VMworld

More About Spousetivities

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Since Spousetivities started—unofficially in 2008, then more officially in 2009—there has been a lot of speculation about what the program is and what the participants do. I’m writing this post to give a little insight to those that may not know much about Spousetivities and the purpose it serves in the larger IT community.

First, I think it’s important to talk about what Spousetivities isn’t. Spousetivities is not a bunch of women getting together to gossip and go shopping while our husbands/boyfriends/significant others go to technical conferences.

First and foremost, Spousetivities is a community-focused and community-driven program designed to help to promote healthy work-life balance. Spousetivities allows couples (and families) to travel together for business while ensuring that accompanying partners and family members not attending the conference have fun, safe activities to do. This ensures the conference attendee doesn’t have to worry about those traveling with him or her, allowing him or her to fully take advantage of the all the conference has to offer.

Second, Spousetivities is an opportunity for networking and friendship. Many of the participants over the years have remained friends long after the events. Personally, I’ve made a number of good friends through the activities, and I know others have too. Similarly, in some cases, we have been able to support small businesses that are run by participants as we share our companies and ideas with each other. This is a productive and supportive environment that participants have come to love and appreciate over the years.

Third, Spousetivities is a great way to experience the conference’s host city. In an effort to make these activities unique and successful, I update the activities and plans every year. Starting out on tours in individual rental cars in 2008, Spousetivities enjoyed group rates on public tours over the next couple years, and now participants enjoy private tour buses and sometimes even limousines for transportation!

Fourth, Spousetivities is a unique way for IT companies to show they support the community and work-life balance. Spousetivities allows companies to sponsor the activities and show that they believe that the support of one’s spouse/partner and family is important. This year at VMworld 2014 in San Francisco, Spousetivities is thankful for the support of our sponsors: VMware NSX, The Virtualization Practice, VMUG, Xangati, HyTrust, vBackup, Origami Owl, and Wine Shop at Home. The support of our sponsors helps keep costs down and allows Spousetivities to offer private transportation and exclusive tours.

So how did it all begin? After traveling with my husband, Scott Lowe, for several years to conferences, I finally said “No more!” I was tired of his crazy schedules while I sat in hotel rooms or ventured out only to get lost or be bored going places alone. (For those that know me, I am quite the social person so being alone in a big city was not my thing.) Furthermore, finding my way around was challenging, and I once got lost in LA. Believe me, that wasn’t pleasant! I finally agreed to attend VMworld 2008, if Scott would ask if any other spouses were coming and if they’d like to meet for lunch. A flood of responses poured in and the “lunch” quickly became a trip to the Hoover Dam, a Grand Canyon excursion, tours of “the Strip” in Las Vegas, and much more. At the conclusion of the week, everyone asked me to please do it again for 2009. It was very clear there was a need in the community for such activities.

None of this would be possible without the support of the community and the sponsors. The community launched Spousetivities, including the very name. In a conversation during the 2008 activities with John Troyer, the name was born. From there, another friend (Joep Piscaer) secured the URL to launch the website. Before I knew it, Spousetivities was born. Further support came from the community podcast, vBrownBag, numerous people on Twitter and Facebook, and of course the many sponsors over the years. Clearly, the community has built the Spousetivities brand.

There you have it: a clear explanation of who and what Spousetivities is all about. I’ve listened as people make fun of “Spousetivities” and what they perceive the program is. Hopefully, this makes clear what it is, why it exists, and the importance of keeping the program alive and moving forward.

Giving Back to the Community

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For seven years, Spousetivities has been fortunate to be part of the VMware/VMworld community. Since 2008, we’ve been the only community-focused and community-driven spouse activities program, and it’s been an honor. Spousetivities exists thanks to the support of the community. However, Spousetivities also exists to provide support back to that same community.

Last week, a member of our community was tragically taken from us. Jim Ruddy died in a car accident, leaving behind his wife Stephanie and their children. This is a horrible loss, and the community continues to mourn his loss. (My husband, Scott, worked with Jim at EMC for a number of years, as did many others.) In honor of Jim and to support the family he left behind, I worked with other members of the community to establish the Jim Ruddy Memorial Fund. As of this writing, that fund had raised over $15,000 to help support Stephanie and the kids in this very trying time.

No amount of money can replace Jim. However, this is a difficult time for Stephanie—not only emotionally and physically, but also financially. For that reason, Spousetivities is setting aside 10% of all proceeds raised by activities at VMworld 2014 to be donated to Jim Ruddy’s family via the Jim Ruddy Memorial Fund.

If you haven’t donated to the Jim Ruddy Memorial Fund yet, please consider doing so. If you (or your spouse/partner/significant other) is participating in Spousetivities at VMworld this year, please know that your participation means also helping a family in their time of need.

Being part of the community means giving back to the community.

Don’t Attend VMworld Alone

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To all VMworld conference attendees: We are really glad you’ve chosen to attend VMworld US 2014 in San Francisco. As a member of the VMware community, VMworld is the place to be to learn about the latest news, products, and trends from VMware. But don’t come alone…bring your spouse, partner, friend, or family member and let Spousetivities take care of them!

Since VMworld 2008, Spousetivities has been organizing activities for spouses, partners, friends, and family members of VMworld conference attendees. The first and only community-driven and community-oriented program of its kind, Spousetivities is back again for VMworld 2014. San Francisco, here we come!

First, let’s get some important details out of the way. Spousetivities wouldn’t be possible without the support of some great sponsors! These sponsors help subsidize the cost of the various activities as well as cover the costs of things like prizes, the ever-popular “Get to Know You” breakfast, and more. This year, Spousetivities is sponsored by:

Second, although it’s called “Spousetivities,” it’s not just for spouses! Partners, significant others, close friends, family members…all are welcome. If you’re attending VMworld 2014 and have someone traveling with you but not attending the conference, send them our way. We’ve got some great activities lined up.

Speaking of activities…let’s see what’s on the plate for this year!

  • The famous “Get to Know You” breakfast, held again at Jillian’s this year
  • Mission Street food tour
  • Kayaking on the Russian River
  • Whale watching
  • And wine, of course!

Stay tuned for an agenda of the activities and more details on each of the activities. Registration is now open; just visit http://vmworld2014-spousetivities.eventbrite.com. You’ll want to sign up right away—activities fill up quickly!

See you in San Francisco!

Spousetivities, Unitrends, Prizes

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Everyone knows the Spousetivities breakfast is a great place to try and win cool prizes. Now, Spousetivities and Unitrends offers you another chance to win. What do you need to do to win? Here’s the contest info:


Unitrends ❤’s Spousetivities Drawing! Enter to win!

One grand prize winner will receive a 32GB iPad

Five additional winners will receive a Unitrends Swag Bags (worth over $100!)

How to enter:

Show some twitter love and tweet about sponsors or Spousetivities happenings using #UnitrendsVMworld and #Spousetivities to receive an entry into a random drawing.

Receive 5 bonus entries by attaching a Unitrends-related pic (Unitrends logo, wearing a Unitrends or Spousetivities t-shirt… heck grab a crayon and hold up a sign showing us your love)!

This is a great way to thank one of our sponsors and get a chance at some cool prizes, too! Contest starts Monday, August 26 and concludes on Wednesday, August 28 at midnight. Happy Tweeting!

6th Annual Spousetivities at VMworld

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It’s that time of year again—time for Spousetivities at VMworld US 2013, in awesome San Francisco, CA! For the sixth consecutive year, Spousetivities is proud to announce activities organized for spouses, partners, friends, and family members traveling to San Francisco with VMworld conference attendees. In this year’s lineup of activities, we’ll have some perennial favorites as well as some entirely new adventures.

Here are the details:

  1. First, and most importantly, Spousetivities is open to both men and women, and not just spouses—boyfriends, girlfriends, domestic partners, friends, and family members are all welcome. The more the merrier!
  2. Second, please note that there is a small registration fee for each activity. While I’m usually lucky enough to get some sponsors to help defray the costs of the activities—this year we have Intel, Unitrends, Virtualization Practice, Train Signal, and VMUG as sponsors (thank you!)—I still have to cover the remaining costs. (Note that registration fees are nonrefundable.)
  3. Finally, you must register in advance for all activities. As soon as you’re ready to register, head over to the registration page.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You can hit me up via Twitter at @spousetivities.

Now, on to the event descriptions! Let’s take a quick peek at what I’ve got lined up for you this year:

  • We’ll kick off the week with our usual “Get to Know You” breakfast, held again this year at Jillian’s (right around the corner from Moscone—you can walk your honey to the conference, then hop over to breakfast!). Breakfast will run from 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM, and it will be a time of eating, meeting new folks, and winning some cool prizes! Breakfast will also be when you’ll get your goodie bag, which will include—you guessed it—the now-famous Spousetivities T-shirts! This year’s theme: Software-Defined Sweeties! (Trust me, your IT hubby/wife/partner will think this is hilarious!)
  • After breakfast, you have your option of either a walking city tour or a trip to Muir Woods. The walking city tour will take you to places like Pier 39, Ghirardelli Square, Coit Tower, and more! Prefer something a bit more nature-focused? The trip to Muir Woods will give you the opportunity to experience the awe-inspiring redwoods. Both adventures—the walking city tour and the Muir Woods trip—will depart shortly after breakfast on Monday.
  • Tuesday, I’ve arranged for a whale watching tour! It’s an early start—we’ll be leaving the Marriott Marquis at 7:00 AM—but you’re in for a great time watching whales in the Gulf of the Farallones. Even better, 25% of the proceeds go to the Sea Shepherd Conversation Society to help save the whales. Enjoy nature and help preserve nature at the same time. What could be better?
  • Two options await you on Wednesday. For those that are new to San Francisco, I’ve arranged a city bus tour (by private bus, with a tour guide—naturally!). Leaving at 10 AM from the Marriott Marquis, your guide will not only take you to the tourist attractions, but will also show you some areas known only to the locals. Lunch (a Dim Sum lunch) is included. Alternately, if you’ve “been there, done that,” then you can participate in a great wine tour in Sonoma. We’ll visit both Benziger and Domaine Carneros for wine tastings, and enjoy an upscale boxed lunch while at Benziger. The wine tour departs the Marquis at 9 AM. Either way, you’ll be back in time to join your conference-attending partner to visit the VMworld party on Wednesday night, should you so desire. (Please note that passes for the Wednesday night party must be purchased through VMworld registration.)
  • On Thursday, we’ll depart the Marriott Marquis at 10AM for a special tour of the Botanical Gardens at UC Berkeley. Lunch in included (of course!), and our tour guide will be able to share some of the history of the campus. There’ll also be some time for shopping—actual shopping or just window shopping, your choice—in the area near the campus.

Sounds like a great line-up, doesn’t it? I urge you to register early (and often!), as these activities have a tendency to sell out. You don’t want to get left behind! Head on over to the registration page now and get signed up to have fun, meet new folks, see old friends, and have a great time at VMworld US 2013!

Celebrity Chef, IBM Edge, and Spousetivities!

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Are you thinking of bringing your spouse, partner, or significant other to IBM Edge?  Have they joined you before and Vegas was great once or twice but now they are done with the whole Vegas scene?  Well, here is a great way to get them excited about going back!  Spousetivities are available for them while you attend the conference.  Spousetivities you say?  Yes indeed!  Spousetivities offers fun day tours for conference attendee families each day of the event.  Some of the activities being offered during IBM Edge include a Hoover Dam tour, walking food tour that is a must do, Red Rocks tour, and a tour to a local ranch that includes a cooking session with a celebrity chef.  Did you hear that?  A celebrity chef!!! 

Chef Phillip Dell is not only premiering on Food Network’s “Chopped”, but he also has an amazing story to share with everyone.  He operates Sin City Chefs and his story is one of success over a battle with his weight.  As one might imagine, having a job that revolves around food, weight could be a constant area of difficulty.  Don’t miss the opportunity to meet Phillip, hear his story, and learn from this popular Las Vegas chef.

I look forward to seeing each of you there!   You can register here right now so you don’t miss this and all the great activities happening in just a few short weeks!  If you ever have questions or ideas, please feel free to contact me via my About Page.

See you in VEGAS!

Spousetivities at IBM Edge 2013!

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I’m very excited to announce Spousetivities has expanded again to include another new conference this year: IBM EDGE 2013! That’s right, Spousetivities will be on hand in Las Vegas, NV during IBM EDGE 2013 to provide safe, enjoyable activities for spouses, domestic partners, significant others, and family members who might be traveling with conference attendees.

If you’re planning on attending IBM EDGE this year and haven’t considered bringing your spouse/partner/significant other, please reconsider! Likewise, if you’re the spouse/partner/significant other of a conference attendee and haven’t considered traveling to Las Vegas because you don’t want to sit in a hotel room bored all day, please reconsider!

You can visit the IBM EDGE 2013 Spousetivities registration page to sign up for any the activities we’ve planned that week.

Here’s a quick sneak peek at what I’ve arranged for you:

  • Monday, June 10: We’ll start the week with our ever-popular “Welcome Breakfast,” where you’ll not only get some great food, but also have the opportunity to meet other activity participants. Some great friendships have been forged at the Spousetivities Welcome Breakfast! We’ll also be having drawings for some great giveaways, so please plan on being there! Following the breakfast, we’ve arranged an awesome “Foodie Tour” of Vegas that is simply not to be missed.

  • Tuesday, June 11: On Tuesday we’ve arranged for a unique tour that combines not only the excitement of the Vegas Strip but also the intense natural beauty of the Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area. Talk about opposites!

  • Wednesday, June 12: Wednesday’s activity is very unique. Spousetivities has arranged for a special barbecue cooking class with celebrity chef Chef Dell. While Chef Dell has a passion for barbecue, he has an even greater passion for helping others feel confident in the kitchen. You’ll enjoy a limo ride to the ranch, a cooking class with Chef Dell, and an enjoyable barbecue lunch at the rustic cowboy ranch house afterward.

  • Thursday, June 13: If you haven’t been the Grand Canyon’s West Rim, then this is the tour for you! You’ll enjoy private luxury coach transportation, breakfast, lunch on the Hualapai Indian Reservation at the West Rim, and breathtaking views of the United States’ most fabulous natural wonders.

  • Friday, June 14: The week’s activities wrap up on Friday with the opportunity to take a tour of Hoover Dam (including the dam’s inner workings!), followed by a relaxing deli lunch before an incredible cruise on the beautiful Desert Princess. Just what you need to unwind after a fun-filled week!

All these activities are in addition to discounts on spa services at THE Bathhouse at Mandalay Bay, such as massages, manicures, pedicures, and facials. Who could ask for more?

All of these activities do require registration, so be sure to visit the registration page to sign up for the activities in which you’d like to participate. And don’t delay, because space is limited—you won’t want to miss out!

Tweet Together Win Together

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Hi everyone, it’s Crystal again, and I’m really excited about this announcement. This year, Spousetivities has the opportunity to bring you a whole new activity at VMworld! This activity will bring the conference attendee and spouse together to try and win fabulous prizes.

Intel and Spousetivities have joined forces to create a fun scavenger hunt that will allow both the VMworld conference attendee and the Spousetivities participant to participate together. Here’s how it works: couples will take specific pictures and tweet them according to a set of guidelines. Couples that find all the items on the scavenger hunt will qualify to be invited to an exclusive evening event hosted at Jillian’s on Thursday, August 30th. At this party, we’ll have a drawing to award qualifying couples great prizes like Ultrabooks, iPads, iPods, and much, much more. Keep in mind that you must be present to win, and you must first satisfy the rules of the scavenger hunt in order to get an invite to this exclusive Thursday night event.

So what’s on the scavenger hunt? We’ve tailored the items for the conference attendee as well as the Spousetivities participant:

  • Conference attendees will take pictures of key information and booth staff at participating vendors and post those pictures to Twitter. EMC and Dell have joined with us to be a part of this fun activity, including donating prizes to be awarded at the Thursday night event.
  • Spousetivities participants will take pictures during their adventures in San Francisco and surrounding areas, and post the pictures to Twitter. I’ll have more details on photo requirements soon. Make sure you get registered for the activities.

Once both the conference attendee and the Spousetivities participant have completed their part of the challenge, they’ll receive an invitation to the exclusive Thursday night event, brought to you by Intel.

Of course everyone wins when you get to spend time together with friends and colleagues enjoying food and drinks!  So get on Twitter and get ready to win with Intel, Spousetivities, Dell, and EMC!

Want to Win Train Signal’s New Video Training Course by Scott Lowe?

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As many of you know, Train Signal has sponsored Spousetivities for three years now.  Their sponsorship, along with the support of our other sponsors, has allowed us to offer activities that keep your loved ones occupied and entertained while you attend VMworld.  By now you probably thought Spousetivities was only focused on the conference attendee spouses, right?  Not this time! Spousetivities and Train Signal have teamed up to provide you, the VMworld conference attendee, a chance for a great prize. That’s right, not only does your spouse have a chance to win one of many great prizes, but you do too!

What can you win? How does the new Designing VMware Infrastructure video training by Scott Lowe sound? It sounds great, you say? Now that I have your attention, let me give you a little more information.  Train Signal has continually offered the IT community fabulous training courses that are easy to follow.  They are offered in DVD and online streaming format so you can watch and learn when you have time and at your own pace.  Designing VMware Infrastructure continues Train Signal’s dedication to excellence and is the perfect VCAP-DCD 5 Certification prep tool.

How do you win? It’s easy! When you register your spouse for Spousetivities, or when your spouse registers, simply check the “Yes” box when asked if you’d like to win. You’ll need to enter your e-mail address. See, it really is that simple. 

Don’t delay, register now for your chance to win this package valued at almost $400! You simply can’t lose with Spousetivities and Train Signal!

VMworld 2012 Activity Highlight: Napa Pizza and Wine

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Hello again, Crystal here and I’m back to tell you more about one of the outstanding activities I have planned for Spousetivities at VMworld 2012 in San Francisco. This time I want to talk about the Napa Pizza and Wine event, scheduled for Thursday, August 30, at 10:00 AM.

Much like the Sonoma Wine and Dine event on Monday, this activity gives Spousetivities participants the EXCLUSIVE OPPORTUNITY to visit both William Hill Estate Winery and the Louis M. Martini Winery in St. Helena. You’ll start the day on a private bus headed to the William Hill Estate Winery. At this near-legendary 200-acre estate (of which 140 acres are planted), you’ll enjoy a personalized 1 hour tour and wine tasting. The bus will then take you to the Louis M. Martini winery, where you’ll have another personalized tour. However, that’s not all–participants will also get to take part in an interactive tasting and pairing activity. You’ll get to explore the nuances of food and wine pairing and experience first-hand how your palate responds when wine is paired with ingredients of various tastes and textures. (Oh, and along the way you’ll be making your own pizza. Cool, huh?)

You’ll come away from the Napa Pizza and Wine experience with not only a great day’s worth of memories, but newfound knowledge on the foundations of taste science and wine pairing. What an opportunity!

You can sign up for the Napa Pizza and Wine event at the VMworld 2012 Spousetivities registration page. Don’t miss out!

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