Recap: Tech·Ed North America 2010 Day 4

Yesterday was the final day of TechEd North America 2010 and the start of a max exodus of geeks out of New Orleans (they’re hard to miss wearing the official TechEd backpacks or other clothing emblazoned with tech company logos). I’m sure some people skipped the final day, but it still seemed pretty full. As you can see in this video I recorded mid-afternoon, many people were still attending the final sessions:

After a leisurely morning, John and I attended Mark Russinovich’s session on Pushing the Limits of Windows. Mark is one of just a handful Technical Fellows at Microsoft, and probably knows more about how Windows works internally than anyone else. As expected, Mark packed one of the larger auditoriums at the convention centre. He didn’t strike me as a natural-born presenter, but I still very much enjoyed his talk (and learned quite a lot). As John remarked on the way out, “my brain hurts.”

Tech·Ed North America 2010

I couldn’t resist attending the Coding4Fun session in the afternoon, titled Learn Windows Phone 7 Development by Creating a Robotic T-Shirt Cannon. Daniel Fernandez and Clint Rutkas walked us through how they built a Windows Phone 7 app to control the robot (affectionately named Betty) that debuted at Mix back in March. Along the way, they shot out a few dozen t-shirts and weren’t afraid to show off the robot’s capabilities! Here is a video I recorded of the robot in action:

Tech·Ed North America 2010

It was a fun way to get some exposure to Windows Phone 7 development. If you’ve never checked out Coding4Fun before, you really should! You can find the source code for the app they built here.

The final session I attended at TechEd was Programming AppFabric: Moving Microsoft .NET to the Cloud, presented by Pluralsight’s Aaron Skonnard and Keith Brown. Despite progressing a little slowly at times, I thought the talk was fantastic. In particular, the way Aaron started it was memorable. He fired up a console app running on his laptop and asked everyone with Internet-connected devices in the audience to hit a public URL. Immediately requests started appearing on the screen, prompting the very distinctive “how did he do that” murmurs among everyone in the room (turns out it is the magic of the AppFabric Service Bus).

TechEd officially finished with a large party in the evening at Mardi Gras World. Buses took thousands of geeks to and from the event, which featured a number of live bands, magicians, jugglers, palm readers, and an Xbox gaming room, among other things. It was fun to just walk around the party, taking in the sights and sounds.

Mardis Gras World

Mardis Gras World

I learned quite a lot at TechEd, and have a pretty long list of things I want to look into further! It was a fun week.

You can see more of my TechEd photos here, and also at the TechEd group on Flickr.

Recap: Tech·Ed North America 2010 Day 3

Maybe it was because I was wearing shorts, but the convention centre seemed especially cold yesterday (and today). Still really hot outside for TechEd attendees however, with temperatures hovering around the 30 degrees C mark. The day seemed to go fairly smoothly, with the exception of lunch (there was a session that went through most of the lunch break, and they ran out of food, which meant incredibly long lineups right at the end).

Tech·Ed North America 2010Tech·Ed North America 2010

The first session I went to yesterday was Windows Server AppFabric Caching: What It Is and When You Should Use It. I’m a fan of Memcached, and have been using it for a number of years now, so I really wanted to see how AppFabric compares (the codename for this was Velocity, which I wrote about here). I’d say that overall they are quite similar, though if you’re a .NET developer using AppFabric can give you some quick wins. One example is that with just a couple of lines in the Web.config, you can use AppFabric to store Session information, perfect for a web farm scenario. Another thing I like is that AppFabric Caching is managed through PowerShell. Here are some resources:

Tech·Ed North America 2010

After lunch I attended one of the bigger sessions, Overview of the Microsoft ADO.NET Entity Framework 4, hosted by Julie Lerman and Chris Sells. I really enjoyed it, first and foremost because it consisted mainly of demos, and secondly because Julie and Chris were really entertaining and worked well together. Here again, I have been using an open source solution – SubSonic. I remember reading about EF really early on, but didn’t spend too much time on it because of all the criticism it received. If nothing else, the session yesterday made me want to look at EF again – it has really come a long way. I was impressed.

Another session I attended was Building RESTful Applications with the Open Data Protocol. Although labeled a 300-level session, it was very introductory, and didn’t contain anything I hadn’t already seen. It was great to see so many people in the session though – clearly there’s some interest.

I also took some time yesterday to explore the Exhibition Hall a bit more, stopping by the Spoon booth to talk with them. They have some really interesting virtualization and application streaming technology. I recorded a short video and wrote more at Techvibes.

Tech·Ed North America 2010

There are lots of social events during TechEd, but last night in particular seemed like a busy night. John and I checked out the Springboard party at the House of Blues (where we saw some of the Hawks-Flyers game) as well as the Pluralsight mixer. Good times!

You can see more of my TechEd photos here, and also at the TechEd group on Flickr.

Recap: Tech·Ed North America 2010 Day 2

Full day of sessions at TechEd yesterday, though I did take some time in the morning to catch up on blogging, as I am doing today. Probably the most talked about topic at TechEd so far has been the breakfast! People are simply not happy with bagels, muffins, and scones. Either the breakfast or these mascots that everyone has been stopping to get a photo with:

The main feature of the day was the Business Intelligence keynote with Ted Kummert, Microsoft Senior Vice President, Business Platform Division. I missed it, so I’ll watch it online, which you can do here. You can also read a transcript here.

The first session I went to was Prototyping Rich Microsoft Silverlight 4 Applications with Microsoft Expression Blend + SketchFlow. It was really interesting to see how you could use SketchFlow to draw out some screens from your application, and then start to add behaviours and other improvements. We also saw the new feature that enables you to publish a SketchFlow document to SharePoint, making it easy to share a prototype/mockup with colleagues. For more information:

Another session I checked out was Intro to Workflow (WF) Services & Windows Server AppFabric. I’m getting increasingly interested in AppFabric. It seems like a no-brainer to use it if you’re on the Microsoft platform already. I probably should have brushed up on some WF before attending the session, but it was still useful to see how WCF, WF, and AppFabric work together. For more information:

My favorite session of the day was the final one, Open Data for the Open Web, presented by Douglas Purdy and Jonathan Carter. This session had two things going for it: open data, one of my favorite topics, and the hilarious tag team of Douglas and Jonathan. They were really quite entertaining, but still managed to do a great job of explaining what OData is, and what the vision is. And, bonus, the City of Edmonton logo was on screen briefly! Some resources from this session:

The Internet at TechEd was pretty reliable yesterday, which meant that everyone on Twitter was able to find out that it was raining outside:

Some other sights:

Tech·Ed North America 2010
Microsoft Tag spotted at TechEd!

Tech·Ed North America 2010
Developers don’t actually talk like that…

Tech·Ed North America 2010
Top Secret! mPad!

You can see more of my TechEd photos here, and also at the TechEd group on Flickr.

Recap: Tech·Ed North America 2010 Day 1

TechEd kicked off here in New Orleans yesterday, with an opening keynote from Bob Muglia, President of the Server & Tools Business at Microsoft. There are more than 10,000 customers, partners, and staff on-site and I think all of them caught the keynote (they had to setup a few overflow rooms). John and I arrived early to register and quickly chow down some breakfast so that we could lineup for the keynote. Neither of us have sat in the front row before, but we managed to do so yesterday!

Here’s a quick video that John recorded:

The focus of the keynote, which you can watch here, was cloud computing. Some of the highlights  for me included (more info here):

  • The public beta of Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 will start in July.
  • Windows Server AppFabric is now available.
  • The Pivot control for Silverlight 4 will be launched this summer. Pivot is such amazing technology (it utilizes Deep Zoom for some of its magic) and being able to embed it on a web page is going to be awesome.
  • We saw a quick demo of Windows Phone 7, specifically related to integration with SharePoint. The enterprise features look pretty slick, so I hope they can deliver on the consumer experience too. You can see some screencaps from the demo here.
  • It was really interesting to hear from Tony Scott, Microsoft’s CIO, about how they are fully adopting the cloud internally. He said that Microsoft IT is now officially “cloud first”.
  • Also very cool: a video talking about the digital asset management system that Microsoft built for James Cameron and his team for Avatar. Cameron talked about this at D8 too.

Tech·Ed North America 2010

Next up for John and I was the Developer Foundations keynote with Jason Zander. He announced quite a few interesting things for developers, including a new Feature Pack for Visual Studio 2010. Microsoft is going to release Feature Packs in between major releases to continually add functionality to the product. Some of the new stuff that excites me:

  • HTML clipboard support (copy code and paste it into your blog and its ready to go)
  • Search functionality for the Add Reference dialog
  • Tons of code editor improvements, such as entire-line-highlighting, and “tabify/untabify”

Jason also has a great post with links to new platform bits here. In particular, I’m very happy to see that Microsoft is working on Scrum Process Template for TFS 2010.

Throughout the day I explored the TechEd site. I visited the Community Lounge, which is where all the Hands-On Labs take place. I couldn’t resist taking a photo with the Channel9 guy:

Tech·Ed North America 2010

Channel9 was livestreaming all day yesterday, and are doing the same today.

I also visited the Exhibition Hall, full of Microsoft product team representatives, as well as dozens of partners. One of the more interesting things to see was one of the Azure server containers:

Tech·Ed North America 2010

After the day’s sessions were finished, there was a reception in the Exhibition Hall. I made sure to stop by the Windows Phone 7 booth, to check out the prototype:

Tech·Ed North America 2010

I didn’t learn any new details, of course, but it was neat to see the phone in action.

Other thoughts on day 1:

  • As expected, not everything went smoothly. The Internet was down for most of the day, which was really annoying. I always wonder why some innovative company hasn’t come along to revolutionize Internet access for conferences, because it is such a common problem.
  • There were far more unhealthy options available for snacks than healthy options (I saw only a few bananas and oranges, but lots of popcorn, cookies, and Goldfish crackers).

Tech·Ed North America 2010
In between sessions

You can see more of my TechEd photos here, and also at the TechEd group on Flickr.

Trip to New Orleans: Day 1

I arrived in New Orleans on Sunday evening, but a mix of enjoying the city and unreliable Internet access have kept me from blogging so far. I’m here until Friday for Microsoft’s Tech·Ed North America conference.

I flew from Edmonton to Houston, where I met my conference buddy John Bristowe. After a short wait, we were off to New Orleans. The flight was only supposed to take about an hour, but thunderstorms in New Orleans kept us up in the air for about an hour more. Being in the holding pattern gave me an opportunity to see the area quite well – I was reminded of the Mackenzie River Delta (in the Northwest Territories where I grew up) because of all the water. Eventually we were able to land, and were shocked at all the water on the ground!

Stepping off the plane and into the corridor, I was hit with a blast of humid, hot air. I’m still not used to how humid it is here compared to home! More than a few times I’ve gone outside from a nicely air conditioned building only to have my glasses fog up. We snagged a taxi and made it to the hotel pretty quickly, passing by the Superdome and remembering Katrina along the way.

New Orleans
View from the hotel

For dinner on Sunday evening I joined a group of fellow Canadians at Palace Cafe. I’m going to write more about the food on Sharon’s blog, so all I’ll say for now is that it was delicious! Afterward, we walked down Bourbon Street, eventually making our way to Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub for a drink and some great music. It was quite the experience, both Fritzel’s and just Bourbon Street in general. Lots of people, though I know it’s not even close to the busiest time of the year, lots of beads, lots of music, and lots of drinks. The local Abita Amber beer is pretty tasty.

Palace Cafe
Fried oyster loaf

New Orleans
Canal Street

Bourbon Street
Bourbon Street

I’m really enjoying New Orleans so far, and can’t wait to check out some more sights, sounds, and eats throughout the week! You can see my New Orleans photoset here (I’ll keep adding to it).

I’m going to Tech·Ed North America!

Tech·Ed is one of Microsoft’s most important annual conferences for developers and IT professionals, held in several places around the world. This year, Tech·Ed North America is in New Orleans in June, and I’m going to be there! I was invited by Microsoft Canada to attend, an opportunity I jumped at. I’ll be there with John Bristowe, taking in the sessions and labs, learning as much as I can, meeting other developers & IT pros, and generally having a good time. And of course, I’ll be blogging, tweeting, photographing, and otherwise recording & sharing the whole experience.

The conference runs from June 7 to 10. There are literally hundreds of sessions during the week, as well as a couple of keynotes and other special presentations. There’ll be some awesome parties too! The sessions are organized into 21 technical tracks, everything from Architecture to Office & SharePoint. I’m particularly interested in sessions on:

  • Open Data (obviously)
  • WCF and WF in .NET Framework 4
  • Windows Phone 7
  • Azure (cloud computing)

If you’re going to Tech·Ed, what sessions are you planning to check out? If you’re not going to Tech·Ed, what do you think I should see? Let me know!

I’m going to blog about my experience a little here, but also at Techvibes and the Canadian Developers blog. I’ll be tweeting about it too, using the official hashtag #teched. Can’t wait!

Free wireless for New Orleans!

Post ImageIt appears that New Orleans will be the next city to implement free, city-wide wireless Internet access. Yes, that New Orleans, the one that was completely submerged in water a few months ago courtesy Hurricane Katrina. Seems that the devastation of the city is what brought on the free WiFi:

New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin has announced an unprecedented project wherein the entire city will be blanketed by free WiFi within a year. Due to the almost complete devastation of the city’s infrastructure, the free Internet access is one attempt to turn the city’s stagnant economy into one of growth and independence. Like in most large-scale networks, the New Orleans routers will be placed on top of street lights and provide citizens and businesses with 512 kbps download speeds until the city’s state of emergency has been lifted.

I think it’s sad that it takes the destruction of a city to get something like this off the ground, but I think New Orleans will be much better off for it in the long run. And yes there are probably a lot of other projects that require funding and effort to rebuild the city, but I think it’s good the people in charge there are looking beyond just “rebuilding”.

Read: Engadget