DevConnections Day 4: The Last Day#

Started this morning early, packing up and checking out - Kent and I would fly out together this afternoon. I need to get back tonight because I leave on Saturday for Barcelona and Tech Ed Europe IT Forum.

First thing this morning was my second session with Kent, called Load Testing ASP.NET Applications for Performance and Scaling. Had some technical problems with the network, but I solved them on the fly while Kent did a soft-shoe number.

I use my big tank of a laptop, the Dell M90, to do this demo. I'm running two virtual machines at once: one has the load test environment on it, the other is the web server, databases, etc.

We dig into all the goodies around load testing - using perfmon, using WAST (old, but free) and Visual Studio for Testers (new, not free).

The 75 minutes tears by... there's so much to talk about in this space. But we get to run a few real tests along the way and talk about what their results mean.

As soon as the session was done I was running across the conference center again, this time to a RunAs Radio Live session with Chris Avis. Since RunAs Radio is only a half hour show, we actually recorded two separate topics, one on deployment, the other on spam management in Exchange.

When we were done there, I had a few minutes to rest before running off with Carl to do the DotNetNuke Futures Panel. All the senior folks from DotNetNukeCorp were on the panel talking about taking DotNetNuke to the next level. The reality is that DotNetNuke has gotten successful enough that it needs full time people just to manage the volunteers, much less dig into the less-cool stuff that needs to be built to make DotNetNuke fully viable in the enterprise space.

Carl and I sat at either end of the table, managed questions from the audience and generally kept things moving along. I'm sure it'll be a great .NET Rocks show when its published.

The moment the panel was done, I shook hands with everyone and ran - back to the speakers lounge to pick up Kent and head for the airport.

We had a little excitement at the airport with Kent's ticket (we flew Philippine Airlines home, it was the only thing that fit the schedule), but otherwise, the day went well.

And now I'm home. For like, 48 hours. Then its off to Barcelona!

Thursday, November 8, 2007 5:27:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


DevConnections Day 3: End of the Tradeshow, Beginning of Sessions#

And just like that, the tradeshow is over. Well, by the afternoon, anyway. I worked in the booth for the morning shift, but had to ditch after lunch to work with Kent on our first session of the conference: ASP.NET Scaling Strategies and Tactics. All these sessions are residuals of all the consulting and research we've done creating Strangeloop.

The session starts on the strategies of scaling first, and really there are only two: Specialization and Distribution. Most folks think only about distribution when they're scaling a web site, that is, adding more servers. But specialization not only plays a critical role, but should play it first. Specialization is all about breaking down your web application into smaller bits, whether it be separate SSL servers, image servers, etc.

Once you've done some specialization, distribution gets easier and more flexible.

That's the strategic part of the session, then we dig into the tactics, more of the details around what it takes to put those strategies into practice. For example, you can set up your own image servers to take the load off your ASP.NET servers, or can switch to a Content Delivery Network (like Akamai) to handle images. Most of the time, these tactics are specific to the application, ie, it depends.

When the session was over, I hustled across the conference center to do a .NET Rocks Live with Carl. Our guest - Kent Alstad. Since Kent was on the ASP.NET Scalability Panel back at Tech Ed in June, we've received a number of emails from folks asking for more... so we delivered. Since Kent was with us already, it was pretty easy.

We had a great crowd for the .NET Rocks Live, they really whooped it up. I'm sure you'll hear it when the show is published.

After that session I dropped into the Speaker Party for a couple of hours, up in the penthouse suites of The Hotel at Mandalay Bay. Waaay too many people in too small a space, incredibly loud and lots and lots of fun.

I didn't stay long though, I headed out to dinner at Sensi at the Bellagio with the Strangeloop folks and a few key influencers.

Tomorrow is another crazy busy day!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007 4:55:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


DevConnections Day 2: Microsoft Day#

Today is tradeshow day... actually, its Microsoft day, the day when all the sessions are given by Microsoft folks. But its also the day where the tradeshow floor is open the most. DevConnections has an interesting technique for tradeshow floors where they close it regularly, then open it again an hour or so later.

While its a bit confusing, the logic is pretty straightforward: They close the tradeshow when sessions are on, which gives the folks working the tradeshow a break. Then they open it again for break times where there is snacks, lunch, etc. The result is that as a vendor, you get a chance to get off your feet regularly, and then you get these big surges of people visiting all at once.

Jeff and Paul from the Strangeloop sales team are loving it, the interest level is insanely high, every time the doors open to let the attendees in, we're swamped. We have eight staff for the booth including myself, and at times, its not enough.

Kent, Josh and I have been running the load test demos of the AS1000 back-to-back, keeping the cubes full. Lots and lots of questions about how things work and how to get one ASAP.

At the end of the day, the evening event is called Microsoft Unplugged, where Carl and I hosted a game show to give away all sorts of swag (my favorite job!).

Tuesday, November 6, 2007 5:26:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


DevReach Day Two#

Carl and I grabbed an interview with Dino Esposito in a quiet room during the conference, his viewpoint on Silverlight and ASP.NET technologies is always interesting.

Dino's session on "What Partial Rendering is not AJAX" rang true for me as well - his point is that the essence of AJAX is pushing page rendering to the browser, rather than computing it on the server. But partial rendering still computes the HTML on the server and sends it to the browser to display. This undermines the goal of AJAX.

I had last session of the day (and conference) and a huge crowd for my load testing talk today, as usual there were relatively few folks in the audience that had done load testing before, so a lot of my talk focused on the fundamentals of why and where for load testing. The data we've gathered around Strangeloop is great stuff for getting people started.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 1:41:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


DevReach Day One#

Sold out! Yep, the show is packed. Its not the biggest show in the world, but the attendees are focused and excited to be here. The keynote speech today included the local Microsoft folks and Telerik and, of course, Tim Huckaby! Tim's stories around building great applications that change the world are hard to touch. The audience was spellbound.

My work came in the afternoon, I took the Scaling Habits of ASP.NET Applications out for a spin again, with lots of interesting questions and discussion afterward.

In the evening Carl and I ran a panel discussion on WPF with Tim Huckaby, Brian Noyes and Todd Anglin.

Tomorrow is the last day, then we're touring Sofia!

Monday, October 1, 2007 1:25:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


DevReach 2007!#

Less than a week at home and I'm back in Europe, now in Sofia, Bulgaria for DevReach.

This is the second year of this conference, this time around Telerik is very deeply involved. I've been helping out with bringing in speakers, including Stephen Forte, Tim Huckaby and Joel Semeniuk.

And yes, this time Carl has made it here in one piece. No more travel disasters for him!

Saturday, September 29, 2007 2:31:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


SDC Day 2 - End of the Conference#

So Mark, Karen and I managed to put together something Mondays-like last night. Not exactly a Mondays without Carl, but close enough. Without any recording gear, its going to disappear into history. The SDC folks seemed to enjoy it, lots of laughs.

Just to make it more exciting, I participated in the DotNetNuke Futures Panel right before Mondays. We had originally intended to make the panel discussion into a .NET Rocks show, but without recording gear, that couldn't happen. There's going to be another panel like this at DevConnections in Las Vegas, we'll see if we can't record that one for .NET Rocks instead. If you haven't been paying attention, DotNetNuke is going through a major reorganization as it becomes one of the larger Open Source projects in the world. SDC is hosting the Open Force Europe conference, so folks here are learning what the reorganization means to them.

Today I was even busier - my famous SQL Tips & Tricks session first thing in the morning, then Load Testing with Kent Alstad (more great content generated by our work on Strangeloop) before lunch and then closing the conference in the last slot with Steve Forte doing a SQL Server Q&A session. We left the content of the Q&A session largely open, the attendees were very interested in SQL 2008. Fortunately, Steve and I disagree on a number of features, so it was, shall we say, an "animated conversation."

Tomorrow is the speaker's tour, which will have a number of new twists!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007 3:32:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


SDC Day 1 - Carl's Not Here#

The SDC conference is starting, and Carl is not here.

Some sort of travel disaster has happened for Carl, resulting in him losing some baggage and being unable to travel until he gets it back.

This seriously complicates doing Mondays tonight, since he had the recording gear, as well as having to cover off his sessions.

And we're not going to get any .NET Rocks shows either - which is a shame, we had some cool stuff planned to do here.

But that's how it goes sometimes. My schedule is plenty full doing all sorts of scaling and performance sessions with Kent Alstad. So far we've done the Scaling Habits of ASP.NET Applications and ASP.NET Scaling Strategies and Tactics. Tomorrow we'll get to take a new session out for a spin - Load Testing!

All these new sessions have really come about because of the research we're doing at Strangeloop Networks. Building an appliance to accelerate ASP.NET applications means running lots and lots of tests. The result of which is a huge pile of performance data. My head is stuffed full of so many stats and details on how ASP.NET applications scale that I figure I might as well share it with everyone.

Monday, September 17, 2007 4:42:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Software Developers Conference in the Netherlands, 2007!#

On the road again, this time in the Netherlands for SDC.

This is the tenth year I've done this conference, but the first time I've been in the Netherlands in the fall - in previous years this conference has been in the spring (typically in May).

The weather in September in the Netherlands is awesome. Its warm, occasionally cloudy... we might get some rain this week, but for the most part its been awesome.

Last year the whole family came along and we also went to Paris. This year I'm traveling with a buddy, and we're planning on driving across Germany to Prague after the conference. Roadtrip!

Sunday, September 16, 2007 1:07:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Sleepless in New York!#

Back in New York again! I've lost count of the number of times I've been in New York this year.

This time the event is Sleepless in New York, Infusion's weekend of Sharepoint madness. The event is actually being held in Microsoft's New York office on the Avenue of the Americas and 52nd Street, just a few blocks from Central Park.

On .NET Rocks, Carl and I only announced Sleepless a few times, as an opportunity for folks to compete to win prizes by learning about Sharepoint and then building an application, all in a weekend. The number of contestants was quickly overwhelming and we had to close registration early.

The result was an amazing group of twelve contestants - people from all over North America, brought in for a weekend in New York and all the Sharepoint they can stand.

Some folks from the Sharepoint team in Redmond are here as well, Carl and I are taking everything in.

Saturday, September 8, 2007 2:07:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Interview with John Bristowe is Posted#

A couple of weeks ago I was in Calgary to do my SQL Querying presentation for the Calgary .NET Users Group. While there, John Bristowe interviewed me. That interview is now posted.

Actually, its really three separate interviews. The first starts off as a short history of my career in computers (30 years this August), how I got into .NET Rocks and RunAs Radio, speaking about SQL Server and my Querying Talk. After that we jumped into Strangeloop, what its about and where it came from. Finally, we ended up talking career advice... John asked me my thoughts on how developers can grow in their jobs.

I'd go on, but its probably best just to listen to the interview, its about a half hour long.

Friday, July 13, 2007 6:07:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Home from Tech Ed US 2007#

Slept in today, first time the whole week. I deliberately took the afternoon flight home, so I didn't have to hurry Saturday morning to get home.

Caught up email, packed everything up... which is tough, somehow I ended up with more stuff than I came down with. All expandable panels OPEN.

Carl and I rode together to the airport. We got there early enough to get through the lines fairly quickly and sat down at the Macaroni Grill for lunch. Last chance to chat before going our respective ways.

All in all, an incredibly successful week. Strangeloop wins a Tech Ed Best in Show award. Carl wins RD of the Year. And we have a really great time podcasting and performing for the Tech Ed attendees. Couldn't ask for more.

I decided to upgrade myself on the flights home, I deserved it. Made the trip much more pleasant. Arrived home on time, no bags lost. The girls are away camping, so just me 'n the wife. The dog is happy to see me.

The insurance on my car expired while I was gone. Guess I have stuff to do on Monday.

Home good!

Saturday, June 9, 2007 9:44:45 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [2]  | 


Tech Ed US 2007 Day 5: The End of Everything#

Another early start. The video folks at Virtual Tech Ed wanted to interview Strangeloop about winning Best in Show for Web Development and Infrastructure. The only way we could fit it into the schedule was to come in at 8am. Josh Bixby and I did the interview with Bryan Von Alexson where we talked about what AppScaler was all about and what it meant to win Best of Tech Ed.

The last day of Tech Ed is kind of sad, really. A lot of people are already gone. The vendor space shut down on Thursday, so its all gone. Its a quieter day, a few anxious folks trying to score whatever swag is left, and trying to locate people they hadn't been able to find earlier in the week.

We'd only gotten three interviews for RunAs Radio, and now Greg Hughes was gone. Carl and I had the three panels for .NET Rocks, but we also wanted four shows as well. We decided on a vignette show for the last slot, a set of interviews that go together to make a complete show. The anchor interview for that show was with the Acropolis team. We got about a half hour interview with them in the lunch area, just before lunch started. Then we ate lunch.

After lunch I had time to prep for my chalk talk on ASP.NET scaling. Chalk talks are interesting things - they're not really sessions, but they're not really Birds of a Feather either. And with the talk being on Friday afternoon, you never know what sort of crowd you're going to get.

I decided against slides, I was just going to draw diagrams on the whiteboard as we went. The conversation tied pretty closely to my blog post on the Scaling as well. I drew an overflow crowd, and I saw Doug Seven peek his head into the back just before I was done. The folks seemed to enjoy the chalk talk, I had a good number of questions at the end, including "so where does Strangeloop fit into this?"

So, 2:30pm on the last day of Tech Ed. The show ends at 5pm. Everything that you could do is pretty much done. I wandered back to the Fish Bowl for one last shirt change... today had been a Strangeloop-to-DNR-to-Tech Ed Speaker day, I switched back to DNR for the end of the show. Jon and Josh were still in Orlando, so we agreed to go to a quiet dinner to talk about how the show had gone for Strangeloop. Carl found Mark Dunn and a few others to go to dinner with.

After dinner I found Carl, he showed me some great video he shot of the space shuttle taking off. He was a good 50 miles away from the launch, recording video in the Rosen Plaza parking lot. No sound, but a clear 45 seconds or so of something going up in a big hurry. Very cool. We adjourned to the hotel bar around 9pm for a few bourbons. Tomorrow we would both fly home.

While we were sitting there contemplating a pretty incredible week, who should show up but a whole group of the Microsoft folks that run Tech Ed! We talked for more than an hour about how Tech Ed went, what we would do differently, what we'd like to do next year. Lots of great ideas, sounds like we'll have even more fun next year!

Friday, June 8, 2007 10:04:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Tech Ed US 2007 Day 4: The End of the Booth#

Started extra early this morning, probably too early. We scheduled the Identity Panel for 9:15am, in sync with the first break of the morning to draw a crowd. It worked, but I think people were a bit too tired from the Under-the-Influencers party the night before. Four days into Tech Ed, you need to think about these things.

And while I'm thinking about Tech Ed, let everyone be warned: Wear comfortable shoes! The Orlando Conference Center is insanely huge. Even if you never set foot outside, if you take a cab everywhere, you are going to be walking for miles. You need good shoes. Tech Ed is a marathon, not a sprint, be careful with your time and energy.

So meantime, there was the Identity Panel. Great line up of panels, including Ani Babaian, Richard Turner, Michele Leroux Bustamante and Scott Golightly. Pat Hynds handled the mike for me out on the floor, and threw in a number of important questions as we explored the topic of Identity pretty thoroughly. Lots of interaction from the audience, even though it was early in the morning.

After the panel I did not race over to the Strangeloop booth, it wasn't going to open 'til 11:30am, and the Speaker Idol Finals started at noon. So I had time to sneak another RunAs Radio interview in, this time with Richard Turner, fresh off the Identity panel. Only this time we focused heavily into the IT side of Identity, including discussions around Active Directory, server management, and so on.

Next up, the Speaker Idol finals. We had five contestants (instead of the planned for four), and decided to have them present in the order they won in: Bob Roudebush, Alain Tadros, Sarbjit Gill, Rob Windsor and Steve Smith. Joel Semeniuk had to leave Tech Ed early, so our judges were: Kate Gregory, Stephen Forte, Michele Leroux Bustamante and Chris Kinsman.

All five contestants presented the same five minute presentation they did during their heats. All five had adopted at least some of the recommendations that the judges had offered. All five were excellent - as far as I am concerned, they should all have speaking slots at Tech Ed next year.

But only one could win, I only had one guaranteed speaking slot to give away. The judges deliberated for a long time, Carl and I talked for quite awhile with each other and the audience. In the end, the winner was Steve Smith.

There was lots of handshakes and congratulations all around. Then I raced over to the Strangeloop booth, which was closing at 3pm. Only Jon and Josh were left to man the booth. Birgit headed home on Wednesday (and missed out on being here for the Best of Tech Ed win), Kent, Lee and Virginia all left Thursday morning. The last hour of the booth was pretty peaceful, but we met with a few interesting folks catching the last moments of the vendor space. At 3pm on the nose, a huge cheer went up, the air walls were deployed to start blocking the vendor space away from the rest of the conference. Jon and Josh started packing up the booth equipment, I headed back to the Fish Bowl to do another RunAs Radio interview.

This time the interview was with Jeff Sigman, talking about Network Access Protection. While there's lots of different aspects to NAP (and you'll have to listen to the show to hear them all), I went crazy for the concept of having different IP addresses assigned to a computer based on an assessment of risk. For me, this meant that finally, when I'm at a Microsoft office, I'll be able to get bandwidth.

We wanted to get four RunAs shows recorded, and we had three in the can, and just enough time to get one more, so we went out searching for someone to interview, but to no avail... so we ended up with three.

Thursday night at Tech Ed is Attendee Party night. This year the attendee party was in Universal City Walk, at the Islands of Adventure. I raced back to the Rosen Plaza to get changed, then over to the Rosen Center to meet up with everyone. Just as I was arriving, a large contingent of RDs (led by Stephen Forte, of course) were heading to the bus. I really wanted a drink, so Carl and I skipped the first bus and sat with Kim Tripp, Paul Randal and Brian Randall.

They made an interesting proposal: Lets go to dinner at Emeril's Tchoup Chop, which is at the Royal Pacific Resort, right beside the Islands of Adventure. I was ready for good meal that wasn't steak, so I was instantly onboard. We took separate cars, and our driver dropped us at the wrong end of City Walk, close to the OTHER Emeril restaurant there. As I walked in I said to the maitre de "This is not Emeril's Tchoup Chop" and he said "You are correct sir, take the ferry over there to the Royal Pacific Resort."

So Carl and I walked down to the ferry to discover it was closed due to lightning. So then we walk past the Islands of Adventure and all the way 'round to the Royal Pacific Resort. Its jungle steamy out, threatening to rain, and lightning dancing everywhere. We can hear announcements from Island Adventure that the rides are closed due to lightning. Suddenly we don't feel all that interested to go the attendee party.

It was a long walk, but it was worth it: Emeril's Tchoup Chop house is an excellent restaurant, we had a multi-course meal that gave us a number of lovely tastes, almost exclusively seafood, although there were other choices, I'd had enough meat for the week. And the conversation... well, the conversation turned to Strangeloop.

I told the tale of how we got started, and the evolution of AppScaler. Brian Randall was especially excited about it, its totally his area of focus, scaling out web applications. And it was right around then that Carl's favorite moment of the entire Tech Ed took place: When I finished explaining exactly how AppScaler's output cache learns what to cache, when to expire it and how to cope with expiry under load efficiently, Brian leaped up, grabbed my head and gave me a big kiss. I guess he liked it.

Thursday, June 7, 2007 10:04:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Tech Ed US 2007 Day 3: Hump Day!#

Back at it bright and early Wednesday morning. Another day, another Speaker Idol heat, Heat 3, at 9:45am. But today is heavily, heavily scheduled. As soon as Heat 3 is over, we're into the ASP.NET Scalability panel. Then about a 90 minute break before the VSTS panel. And right after that, Heat 4 of Speaker Idol. And somewhere in there, I have to visit the Strangeloop booth for awhile.

Speaker Idol Heat 3 kicks off, our contestants are James Kovacs, Mauro Cardarelli, Sarbjit Gill and the wildcard, Rob Windsor. Again, the competition is tough. Michele had a session to speak at, so Scott Golightly stepped in to judge. At the end of the heat, the judges call me over for a ruling. They can't decide - they want a tie. I initially refuse, but then listen through the details.

The tie for them was between Sarbjit Gill and Rob Windsor. Sarbjit had done a demonstration of how to handle internal and external DNS routing properly. Its a topic I know well, but the primarily dev-oriented audience was impressed, they understood it too. And what made Sarbjit's demonstration totally over the top is that he did the whole thing in MS Paint. Drew it all in five minutes, explaining as he went.

Rob Windsor's demo was on WCF, a very clever little application combined with a nice slide deck, using the Tech Ed template, that really clearly explained a very complicated subject... again in five minutes flat.

So the judges couldn't choose - a total seat-of-the-pants IT demo with MS Paint versus a perfectly executed classic slide-and-code demo. I gave in: they were right, it was a tie, both Rob and Sarbjit would go to the finals.

We had some time to re-organize the stage. The judges chairs at the back of the audience space are moved onto the stage to become panelist chairs. The ASP.NET Scalability Panel is comprised of Kent Alstad, Rob Howard, Steve Smith and Stephen Forte. Each one of these guys could easily do a great scalability session, but they don't agree on everything and the debate is lively. We get a few questions from the audience as well.

A two hour minute break between the panels offered a moment to grab some lunch and talk to a few other folks. Lots of people were asking questions about Strangeloop, I never get tired of talking about our product.

At 1:30pm the Visual Studio Team System panel came together. The panelists were Doug Seven, Joel Semeniuk, Mike Azocar and Steve Borg. There were also several Team System advocates in the audience, so it was a very interactive panel discussion, as we navigated through the minefields of Agile vs. Waterfall, CMMI, TFS, and many other acronyms I'm sure I'm forgetting.

We had about an hour between the VSTS panel and the final heat of Speaker Idol. This time our contestants were Corro'll Driskell, Darren Mar-Elia, Jeffrey Palermo and the wildcard, Steve Smith. The judging panel had one substitution, Stephen Forte was doing a session, Barry Gervin sat in for him. Barry fancies himself a Simon Cowell I'm afraid, and tended to be more critical, but the input was effective. The winner for heat 4 was Steve Smith, who did this amazing demo of optimizing ASP.NET while running tests in the Visual Studio Team System Test Edition. He set up the test first, showing a graph of pages per second and database requests per second, then altered the page while the test was running to improve performance. He turned off session and the pages per second went up 10%. Then he turned off viewstate and the pages per second went up 20%. The he configured the page to cache for exactly one second - a mere one second! But the impact on performance was dramatic: The number of pages per second went up 300%, while the database requests for second dropped to 1-2 per second. All in less than five minutes.

The crowd went wild. The judges stared with their mouths hanging open. It was incredibly compelling.

So that set the stage for the finals: Bob Roudebush, Alain Tadros, Sarbjit Gill, Rob Windsor and Steve Smith would compete on Thursday to win a speaking slot at Tech Ed US 2008.

It was about 4pm: Time to race back to the Strangeloop booth before close at 5:30pm. More fans of the show, more influencers, lots of people curious about AppScaler and the company. When the booth closed, back to the Fish Bowl, time to record RunAs Radio. We picked up our first show with Isaac Roybal, talking about IIS7. We primarily focused on the new management features, the folks at Microsoft have really thought about how different IT folks need to manage IIS. The enterprise folks, the small shop folks and the ISPs all have features they'll find incredibly compelling.

When the interview was done, I pounded out more emails, locking down another interview for .NET Rocks, other RunAs interviews and related Tech Ed stuff. Carl was already gone. My goal was to get out the door by 6:30pm. Next door at the Peabody was the Best of Tech Ed award announcements, and the Strangeloop folks were there, hoping for a win.

I didn't make it - there was so much to get done, before I knew it it was 7:15pm, Josh called: Strangeloop had won Best of Tech Ed for Web Development and Infrastructure! I whooped, right there in the Fish Bowl, startling the other folks editing up a storm. There were congratulations all around. I promised to join the Strangeloop folks for dinner. Kent met me at the Fish Bowl and we hopped in a cab to meet up for a celebratory dinner.

Having dinner with everyone meant being late for the Influencers Party. But Virginia & Jill (from Interprose, our PR firm) decided to join me as we headed over that way, catching the tail end of the party with a huge pack of RDs. We managed a couple of drinks and then headed for the Redmond Magazine party down the street at The Groove. A group of RDs traveled with us, must have been a dozen. The Groove was grooving, very loud, lots of dancing, another couple of drinks, and then moved on again, this time for the Peabody. It was almost midnight.

Various people came and went as we went through our hops, ultimately it was about nine that arrived at the Peabody, including me, Virginia, Steve Forte, Kate Gregory, Sasha and a few others. We had another couple of drinks and I talked about Strangeloop and AppScaler at length.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007 10:17:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Tech Ed US 2007 Day 2: Speaker Idol Begins!#

We weren't too late last night, so getting up the next morning wasn't all that tough. Got to the Fish Bowl early, the first heat of Speaker Idol was at 9:45am. I spent a lot of the morning in email exchanges with folks for the three panels: Identity, VSTS and ASP.NET Scalability. I realized the stage is best set up for four panelists, each with headsets, plus Carl and I sitting off to the side with our own headsets, and then there's one wireless wand microphone on the floor.

In between panel emails there are emails from nervous Speaker Idol contestants, confirming rules, asking for suggestions, and so on.

Ten minutes before Heat 1 begins, we realize not all the judges can make it. I pulled Chris Kinsman in to cover for Joel who had a session.

Good news is, all the contestants show up. And then a big crowd shows up, over a hundred people. The AV guys are awesome, get everyone geared up and things moves right along. The competitors for the first heat were Mike Azocar, Bill Baldasti and Bob Roudebush. Going last was Kent Alstad, our first wild card. All the presentations are excellent, the judges complain about having to pick a winner, but do their job. The first heat winner is selected: its Bob Roudebush, with his great demonstration of the File Server Resource Manager in Windows Server 2003 R2.

At the end of Heat 1, the wildcard slots quickly disappeared. My four wild cards, in order of the heats, are Kent Alstad, Mark Miller, Rob Windsor and Steve Smith.

When the heat is over, I change shirts and head for the Strangeloop booth which has just opened. Lee is there now, arriving late last night. Things are in full swing, lots of people visiting the booth, seeing the demo, taking data sheets and getting excited about what we're up to. During that time the judges for the Best of Tech Ed competition came by to see AppScaler. We were very excited to be a Finalist, and the judge seemed to "get" what AppScaler was all about.

After helping out for a couple of hours I headed back to the Fish Bowl to gear up for Speaker Idol Heat 2 and continue sorting out who and when for the .NET Rocks panels. Change back to the DNR shirt.

Speaker Idol Heat 2 goes even smoother. The contestants are Brad McGehee, Alain Tadros, Dandy Weyn and the wild card, none other than Mark Miller (who knew he'd never presented at Tech Ed?). Again, the presentations are killer effective. Its amazing how much information these guys can pack into five minutes. The judges rule and Alain Tadros wins with a great code-on-the-fly demo of anonymous delegates.

I spent the rest of the afternoon locking down the panels, sending out invites. We'd have two panels on Wednesday, in between the Speaker Idol heats. First would be the ASP.NET Scalability panel, then the VSTS panel. On Thursday morning we'd do the Identity panel and the Speaker Idol finals. With the details locked down, I fired off the scheduling info to the CommNet folks to get it posted out to the Tech Ed attendees.

In the midst of all this, Greg Hughes arrived. Greg has been my co-host on RunAs Radio from the very beginning of the show, but this was the first time we'd actually met face to face. Our goal for RunAs was to get four interviews recorded with interesting folks at Tech Ed. We debated topics for awhile, but the list tightened up to IIS7, Network Access Protection, Forefront/ISA, Server Virtualization, Cardspace/Identity and anything else Longhorn Server we could find.

As the afternoon wound down, Carl and I rip out the Wednesday morning bluecast message. The mission turns to finding a good dinner. Orlando restaurants are plentiful, but mediocre for the most part. I guess its the nature of the place... its a total tourist town, and there really isn't any penalty for having a lousy restaurant, people keep showing up.

But we were told by numerous folks in the know that Vitos Chop House was the place to go. So we went. Greg, Mark Dunn, Carl & Tina and I all headed over there for a big steak dinner. Lo and behold, sitting a couple of tables away was the entire DevExpress gang, including Mark Miller! The dinner was good (when you're in a town of one star restaurants, being a three star makes you a knock out), and ultimately Mark came and sat with us as well. Lots of laughter and silliness. Our noise attracts attention, Chris Kinsman finds us from the other end of the restaurant.

We split up from dinner. Carl head for The Groove to jam. Mark Miller and I adjourn to the hotel bar to talk for awhile (I drank, Mark doesn't need alcohol). In bed shortly after midnight. Tomorrow is the half way mark!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 10:17:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Tech Ed US 2007 Day 1: Getting Started#

When I got into the Rosen yesterday evening, I discovered that the server box had arrived from Denver. I left it at the bell desk, since there was no reason to drag it up to the room. But since I'd chatted with Birgit and Virginia that evening, we agreed to meet in the morning, get the beastie over to the tradeshow and set up. Jon, Josh and Kent were also arriving today.

I had wisely stocked myself up with bottles of water when I was over at Tech Ed registering, so I could deal with the after affects of significant amounts of scotch consumed the night before. Tech Ed is the Super Bowl of Microsoft Conferences, and you don't want to miss a bit of it. So its up late partying every night, and up early the next morning to get to work.

So we all gathered at the Strangeloop booth, reviewed the demos and went over procedures in general. I also had my box of shirts.

My life for this Tech Ed is a complex one. I have a lot of shirts, and depending on what work I'm doing, I have to change shirts. I have the following shirts:

  • Tech Ed Speaker Shirt (for speaking, duh!)
  • .NET Rocks Shirt (all DNR related events)
  • Strangeloop Shirt (whenever I'm going to be at the booth)

So over the course of the day, I'm going to switch between these shirts several times. I wear a t-shirt underneath to avoid horrifying anyone. And where do I do all this quick change work? Why, in the Fish Bowl!

After checking in at the Strangeloop booth, I headed over to the Virtual Tech Ed stage, where The 64 Bit Question, Speaker Idol and all the .NET Rocks panels were going to take place. In behind the stage is a video recording studio and an editing room, each of which have two walls of plexiglass. They look like people aquariums, and were quickly dubbed The Fish Bowl. And that's when I finally met Zaak and Katrina in person. Zaak runs Virtual Tech Ed, and we'd been on the phone with each other at least once a week for the past two months. The Virtual Tech Ed stage was the fruition of all the work we'd been doing.

Carl and I took over one corner of the Fish Bowl and met a number of the other inhabitants, including Dean Andrews, who was working with a group of folks who do Bluecasting. Bluecasting utilizes Bluetooth technology to push content (in this case, MP3 files) onto Bluetooth devices, like cell phones. Dean wanted to make it easy for people to find out what was available on the Virtual Tech Ed web site. After talking to him for a few minutes I offered up the services of Carl and I. We have lots of practice making short bits (2-3 minutes) with music and news. We planned to create one for every day of the conference.

It was around that time that Steve Forte and Pat Hynds showed up. Pat and Duane Laflotte had a conference session on Identity right after lunch, and they had an idea. Since fundamentally Identity is all about how you know who someone is, they wanted to do a physical demonstration. So Pat and Duane asked Steve and I to impersonate them. We would show up early for the session, walk up on stage and start presenting it. Steve went so far as to grab a piece of paper and scrawl "Patrick Hynds" on it and stuff it in front of his own Tempo Tempo Forte Forte name tag.

When the time came, Steve and I went on stage and dropped into our usual pre-session duet banter, only calling each other Pat and Duane. When it was actually time to start, we introduced ourselves and started the session. I even made a point of fumbling over the pronunciation of Duane's last name. About two minutes into it, Pat and Duane rush in, apologize for being late, and say "what are you guys doing on stage?" We get into an argument about who is really supposed to be presenting the session. Pat had left his badge on the podium, so he picks it up and puts it on. Steve runs into the crowd and asks an attendee, "doesn't my badge say Patrick Hynds" which of course it does, in badly scrawled pen. Then Pat says "But I'm Patrick Hynds, I have the official badge!" and someone else from the audience yells out "He just picked that badge up from the podium!"

So then we held a poll, asking the audience who they thought the real Patrick Hynds was. And most people picked Steve! Then we flipped the slide and showed photos along side the names. The crowd laughed. That was mine and Steve's cue to get out of the way, and Patrick dropped directly into "How DO you know for certain who someone is?"

The gag worked, and it made a point about Identity. Mission accomplished. Back to the floor, visited the Developer Learning Center area and chatted with Erika Maki about putting together some panels for .NET Rocks. She suggested VSTS, which I thought was a fine idea. Next stop, the RD booth where Steve stayed and ultimately I ended up back at the Fish Bowl.

While I was off being silly on stage, Carl was working hard on getting The 64 Bit Question slide deck finalized. We had pulled all the prizes together and sorted out the questions into Developer, IT Pro and .NET Rocks Trivia categories. The swag was wide ranging: from polar fleece sweaters to USB keys to software packages from Telerik, Data Dynamics and DevExpress. While we were comparing notes and organizing that, I had sent out an email to all of the Speaker Idol contestants to meet at the Virtual Tech Ed stage for a briefing. I was also starting to pull together the various panel ideas we had, including a panel on Identity and a panel on ASP.NET Scaling. Lots and lots of emails.

Speaker Idol briefing went well, but on such short notice, only about half the contestants showed up. The judges (Steve, Kate, Michele and Joel) dropped by as well. We talked about the flow of the stage, how all laptops are prepped in advance as well as mike checks. The routine on stage itself: Carl and I introduce you, ask you a bit about yourself, then get off the stage so you can do your five minute presentation. When you're done, we all clap, Carl and I return to the stage, talk to the judges a bit, they offer their critique, and the next contestant comes up. When all the contestants are done, they all return to the stage and the judges pick a winner. We also talked about wildcard participants - there are three contestants per heat, selected in advance. But there's room for four in each heat, so someone watching a heat can come up afterward and we'll put them into the next heat. I had already found a wild card for the first heat, I figured the rest would go quickly.

At 6pm Carl and I started The 64 Bit Question, just as folks were headed down for the opening of the sponsor booths. We drew a big crowd, mostly IT folks (wish we had more IT questions), and the swag went quickly. Some of the questions are quite funny, and the audience has a good time. After an hour or so, all the goodies are given out and we can head over to the Strangeloop booth.

So count the shirt changes: in the morning I arrived in a civilian shirt. By noon I changed to a speaker shirt for the Identity gag. Then I changed to the DNR shirt for the Speaker Idol briefing and 64 Bit Question. Then into the Strangeloop shirt to help out at the booth. Finally I switched back to the civ shirt as the reception ended and we could go to dinner. Somewhere in all that, Kent arrived as well. Before heading out Carl and I ducked into the Fish Bowl for awhile and laid down the Tuesday Bluecast recording. After that we ate at Jacks in the Rosen Plaza hotel. We were underwhelmed with the food, but the company was good - Strangeloopers (Jon, Josh, Kent, Virginia and Birgit) plus Steve and Carl.

Sometime in the afternoon I discovered that Scott Hanselman had blogged about the blogging session he'd contributed so much to (he asked me for my notes so that he could). Its at

Tomorrow would be the first heats of Speaker Idol, and things would really get moving!

Monday, June 4, 2007 10:17:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Arriving in Orlando...#

Ah, flying sucks. Its amazing how much suckage there is in flying.

I drew the short straw with the Strangeloop crowd and had to check the Strangeloop AppScaler onto the plane. Everyone else just got boxes of t-shirts. Fortunately, I fly enough that I could exploit my status and they just checked it through. Went on the oversized baggage belt.

Arrived in Denver and a short walk to my Orlando flight. And there I encountered Tim Huckaby, who was on a later flight, but hoped to get on my flight. And then Michele Leroux Bustamante showed up. There was some confusion about whether or not the plane was going to fly with Hurricane Barry passing by. The three of us headed for the Red Carpet Club for awhile (Huckaby has God Status with United).

Eventually, maybe 20 minutes late, we boarded and discovered hordes of speakers and attendees on the plane, including Chris Kinsman and Juval Lowy.

When we all arrived in Orlando, my server box didn't come off the belt. I kept my cool and asked nicely at the baggage desk, they located it in Denver - never got on the plane.

They promised to delivered it to the hotel the next day - I appreciated not having to lug it myself, I think I'm going to request they lose it the next time I check one.

The good news is, I don't have to carry it back, it'll fly air freight home.

I'm at the Rosen Plaza. Its best feature is that its close to the conference center. While I didn't have my server, I did have my box of .NET Rocks! shirts from Connecticut.

Tomorrow is RD Summit Day!

Saturday, June 2, 2007 10:03:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Heading out for Tech Ed Orlando!#

Well, its that happy time again... off to Orlando!

Carl and I have a ton of things to do at Tech Ed US this year. Most everything we're doing is focused around the Virtual Tech Ed Stage down in the main conference hall across from the sponsor's area.

On Monday evening we'll be doing The 64 Bit Question, where the audience will get to win all kinds of prizes for answering questions about .NET and .NET Rocks!

Then there's Speaker Idol. We've got twelve contestants that are going to give five minute talks before an audience and panel of judges. The winner of Speaker Idol gets a speaking slot at Tech Ed US 2008, including all the perks a speaker gets: airfare, hotel, etc. There are four rounds of three speakers each, two on Tuesday, two on Wednesday. The winner of each round goes on to the finals on Thursday.

And, just to really spice things up, we're offering up a wildcard slot for each round. Think you can handle it? Get a hold of me and I'll get you into the competition. When Carl and I did Speaker Idol in Europe, one of the wildcards made it to the finals!

In between all this craziness we're going to do all sorts of panel discussions on a variety of topics. We've got several worked out already, if you have ideas for more, let me know and perhaps we can put you on the Virtual Tech Ed Stage. Also, we'll be recording .NET Rocks! and RunAs Radio as well. My co-host for RunAs, Greg Hughes, is going to hang with us for a few days.

I'm going to work hard to blog routinely from Tech Ed. Somehow I'll fit it all in.

So if you're at Tech Ed, drop by the Virtual Tech Ed stage and say hi!

Friday, June 1, 2007 10:50:39 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Stretching the Editorial Calendar on .NET Rocks!#

I don't normally write much about .NET Rocks here. Heck, I haven't been writing about much of anything here lately, but I just had a really good .NET Rocks day and thought y'all might like to hear about it.

For awhile now I've been doing most of the editorial planning - finding guests, scheduling, etc for .NET Rocks. I won't say I do it all because Carl does contribute plenty. And to be honest, most of the shows I schedule come from the listeners anyway: ask (email, and you will receive. Really!

And since we've switched to two shows a week (and thanks very much for that, Telerik!), I've felt we could take more chances on shows... explore a little further afield so to speak. At one show a week, I always worried that I was not serving our core audience of developers effectively enough - doing some ethereal, abstract show on design concepts followed by a SQL show followed by a live show at a conference and next thing you know, its been a month since we've done a real "in the code" kinda show.

With two shows a week, that's not as much a concern, I can get a codey show every week and still have a chance to try some wackier things out.

Carl and I have also taken to recording shows back-to-back, usually on a Tuesday. We both find that as the day goes on, we get more and more excited about shows, to the point where at the fourth show of the day, we can be a little giddy (proof - have a listen to show 219 with Shaun Walker, it was a fourth). I've taken it as a cautionary note and stick with three shows normally. We need to keep a few shows ahead all the time so we can go to conferences and such while maintaining our twice a week publication schedule.

So at the end of recording today Carl was laughing at me because the three shows we recorded today could not have been more different. The first show we recorded was with Brad Abrams, the Group Program Manager of the .NET Framework, where we talked about some special announcements he'll make at MIX on May 1 (the same day the show will be published). We talked Silverlight (aka WPF/e) primarily. This was a cool show for me because of the publication synchronization with MIX - I'd like to do more stuff like this in the future.

The second show recorded today was with Eric Evans, where we focused on Domain Driven Design and his book Domain-Driven Design: Tackling Complexity in the Heart of Software. We got a lot of email around Jimmy Nilsson's show on DDD, mostly to the effect of "more more more!" We talked more at the level of the white board phase of an application, with a very broad viewpoint - although I enjoyed drilling into the ideas around how DDD really does work in an agile environment. We'll publish this show May 10.

Finally, we recorded a show with Rustan Leino, talking about Spec#, an extension to C# that focuses on static checking, pre- and post-condition contracts around methods and more. You'll hear this show on May 15.

When we were all done, Carl said "Wow Richard, we went from talking to a blue badge about the latest and greatest technology coming out of Microsoft to a broad discussion on design methodology to a deep drilldown into how languages ought to work in the future. What are you trying to do, kill me?!? My brain hurts!"

I saw it as a complement, really. I feel like I've achieved a goal of stretching the boundaries around what we can dig into with .NET Rocks. I hope you like the shows coming up as well, please let us know!


Tuesday, April 24, 2007 2:00:13 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [1]  | 


Getting Back to Blogging#

So here's a funny story.

Not counting the post from June 2006 where I provided my sample code for TechEd US in Boston, it was about a year ago since my last blog post.

I was the middle of some serious water cooling upgrades, PWOP had a bunch of new shows under way and things were just hopping.

And I got the fish tank in my office rebuilt and up and running with a new tank, new plumbing and some lovely salt water fish.

It lasted about 12 hours, then it burst. 120 gallons of salt water all over the floor.

Took six months to clean up.

I didn't want to talk about it. It was very difficult to get work done, to do much of anything.

But that's all over now, and I miss you guys.

And there's a TON to talk about! New machines, new companies, new shows! All good stuff.

I'm in Orlando at the moment at DevConnections. Carl and I are going to interview Scott Guthrie in front of an audience tomorrow. That'll be fun.

I'll keep you posted. Promise.

Monday, March 26, 2007 1:06:43 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [2]  | 


Giving up on Azureus#

Being in the podcasting business means taking BitTorrent seriously.

To make our podcasts more available, Carl and I, along with a bunch of other folks, seed for .NET Rocks, Mondays, Hanselminutes and dnrTV.

All along I've been using Azureus, which has the plug-ins for RSS so that the pwop shows are automagically downloaded.

Azureus is one of the original BitTorrent clients, written in Java, and is a classic example of what happens when really smart people write software. It has every feature imaginable, barely documented and generally unintelligible. Its so bad that Azureus has its own wiki so that people can help each other try to understand it.

Then along comes uTorrent. Its a regular Windows app, and while it doesn't have as many features as Azureus, it has all the ones that matter. And it makes sense, and it works.

So, I've switched. And I'm not alone.

Saturday, March 25, 2006 9:19:57 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [4]  | 



I'm hanging out in the United Kingdom in Reading, just outside of London, attending the VBUG Conference.

Carl and Mark Miller are here as well.

Yesterday I did my famous advanced querying session, I've attached my demo files here for the folks who wanted them.

AdvQuerying_Setup.sql (3.48 KB)

AdvQuerying.sql (23.52 KB)

I'm also including my error handling queries, since I had enough time to quickly show off how SQL Server 2005 can actually handle an error: in this example, I handle a deadlock inside a stored procedure.

Error Handling Main.sql (1.48 KB)

Error Handling Second.sql (.26 KB)

Besides my session, Carl and I did a DNR Live, talking to the four fellows involved in a Code Off - the concept is that all four developers, working independently, build four different UIs over top of a common set of banking web services. The four clients included WinForms, Office, ASP.NET and mobility clients (PDA and Smartphone). They had about four hours to build the clients, and the results were impressive. It was an incredibly compelling demonstration of how capable Visual Studio 2005 is.

The conference ends today, then I'm off to London for the weekend before heading home.

Thursday, November 24, 2005 2:09:17 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [8]  | 


Hanging in Phoenix#

We got to Phoenix yesterday, and today we have a show at the Microsoft office in Phoenix.

The extra day is needed, not just for driving distance, but for sanity... its been a long trip, we need time to recover.

Plus I had a bunch of "real" work to do.

In between all this fun, John Bristowe and Co. put together a podcast called Plumbers at Work.

I'm hard on podcasts, I was before I was involved with .NET Rocks, and doubly so now. I won't listen to just anything, as soon as it gets annoying, I turn it off. But I listened to this entire show, and I encourage you to as well. Nice work JB!

Wednesday, November 2, 2005 2:44:58 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


A Weekend in Austin#

We've had such a great time in Texas, I'm almost loath to leave.

Dallas, Houston and Austin have all been great hosts.

Jeff Palermo, here in Austin, went above and beyond: not only setting up the show, but also securing a venue for recording Mondays and hosting a barbeque tonight. Thanks Jeff!

Tomorrow we have a stop over in El Paso before going on to Phoenix for our 15th show.

Sunday, October 30, 2005 10:13:33 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [3]  | 


Dallas Bound#

Today is our longest haul to date, from Memphis to Dallas.

As I write this we're on the I-40 travelling 66mph heading 235, having crossed from Tennessee into Arkansas. The nav system says its an eight hour trip.

Geoff the sound guy was all excited to cross the Mississippi, naturally it was completely fogged in, the water not visible at all.

Last night's visit to the Memphis .NET Users Group brought a welcome relief from pizza - finally some barbeque! Everyone enjoyed some pulled pork sandwiches and beans, and the show itself went really well.

Three stops in Texas: Dallas, Houston and Austin. Check for show details.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005 5:32:13 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [2]  | 


Chillin' in Atlanta#

With the Orlando show cancelled, we got a weekend off to spend in Atlanta.

Lots of housekeeping, catching up work, editing shows, doing laundry, mundane stuff like that.

Today we topped out, visiting the eastern-most Frys there is, down in Duluth, GA.

In case you're not sure, I'm pretty excited about the whole thing, here's the close up:

Not that we bought much, but just walking through a Frys makes me happy.

After that, we hit Benihana for dinner.

Tomorrow - Nashville.

Sunday, October 23, 2005 6:51:53 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [5]  | 


Orlando Date Cancelled#

Looks like I spoke too soon - the folks on the ground in Orlando have now cancelled the show.

With evacuations already under way, it just doesn't make any sense to drive into trouble.

We'll make it up to them at some point, maybe a special trip (by plane, of course) in the spring.

Meantime, we have some extra time in Atlanta... this could be trouble.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 12:51:32 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [4]  | 


Looking out to Wilma#

Well, we managed to time our drive to Baltimore right on top of the tunnel closing. But since we're in an RV with a big propane bottle, we're not allowed in the tunnel anyway and drove around the 695 ring road, avoiding all the fun.

Now we're looking forward to the end of the week, specifically to Saturday in Orlando.

Wilma has the lowest pressure center ever measured, and bumped up to Category 5 in a matter of hours. She also slowed down, projections now putting her in Florida late on Saturday.

Just about the time we're supposed to be doing a show in Orlando.

Now Orlando is a long way inland, and so far a fair ways off the projected track. But I'm not too keen to be in an RV in rain and wind like that.

Also, if folks are evacuating from the south, the resources in the north are going to be stretched and it might be in everyone's best interest if we just keep out of the way.

Its a bit early to be sure of what to do yet, the five day projections are pretty sketchy, but I think by Friday we'll know for sure, one way or the other.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 7:36:02 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Online in the RV#

The RoadTrip is under way, we've completed our first two shows in Boston, MA and Hartford, CT.

The crowds were appreciative of our talks, our info and the loot! We gave away some great stuff to Carl's renditions of Clementine.

We've been online on the RV (where I wrote this blog post), using GSM cell phones (courtesy Cingular) through our laptops. Along the way we've used the web cam to make faces at our kids and generally behave silly.

Tonight we're talking in New York, tomorrow at the New Jersey Code Camp. And Sunday we head for Philly to hangout with the Otaku Generation folks and record a Mondays!

Friday, October 14, 2005 11:26:31 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [3]  | 


First day at the PDC#

Arrived yesterday (Sunday) in Los Angeles to hang out for the week at PDC.

Today PDC is still setting up, but I'm in a room for the whole day with 60+ other Regional Directors, taking a look at all kinds of cool upcoming technologies that I'm not allowed to talk about (yet).

Tonight at 6pm in room 150/151, Carl and I will be doing The 64 Bit Question, a .NET Rocks! Quiz show. The prize packages are huge, and we'll be grabbing contestants from the audience... but when the contestant gets the question wrong, we'll be turning to the audience for the answer and the audience member who answers the question will win the prize!

Hope to see you there!

Monday, September 12, 2005 9:23:48 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Show Off at PDC 2005#

Just recording .NET Rocks this week and Carl and I had a chance to talk to Thomas Lewis and Mike Swanson about Show Off at PDC 2005.

The idea is to show videos of developers showing off their favorite bits of code. Some clever trick or idea that can be shown in under five minutes. The concept is cool, but what really stokes me is that its about the community, not about Microsoft.

Normally at the PDC you're watching Microsoft presenters showing off the future of Microsoft tools. But this is going to be the opposite - developers showing what they've done with Microsoft tools.

I'm encouraging Carl to "show off" this little tool he wrote for .NET Rocks. It takes the source version of the show and generates WMA, MP3, AAC in different quality modes, plus creates the split versions for folks who want it to fit on CD, and creates the torrent files for using BitTorrent. It saves a ton of time and is just the sort of thing I think would make a great five minute video.

If you've got something to submit, check out

Friday, August 26, 2005 1:42:38 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Post-Tech Ed#

I had every intention of blogging through Tech Ed, but it didn't happen.

One week ago today (Monday), I was walking from my hotel room to Tech Ed in a really foul mood. Being grouchy is rather unusual for me, but you can ask Steve Forte and Cathi Gero, they were there, and boy, was I grouchy.

I guess its been a few years since I've done back-to-back conferences, having done the SDC conference in the Netherlands the previous week, my body was trying to tell me I should be at home by then.

All of this changed when I got on stage with Steve to do our Advanced Querying session.

Y'know, speaking at conferences is really a money losing proposition for the majority of speakers, myself included. I would be making more money staying at home and working. But its really, really fun. Really. Engaging a big group of people (and there was about 800 people in the room) is a challenge, its exciting, and when it goes well, you're in orbit for the rest of the day. And I think it went pretty well - lots of laughter and ooh-aahs.

So to my audience at my first session: THANKS! You made my week.

Some folks have been emailing me, unable to find the samples for the session. I've attached two files here, the first is the setup file which creates the sample tables.

Setup.sql (3.57 KB)

The second is the demo script itself with all the queries Steve and I showed.

SS2k-YukonSamples.sql (24.42 KB)

We got a ton of response on this session, and some cool new ideas for a new version next year.

My second session on Tuesday was the Profiler session, with my special guest Vipul Shah who jumped in to show off the cool new features of Profiler in SQL Server 2005. Its a cool session, but I think with Profiler 2005 coming, I'm going to have to rewrite it to really dig into the new capabilities of the tool.

As I explained in the session, my real focus on the Profiler session was to let developers know that things can happen to your queries between your code and SQL Server, and Profiler is really the only way to know. The big example I show is ADO 2.5 messing with a SELECT statement and stored procedure, wrapping them in cursors. I haven't found the same behaviour in ADO.NET, so I think the demo is getting moot.

I'm thinking next year I'll revise the session to make it more of a “Using Profiler as a Diagnostic Tool” type session.

On Wednesday Carl Franklin and I did .NET Rocks! in front of a live audience. I think there were close to a thousand people in the room, which was at the far end of the conference center. And I do mean the far end - I figured by the time we got there we'd walked to Cuba. We interviewed the Team System guys, I think the show went really well, it was fun to dig into more of the story behind Team System... and even better to have a bunch of fans watching the show!

Alas, my version of the standard DNR disclaimer (normally Geoff's domain) didn't make the cut of the show, but either way, a good listen.

Tech Ed may be over, but the Tech Ed Charity Auction isn't. 23 Tech Ed speakers, including me, are donating an hour of consulting time via phone, email or IM. You can bid on EBay at The auction ends on June 16, so bid soon, and bid often.

Monday, June 13, 2005 5:15:38 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [1]  | 


Hanging in New London#

After the SDC conference I flew back to North America, but not home. Instead I've stopped off for a couple of days with Carl Franklin here in New London, Connecticut.

Last night we recorded Mondays, with everyone except Mark Miller actually here in the studios. We laughed til we cried, it was quite ridiculous and a wickedly fun show.

This morning we're recording an episode of DotNetRocks with Michele Bustamente, then Carl and I are packing up and heading down to Tech Ed in Orlando.

What can you say about New London? Its got a far greater sense of history than we have on the west coast, around here a 100 year old building is still considered pretty new, people are proud of pointing out structures that were built before the War of Independence. It strikes me as a fabulous place to raise a family, which is of course exactly what Carl and his wife Gretchen are doing.

Saturday, June 4, 2005 7:02:00 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [1]  | 


My poor, neglected blog...#

Six weeks since my last entry... and its not that I don't have anything to say, but I've been so busy, by the time I get home, I just want to sleep.

Various highlights of the past six weeks:

  • Hung out with Tim Huckaby and his family the weekend of April 16th, lots of fun!
  • Kate Gregory and I did a duet deep dive at the end of April, talking about VSTO.
  • All the Canadian RDs got together at Microsoft Canada in Mississauga, where we found out that Craig Flanagan, our intrepid leader, was moving on to bigger and more XBoxie things.
  • Fellow RD Guy Barrette spent a week out here doing talks on Visual Studio 2005 and had a chance to visit my little toyland.
  • I test ran my SQL Querying talk for Tech Ed at both the Victoria .NET User Group and VANTUG!

Which brings me up to current events... I leave this afternoon for the Netherlands to present at SDC 2005 at Papendal outside Arnhem. From there I'm headed to New London, Connecticut to spend some time with Carl and do a few shows (including something new!). After THAT, Carl and I are both headed down to Tech Ed in Orlando (same flights and everything).

I'm doing two sessions at Tech Ed, one is my Advanced Querying Techniques, Tips & Tricks session, which drills into various querying tricks I've collected over the years. This year I'm doing it with Steve Forte, and we're going to compare and contrast SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 2005 to demonstrate how many of this slick querying techniques change with the latest and greatest.

The other session is a reprisal of my SQL Profiler for the Developer session that I did last year - there won't be any ice cream bars this year I'm afraid. However, I do have a special guest, Vipul Shah is going to show off some of the new goodies in SQL Server 2005 for Profiler junkies.

So finally, I'll stagger home around June 9th, all spring conferenced out.

Maybe then I'll get to fixing my monster machine... it burned up a week after I finished building it, and its sat there dead ever since. Did I mention I've been busy? There isn't going to be any easy fixes, everything worked perfect, but there's just not enough cooling in that little eight inch radiator.

Friday, May 27, 2005 10:57:27 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [2]  | 


.NET Rocks! at Tech Ed Orlando!#

Well, we're all confirmed now, Carl and I will be doing an episode of .NET Rocks! at Tech Ed Orlando this year. We'll be recording it over lunch on Wednesday, June 8th. Of course, you're all invited to watch the taping: .NET Rocks! live is much sillier than what actually ends up in the recorded version.

We really wanted to put together a cool show for a live taping, and I think we really lucked out - we're going to be talking to folks from the Visual Studio 2005 Team System development team.

  • Michael Leworthy (VSTS general)
  • Eric Lee (TFS and Test)
  • Ajay Sudan (Architect and Developer)
  • Bindia Hallauer (MSF)

Looks like its going to be a ton of fun. We had a great time doing .NET Rocks! in front of a live audience at DevConnections in Orlando, this show looks like it'll be a blast.

Sunday, April 10, 2005 9:17:27 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Out of Florida, into the Fire...#

Been an intense few days.

Spent about 36 hours in Orlando, arriving Monday night and leaving Wednesday morning.

In between I visited with many of the speakers at DevConnections, recorded DotNetRocks with Rocky Lhotka and Bill Vaughn, recorded Mondays, had a couple of great meals, talked about The Daily Commute at great length with Carl and squeezed in a soak in the hot tub.

Not a whole lot of room for sleep in that 36 hours - I don't remember much of the flight home.

Now I'm back home, and back into the fray again... not just work, but now fellow Canadian RD Barry Gervin asked me to pitch in on his Architect's Breakfast - Enterprise Integration Patterns on March 30. Being a sucker for free food, I couldn't very well say no. I'll be moderating one of the tables and trying hard not to cause too many problems. Integration is a huge part of my life these days and always a fun topic to talk about. So if you haven't already signed up, now you have extra incentive - if goaded enough, I'll tell a story or two.


Thursday, March 24, 2005 2:33:51 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Enroute to Florida, DotNetRocks in the news (again)...#

I'm enroute to Orlando via Seatac, Carl sends me this link to an article on podcasting in the Hartford Courant.

Meantime, Carl got TheDailyCommute web site up and running... there's a few more details to work out, but don't worry, you'll be blown away with this service. This is the future of podcasting.

What's next? People have been asking about a .NET Rocks World Tour... I was thinking maybe we should just go from Tech Ed to Tech Ed. Lemme know whatcha think!

Sunday, March 20, 2005 9:49:35 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [2]  | 


DotNetRocks comes to Florida...#

Two ways, too...

Carl and I just finished interviewing Ken Getz, we dug into VS2005, ADO.NET, Vonage and other cool toys. Between Ken and I, Carl hardly got a word in edgewise...

Oh, and the Florida reference? Ken recently moved there.

The second Florida reference is next week's show, which is going to be recorded at the DevConnections conference in Orlando, Florida. That's right, Carl and I will be together, rather than on opposite coasts, along with Geoff. We're interviewing Bill Vaughn and Rocky Lhotka on Tuesday, March 22nd. Oh, and if you're at the conference, you can come and watch!

Thursday, March 17, 2005 7:25:41 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [2]  | 


NASA on .NET Rocks!#

Just finished recording a new episode of .NET Rocks! My second as co-host.

On this week's show we interviewed Chris Maxwell and Randy Kim from who work at NASA's Ames Research Center on a product called WorldWind. Its similar to Google's Keyhole, but its free (well, paid for by the US taxpayer), and its got a stronger educational bent. Essentially they've gathered together lots of different bits of satellite data that you can use to explore the planet with. Very, very cool. And all written in C# and the .NET Framework 1.1!

The chat room tonight was really cool - plus the WorldWind folks have their own chat channel as well, so we had lots of intermingling between the groups.

Even Robert Scoble showed up and hey, we got Scobleized!


Friday, February 25, 2005 10:02:21 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [5]  | 


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