Israel Trip Report

This post isn’t really testing related, so skip it if that’s what you’re looking for.

Late Saturday night, I returned from my first trip to Israel. I was invited to present at the Intel Software Professional’s conference in Tel Aviv a few months back, and I gave an updated version of my STAR East 2010 keynote on improving methods of gathering customer usage data. I also spent some time at Microsoft’s office and did a bit of sightseeing. It was a quick, but fun trip that I would do again in a heartbeat.

The long version follows.

Monday & Tuesday, October 24 and 25.

My flight out of Seattle was mostly uneventful.As someone who hates to check bags, I was a bit bummed to find out that Lufthansa had a carry-on limit of 8 kilos (my non-full and size-appropriate bag was 10 kilos). I’ve had enough bad experiences with lost or delayed luggage that I prefer to carry-on for anything less than a week. In the end, it didn’t matter (more later).

I flew from Seattle into Frankfurt, and arrived with just enough time to run to a different terminal and catch my flight. I had 5 or so minutes to spare, so I suppose I could have just jogged, but after the 11 hour flight, I needed a bit of exercise anyway.

View from my hotelI landed in Tel Aviv mid-afternoon on Tuesday. Since I sat in row 54 of an HFP (huge plane), I was just about the last person on our flight to arrive in a packed passport control room. After spending some time in the second slowest line, I switched to the actual slowest line and eventually was allowed into the country proper. By this time, my bag was off the plane and was one of the few left on the carousel, so I grabbed it, found a taxi, and went to my hotel.

I stayed at the Dan Panorama in Tel Aviv. After admiring my beach view and unpacking, I found something to eat and went to bed.

Wednesday, October 26.

Beach in Tel AvivI used to never have a problem with jet lag. As yet another sign of my age, I didn’t get a great night of sleep, but at 5:30am I got out of bed and went for a run on the beach (or next to the beach). It was fantastic – perfect weather, the sound of the ocean, and a bit of blood pumping through my system gave me energy to face the day.

Microsoft Israel has offices in Haifa and Herzelia and I spent the day in Herzelia talking with testers in a variety of settings. Surprisingly, I had energy all day and had some good conversations (from my side at least – I hope the folks in Israel found the discussions helpful).

Then it was back to the hotel for dinner, a bit of work, and bed.

Thursday, October 27.

Once again, I didn’t sleep well (I can’t believe I claimed for years that jet lag was something I never worried about). The good news is that I finally finished reading Life –  the Keith Richards autobiography. It’s not the most well written book, but to me, it was a fascinating page turner. I’m not a huge fan of the entire Stones’ backlog, but to me, the 10-year period from Beggar’s Banquet through Some Girls is some of the best rock music ever made.

Since I’d given up on sleep, I loaded a dozen or so of the Rolling Stones singles from that period and went for another run on the beach. When I got back, I had breakfast, checked in with Shmuel (my host from Intel), and …went back to bed.

Me Talking - w/ my name in the bgMy presentation at Intel was in the afternoon, so I had time to get some rest, wake up, and prepare a bit more. From my point of view, the presentation went well – the audience seemed engaged and receptive, and I received good comments afterwards. I feel fortunate to have been invited and hope the folks at Intel found my presentation useful.

Shmuel and I went out to dinner, then we both called it a night.

Friday, October 28.

The Western WallShmuel picked me up Friday morning for some sight-seeing in Jerusalem. First stop was the fascinating (and somewhat depressing) Yad Vashem – the Holocaust Memorial. From there, we went to an open market, wandered a bit and had lunch. The final stop of the tour was Old Jerusalem and the Western Wall. I was fortunate enough to meet Shmuel’s wife and five children there as well. After a bit more wandering, I headed  back to Tel Aviv.Market

I had a plan for my Friday night, and I’m happy to say it worked out well. When I got back to my hotel, I took a 5-6 hour “nap”, and woke up (as I hoped), around 1:00am. After freshening up a bit, I took a 15 minute walk up to Mike’s Place to watch game 7 of the baseball world series. It’s a bit strange watching a baseball game that starts at 2:00am, but it was fun to be able to watch the game (go Phillies), and sort of surreal to walk back to the hotel along the beach at dawn after the game.

Saturday, October 29.

After showering at the hotel and packing, I left for the airport. Leaving Israel is an interesting experience. My “exit interview” was 20-30 minutes long and reminded me a lot of the police interviews you see on television and the movies. I pretty much told them what I did every minute I was in Israel and they doubled back once in a while to check my answers for consistency. I was tired, but had nothing to hide, so found the experience kind of fun. Once the interview was over, I checked in and made my way to the gate.

The flight home was long (made longer by delays in Newark due to the weekend snow storm), but I did eventually make it home and spent Sunday relaxing with my family. Monday would bring a whole new adventure (and stage) to my life, but I’ll save that for the next post.



  1. Alan, what a great report!
    It sounds like you had fun, which was a (little tiny) part of the objective of inviting you.

    As for the other parts of the objective, yes, the talk was great and I got positive comments from programmers, testers and managers. Don’t be surprised if a different location calls you again next year.
    There was external repercussion at a news website ( that mentions “speakers who emphasized the importance of interfaces done right”. I guess you’re one of them, uh? 🙂

    Thanks for the write-up, I am happy you enjoyed the experience.

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