Wednesday, 31 August 2011

TechEd 2011–Day 0

It was a very early start for me Tuesday morning, waking up at 4:15am in order to get to the airport for the 6am flight to Coolangatta via Sydney. (A big thanks to my brother-in-law David, who also got up early to give me a lift!)

The flights went smoothly. We were a bit delayed landing in Sydney, so I was in a rush to get to my connecting flight. It was a relief to discover that it was the same plane, so no risk of missing it or losing my luggage Smile

I caught the Gold Coast Tourist Shuttle from the airport to my hotel – probably half the price of a taxi and just as convenient.

WP_000090I'm staying at Ipanema Holiday Resort. At about 1.2km, it's the furthest I've been from the convention centre, but its a pleasant 10 minute walk so that's fine. Plus, as I'm paying for this trip myself, the price fitted my budget.

After registration, I had a "Technical Learning Guide" briefing meeting. It was good to see quite a few familiar faces from last year.

Something new this year was the addition of two "Kick-off" sessions preceding the keynote. I attended the "Developer Kick-Off", which included some highlights on Windows Phone, Visual Studio v.Next and Azure (specifically GreenButton's Pixar in the cloud service).

Audience at Keynote addressThe keynote was probably one of the better ones I have seen. It was hosted by Adam Spencer (ABC TV personality and pure math fan), who was great, and I'm only glad he didn't try and show us all the digits of the largest known prime number. He was joined by Jarod Green (creator of the Beached Az cartoons) and Jane Cockburn (Senior Product Manager at Cochlear)

I did think it was ironic that there were so many mentions from the keynote speakers of developing software, when in reality the 'developer' portion of TechEd has seemed to be sidelined in the last few years by the organisers.

WP_000099Following the keynote was a welcome reception, which provided some nice food for tea and my opportunity to grab a JetBrains Resharper T-Shirt.

About this time, the skies opened and The Gold Coast experienced a nice little tropical downpour, complete with lightning. I'm glad I'd brought my sprayjacket for the brisk, if slightly moist, walk back to the hotel room.

A phone call to the family to talk to Narelle and the kids, then a bit of work before turning in for the night.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Watching PASS presentations on my Windows Phone

Anyone who works with SQL Server (including the database engine, integration services, reporting services and/or analysis services) should be aware of PASS – the Professional Association for SQL Server.

PASS run a number of events throughout the year. The largest of these is the annual summit, held in Seattle. This is widely regarded as the place to hear the world's best speakers on all things SQL Server related. It's no surprise that my old boss Rob is one of them!

If you can't get to Seattle then there's other options, one being the free "24 hours of PASS" online training days*. These are virtual events run through LiveMeeting, but depending on your local time zone if you don't feel like staying up into the wee hours, watching the recordings might be a better option.

First of all, if you haven't done so already, register as a PASS member (it's free). You'll then be able to attend the next 24 Hours of Pass (Sep 7-8), and also watch recordings of previous presentations.

Recordings are available as either a LiveMeeting presentation, or WMV streaming video. Watching these offline on my phone required a few extra steps:

First off, the WMV files are published using MMS:// to support streaming. This does make it difficult to save locally. I discovered that you can also access the same file using HTTP:// so that solved that issue.

Normally you can copy a WMV file onto your Windows Phone by selecting the file in Zune to sync with your phone. There must be something about the PASS videos that Zune didn't like, as it came up with an error C00D11CD (C00D1189). The suggestion for this is to re-encode your video.

So I fired up Windows Live Movie Maker, loaded the original WMV file, then saved the movie using the "Windows Phone" mobile device settings. The new file copied successfully onto my Windows Phone!

So if you see a guy on a bus commuting in Adelaide watching the occasional SQL Server video (to complement his regular collection of podcasts), chances are it could be me Smile

* – another great option is to get involved with your local PASS Chapter (mine being the Adelaide SQL Server User Group)

Update 7th August

The PASS videos I've seen are 940x528, 844x528 or 704x528, 2fps at 276kbps. Audio 16kHz at 16kbps.

If you use one of the default Windows Phone settings in Movie Maker, you'll end up wasting a lot of bandwidth – the videos are pretty much

I created a "Custom Setting" in Movie Maker with identical frame rate (fps) and kbps. I scaled the video down to better fit the Windows Phone screen size (800x480). The 940x528 went to 800x450, 844x528 went to 766x480, and 704x528 to 640x480.