Sunday morning I took the opportunity to travel by bus back to downtown Seattle and see some of the sights. It was still a bit cloudy with some rain about, but I gather that’s pretty normal for Seattle. I went up the Space Needle, though the view was limited to to lots of low cloud and a bit of rain.
Getting back to Bellevue later in the afternoon, I registered for the Summit and bumped into a few familiar faces before attending the “1st Time MVP Event” (which was food & drinks with a mix of fellow first-time MVPs along with a bunch of ‘old hands’), followed by an Australia/New Zealand MVP Dinner, where again I was made to feel welcome by even more familiar faces.
In fact the best compliment I received was along the lines of, “Dave, we thought you already were an MVP!”
Monday morning things started in earnest with well-organised buses providing transport from our hotels to Microsoft’s Redmond campus. And ‘campus’ is a good term as it is in many ways like a University campus. Microsoft almost takes up the whole of the suburb of Redmond. I only got to see a tiny part of it, but I was very impressed with what I saw. A beautiful location with impressive buildings, landscaping, gardens and playing fields.
Most of my time was spent in the Microsoft Conference Centre (yes, they have their own conference centre on campus!). It’s big enough that I reckon they could fit in the entire Australian TechEd/Ignite conference.
You aren’t meant to take photos inside, but I can show a few outside shots I took on an early morning walk around part of the campus.
Because more and more of Microsoft’s ASP.NET development (and .NET in general) is now being done as open-source on Github, many of the sessions I took part in were not under NDA. Look out for recordings of these on MSDN’s Channel 9 soon.
Not surprisingly, the Summit is a bit of a “who’s who” of Microsoft technologies – there were a lot of names I recognised from blogs that I follow, or who I’ve heard on various podcasts over the years. The nice thing is that all the “big names” that I encountered turn out to be just nice friendly regular people who are more than happy to chat and welcome a “New MVP”. I also made a point of inviting everyone to come and visit Australia (and this was made more enticing by reminding them that NDC Sydney is on next year).
Wednesday night I caught a late session of the movie “The Martian” with a few fellow MVPs, including Glenn. As you can see, Glenn and Dan realised that it was more efficient to get the free popcorn refills before we went into the theatre. Smart thinking!
One of the benefits of attending the summit is direct contact with product teams. Both giving feedback but also being able to pick their brains. Thursday was ‘hackathon day’. I know I was really encouraged from meeting the Glimpse developers Anthony and Nik and getting some feedback on an open source Glimpse plugin I’m working on.
And at the end of Thursday afternoon, that was the end of the summit. A final bus ride back to the hotel at Bellevue for my last night in Seattle.
So I’ve actually been home for a week, but I’ve only now had a chance to sit down and work on the remaining posts for this series!
I had a fantastic time in Toronto. It was great getting to know all the wonderful people who work for RL Solutions there. There’s nothing like sitting down face to face to get to know people better. Well except maybe doing that over a meal – and there was certainly a few of those!
I did feel the effects of jet-lag kick on on the Monday, so managed to get a little rest in the afternoon before catching up with the Metro Toronto .NET group, where I was the guest speaker. Great to share with them.
My accommodation in Toronto was “down-town”. Right next to the Air Canada Stadium in fact (where the basketball and ice-hockey is played). It was also just a short walk to the office each day. Most days the weather was overcast and cold, though one day it was quite stormy and wet, so I made good use of the Toronto PATH underground and covered walkways
Friday (being the day before Halloween) was a bit of a crazy day in the office. Everyone dressed up and decorated all the work areas. This culminated in a company lunch and staff meeting. Definitely great timing to be in town to be a part of these.
But eventually my time in Toronto was at an end, and the flight to Seattle began, via a stop-over in Minneapolis. Nice bakery in the airport there by the way
My old Dell XPS 1645 laptop is still kicking along. Sure, I might have nick-named it “Big Iron” due to the fact that it single-handedly technically put me over the carry-on baggage weight limit on my recent trip overseas, but it does the job, and runs Windows 10 quite well.
Except that earlier this year Microsoft (or AMD/ATI) updated the video drivers (15.200.1060.0 [15/07/2015]) and introduced a bug that causes the maximum resolution to change to 1280x1024, which looks ridiculous. The only solution I’ve found is to revert back to the older driver.
- Open Device Manager
- Right-click on the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4670
- Choose Update Driver Software
- Select Browse my computer for driver software
- Select Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer
- In the list, select the older version (8.970.100.9001)
- Click Next
- The screen will flash a few times, and a few beeps later you should be returned to your regularly scheduled 1920x1080 resolution again.
The Windows Feedback tool shows that this error has been reported by a number of people, but unfortunately I suspect it hasn’t registered as a high enough priority to fix (and may not be considering the age of the video hardware).
I had a few hours break at LAX before my connecting flight to Toronto. Just as well, as I forgot that it was actually a code-share with Air Canada and had to walk to a different terminal (fortunately not too far).
I didn’t sleep very much at all on the flight from Sydney, and I tried not to doze too much in the waiting lounge at LAX in case I missed my flight! I slept a little more on the Toronto flight. Probably being quite tall doesn’t help matters. I remember the last time I few to the USA, I got seats next to the galley, so we could stretch out – but maybe they don’t have seating in that configuration anymore.
Our flight arrived into Toronto right on time. Unlike LAX, clearing customs & immigration was a breeze (I guess it isn’t quite as busy). Always a relief when your bag shows up on the baggage carousel too. Tom (who’s also over from Adelaide) met me at the airport and drove me back into town to where I am staying. We then went out for some tea and a chat (had some nice burgers). I’ll see Tom (and the rest of the RL Toronto crew) at the office first thing Monday morning.
My trip to Canada and USA has begun. My alarm went of at the early time of 3.45am, left me enough time to get ready for my ride. My sister and brother-in-law very kindly offered to give me a lift to the airport. My sister is doing a travel agent course at the moment, so she’s been able to use me as a bit of a case study and look up my flight details, which has been fun. It was also nice that I got to give my youngest daughter a final hug goodbye as I managed to wake her up in my tromping around the house. Not sure if she went back to sleep, or made the most of being up before her big brother and sister.
I discovered when checking in at Adelaide that my bags would indeed be checked through to LAX. I wasn’t sure about this when booking. Also no dramas with carry-on bags. I was worried that my (quite old) laptop might push me over the weight limit.
I wish I could say my flight from Adelaide to Sydney was uneventful, but that would be ignoring the friendly, but slightly inebriated passenger who had trouble picking up his cup of hot coffee off of the tray being offered by the flight attendant, and promptly spilled it down my leg. A small scald mark on my shin – just glad it didn’t land in my lap. Spent the rest of the flight with cold compresses on the burn area, and it’s settling down a bit now.
Arriving at Sydney, then transferring to the international terminal. Wow, is that a crazy place. Managed to find the United desk (right up the other end from where we were dropped off), and sailed through check-in and the border control/security stuff. Got to my departure gate with time to spare, so was able to make a couple of calls home.
Boarding United Airlines was straight forward. I ended up in “Economy Plus’ somehow – not complaining! My sister again was able to do some digging and informed me that I was the only one booked in my three seats. That didn’t last, as another traveller decided he’d move to the seat across from me to share some of my elbow room. That’s ok, there’s still an empty seat in between.
I’d heard that some United planes didn’t have individual entertainment/tv consoles, but I’m pleased to find that I must have one of the more modern ones – my own screen on the seat in front, and there’s also power under the seat (and the other guy doesn’t seem to need to use it – bonus).
So now another 12 odd hours until we land at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport). I hope that goes as smoothly (if not with less coffee precipitation) as everything else has gone so far.