Brents IT Blog

Random thoughts by an IT GOAT


So i went to HIMSS

So the boss decided it was my turn to go to HIMSS this time!  Yay, i get to fly to Georgia, stay in a hotel for a week and explore hot-lanta.  Whelp, hot-lanta was freezing, it actually snowed on Tuesday.  I walked just about everywhere against my will, though i did cry mercy and hailed a cab a few times.  I stayed at the Embassy Suites which was about 400 feet from the massive building they call the World Congress Convention Center. 

I have decided that i will never let orbitz pick my plane seat again.  Granted i got stuck between two hot chicks on the way out and the way back, but the keyword here is "between".  I am a big guy and the look on those womens faces was one of desperation when they saw who was sitting between them.  Lets also not forget to mention that i boarded and found out i was at the back of the plane.... excuse me.. pardon me.. watch your head... ugh.  Anyhow, i landed at the airport and i was told by the people who answered the Embassy Suites phones that they had a shuttle that went to the airport.  This is false.... very freaking false.  I must of wondered around the shuttle area for an hour before someone could actually tell me that there was NO shuttle and that i would have to take the Atlanta link shuttle.  Ok, well, no problem... oh wait, another area crammed with seating that i think was made for munchkins.  I swear the seat exactly 14 inches across.  i swore i would never take that stupid shuttle again, the company is just to have to pay for the cab.

So i finally got to the hotel around midnight and was checked in quickly.  Shortly thereafter i was in my room ironing my shirts and getting ready for bed.  What a nice room.  If you have never stayed in an embassy suites, lets just say "medium sized apartment".  The room had two TVs a small kitchen area and a door between the front room and the back bedroom.  I can say that the radio they had was nifty but worthless for picking up radio waves in that building.  The Iron was cracked, so they had to give me a new one, but that was my only complaint.  Breakfast was free and consisted of just about anything you could want for breakfast.  More cafeteria tasting, but free.  Dinner was available at Ruth Chris for an absorbent amount of money.  I only ate there once that week, but the food was amazing!  There was a Johnny rockets, Subway, and a few small restaurants behind the hotel that i found on the second day.

So what about this HIMSS conference?  Well, it was interesting.  I think i got more out of the thing by sticking around the vendor areas than actually attending the speaking sessions.  Most of the sessions i thought would be of interested were 10,000 foot overviews written for people who didn't even know what it was, IE CEO/CFO/CIO/CMO/CMIO.  I did get to talk with a few CIOs to get their perspective on our EHR software and their experiences.  Just about everyone who knew about ECW knew it had issues and either paid someone else to fix them or changed software programs.  While this was a relief, it was also not helpful.  I did speak with the ECW folks in the vendor area. 

Let me stop right there, the vendor area was ..... enormous!  It took up the entire downstairs of both convention wings.  Close to 1,000 booths to dump your business cards in, enter contests, chit chat, drink, eat, watch presentations, demo software and hardware.  It was quite impressive.  Like i said above, i think i got way more out of this area just talking with people and vendors/suppliers than actually attending the speaking sessions.

So lets talk about the speaking sessions for a minute.  Out of the 15 or so i went to, only two were really helpful.  One covered a CIO's expansion of his server room and IT areas.  He must of been an old building because he ran into everything that could possibly go wrong.  I was interested in the fact that he bought two new UPS units to power his server room.  These are not small units, these are room sized units meant to keep a room running on battery for a few days.  I would of gone the generator route myself, for 100k you can buy some big ones.  I also like having a rack with an APC at the bottom that makes the whole thing self contained.  If i were at a massive data center, 20k sq ft, i might think about using large UPS units for power conditioning and backup, but for his size, they seemed overkill. 

The second session had more to do with making your customers happy.  No, they weren't talking about patients, they were talking about internal employees.  He went through his failures and folly's, then followed up with what he did to correct course and address employee grievances.  He went over the fact that they had to do an internal marketing campaign to get employees to join the fold and report problems immediately.  He added a very detailed monitoring system that spit out reports and alerts on TVs around the company.  The TVs showed stuff that easily understandable by anyone and this allowed all the staff to see how the system was doing and understand the complexity of the systems.  I also found out he had used ECW, so i had a nice little chat with him regarding problems he had with the software.

Short note on the food in the conference center: It sucked.

So back to the "Exhibition Halls" full of sales guys just begging to scan your badge.  I actually found it interesting that everyone was barcoded, you would think in this day and age they would use RFID!  Never seen so many sales guy making funny faces trying to scan my badge.  While it saved them time, i was unable to unload a bunch of my business cards that i had just printed up!  I made a new logo, the old company one is changing and everyone hates it, i also used some nice fonts and people were impressed with my layout!  I did however never miss an opportunity to drop my card in the contest bowl.  I actually won a WII and WII fit!  I think i won some other stuff too, but was not preset because HP was giving me a sneak peak at some new hardware they were developing( nope cant discuss!).  Thanks PC Connection for the opportunity, hope it works out!

So after four days of walking and walking and walking, my feet were just about to explode.  by the third day i was trying to sit down any chance i had.  I figured out quickly that night life is reserved for those who came from cities where they actually walk all day.  Here in FL, we generally only walk areas, not the city.

I ended up leaving early on Thursday because they shut down the exhibition hall.  After a bit of feet recuperation, i made my way to the Georgia Aquarium and Coke museum.  Again, both buildings were in walking distance of the hotel... ugh.  The Georgia Aquarium was a live exhibit and an interesting experience.  I haven't been to a museum in years, let alone a science exbit.  They were nice enough to pull my away from molesting the sand sharks and sting rays that were floating around the kiddie pool then bring me upstairs to watch the whale feeding!  That was interesting, they actually pull the small pontoon boats along a wire while dragging the whales meal in front of the whales mouth!   So after i finished staring at the size of the whales, making personal notes of weight loss plans, i went back to the kiddie ponds.  There were several interaction areas where you could touch various forms of life.  I think the most interesting pool was the one with the anemone things.  Thats my best description of these weird looking plant like things that clung to the side of the wall.  If you just brush against them, they try to wrap your fingers up and pull.  They weren't dangerous though.  The whole place had the look and feel of a science exhibit though, so it was almost like being back in school.

The next place i went was the Coke museum.  Classic coke and anything you want to purchase with a coke logo on it.  It was worth the small admission price and the time to play with some of the stuff and taste flavors.  The part i liked was the store in the back, i was able to get my hands on all the stuff my nephew likes, so suffice to say, his birthday and Christmas are taken care of.  I had to call my sister to find out what he didn't have.

well next year HIMSS is in Orlando, so i guess the whole gang is going, though i only plan on attending the exhibits.  If you went, i hope you had a good time!