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.
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
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.
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of a typical developer's diet is a little outdated: drinks are all coke or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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 :)