A Day in the Life

A day in my life. Thoughts on leadership, management, startups, technology, software, concurrent development, etc... Basically the stuff I think about from 10am to 6pm.

11/08/2005

Event: Microsoft - Rock the Launch

I attended Microsoft’s Rock the Launch event Monday in San Francisco. Besides having a great time I had a few moments of “this is really cool!’ I’m excited about how powerful all the new tools look while at the same time I’m a little intimidated. It all looks really great, but all the changes represent yet another development shift with more stuff to learn. On the plus side we can use a lot of our current knowledge base but...it’s going to take another time investment. I think though that this time there will be some really nice productivity gains so that the invested time will actually see a quick return. The first language I worked with out of college was MASM so you have to keep that in mind when I talk about development paradigm shifts. I’ve experienced a few.

Microsoft has really made some nice changes lately. I suspect that many of them are driven by the open source initiatives. I remember when the Borland C compiler was preferred to the Microsoft C compiler, back in the MSDOS days. The reason: Borland provided documentation. Documentation is pretty much taken for granted these days but back then it was really cool to get 10 books that explained all the APIs in detail. Sure made our jobs easier and we could get code out faster. What Microsoft is learning is that the easier they make it for people to use their products the more people will use them. Here are a couple of links to tutorials and learning aids on the Microsoft website that I have found very valuable:

Shows and Webcasts. These webcasts are recorded so there is no interaction but they are still great.
Visual Studio Developer Center. This area is a great example of using Virtual PC as training device. You get to play with Microsoft toys without having to buy or install them. Sweet.
Channel 9. If you don’t want to listen to the presentation, there is usually a transcript you can read.
MSDN Events & Webcasts. Live educational opportunities are listed here.

Of course there is a lot of other stuff out there. The Microsoft employee blogs are great, lots of articles, etc... So as to not make this a Microsoft love fest, I do want to state one thing I hate about the MSDN site...searching sucks. Most of the time when I’m searching for something I want to see a description of a function or method. For some reason I always give MSDN search a try but invariably I can’t find what I need and I go to Google search, which not only finds what I need but finds it on the MSDN site. Bill?

I’m very excited about Microsoft Express editions of Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 because they are free. This makes Microsoft development accessible to people who want to try the products before they buy but more importantly, students can now afford to use those tools. This is a great way to grow the Microsoft development community and to create a presence at the university and high-school levels.

I saw some demos that I’m really excited about.

Fujitsu has a really wonderful server. Someone who came by our booth talked about how Fujitsu got the cooling idea right. They put all the hot stuff on top and the cool stuff on bottom. So I went over and asked for a look see and it was a very clean engineering design. The power supplies are on top and as you move down through box the devices did move from hottest to coolest with a good venting system. I’m not a hardware person, but it did sound reasonable to me. And for me this was the coolest thing (after the Digipede stuff!) I saw there. Unfortunately for Fujitsu I don’t buy hardware that big nor am I in a position to recommend it. But I can blog about it!

• In Coding 4 Fun area there was some robot demonstrations which I thought were fun. I talked to the owner of Phidgets USA.com. He showed me a demo of a robotic arm that his company sells. I think robots are one of the next big things. He was controlling the arm by a Windows application that was using DirectInput to send the signals to an input device connected to a USB port.

• I also enjoyed talking to the Windows Mobile Developer guy and he was very helpful. I learned that the version of IE that runs on the mobile devices is not the most recent and may be as old as version 4. So if I do any work there I’ll have to test very carefully! I also learned that soon emulators will be available for download so that they are separate from the development environment. This will allow folks to demo the devices without requiring a complete Visual Studio install.

At the Digipede booth we had a great location, (thanks Microsoft!) and got a good amount of traffic. I met Oliver Nguyen the President of the Bay .NET User Group. Meeting him was on my list of things to do and it was nice to see him moving at a little slower pace! The first time I saw Oliver he popped into the Microsoft ASP.NET Oakland Event and then flew out again quickly. This time he had time for some conversation. I also met some people who were very knowledgeable about grid computing which was great and I spent some time explaining the value of grid computing to many others. This was great for me because it gave me a chance to work on my presentation and it was A LOT of fun. I love talking to people and finding out what they are working on!

The last few days have been busy but fun, which is the best kind of busy to be.

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