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Posted 11 Jan 2001

VSLive 2001, SF

, 11 Jan 2001
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Ramblings from VSLive 2001 in SF.


Flew out of Canberra. The temperature was well on it's way to a sunny 37C/99F. I arrived in SF 7 hours before I left to a cloudy 11C/52F. A sudden misgiving sets in, which is not helped by the big Apple convention going on in the hotel Marriot.


Way, way too jetlagged to function properly. My body is still 19 hours ahead of my watch. The conference is spread over two hotels - the Marriot and the Palace hotel. The first 3 days will be pre-conference workshops on the core .NET technologies.

VSLive is certainly no PDC. Feeling like you are the only C++ programmer in a room full of VB programmers is unnerving and empowering at the same time. The guys doing the talks are doing their best to spread the exposure between VB and C# (fairly simple since in most examples the code looks essentially the same) but I'm not sure they are winning this battle since one of the first comments I heard when we were shown a slide with C# code was "you're missing the DIM statements!".

The talks are held in the typical dark seminar room, with a backdrop of of cell phones going off like crickets in the night, quiet snoring, and the tappity tap of attendees attending to last weeks email.

The mornings session finished at noon, and we all piled outside to be greeted with the site of rows of tables groaning under the weight of fruit platters, piles of neatly rolled meat slices, bagels, fruit juices and barrels of yoghurt. Oh yeah! The drooling masses converged on the tables only to be directed onto a room down the hall a ways. With eager eyes and growling stomachs we filed into the room to discover...2 deli style warmers with a sprinkling of extra thin n' rubbery cheese and herb pizza served (for our enjoyment) at room temperature. Huh?? I think they are trying to accomodate developers a little too well, and their idea of a typical developer's diet is a little outdated: drinks are all coke or pepsi, lunch is pizza and snacks are Dorritos and snickers bars. We did get an apple in our lunch pack, so I guess that covers the 5 food groups.


Lots more "Intro to .NET" stuff, which I cunningly managed to miss by sleeping through till lunch time. I'm no probably only 8hrs ahead of my watch. Almost there...

I went for a wander and while walking along a path I stumbled along some branches and debris that was scattered over the path. Hmm - the only tree I know that scatters and discards its branches like a teenager's wardrobe is the Eucalypt. I looked up: Gum trees! I hugged one.

That night while channel surfing the 500 channels that are always available in hotels I heard a strange whining noise, and the hotel room speaker was buzzing slightly. Eventually I realised that an air-raid type siren was going off somewhere in the hotel, and while my hotel speaker was valiantly trying to copy it, it was not quite up to it. I rolled over and went to sleep.


I've discovered where all the C++ guys are hiding - the Palace Hotel. I've also discovered a cunning secret: the food at the Palace hotel is way, WAY nicer than the Marriot. Even the coffee cups are classy.

The VSLive organisers have kindly hooked me up with a wireless link so I can surf - I mean report - in real time.

Today's session is more ASP.NET, Web Services, an intro to ADO.NET and a lot of statements ending in "this will change in Beta 2". If you have worked through any of the ASP.NET QuickStarts, and read Eric Gunnerson's C# book, then you will have seen all this stuff already.

Caffeine levels are getting dangerously high.


The hordes have arrived.

Visual Studio for Applications has been announced. This is a technology built purely from .NET and leveraging Visual Studio.NET that allows you to customise your Web Applications after they have been developed.

The VSA IDE is the VS.NET IDE tailored to the task of customising apps using VSA. It includes a lightweight runtime with no UI, and allows customisation of apps using VB.NET (v1 - more languages to come)

Don Box is presenting C# at 12:30pm - so it will be great to see him in action. Tonight, we get to let our hair down (what's left of it) at the VSLive party from 5pm to 6pm (These guys certainly know how to let loose!) followed by more sessions on Web Apps and Web Services.

Nick Hodapp is here, and is looking a little stunned. His first week at Microsoft has been mind blowing but he is absolutely loving it. He gets to hang around and enjoy himself this conference, but knows next time it's going to be him up there messing up the demos.


Lesson of the day for Tuesday was: if you try and update you machine while you are out of reach of your backup and OS disks, your machine will self destruct.

The latest MSDN comes with a CD containing the .NET framework. I installed this on my laptop in order to play along with the speakers while they were doing their show and tell. We then all got our grubby hands on some Visual Studio.NET disks, so I greedily pushed these into my CD drive and sat back in preparation for fun.

The VS.NET disk asked for the windows component update disk, which I inserted. This then asked for the VS.NET disk, which I inserted. It complained, so it hit cancel. It continued to complain, so I hit retry. Cancel, retry, cancel, retry - both options did the same thing. Cancel, Retry, Cancel, <Crash!>. Oops.

I'd foolishly given the setup program my username and password so I didn't have to login each time it rebooted. Unfortunately, becuase it crashed in the middle of the updating Windows Componenents, it hosed my system and would not allow a login. D'Oh! I've heard of others being caught by this trick so be careful if you get setup to auto-login.

After several hours of chasing down discs and attempting everything under the sun I am finally back online, hence the late report. Rumours that Nick Hodapp and I were at the bar drinking lemonade all afternoon instead of attending the late C# seminars are entirely unfounded.

Don Box did a great intro to C#, which started with him asking all the C++ programmers to shout "I'm smart!", followed by the VB developers "I have a life!". He then asked all the C# developers to shout "I'm smart and I have a life!". Says it all, really...

Lesson of the day for Wednesday: When you cross the dateline, remember to reset your calendar. It makes it easier to match up what's going on in the real world with what's written on your program.

Steve Lees and Lori Lamkin did a great introduction to the new additions to Visual C++, and Richard Grimes spoke elequantly on the extensions to ATL. Richard flew in from England yesterday and was still looking a little jetlagged. No idea how he managed to pull off two talks today and still stay upright.

There was a talk from AMD about their new 64bit processors. Legacy support for 32 bit apps, flat memory model, 64 bit registers, plus an increase in the number of registers, while maintaining clock speeds, lowering the instruction count for a typcical app (by around 10%), while keeping the total size increase of apps to around 3% is all Good Stuff. High capacity buses that can transfer (I think) 8Gb/sec are nice. All in all I think these chips will mean the Intel P4 is a non-issue.

Midnight madness is on at 9:45pm.


Last night involved several hours of further meetings with the new C#/C++ Program Manager. Actually we played pool - and played like champions I might add - but I'm sure the word 'C#' and CodeProject were mentioned once or twice so I think that counts. We played with style and flair and the kind of random luck that defines those who truly have no idea what they are doing when they get behind a pool cue. We also alternated between American pub rules (must call the shot, strange racking techniques etc) and Australian pubs rules (hit cue, try and sink some balls; ensure all players are adequately hydrated) and I can say Nick whipped me resoundingly.

I asked Nick about how he ended up at Microsoft, and his answer was disarmingly simple. He was at a conference late last year and was after a change. He went up to the Microsoft stand, got talking, and enquired about getting onboard. Five minutes later he's at the back of the booth undergoing an impromtu interview. Microsoft recruiting then did some checks, read his articles on the Code Project, decided he was a definite potential and called him up for a phone interview. The interview could have gone better - he felt he messed up a bunch of technical questions that he knew the answers for, and came away a little despondant. Even so, he recieved another call and is flown to Redmond for two days of interviews. Since they had checked out his credentials thoroughly, these interviews were more to ascertain what sort of person he was: would he be a good representative, was he good with people, was he passionate about software development? Microsoft was impressed and Nick ends up with an office, an iPaq, a new laptop and a Microsoft branded razor scooter.


Today was the last day of the Visual C++ Developers Conference. Lots of stuff on COM+, Ronald Laermans excellent C++ managed extensions talk, ATL Server plus a ton of other topics. I think the depth of .NET is reflected in the fact that even though I've been through dozens of talks on the new technology, each talk seems to open up entire new aspects.

This will be my last day at the conference. Tomorrow is the SQL conference which looks excellent, but the cold Canadian weather beckons and there is a server to speak sternly too.

I'd have to say I enjoyed VSLive a lot. It was not a huge affair, but there was a ton of stuff to see and do. With the conferences combined and with each conference running multiple tracks there was always something running that was worth seeing, and in fact there were a lot of times when the choice was not what to see, but what to sacrifice seeing.

The organisation seemed flawless, the tech support from the guys at the Marriot and the Palace hotels excellent. They saved my butt when I screwed up the .NET installation and went out of their way to find disks and hardware. The wireless connection cards were just too cool - I'm addicted! 11Mbps and flawless reception throughout the conference halls and lounges.

The speakers were for the most part entertaining and down to Earth. Many of them were not Microsoft guys so they provided a healthy dose of scepticism and criticism, while at the same time showing a genuine enthusiasm for the new platform.

Many thanks to Shannon Sullivan and Jennifer Brucker of Fawcette Technical Publishing for allowing me to attend the weeks events. VSLive will be on again in Sydney, March 5-8, and if that isn't a great excuse to pop on down to the warm side of the world during the northern winter then I don't know what is.


More travel. I'm sitting in the airport listening to the pilots tell the counter staff that the plane we are going on has a broken internal power supply. I wish they would keep their voices down.

Air travel never seems to get easier, but I always felt it's something that you just get numb to when you've done it enough. On the trip over from Australia I sat next to a girl who used to work for HP. She spent 90% of her time on planes and had circumnavigated the globe dozens of times. Yet here she was, sitting next to me with a sheen of nervous perspiration taking valium and chinese herbs to keep her sane. One day, she said, she woke up and suddenly realised that she was gut wrenchingly, paralytically afraid of flying. Something in her snapped and she simply couldn't deal with it anymore. I wonder how many people this happens to?

The latest topic of conversation back home is deep vein thrombosis - the so called economy class syndrome. This is where travellers in cattle class, sitting in cramped seats for long periods of time develop blood clots in their limbs. These clots can move around and end up in either the lungs or the brain. If they hit the lungs then you can get 'flu- or pnuemonia-like symptoms. If, on the other hand, the clot hits the brain then a stroke can happen. Supposidly one hospital next to Heathrow airport has reported one death a month from this. 30% of these deaths are from travellers arriving from Australia. Yikes. I also heard that you are more likely to die from a stroke caused by deep vein thrombosis than you are from an aircraft accident. Maybe this is all heresay, or over-blown hype, but if you have to travel economy class a lot and are looking to try and get those elusive extra funds from the boss for an upgrade to business class, then it's just the sort of rumour and inuendo that can come in very handy :)


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Chris Maunder
Founder CodeProject
Canada Canada
Chris is the Co-founder, Administrator, Architect, Chief Editor and Shameless Hack who wrote and runs The Code Project. He's been programming since 1988 while pretending to be, in various guises, an astrophysicist, mathematician, physicist, hydrologist, geomorphologist, defence intelligence researcher and then, when all that got a bit rough on the nerves, a web developer. He is a Microsoft Visual C++ MVP both globally and for Canada locally.

His programming experience includes C/C++, C#, SQL, MFC, ASP, ASP.NET, and far, far too much FORTRAN. He has worked on PocketPCs, AIX mainframes, Sun workstations, and a CRAY YMP C90 behemoth but finds notebooks take up less desk space.

He dodges, he weaves, and he never gets enough sleep. He is kind to small animals.

Chris was born and bred in Australia but splits his time between Toronto and Melbourne, depending on the weather. For relaxation he is into road cycling, snowboarding, rock climbing, and storm chasing.

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Questionwere you at 2005? Pin
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