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Feb 24 / The Architect

The ultimate Citrix Synergy survival guide – 2016 Vegas edition

I’ve published this Ultimate Synergy Survival guide now for three years running and it’s always popular with both regulars and newbies. Now updated with 2016 links, content and Vegas-specific information. It’s a living document, so will be subject to updates as we get nearer the conference.

Hope you find it useful!

Revision History

2016.1 – First Las Vegas Edition
2016.4.15 – Added AppSense and Geekspeak party details
2016.4.28 – Added HPE Party details and link to SynergyTV streaming sessions
2016.5.3 – Added the CUGC Party
2016.5.8 – Added details of the Fremont Street zip wire
2016.5.12 – Added details of the Three £20 USA roaming SIM
2016.5.19 – Added the Community drinks social to the parties list, and the “alternative things to do” section

2016 conference changes

  • The on-site learning labs now only offer a 25% discount for walk-up exams taken on site. You need to book online by 31st March to get the full 100% discount, which then drops to 50% if booked before the conference starts.

Registration tips

  • Citrix offer discounts to public sector,  CUGC, Alumni and Citrix certified attendees. This can save you a few hundred dollars on your registration.
  • Keep a note of your registration confirmation code. You’ll need this repeatedly to log into the website to book your labs and build your agenda. Rather annoyingly, the site doesn’t allow you to choose your own password (only for the mobile app)
  • If you are the type to enter booth competitions but don’t want to be deluged with marketing email, register using a throw-away email address that you can dispose off post-conference. Be careful though, this will mean that you won’t automatically qualify for alumni status for future years as they use your email address as proof of previous attendance. If you are a GMail user, a handy tip is to add a “+synergy” to the part of your email address before the @ – this will still reach you, but will be treated as a different email address by everyone else and one which you can then create a “discard” rule against after the conference.
  • If you can’t expense your accommodation (or you are the one paying the expense bill) then check out my Synergy on a budget article for a special group booking hotel discount
  • If you want to take an instructor-led learning labs, this year you’ll need to pay an extra $99 as part of your conference registration. This gives you access to up to three labs which are all taking place on Sunday and Monday only. If you don’t want to shell  out an additional $99, the self-paced labs are still be included in your conference fee.

What to wear?

  • Check the weather forecast and pack appropriately
  • Whilst it’s tempting to just bring t-shirts and shorts (this being Vegas n’all), conference venues and break-out rooms always crank up the air-con so can be chilly if sitting for several hours doing a lab. Also, previous keynote’s have been known for being rather draughty!
  • Conference attire is business casual (khakis, jeans, polo shirts, etc.)
  • If your hotel has a pool or gym, bring your trunks, speedos, gym gear etc so you can work out (but no mankini’s please)

What to pack?

  •  If you’re booked on a learning lab you’ll need a laptop and VGA adaptor if it’s DisplayLink/HDMI only
  • Phone/laptop/iPad chargers
  • US travel adapters for said chargers/laptops
  • If you’re taking one of the free exams, any study material you might need
  • If you are from the EU remember you’ll need an ESTA completed in advance of your departure
  • Business cards for networking opportunities
  • Passport!
  • Print off this local map before you leave
  • If you’re a fan of freebies, remember to leave space in your luggage for both your conference bag and the variety of bugs, pens, stressballs and t-shirts you’ll no doubt return with! (or designer goods for your other half)
  • The conference halls are large, and you’ll spend a fair amount of time on your feet. Pack comfortable shoes.

Before you leave home

  • Set your work out-of-office email and voice-mail messages
  • Arrange your airport/hotel transfer. I avoid expensive taxi’s and pre-book shared shuttle services. A shared ride shuttle is $12 each way.
  • Book your instructor-led learning lab if you’ve paid for it. You can pre-book three of these for $99. You can attend more, but need to wait in a standby line at least 15 minutes before the scheduled start time.
  • Book your free exam – although this year be aware that the 100% discount finished on March 31st when it dropped to 50% and then drops again to 25% for walk-up exams.
  • Book yourself on the Simply Serve session. This is a great way to give something back to those less fortunate.
  • Download the Summit/Synergy mobile apps and download the Las Vegas area in Google maps whilst on WiFi to avoid expensive roaming data charges if you need to  search for your hotel
  • Speak to your mobile operator to ensure international roaming is enabled for your number. This is very hard to do once abroad when your phone doesn’t work after getting off the plane!
  • If you want to avoid expensive data roaming charges consider a temporary Three PAYG SIM – £20 will get you 12Gb USA roaming data, 300 mins and 3000 SMS and lasts for 30 days
  • Speak to your bank and/or credit card company and let them know you’re travelling so your card doesn’t get blocked for suspected fraud
  • Check in online the day before to get a better seat and allow later arrival at the airport
  • Go through the online agenda and add the sessions you are interested in to your agenda.
  • Watch out for my consolidated iCAL file downloads of the sessions to sync to your own calendar (Outlook, Google etc)

During the conference

Keep connected

If you’re coming from outside of the US and want to avoid expensive data roaming charges you have a number of options:

  • consider a temporary Three PAYG SIM – £20 will get you 12Gb USA 3G roaming data (note: no 4G), 300 mins and 3000 SMS and lasts for 30 days
  • purchase a Net10  SIM card for your phone from WallMart or a local retailer or a RoamMobility SIM online. For around $40 dollars you can get their SIM card and 30 days of pre-paid data that will give you 1Gb of 4G data (then unlimited 3G data/voice/SMS after you’ve used your quota).
  • Hook yourself up to the free venue WiFi when around the conference centre
  • Use any free WiFi provided in your hotel (many charge for in-room WiFi, but provide free WiFi in the lobby)
  • Spend large amount of time in McDonalds and Starbucks “Free hotspot hopping”

However you stay connected, do take out some time to Skype the family. Even a 5 minute call will bring a smile to a loved one.

Food and drink

If your hotel charges for breakfast – don’t pay! Breakfast and lunch is provided on every day of the conference.

Learn like crazy

There’s loads of opportunity to expand your knowledge during conference.

  • Take one (or several) self-paced learning labs on a few products that you might not be so familiar with.
  • Attend TechEdge on the Monday – it’s full of Citrix support gurus passing on their secret troubleshooting tips. A must for anyone involved with supporting Citrix technology
  • Ask your burning technology questions  to Citrix support gurus, product managers and CTPs in the Meet the Experts theater
  • Take your pre-booked exam and instructor learning lab
  • Learn and share your experiences with fellow delegates, CUGC leaders and CTPs at the Lunch table tech chats
  • Attend the GeekSpeak sessions to hear from industry experts, CTPs and fellow Geeks.
  • Consider attending E2E conference that’s immediately after Synergy – it’s a community-led conference packed full of great technical content. It’s just over the road from my Group Booking hotel offer!

Don’t be shy

  • There are load of networking opportunities to get to know some new peers. Follow the #CitrixSynergy hashtag if you’re a twitter user to keep abreast of discussions (although tweet volumes to this will explode once conference starts)
  • Sign-up to twitter if you’re not a user, even if you don’t plan to use it after the conference. Perhaps follow me during the conference or follow my list of CTPs – most of which will be attending the conference.
  • If you’ve done great work with Citrix products or technologies, submit them to the GeekOvation awards and get some recognition.

Have fun

Whilst Synergy is a great opportunity for learning, there’s also plenty of ways to let your hair down. There’s Geek speak tonight, the official  Welcome reception on Tuesday and the Synergy Party on Thursday.

There are vendor events interspersed during the week – usually on the Wednesday evening – details below of the ones I know about. Remember to keep yourself hydrated before collapsing into bed after partying to avoid the massive hangover the next day.

You can also try and score some points on the Synergy Game inside the mobile app. I came third the first year, and it really does try and ensure you make the most of your time at Synergy (although is very time consuming too!)

If you are attending the Synergy Party on the Thursday, you might want to book yourself on the Slotzilla zip wire than goes above Fremont Street – the venue for the Synergy Party. There are still loads of spaces available.

Parties & events

Event Day & Time Location Registration details
CUGC Pre-game Monday 5pm-7pm Top secret Online
Community Meet-up & drinks Monday 7.30pm onwards Double Helix bar, The Venetian Open to CUG members, CTPs  and UK delegates. RSVP to hello@squaredup.com
Synergy Welcome Reception Tuesday 6pm-9pm Solutions Expo None required
Geekspeak Tonight Wednesday 5.30pn-7pm  Titian 2301A & 2304 Add to agenda
AppSense party Wednesday 6.30pm-8.30pm  Rockhouse, Palazzo Hotel  Online
HPE Wednesday
7pm – 9pm
Firefly Tapas Kitchen and Bar, 3824 Paradise Rd Online
M7 Global Partners TBC
Synergy Party Thursday 7.30pm – 10.30pm Fremont Street (via shuttle bus) None required

Hung over in your hotel?

Don’t miss out – selected sessions are streamed over the internet. Enjoy Synergy from the comfort of your hotel room!

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Looking for a break from the usual conference events? Here’s a selection of ideas.

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