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Interop: Find The Fun

Interop Las Vegas kicks off in just a matter of days, and while I am excited to go experience all of the great content and meet many of our site's readers there, the thought of it actually makes my head hurt a little. There are so many good sessions and workshops, and so many excellent speakers, it's honestly hard to take it all in. When you consider that the discussion focuses on challenging technology topics, it makes going to a conference awfully hard work.

Luckily the organizers of Interop realize that attendees need to have their thinking caps on during most of the conference, so they are working extra hard to inject fun and games into activities throughout the day. The idea is to make fun an integral part of the conference, so that even if you are working and learning the entire time you're there (like I plan to), you can still enjoy yourself and have a great time.

You'll want to start out by exploring the Interop HQ at Expo Booth #2139. This serves as the home of free swag and prizes (fun!) and serves as the Interop social media command center. Social media will go live-and-in-person here, with your Tweets giving you the opportunity to win an iPad Mini, T-shirts, sunglasses, and more. You can even get cozy IRL with friends old and new in and old-fashioned photo booth.

The HQ will also feature free food -- and only fun food is allowed! Morning coffee and muffins will be served on Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday afternoon, there will be root beer floats for everyone, and on Thursday afternoon, popcorn. In addition, a Donut Cart and Cookie Cart will be roaming the Expo Floor, so be on the lookout for those. The famous Booth Crawl also takes place in the afternoon on Wednesday.

If you really need a break, head over to the Fun Zone at Booth #2267. Open during Expo hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, you can relax here and play games including double-shot basketball, pinball, air hockey, and giant Connect Four.

Looking for fun that doesn't require sweat or overindulgence? You may already read Greg Ferro's blogs here on Network Computing, but you may not be aware that he is a celebrated contributor to many other publications, partly for his wit and keen sense of humor. In fact, he has even written the intriguingly titled ebook The Arse First Method of Technical Blogging.

If you want to learn more about technical blogging, find out how to operate arse first, or just hear some entertaining thoughts from a very smart guy, stop over at Greg's special session on How to Be a Tech Bloggerin the Interop HQ, Thursday at 1:00.

Who doesn't like awards? Interop Content Director (and former Network Computing Editor) Andrew Conry-Murray and I will be handing out the Best of Interop Awards on Tuesday at 5:30 pm in the Interop Theater on the Expo Floor. You can view the list of finalists here. The awards include nine product categories, as well as Best Startup Company and the Grand Award. They culminate on Wednesday with the Audience Choice Award, which allows attendees to vote for their favorite during the keynote speeches that morning. So be sure to attend the keynote on Wednesday to make your vote count!

Finally, the conference takes place in the City of Sin, so at least one flashy night out on the town is in order. Don't miss the Interop VIP Party at LIGHT, the new Cirque du Soleil nightclub in the Mandalay Bay Hotel. The party is open to all paid conference attendees, exhibitors, speakers, and media. The club features Cirque du Soleil performers and unique choreography, coupled with exclusive performance elements and visuals, innovative video mapping, lighting, sound and special effects.

So pack your bag and get ready to learn and work, but also get ready for FUN. See you in Las Vegas!