Time to re:Invent ourselves again!
AWS‘s annual conference, re:Invent, is just around the corner. Hands up who is excited? This year will be RedBear’s 8th visit to re:Invent, held in Las Vegas. Every year, the event gets bigger and better and every year AWS announce a whole swag of new and exciting innovations. It’s morphed somewhat from our first trip in 2013 with 7 000 attendees! This year, the event is spread across 6 casinos along the Strip so plan your schedule carefully.
It’s a fair investment of our time and money (have you seen flight prices recently?) and, coming from Down Under, it’s an exhausting week. Since we have been attending for a number of years, we like to think that we have become pretty good at getting the most out of the week. For those on the ground, here are our top pro tips for surviving the week that is re:Invent.
There may, and we mean may, be the odd chance that you will get less sleep than you expect. Not only will your brain be spinning from all the content but there’s a party or two to attend. You will need coffee. Unfortunately, you are in the USA, and particularly Las Vegas. Now go easy on me American readers, but the wonderful USA is not know for its espresso based beverages (unless things have changes in the last few years!). I come from Melbourne where 75% of premises are actually cafes so I may have high expectations. Fear not caffeine fiends, there is a sanctuary on the strip where you can get a brew.
Right outside the exhibition centre in the Venetian you will find Espressamente illy. If you can fight your way past the hordes of Aussies and Kiwis, you will find yourself a quite drinkable brew. Just don’t look at the bill. Just hand over the credit card and smile. It will be worth it.
As a backup, pack your aeropress (and make sure you hotel has a kettle)!
What America lacks in coffee it more than makes up for in beer! Forget about all the mass produced Bud and the like, there is some damn fine beer and lots of it all over the country. The Yardhouse, near the Linq, is the place to go. Your challenge is to sample every beer they have. There are alot on tap, over a hundred at the last count. If you run out, they also have bottles and cider.
The food is pretty good too (and plentiful).
Despite rumours to the contrary, sleep is an option. In fact, at RedBear, we recommend it. You won’t want to miss the amazing content (we particularly look forward to the more interactive chalk talks), so sleeping through sessions is not an option. A power nap during the day can do wonders and hopefully you’ve chosen some accommodation that offers a comfy bed and some privacy. That dormitory room in the backpackers might have seemed like a good deal when you paid for it in advance but by Thursday night, it might not be looking so rosy. Maybe you thought that you were 20 again?
Getting around at re:Invent
Your will need to get up and down the Strip if you are to cover the whole range of session (chalk talks are a particular recommendation). We advice that you camp out at one part of the campus for half a day before switching or plan your transition time like a military campaign. One of the venues, the Mandalay Bay, is so far south on the strip, it may be in a different state. Perhaps you need to get a flight there?
If you do need to transition from venues, AWS offer shuttle buses and after a few dodgy years, it’s a pretty slick operation. However, don’t plan to make a transition between venues on a bus in less than an hour. Remember how long it can take to just walk through the casino to the room where your session is?
You can power walk from the Venetian to the MGM in 30 mins but to do so, you’ll need to fight the hordes on the Strip. Chances of success? Low. Keep foot based transitions to nearby venues. Ride shares are an option but everyone else will have the same idea so expect to pay top dollar.
Las Vegas is often referred to as the Copenhagen of North America, an epicentre of cycling. The bike share scheme is free and everywhere. Unfortunately, those last two sentences may have not been true. The reality is that riding a bike on the strip is only reserved for the mad or the brave (not even the drunk try this). Do not ride a bike on the strip or anywhere downtown in Vegas!
It’s a desert
Our first few times to re:Invent, in early October, it was t-shirt, short sleeves, everything you expect of a city in a desert. Six years ago re:Invent moved to the end of November. We stepped off the plane. It was 5C plus the wind chill, a typical Melbourne day, you might say (except we waited 5 minutes and it didn’t change. Odd). The first thing we did was go to the mall to buy jackets and jumpers and warm clothes. Don’t make our mistake, take warm clothes, because maybe, just maybe, it won’t be t-shirt weather again.
A bit of distractions in the form of a stage sh… no, scratch that. No one goes to Vegas to see one of the shows. Seriously don’t go to a show. No.
One place worth checking out is the Sphere. It’s brand new and worth a visit. Maybe you can sneak into one of the vendor after parties there?
Get off the Strip!
Yes, Vegas is more than just a single “boulevard” of casinos. I know, I know, stay with me here. If you seek something more than Cloud, vodka and losing money, head out of town. There are trips to the Hoover Dam or the Grand Canyon but we recommend hiring a mountain bike from Trek Bicycles (formally McGhies) at Blue Diamond and hitting the awesome trails for a few hours.
re:Invent your world
So there you go, everything you need to know about surviving re:Invent. If you can’t make it this year, we will be blogging from the event so plug in to catch all the action! See you on the other side.