EduGeek at the Ruckus Big Dogs Conference in Marbella
Well, I’m back from Spain and am now in the office busying myself by paying bills and catching up on email etc.
I have to start off by thinking Ruckus for having EduGeek at their Big Dogs conference in Marbella (and even one of our members was there as a guest of another company!) and getting to meet all of their staff from Selina Lo (the CEO) David Callisch (VP of marketing and MC of the event) right over to GT Hill (who likes to be called, simply, ‘GT’) their resident wireless uber techy whose personality and presentation skills are amazing. Trust me, anyone who can make understanding wireless that simple whilst getting a huge amount of technical information across at the same time is a very valuable person indeed. Just done try and get in front of him in the lunch queue!
I originally flew out from Blackpool at about 7am on Wednesday leaving cold rainy Lancashire to land in Malaga 3 hour later in cold rainy Spain. The weather and temperature were identical to where I’d just left. A bit unnerving that. I met up with Scott from Ruckus UK and Mark Power from Net-Ctrl at the airport and from there we had a minibus waiting for us. Once we got to the hotel 45 mins later we checked in. Well, they did. My room was still being occupied, and I had to wait 2 hours before I could move in. At 6pm Ruckus hosted a cocktail party with canapés as an opportunity for us all to mingle and get to know each other. The majority of people at the event we Ruckus distributors, resellers and installers as well as a mix of people like me who’d been asked to present on a raft of topics. It was a mistake having a free bar for 5 hours mixed in with food that was either hit or miss. In fact, some of it was very miss indeed, and Mark and I spent some time playing ‘dare’ with the food to find out just which was edible and which was not. It was also nice to bump into Joe from CPL who arrived much later than everyone else, and by the end of the evening had taking in more beer than was good for me and less food than was required to keep the beer in check and went to bed.
The next morning I had a sort of breakfast (in fact I’d got my timings wrong and was the first awake), and everyone else got a bit of a lie-in which I sorely needed. The weather had started to improve and at 9am the conference got underway. After the introductory speeches and housekeeping we were treated to Talks about large scale wireless roll outs in areas such as hospitals, the Marriot Hotel chain and other areas, followed by GT storming the stage with his presentation before lunch (you know when it’s lunch, because GT lets you know!) and break-out sessions in the afternoon. I chose ‘The ins and outs of 802.11n’ and ‘Smarter wi-fi best practices’, both of which provided me with masses of information and cleared up a lot of misunderstandings I’d had with wi-fi.
That evening we were treated to a meal at a hotel in main Marbella (our hotel was next to Puerto Banus, a millionaire’s playground, look at the pictures on Google Earth!) where they had to unfortunately cancel a planned beach BBQ at the last min because the weather still looked iffy. Still, we had a great sit down meal where I misidentified the pickled asparagus as being part of a dolphin’s anatomy. Still, with more free drinks and a coach dropping us off at Puerto Banus I had a couple of more drinks and took myself to bed by midnight. I was lucky; some were out until 5am! Whilst I do like a drink, I’m not a night-owl and like to get at least some sleep each night.
The next day was my presentation, entitled ‘Building Schools For The Future’, but considering this is now the least favoured of 3 options under the new govt I had to completely re-write it at the last minute, so whilst I kept the title (we had to really as it was on all of the agendas) I also found that my 45 min slot had been reduced to 30 mins, so some frantic last minute pulling of slides took place ,but it went down well. I explained that managed, high capacity wi-fi was the future for many UK schools, particularly primaries, and given that primaries out number secondary’s at approximately 3-1 it will be here that the UK education sector will see the take up of these technologies most. I also spent several minutes showing some slides of the types of schools most typically found in the UK and had quite a few people afterwards thanking me for that as it took them back to their school days! I actually waffled more than I should have and my 30 min session that I wanted to speed though at 20mins (+questions) took 35mins in all and was followed by a Ruckus version of ‘Ask the admins’ but with actually having all of the admins (senior management) in the room. It was quite striking how close the Ruckus event was to how we run out conferences actually, with it being very informal, lots of chances to meet and mingle and it being greased by alcohol and food. I have to admit though, the food at our conferences is better; this is no fault of Ruckus, just the hotel we were in which they had no control over. It was very fortunate Ruckus was there or else I wouldn’t have any internet connectivity at all. The hotel had 3 open wi-fi networks that sometimes allowed you to connect, but never gave any internet access. This was, apparently, down to the fact that lots of people have iPhones and Android phones and they simply run out of IPs and bandwidth constantly and have done nothing to alleviate the problem, the same goes for mobile phones and data roaming where I simply could not connect to any data services, even when they were visible. Southern Spain really needs to sort its life out!
Saturday was spent hunting for presents in Marbella’s old town and then meeting\networking in the afternoon, followed by watching the England match in the evening (it would have been nice to come home on a high!) then checking out the next day to fly back. I must take this opportunity to thank Mark Power for sharing his taxi to the airport with me (a £70 ride) and I flew back last night to Blackpool.
All in all, it was a very worthwhile trip and I got a very important message across about wi-fi in UK schools and where it is going. The entire Ruckus team, from Selina through to their UK and European teams are extremely approachable and not at all structured like the larger companies out there. In fact they work much the same way we at EduGeek do and take a lot of time to ensure they are not a faceless corporate money making machine. They listen, they make themselves available, and judging by some of their future products they showed us (which I can’t tell you about just yet) they have paid attention. So thank you Ruckus. And I’d really like to do this again next year.