. We also learnt about how far Microsoft has come under Satya Nadella and got educated in some of the Microsoft focus areas including Mixed Reality, AI and Quantum computing. The quantum computing bit was a particular highlight for me as it was an excellent explanation of qubits compared to traditional computing bits and how this has the power to solve complex problems that are as good as impossible to solve with traditional computing.

We then had a fantastic talk about empathy, especially around diversity and inclusion (a topic close to my heart as someone who identifies as neurodiverse) and the importance of being aware of that. Not just at work but with any user groups or conferences we organise. It included an excellent clip from Bladerunner and references to diversity in the various seasons of Star Trek. I always enjoy talks that reference Sci-Fi.

We then paused for a coffee break before being shown clips about TechKnow, a Women in Tech conference organised by a WiT ambassador, highlighting the great need for somewhere women can feel safe to go and meet like minded people. Sometimes being a female can be quite daunting when walking in to events as it is mainly all men. So anything that can be done to make events feel more inclusive to everyone is a good thing. I find it positive but also concerning that in 2017, so many groups like that exist. It’s great women have a place to go but should they really need to? Sadly yes but I am hoping it doesn’t stay that way.

This was followed by a video game journalist coming in and talking to us about ways we can reach more people with our content, in summary:

  • Don't pretend to be someone you aren't on social media
  • Attend lots of events and network as much as possible since people remember faces more than an online picture
  • Be passionate and target the right places like trade magazines or specialist sites, not just social media

We were then treated to some excellent yo-yo tricks as carrying one around is apparently one of his trademarks he is known for.

After another excellent lunch we had a session on Mixed Reality from two Microsoft employees, showing us the power of HoloLens and Mixed Reality. This included some great live demos as well as an explanation of the range of differences in ‘realities’ from the real world all the way up to virtual reality where everything you see is virtual. A highlight for me was when a ‘Made in Unity’ logo appeared next to me on the HoloLens, I always thought I was made by my parents!

HoloLens

Picture courtesy of Cyth at Microsoft. A demo of the immersive Acer Mixed Reality Headset and Pete inside the Cliff House

We then moved on to the final activity which was the unconference! People had submitted some suggestions on topics they wanted to discuss including Diversity & Inclusion, growing user groups, mentoring MVP’s and the MVP Summit. We then decided which topic we wanted to discuss personally and headed to the relevant table. As it is close to my heart, I chose Diversity & Inclusion as I feel that area sometimes focuses far more on simply attracting more women and not on other types of diversity. Not just neurodiversity but also race, other genders besides the binary and the various other reasons why sometimes people don’t feel comfortable attending. Some excellent discussions were had, although disappointingly our D&I table only had women for most of the discussion. We will definitely need to work on why more men don’t feel able to talk about these things with us despite showing an earlier interest.

We then began saying goodbye to each other, exchanging Twitter handles (how 2017 lol) and going on our merry way.

As a first time attendee to this I felt very welcomed and supported. Not once was I made to feel bad because I am not an MVP! In fact I had lots of people giving me tips on blogging, how to get into public speaking and offering their support and speaking services at my group. I can honestly say it was a fantastic 2 days and it was a pleasure to meet everyone. See you all next year?

My goal is to attend in 2018 as an MVP so watch this space!