Day One: SAS is big. Really big. No, really really big.

The SAS campus is a big place. Way bigger than I expected.

I made it to my class early this morning (a freaking miracle since 9am Eastern time is 6am my time and I got no sleep last night, having had my fill on the plane). The SAS training center has its own building, which also houses the SAS cafeteria. The classroom contains five or six rows of sleek new Dell computers with 17 inch LCD screens, with a ceiling mounted projector attached to the instructor’s machine. I was astonished to find that free fountain drinks, coffee, mints, and M&Ms are provided just outside the classroom. Mmm. Coke.

Naturally, my first task after choosing a computer was to compromise its security and gain access to the wonderful Intarweb, which was appallingly easy. While DNS lookups always returned and outgoing connections to many common ports were blocked, the gateway made no effort to block certain not-so-common ports, like 3389, which is used by Windows Remote Desktop. Since the machines were running Windows XP, which includes a Remote Desktop client, I just opened a terminal to Ghostwheel and used it as my Intarweb conduit.

The class itself was okay. The instructor is very good, but I think I was misled as to the level of the class. The name of the course is “Web Application Development using Java and SAS WebAF”. The course notes state that the class is aimed at “experienced Java developers”. I only have a moderate amount of Java experience, so I was a little worried, but today’s seven hours were basically an introduction to Java-based web development. At the end of the day, several people asked the instructor to go a little slower; as far as I’ve been able to tell, I’m by far the most experienced developer of any kind in the class, which does not bode well for my remaining awake for the next few days. It’s well taught, but an introduction to web development isn’t really what I needed, considering I’ve been developing web applications of all shapes and sizes for well over five years now. I’m hoping we’ll get into more complicated SAS-related stuff soon, about which I know very little.

The highlight of the day, however, was lunch. It was provided free, courtesy of SAS, and oh sweet dancing cricketpants was it delicious. I had some sort of sweet and sour chicken curry on rice, with a side of fresh corn, a big piece of cornbread, a nice salad, and a scrumptious piece of pecan pie. And that was just one of the many combinations I could have chosen…the dessert bar alone had at least six different selections. All companies should feed their employees this well.

Speaking of good food, I also found a Schlotzsky’s just a few miles down the road from the hotel. If you haven’t experienced the deliciosity of a Schlotzsky’s sandwich, you need to.