TechEd 2011–Day 1

Thursday, 1 September 2011

View from motel roomA thundery wet night last night. Glad I brought my spray jacket, but even then I got pretty wet walking home. Wednesday morning the storm had gone and we were left with a beautiful clear day.
First up, I caught most of Adam Cogan presenting DEV316 - 15 rules to developer heaven. Some interesting thoughts on using addins for TFS to get better visualisation of progress (this will improve in v.next), and using screenshots or screencasts to verify work is "done". Also the idea of user stories including acceptance criteria.
Next was my first Instructor-led Lab – "Microsoft ASP.NET MVC 3: Fundamentals". It turns out this was probably one of the most popular labs of the conference, and unfortunately we had to turn a lot of people away.
After the lab, I checked out Rick Claus presenting SRV305 - Diagnosing the Diseases of DNS. Yes, my main focus is development but it can be useful to have some understanding of related areas.
After lunch, I caught Reid Purvis and Sashank Pawar doing DAT309 - Virtualising SQL Server with Hyper-V.
Yummy treats for afternoon teaTime for a quick bit of afternoon tea, then I was helping in the hands-on labs for the rest of the day.
Before heading back to the hotel, I enjoyed catching up with Narelle and the kids, and then my parents in two Skype conversations.
My youngest asked "would you like to come home Daddy?" – now that does tug at your heart strings. I'll be home soon.

TechEd 2011–Day 0

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

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.

Watching PASS presentations on my Windows Phone

Sunday, 7 August 2011

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.

Magic Tricks

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

There's been a few changes for me over the last couple of days...

On Saturday the basketball team I coach won their first game ever! These are young kids, most of whom are playing in their first season. They've been improving every week, but up until now we've found that we've struggled against the opposition. More often than not, the 'mercy rule' comes into play. When we are 10 points behind, the other team has to run back to their key, so at least we can dribble the ball down the court before they steal it and score againSad smile

But not yesterday! With the help of a fill-in player everything fell into place. Our shots were dropping, passes were being caught and before I knew it I had to do something I'd never expected I'd need to do – I called a timeout to tell my players that *we* were 10 points in front and that we now needed to run back to let the other team have a go.

It was a great feeling and so satisfying to see the surprised but happy faces of the kids.

The other big change for me was that Friday was my last day at LobsterPot Solutions. It's been great to watch LobsterPot grow from when I became Rob's first full-time employee to where it is now – as Adelaide (and now Melbourne's) preeminent SQL Server and Business Intelligence consultancy.

So what's next? I've decided to accept an offer to join MatrixGroup, and I'm looking forward to the new challenges this will present.

When I told my kids, they responded with "You're going to work for the Magic Tricks Group?"Smile Which allows me to indulge in my love of the Muppets by closing with a quote from The Amazing Mumford..

"A la peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!"

(which always seemed a very odd thing to have on your sandwiches until I learned that jelly was American for jam.. but then to me that's still an odd combination to have on a sandwich!)

DDD Adelaide 2011 in review

Monday, 18 July 2011

On Saturday we had our first DDD Adelaide conference, and I came away feeling very satisfied that I'd heard some great presentations and high hopes that this event can grow bigger and better next year.

Sessions

There were nine presentations squeezed into the day...

Introduction to iPhone/iPad development using Objective-C. Lama Chandrasena gave an overview of creating apps for iOS devices. Looking at the Objective-C samples made me glad I get to write WP7 apps in C# Smile

Creating Windows Phone apps with the Caliburn Micro framework. Some guy talking about WP7 development..

Cross Mono, cross platform for a Windows .Net developer. Cristian Prieto gave a good overview of the features and benefits of the Mono toolset and libraries. Even if you aren't wanting to do cross-platform .NET applications, there are still some useful bits of Mono that you can use for your Windows deployments too.

Case Study: Design Patterns for a Row Versioned Data Warehouse in SQL 2008 R2. Jeremy Huppatz gave an interesting presentation on some of the challenges he faced in developing a data warehouse for one of his clients.

Easy Web Deployment – Begin the Enjoyment. Despite his laptop not being very obliging, Malcolm Sheridan spoke about the various tools available to ease deployment of web applications and SQL databases. I've used a lot of these myself, so could identify with many of the points Malcolm made.

Kinect. This talk didn't even have an abstract when it was up for selection, and yet just the title was enough for people to vote it into the conference. Lewis Benge gave a thought-provoking talk and demonstration of using the just-released Kinect for Windows SDK.

This is the only video I took of the day. The funny bit at the end is when the stick figure 'explodes', as Lewis walks out of the view of the Kinect sensor Smile

Looking behind the curtain of jQuery. Jared Wyles knows his JavaScript and jQuery inside out. By the end of Jared's talk I was left in no doubt of this! Some good tips on improving your JavaScript performance too.

Beyond Branding. Paul Turner spoke about branding SharePoint sites. I didn't realise you could use PowerPoint to create a theme for SharePoint 2010. Would have been nice if Paul could have been around for longer than just his talk.

Joins, SARGability and the Evils of Residualiciousness. If you want someone to wrap up a conference with what can sometimes be the most difficult slot of the day (eg. the last one), then look no further than Rob Farley. What Jared is to JavaScript, Rob is to T-SQL. Some great pointers on understanding SQL Server query execution plans and realising that sometimes there's more than meets the eye to an execution plan that on the surface may appear to be optimal.

A few of us headed over to Marcellina's for a nice pizza and good conversation to finish off the evening.

Thanks

Thanks to Peter Griffith for organisation, Lewis Benge for the free lanyards, laptop covers and magazines, and other interstate speakers for their support.

Looking forward

I was really pleased with the turnout. I'd have to check with Peter but I think the attendance was one of (if not) the best we've had for these kinds of events. We're smaller compared to Sydney or Melbourne but I'd love to see this build up so that we can run at least two tracks next year. That would be pretty tricky to do all on our own, but if we can work with the other state's DDD events then I think it will be possible for us to benefit from things being organised at a more national level.

DDD?

And in case you're wondering, 'DDD' is short for 'Developer! Developer! Developer!' and comes from a speech Steve Ballmer (Microsoft CEO) made at a software developer conference a number of years ago.