The Walking Billboard

Phil Factor, 2009-05-10

I spent a fascinating hour at the Teched Shop this afternoon. I was trying to get a feel for where the publishers were seeing the size of the market in the SQL Server space. I bumped into Brian Desmond whose epic Active Directory book is now in its 4th edition, and apparently selling briskly. He’s put a lot of work into the book and it is pleasing to see that he is getting rewarded by some brisk sales. As far as SQL Server goes, the most impressive book on display by far was SQL Server Forensic Analysis, by Kevvie Fowler. Against my normal instincts I bought it on the spot. I flicked open the book at random four times. Four times, I learned something new and interesting about SQL Server. What I learned was often quite scarey too. What a book!

The strange thing about the Teched Shop is that the bulk of the merchandise other than the books was a range of shirts, socks, labels and other typical stuff all with Microsoft logos on it. What on earth possesses people to walk around like mobile billboards for Microsoft and actually pay for the privilege? With a pile of spare cash, you can deck yourself out entirely in Microsoft-branded clothing, bags, computer gear and jewelry.Beyond some strange urge to make oneself a laughing stock to your friends, neighbours and family, I struggle to understand the motivation. I’d wear ads all over my person if I was paid enough to do so, but what posesses people to part with cash to advertise Microsoft?

I went to pay for Kevvie’s book (yes, I’m sure he is really called Kevin but the book cover says Kevvie) and the nice lady behind the counter offered me a free extra item if I spun a ‘wheel of fortune’. Aha, thought I, a free MVP award, perhaps. no such luck: I was awarded a Baseball cap with the words ‘Microsoft’ embroidered on it. ‘It has Microsoft embroidered on it. Can I have one without?’ ‘Oh sir,’ she said looking pained, ‘everything here has Microsoft embroidered on it’. I sighed, but accepted the gift. Some grandchild will happily accept it as a birthday present. Perhaps I have the wrong attitude for that elusive MVP award.

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