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.