Home from Barcelona#

Okay, now I feel like I got to have some fun in Barcelona.

On Friday after the show was over, Greg and I headed out to the Speaker's Dinner.

The dinner was great - we sat in large group tables with waay too much food. All kinds of hot and cold tapas, and then a big buffet. This is really the only time you can get together with all these folks, and with the show over, they're actually fairly relaxed (there's a tension to anyone who has a session coming up).

The folks that organize Tech Ed hand out awards to the top ranked speakers, and called out Greg and I for a great effort at running Speaker Idol.

After dessert, Greg headed for the hotel... he's sensible that way.

I, however, stayed late. And when the dinner was breaking up, I went on to the nearby disco with a group of folks.

Around 2am I looked at my phone and realized I had to fly in five hours... ack!

I quickly said goodbye to everyone, ran out of the disco and jumped in a cab. I arrived back at the hotel a half hour later and packed my bag. And I realized there was really no point in going to bed... I took a shower, watched a little TV and went to the airport a bit early.

I don't remember much of the flight... changed planes in Frankfurt somehow and made it all the way home. Slept most of it.

What a great show... looking forward to it next year!

Saturday, November 17, 2007 8:57:54 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [2]  | 


Tech Ed Barcelona IT Forum Day 1 - Starting Off Fast#

We started out today at a sprint - bringing Greg into the conference center and getting him badged up, then straight to the trade show floor where the Community Lounge is, which includes the Speaker Idol stage.

First on the agenda: The Speaker Idol briefing. Most of the contestants were there, including two women (first time ever, as far as I know). There's a total of seventeen contestants over four waves. The first three waves will have four contestants each, the fourth wave will have five contestants.

Each contestant in the wave does a five minute presentation in front of a panel of judges and an audience. Greg and I are the hosts, we introduce the judges, the contestants and generally move things along. Our job is pretty easy until something goes wrong and we have to keep things moving anyway.

The waves run Monday to Thursday. Monday the wave is in the evening, the rest of the week the waves are at lunch time. In the afternoon on Thursday there's the finals, in which the winner of each wave presents a second time.

The judging panel is made up of Andy Malone (last years winner), John Craddock (presenter extraordinaire), Michael Anderburg (the security track chair) and none-other than Steve Riley, the over-the-top, anything-goes-just-get-your-message-across world class speaker. Rumor has it we'll have a mystery judge for the finals.

The first Speaker Idol was last year at the developer week of Tech Ed Europe - Carl and I served as hosts. We then brought Speaker Idol to Tech Ed US, which went extremely well. Coming back to Europe I could see we'd learned a few things about putting on the event, it was that much smoother than last year.

After the briefing, I reviewed the swag for 64 Bit Question - we would be doing the game show immediately following Speaker Idol. We've done the 64 Bit Question a number of different ways, depending on the environment. This was the first time we'd be doing an all IT audience 64 Bit Question, which just meant a different set of questions. When we do the game show in a session room (with everyone seated), we can do a more elaborate format... but for the Community Lounge (with everyone standing), we go with the simple format: one contestant, one question, one prize.

With a few hours to spare between the meetings and the first wave of Speaker Idol, I headed for the speakers lounge and discovered that two floors below was the Virtual TechEd Fishbowl! And there, sitting in the front, my dear friend Zaakera Stratman, the boss. I first met Zaak at Tech Ed US when Virtual TechEd first took off and we coined the name "FishBowl" for the plexiglass room that all recording and editing is done in.

At Tech Ed Europe, the FishBowl was stashed away in a lower part of the conference center, which is unfortunate because very few people got to see it in action. The whole point of the FishBowl is to be visible within the conference. But, space constraints being what they are, you work with what you've got. Zaak was struggling with getting enough interviewers for all her interviews, so Greg and I pitched in immediately.

A few interviews later we had to run back to the Community Lounge for the first wave of Speaker Idol. The trade show floor had just opened and the crowd was massive - hundreds of folks were in the Community Lounge. The first wave is always a challenge as we knock the bugs out of the process, but for the most part things went smoothly, and in about an hour we had our first wave winner: Peter Mendelsohn.

Then it was time for the 64 Bit Question, which flew by - we did a dozen questions, grabbing folks from the audience to answer them. Some knew the answers right away, some had a bit more challenge, but in the end, all the prizes were given out.

With that, we were done, and it was late... Greg and I hadn't had a chance to eat or anything. Fortunately, nobody in Barcelona eats early, so we grabbed dinner around 10pm at one of the restaurants on the way back to the hotel.

Tomorrow would be an easier day of interviews for Virtual TechEd, for IT Forum Virtual Side and for RunAs Radio... and one more wave of Speaker Idol.

Monday, November 12, 2007 6:32:00 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Tech Ed Barcelona IT Forum Day 0#

Just arrived in Barcelona for Tech Ed IT Forum after 15 hours of travel... which is good speed, all things considered. Greg arrived the day before me.

This whole week is totally focused on RunAs Radio related tasks, since its all IT. We're hosting Speaker Idol and the 64 Bit Question, plus grabbing as many shows as we possibly can. No sessions, no panels, no trade show, no developer stuff at all.

I was in Barcelona last year, so things seemed relatively familiar. What I didn't remember is that there's only one ATM machine in the airport and most ATM cards don't work in it anyway. And I forgot to grab my excess euros before leaving the house, so I had no local currency.

Then I spotted the IT Forum girls, directing folks like me toward the buses. A free ride to the conference center - great solution.

Arrived at the conference center to discover I don't exist anywhere in the system, but enough fussing and contacting the right people gets me a crew badge. Then I walked to the hotel - not the Hilton right beside the conference center, but the Vincci Condal Mar, a half mile away or so.

So I may be jetlagged, but I'm fully booked in and ready to get to work tomorrow.

Sunday, November 11, 2007 5:20:00 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


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]  | 


DevConnections Day 1: Opening Day#

Well, now I know why Jenn said she was pleased the rack was functional - apparently it took a serious fall. One wheel broken in half, two wheels bent, a huge dent in side... its a miracle the servers survived. I can't imagine what happened to the rack, I'm thinking it took a 6-10 foot fall.

However, everything in the rack is functional and the booth looks fantastic. It's the same design as the one we had at Interop in New York, but instead of having the columns and header wrapped in vinyl, all the surfaces are rigid panels with art on them.

Today was pre-con day at DevConnections, with full and half day workshops. Its ends with a dessert reception and the opening of the tradeshow floor for two hours.


Here's an odd shot of the booth, you can see the rigid panels with art work on them on the far column. Kent is doing a presentation. I definitely did not take enough pictures of the booth this time around.

For two hours, we were run off our feet - everyone is interested in Strangeloop and the AS1000. It was all we could do to hand out datasheets fast enough!

Monday, November 5, 2007 4:17:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


DevConnections Day 0: DevExpress Summit Part 2#

Its the day before DevConnections actually gets into full swing, Jenn and Trevor arrived yesterday afternoon, so they were in place and good to go.

DevExpress' presentations started at noon today, and around the same time I got an SMS from Jenn saying the demo rack has arrived - woohoo! Appears to be functional, they're doing testing now.

The DevExpress presentation started out with a hilarious demo - Sarah, who is a professional model, has had a small amount of training with Mark to use CodeRush to create a set of classes for Employee and Manager. The demo is a race between Dustin Campbell and Sarah, Dustin doesn't have code rush, but he can type really fast. But Sarah won - she coded the class faster than Dustin could. Its a very compelling demonstration of the productivity gains that CodeRush offers. DevExpress is doing the contest repeatedly in their booth at DevConnections.

Mark Miller got on stage today to show off the latest incarnation of Refactor Pro, they're planning on having 150 refactorings by the end of the year. There's a free version that comes with Visual Studio 2005 and 2008, but the Pro edition is $99. And as Mark says, that's only 67 cents a refactoring. Heck of a deal, and an incredible product.

Its so much fun to watch Mark use CodeRush - it makes Visual Studio an extension of his crazy mind. He codes incredibly fast while touring us through the features of Refactor Pro.

Sunday, November 4, 2007 3:07:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


DevConnections Day -1: The DevExpress Summit Part 1#

Had a slow, lazy morning today, since the DevExpress meetings didn't start until noon (gotta love that).

Wandered from the hotel part of the Mandalay Bay all the way to the South Convention Center, which is most of the way to Utah. The DevExpress event is in one room on the third floor, which means its a hundred feet up, since the ceilings in the Convention Center are at least 40 feet high.

Most of DevExpress is here too, including Ray (CEO), Julian (CTO), Mark (Chief Scientist), Dustin, Kevin, Courtney and a whole host of developers. Its impressive to meet the team like this, and its obvious they're very, very proud of their software.

Today we're primarily focused on their newest products, including controls for WPF and Silverlight. Apparently much of what we've seen will be on display at DevConnections as well.

Kent is here with me and he's thinking hard about how Strangeloop and DevExpress could work together. What if some of the DevExpress controls were AS1000 sensitive, and knew how to automatically take advantage of it being there?

Saturday, November 3, 2007 2:53:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


DevConnections Day -2: Arriving in Vegas#

I've flown into Las Vegas for DevConnections a couple of days early to hang with the DevExpress folks. DevExpress has invited a small group of folks to show off their latest incarnation of all their products.

Kent Alstad has come along with me as well, we're going to be doing some presentations at DevConnections together, as well as working hard in the Strangeloop booth.

We shipped the demo rack directly from Interop in New York to here, supposedly it'll arrive on Sunday. Jenn and Trevor are handling set up for the booth, but I'm sure I'll drop by during the set up.

Not much actually happened today, the flight was uneventful (and direct), and DevExpress supplied a limo to get us to the Mandalay Bay, so we could bypass the inevitably massive taxi line at the airport.

We met up with some of the DevExpess folks for dinner tonight and got a few hints of what we'd see tomorrow... I guess we'll see tomorrow!

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


Interop Day 4: Tradeshow Closes#

And then suddenly, its over.

The tradeshow at Interop is only two days: Wednesday and Thursday. Each day the booth was open for six and a half hours. Doesn't seem like much.

So why am I so tired?

We talked to a lot of folks at Interop about Strangeloop - almost all were IT and/or network folks. Some had no ASP.NET or no web site at all, so there wasn't much to talk about. But many more were very conscious of the fact that they had challenges with performance and scaling of their web sites.

One of my favorite visits was a fellow who said "I'm not responsible for the web site, but my boss needs to know about this" after seeing the entire demonstration. He took a data sheet and all sorts of info. Half an hour later he was back with his boss in tow and I did the whole pitch again. At the end his boss looked at him and said "you've got their info? Good."

Its a great feeling, being in the right place at the right time. And that seems to be the reaction of the majority of folks we talked to at Interop.

As soon as the show was over the booth came down. Amazing how quickly it came apart, considering how long it took to set up. The server rack was packed up for shipping in no time. I grabbed one of the big banners to take back to the office in Vancouver.

Tomorrow I head home for about a week, then Las Vegas for DevConnections!

Thursday, October 25, 2007 7:02:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Interop Day 3: The Tradeshow Floor Opens!#

Not much to say about Day 1 and 2 of Interop - we were too busy getting ready for the tradeshow to get to see any sessions at all.

Our booth design for Interop uses a 20x20 island, we're right beside Riverbed. The booth itself has two columns kitty-corner from each other, supporting a central span. This cuts the booth in half. On one side is the reception counter with scanners, documents, etc. The other half is the presentation area, where we have a small podium, a big screen and a bunch of cubes to sit on.

 The booth at Interop 2007

This photo is during set up on Tuesday... things are just about finished. You can see the server rack on the right in one of the columns. Its controlled by the laptop on the podium - this is where we do the live demonstrations of the AS1000. On the other side of that column and on both sides of the other column are demo stations for showing how the AS1000 works.

Folks really like this booth design, I'm thrilled with it. Lots of other vendors were coming over and taking pictures of it. I feel like we really utilized our space well, the live demo packs people in, and when they have more questions they can move over to the other demo stations to get answers.

We're doing three demos on the live station at Interop. One is done by Stephen Forte, the CTO of Corzen. He's talking about how the challenges of Corzen's business in rolling out new features quickly and constantly to their customers. Spending time on optimization is just not an option, they're looking to the AS1000 to minimize that concern.

Kent and I are also doing demonstrations, using Visual Studio for Testers to do load tests against the rack with and without the AS1000 to demonstrate how it improves performance and scalability.

Carl Franklin is here as well and is video taping the demonstrations so that we can put them up on the Strangeloop site for future viewing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007 6:38:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Interop New York Day 0#

Back to New York again, this time for Interop.

Interop is a trade show focused on networking and mobility technologies. Monday and Tuesday are set up days, the trade floor is open Wednesday and Thursday.

So far with Strangeloop we've been primarily focused on the ASP.NET community, since our product is aimed squarely at that market. But we also have a foot in the networking space, after all the AS1000 lives in front of the web farm, typically an area populated with load balancers and firewalls, which are totally the domain of the networking guy.

Its going to be very interesting to me to see how that audience reacts to the AS1000.

The most exciting part of the show is the demo rack - a shippable 10U rack with a pair of AS1000s and several Dell 1950 1U servers for doing load tests and demonstrating how the AS1000 can help ASP.NET applications scale.

Sunday, October 21, 2007 2:07:14 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 3 - The Speakers Tour#

One of the great things about the SDC conference is the Speakers Tour. The conference has always been a Monday-Tuesday show, followed on Wednesday by the organizers taking all the speakers out on a tour of the Netherlands.

In ten years, we've done all sorts of things - explored Rotterdam, the waterfront, tulip gardens, gone go-kart racing, paintballing... you name it.

This year was different again for everyone in general, but especially me.

Instead of actually touring around, the tour brought everyone to the seaside. Because of the fall date, the weather is much more pleasant by the sea, although rather windy. We worked from a base location of a restaurant on the beach. There were a number of things going on around the restaurant, including kite flying and various other games. After lunch all the speakers, spouses and crew took bikes to the storm management and water control works. Much of the Netherlands is below sea level, so the Dutch take management of the sea very, very seriously.

But I didn't do any of the tour activities... I was making dinner!

Remi Caron, my friend and one of the conference organizers, approached me a few weeks ago asking if I thought it would be fun to cook for the conference. So the two of us took on the task. We had access to the restaurant for doing the cooking, including some huge grills. We're cooking for about 50 people.

We spent the morning shopping, buying all the supplies for the meal, which included ribs, burgers and salmon. I usually blend pork and beef together when I make burgers, I was surprised to find that butchers in the Netherlands regularly stock such mixtures, so it was pretty easy to get those things together.

We made a number of salads as well, and bought dessert - cleaned out a nice little bakery of all its pastries.

The afternoon was spent in prep work, making salads, burgers, preparing buns, and so on.

Then, when everyone left on the bikes, we started cooking. Burgers went first because they can keep, followed by ribs. Remi prepared the ribs restaurant style, having boiled them with spices and flavors during the day, they just needed grilling and glazing. The salmon went last, which was a combined effort - Remi's spices, my cooking technique of cooking whole, on foil, one turn... just to medium. The trick to great fish is not overcooking it.

In the end, we had too much of everything, but that's to be expected, really. It was fun to make rather North American food for Europeans, all the ingredients are available, they just don't normally cook like that. The guy who owned the restaurant asked Remi and I if we were available next summer for work.

And the SDC folks gave me an iPod Nano as a thank you present!

Now I'm off to Prague... going to drive across Germany on the autobahn and back again. Good fun.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007 2:25:14 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]  | 


The Family Goes Home...#

Well, our family trip to the east coast is finally wrapping up, I put the girls on the train back to Newark today for their flight home. Always a kind of melancholy event, sending your family away.

I'm staying at PWOP Studios for a few days to do some more work, I go home on the weekend. Actually, I shouldn't say staying there, actually I'm staying at Carl's home and working at the studio.

It's been fun to actually hang around New London and Mystic, rather than tearing through on a pure-work mission. I'm beginning to understand why Carl lives here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007 11:21:14 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Carl's Birthday!#

After spending a week in New York, we hopped on the Amtrak and headed for New London in time for Carl's 40th birthday party.

We're staying in a cool older hotel near the seaside on the edge of New London.

Carl's party was, of course, totally over the top. He held it at his home, and had an entire barbeque pig brought in for dinner. All sorts of interesting folks, including Kim Tripp, Paul Randal, Scott Hanselman and Miguel Castro attended.

After the party, we headed over to the studio to record Mondays. This time we had an audience, most of the folks from the party came to listen. To record a Mondays together we all have to be stuffed into audio isolation booths. There are three in the studio - a pair in the main room that face each other and one across the hall. Mark and Karen were in the pair, so they could see each other. I was in the booth across the hall, so it was almost like being back home in that I couldn't see anyone, just hear them through the headphones.

Carl was in the main studio room with the audience, which is why he's able to interact with them.

Recording the show was hilarious, not only did we have good bits, but the general chaos of having everyone there just kicked everything up a notch.

Saturday, August 18, 2007 2:07:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Hanging in New York...#

I almost never travel for fun - travel is work. Folks who don't travel for a living think that the constant travel is something to enjoy, and while it does have its perks, the reality is that my idea of a vacation is being able to stay home for a whole month (I dare not hope for more, I haven't been home for longer than a month in many years).

But this trip is the rare exception. My daughter is turning sixteen and she wanted to go to New York for her birthday. Top that off with Carl's 40th birthday around the same time, and we had an excuse to go to New York and New London for fun.

So here we are in New York, actually as tourists for a change. We're staying in a nice hotel near Central Park, only a block away from Steve Forte. The girls are having a gas, and I'm getting a chance to see The City from a different viewpoint.

Thursday, August 16, 2007 2:07:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Speaking at the SoCalCodeCamp!#

Blame Michele Leroux Bustamante for this one - she talked me into coming down to do a couple of presentations at the SoCal Code Camp.

I did my Querying Talk again, but also took The Scaling Habits of ASP.NET out for a spin for the first time since the Vancouver TechFest.

Scaling Habits is a fun talk for me because it really is a tour through the evolution of an ASP.NET application - from those early days where you're one guy with a clever idea for a web app, through to what it takes to run a large scale site with multiple servers and the related bureaucracy for operating it.

Along the way I talk about the elements of the evolving site - how much traffic is typical, the kinds of metrics that matter, and so on. And most importantly, what it takes to move to the next level of evolution for the application.

At the core of this whole concept is the idea of the Performance Equation. The Performance Equation

A quick description of each factor in the performance equation:

R Response time (in seconds)
Payload Total number of bytes being transmitted
Bandwidth The transfer rate available
RTT Round Trip Time
AppTurns Number of requests that make up the web page
Concurrent Requests How many requests will be run simultaneously to build the page
Cs Compute time on the server
Cc Compute time on the client

Now I can't take credit for this equation, I did not invent it. The original one comes from the "Field Guide to Application Delivery Systems" by Peter Sevcik and Rebecca Wetzel from NetForecast. However, I did make one change to it - the original equation does not account for simultaneous downloading of resource files and the base overhead of the page file itself. That is represented by the separate addition of an RTT and dividing the rest of the AppTurns by the number of concurrent requests.

So all of these factors go into the time it takes for a web page to fully render on your web browser after you request it.

When I display the equation to an audience, I always ask the question: "What part do you work on?" When I'm talking to ASP.NET developers, invariably the answer is Cs - Compute time on the server. After all, that's the code you wrote. But if you don't know what Cs is in relation to all the other factors of the equation, how do you know if that's the right thing to work on?

Some other interesting issues I've run into once I started looking at web performance this way:

  • In many cases bandwidth is just not the issue, we have lots. But when it *is* an issue, often we don't test with the same bandwidth that the customer has, so we don't realize when bandwidth is a problem.
  • Round Trip Time is the ping time between the customer and the server. Again, since we often test with servers that are so close to us that the ping time is ultra-low, we don't have test conditions that match with our customers. Its amazing how huge a factor bad RTT can be for performance.
  • AppTurns of course exacerbate RTT times, because its a multiplier - if you have a dozen JS files, a dozen CSS files and thirty images (which is remarkably common), you're talking about over 50 AppTurns, and even divided by Concurrent Requests, that expands response time by lots of seconds.
  • Normally, with Internet Explorer and FireFox, the number of Concurrent Requests is four. It can be adjusted at the client computer, but its very rarely done. It is possible to do a trick with URI renaming where each resource appears to come from a separate server so that you can fool the web browsers into doing more than four concurrent requests.
  • Compute time on the client becomes a significant issue when you get heavy with the Javascript, most often seen with AJAX-style pages. In my opinion, getting the browser more involved in generating a web page is a good idea, but you need to account for the cost involved. If you're only looking at server compute times, then of course AJAX looks like a brilliant solution - because you've hidden the cost.

Now that's not to say that Compute Time on the Server isn't important to the equation - it *might* be. But you should know for sure before you pour your time into improving it. Going through the exercise of breaking down where the total response time goes is a critical first step to making sure your effort is going to the right place.

Thanks again to all the folks at the SoCal Code Camp - I had a fantastic time, I'd love to come down again!

Sunday, July 1, 2007 5:07:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Stephen Forte Calls From Pakistan#

So I get home from a busy day of reviewing patents for Strangeloop to discover a voice mail message.

When I play back the message, it sounds like 800 people shouting into a cell phone "Where's Richard?!?"

Stephen Forte cracks me up.

Sorry I'm not there, folks.

By the way, my passport did show up on Monday. Turns out the consul did what he said he would do and issued the visa on June 12.

But it looks like it wasn't picked up until June 15, and even then, it was a drop off at the UPS Store, rather than a pick up. So it must have sat in an outbox for three days.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007 1:57:51 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [1]  | 


Passport Disaster! No Pakistan Conference For Me...#

Right now I'm supposed to be on an airplane, flying to New York, on my way to Lahore and Karachi, in Pakistan, for the Pakistan Developers Conference.

But I'm not. I'm still at home. The reason? No passport.

To travel to Pakistan, especially to speak at a conference, you need a visa. And the only way for me to get a visa is to send my passport to the Pakistan Consulate in Ottawa. Its supposed to take three business days to get a visa.

With overnight courier, that's an entire week without my passport. Which may not sound like much to you, but to me, its very challenging to schedule... I use my passport a lot, especially during spring conference season.

So I called the consulate in advance and let them know the situation: That I was going to be in the United States (for TechEd), but as soon as I got back, I'd overnight the paperwork to them. They said if I included a letter of explanation about my urgency, they would expedite the visa.

Well, something has gone wrong - because I don't have my passport back. And I'm supposed to be on a plane now.

I've let the conference organizers know, and I talked to Steve about it, he's going to cover some of my material, so hopefully the attendees will get all the content.

But I'm pretty disappointed. This is my second trip to Pakistan, first time to Lahore, and I was really looking forward to it. The attendees are always so enthusiastic, its really a pleasure to be there.

I expect my passport will arrive on Monday now, too late to do anything about the conference.


Friday, June 15, 2007 4:12:33 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [3]  | 


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]  | 


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]  | 


Devteach in Montreal now, this fall in Vancouver!#

I'm in Montreal this week for DevTeach, the biggest little developers show in Canada.

Carl is here as well, along with many other of my favorite speakers.

On Wednesday I'll be doing my famous SQL Querying Tips & Tricks session, updated for 2007 (now with more Running Totals!).

But the biggest news came this morning: DevTeach is coming to Vancouver, November 26-30 2007!

I'm sure we'll pack the house in Vancouver, the number of speakers I've talked to over the years that have been waiting for a chance to come to Vancouver in the guise of a conference is amazing. I think its the best city in the world, but then I'm biased.

November is the rainy season for Vancouver, but if you like to ski, the end of November is right around the time the mountains open. There are three local mountains (Grouse, Seymour and Cypress) that you can take a local bus to. And then of course there's Whistler/Blackcomb, a couple of hours away. And there's another dozen ski mountains further away than that.

And besides, you're there to geek, and there's gonna be a lot of geekiness around at the end of November!


Tuesday, May 15, 2007 8:56:13 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


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 www.dotnetrocks.com/roadtrip 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]  | 


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 http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=5587400881. 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]  | 


Recapping SDC#

When we say Beer Night, we mean it!

Near the beginning of this evening session, Kent Alstad and Remi Caron conspired to bring Steve and I these huge two liter beers in Heineken labelled boots. I finished mine, Steve didn't. Not that he wasted it, he filled a dozen regular sized glasses from the boot.

The session itself was a melage of SQL Server 2005 topics, our slide deck and five slides: the title slide called the session “Estaban, 'splain dis Jukon to me!” It got less serious from there.

We had a fine discussion on the horror and fear around using the CLR inside of SQL Server, Ted Neward and Markus Egger got into it before Steve put the brakes on what was turning into an entirely too serious discussion.

I have to thank Kim Tripp for firmly planting all the details of Snapshot Isolation into my head, I think I was able to deliver a coherent explanation to everyone when the topic came up.

The beer continued to flow after the session, but we still knocked out some good talks the next morning. The conference was a ton of fun, its nice to see the SDGN group growing bigger and better still.

The day after the conference we went on the traditional Holland Tour, although this year it wasn't traditional at all... we actually got to sleep in a bit, rather than leaving at 8am as we have many years, we weren't loaded up and gone until 10! First stop was the Airborne Museum in Arnhem, which showed the history of the northern-most (and unsuccessful) part of operation Market-Garden.

Suitably subdued, our next stop after doing several spirals around the Netherlands was a paintball center!

The paintball matches were about 10 on 10, doing various missions: capture the flag, deliver your flag, and the Blackhawk down scenario, where you have a VIP stuck in the helicopter and have to go in and rescue them.

Our team won three of four matches, and I have to say that even our loss was pretty sketchy. I'd attribute our success to some great players, including the crazy fire teams of Steve Forte and Arnot, Ted Neward and Kent Alstad, Remi and Rob and the implacable Cathi Gero, who knows exactly what a VIP should do - stay alive and book it down the trail!

Saturday, June 4, 2005 6:55:19 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [1]  | 


SDC Day One#

I'm sitting in the back of the main hall at the SDC 2005 Conference outside Arnhem, in the Netherlands.

There's a keynote going on... in Dutch.

I've just finished my first session, the Advanced Querying Tips & Tricks session that I'll do again next week at Tech Ed Orlando. The session went very well, I did it solo, in Orlando it'll be a duet with Stephen Forte.

After lunch Kent Alstad and I are up, talking about requirements. We've done the session before, its been updated, and its a lot of fun. We argue a fair bit, usually me causing trouble complaining about all this planning he wants to do.

Tonight, Steve and I are on again... in the schedule its called “Mid Evening Beer Session with Technical Content.“ In the past its been called a Geek Night and other silly things. Its really Steve and I talking about any old thing and generally behaving foolishly. As the beer flows, it gets more foolish. Looks like its going to be a packed house tonight...


Monday, May 30, 2005 3:17:44 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]  | 


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]  | 


Home and Kili-Bagged...#

In case you haven't heard, yes, I did summit Kilimanjaro with my friends (some old and some new).

Here's a shot of me at the top, there's lots more to sort out, I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004 9:44:43 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Last weekend before Kilimanjaro...#

Its a busy weekend for me, making sure I have all my gear ready to climb Kilimanjaro.

There are twelve people going in all, including my friends Steve Forte, Adam Cogan, Paul Sheriff (and his wife Anne).

I've gotten awfully lazy as a traveller over the years, used to being able to buy whatever I'm missing when I get where I'm going... not so in Tanzania. So, unlike my usual behavior of packing a couple of hours before leaving, now I'm inventorying and test packing everything five days before I go. Weird.

I've decided not to bring a laptop along on the trip, but I do have my digital camera and picture dumper, so I'll be able to take lots of photos. I guess I'm going to have to bring a notebook and pen too, and write stuff down by hand along the way... at least the battery life of paper is good.

Saturday, October 2, 2004 1:01:35 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [4]  | 


Tech Ed Malaysia Post-Mortem#

I'm finally back home from Kuala Lumpur after 22 hours of travelling. I couldn't bring myself to blog in my near hallucinatory travel state, so I've had a good night's sleep, woken up very early and am busy catching stuff up, including this.

Tech Ed Malaysia was lots of fun, the attendees were very enthusiastic and friendly. The speaker cadre was astounding, very talented folks and lots of fun to be around.

Although the hotel was in the middle of nowhere (I started calling it the “New Jersey of Kuala Lumpur”), we did manage to get into town a number of times and do some fine exploring. We ate a chinese dinner from an outdoor kitchen in an alleyway, and bought all kinds of gadgets from various shops.

Saturday was my last full day in Kuala Lumpur, and I started it out with doing DotNetRocks from my hotel room. I had brought my full audio rig with me, including the large condensor mike and digitizer. What I hadn't realized when I first packed it up is that the power supply for the digitizer does not support 220 volts, unlike my laptop power supply. Tim Huckaby lent me his power converter (thanks Tim!) but I didn't have the smarts to actually test it out in advance.

Since Kuala Lumpur is exactly twelve time zones away from New London Connecticut where Carl and the DNR studios actually are, I was doing the show Saturday morning live with them working Friday night. So I'm up and on my laptop at 7am, talking to Carl (where its 7pm). We talk about the toys and how to do the show and agree to reconvene at 8:15am for a sound check before the show starts at 9am.

By 7:30am I'm off for a shower and some breakfast. I'd wanted to talk about the Low Yat Plaza we'd found the night before, which is this incredible toy boy heaven. Kim Tripp had taken some photos of it and I wanted to blog those before the show so everyone could see this crazy place. Kim loaded the pictures on a USB key for me and I went back to my room.

I get back to my room and I can't open the door - mysteriously, the flip bar lock had set itself! I went down to the front desk to get some help, and they sent a maintenance guy up. In theory, these locks can only be unlocked when the door is closed, but the fellow was confident he could open it. Apparently it happens all the time?!?

It took him a half hour of fiddling, but he did get the door open. Then it was my turn for some stupidity. I wired up my audio rig, but the digitizer wouldn't power up. I couldn't make Tim's power converter work! Finally, I had missed set up time, the show had to start, so I had a good hour to futz around before break time when we'd have another chance to test things out. I figured I might as well dump the pictures and return Kim's USB key, she was leaving in another hour or so.

When I told Kim my woes, she produced another power converter for me to try, so I went back up to my room, new block in hand. Kim's block had European plugs on it, and the European plugs on my power adapter were too loose to hold her heavy block in place, so I had to use Tim's block as a converter to hold things together... the resulting contraption stuck the better part of a foot out of the wall, so I braced it with my chair to stop it from falling out.

So, from the wall working outward, the plug adapter (my laptop plug is coming out the top), into which Tim's converter (acting as an adapter) is plugged into, then Kim's converter, and finally the digitzer brick.

This did the trick - I was finally up and running. At the half way point in the show we took some time to test latency (ping-pong), which turned out to be brutal: apparently doing VOIP half way around the world takes six seconds. Here's what my running audio rig looked like:

So in the end, the show came off fine, with the severe lag I couldn't chat with Carl and Rory much, but just sort of blurted out how much fun I was having in KL, the toys to talk about and the contest. As soon as the contest was under way I disconnected and ran to return Kim's power block to her before she had to leave.

With Kim gone, Goksin, Malek, Adam, Brian and I were free to do some serious toy shopping. We headed first to Central Market, picking up T-shirts, jewelry and other odds and ends. Brian and Adam cut out early, Brian had to head to the airport by 6pm, and Adam wanted to show Brian his tool before he left. So the three remaining shoppers headed back to the Low Yat Plaza to really check out the toys. Our mission - to get gigged.

Malek, Goksin and I all wanted gigabyte storage bits. Malek and Goksin were after 1GB SD cards, and we all wanted 1GB USB key. Kim had been gloating all week about her gigabyte scores in Singapore, having acquired a 1GB Compact Flash card AND a 1GB USB key. And to top it off, she bought a 2GB Compact Flash on our first visit to Low Yat the night before. She's the gig queen, and we wanted to at least be in the club.

We started at the very top level of the mall and worked downward, and it didn't take long to find this tiny Pretek 1GB USB drive. I started calling it “The gigabyte you can fit up your nose.“ Unfortunately, we were in a show room and they had none to sell! Supposedly there was a store on the lower levels had had them, so we headed there. Along the way we did find two 1GB SD cards, so Malek and Goksin were in the gig club for sure.

When we finally found the Pretek dealer, he had only ONE of the little drives. Very annoying, but we bought it anyway. Then we went back up to the top floor to complain. The fellow there was nice enough to call around to the other shops in the mall and found one more little drive, so I got one as well. So we three boys are all in the gig club, although Queen Kim leads the way as usual.

Speaking of Queen Kim, as we were wrapping up our toy feeding frenzy, Kim phones from Singapore! She's holding in her hands the Canon 20D digital SLR, and wants to confer with the ToyBoy on pricing... she figured the price converted to about $1675 US... I told her to buy buy buy! The camera isn't even available in the US yet, I believe its going to be released Oct 15th, and the best pre-order street price I've found is $1500... a $175 premium is worth it to be first!

Ultimately, I don't know if she actually bought the camera, I hope she did, I'm sure I'll hear about it soon enough.

After shopping we ate dinner at a Japanese buffet, then headed back to the hotel - Malek had a ride to the airport for 11pm. Enough time for a couple of quick beers before he was gone.

The next morning Goksin and I got up early and had breakfast together. Goksin left at 6am, I left at 7am. I called Goksin when I was ticketed and through customs at the airport, poor Malek was still there. Apparently Emiriates airlines had botched his reservation and left him for dead. Goksin, in the finest tradition of the Anti-Suckiness club, got a ticket for his buddy to get him as far as London, I'm sure he'll get himself the rest of the way home from there with a fine tale to tell. The three of us had a cup of tea together in the airport before dispersing for our various gates for home.

Speaking | Tech Ed | Toys | Travel
Monday, September 20, 2004 5:24:34 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [2]  | 


Kuala Lumpur - ToyBoy Heaven!#

Last night we went out into the streets of Kuala Lumpur and found the ultimate toyboy mall - six floors of toys!

Going up the escalator, you're looking into the center of the mall, its a big cylinder, six floors high, geek stores all the way around.

Looking back down, its all cell phone shops, PC hardware, gadgets, toys, you name it...

How many malls do you know have huge billboard signs for hard drives?

Toys | Travel
Friday, September 17, 2004 6:56:36 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [5]  | 


Too Much Fun To Blog...#

Wow, already half way into Tech Ed Malaysia, and I'm finally getting a blog entry done. We're having waaay too much fun.

After flying 13 hours Vancouver to Hong Kong, followed almost immediately by the three hour Hong Kong-Kuala Lumpur leg, I arrived in KL short a day... got on the plane late Thursday night, arrived the afternoon of Saturday. Those darn date lines.

It didn't take me long after arriving to find Tim Huckaby (who was good enough to leave me a message at the desk) and Goksin Bakir (he just called me on my cell phone)... we hung out at the pool and drank beer, complained about jet lag and soaked up the indominable KL heat. That night Brian Noyes join us as well for a trip across the lake to a nice Chinese dinner where they have one sneaky Peking Duck.

Sunday was the super tour day - from 7:30am to 9pm we were out and about with our guide Razali and the fabulous elephants of Kuala Gandah. Tim, Brian, Goksin, Kim and I were made volunteers of the sanctuary, rather than visitors, which gave us more access, but we had to do some work, too... here's some examples:

This is Cek Mek with our guide, Razali. One of our first stops at the sanctuary was to go out in 4x4s to feed Cek Mek... she spends most of her time away from the rest of the herd, hanging out in the jungle. She's one of the two “working” elephants, who are actually used to assist the team in moving wild elephants. The other working elephant is Cek Bunga, who doesn't like people all that much, so we didn't get anywhere near her.

Back at the sanctuary proper, we got into the main compound to visit with more elephants, some big:

...and not so big...

We also got to visit with Lasha, a 2.5 year old male who has been fighting intestinal parasites. He's very weak and thin, so he's being kept from the rest of the herd for his own safety. We went into an area behind the compound to visit with him and give him some goodies to eat.

Kim was especially fond of him...

Later, Kim and Brian brought Lasha out from the holding area in the back to the main area for feeding.

As volunteers, we helped visitors feed the elephants... there is a technique and some safety tips involved!

Later in the afternoon Razali took us on a hike through the jungle, to a little village... maybe a dozen people lived there total, the patriarch of the family is a master blow-darter. He put on a fine display firing a foot long dart into a banana tree a good fifty feet away... after a couple of tries, anyway.

Then Goksin took a shot at it... apparently Goksin is a blowdart shark, nailing the tree on the first shot!

After that, we weren't allowed to play with the blowgun any more. We hiked back to the village. Along the way Razali pointed out and offered up some food from the jungle, including heart of palm and water from a vine.

Between the five of us, we took about 400 pictures, I'll put together a full storyboard one of these days.

So that was Sunday - after returning to the hotel we headed down to the bar and consolidated pictures, plus Steve Forte showed up. We made plans for the next day, taking a tour of the Batu Caves and other religious sites. Kim had to do a pre-conference seminar the whole day, she's still annoyed with us for having fun while she had to work.

This is the entrance to the Batu Caves, all 272 steps of it.

Did I mention there were monkeys (long-tailed macaques, to be exact) everywhere? These are the rats of the monkey world, stealing off of anybody who is slow enough to snag. We saw monkeys running off with bags of peanuts, ice cream bars, you name it. One little bugger grabbed my water bottle, I shook him off, and as he prepared to give another go, I flipped the bottle around and gave him a face full. Yeah yeah, I'm fighting with a monkey, but hey, he started it!

The Batu Caves are ancient limestone, filled with Hindu shrines. And they're huge!

This is the view from the top of the stairs looking into the caves, you can see the first chamber, the roof is 250 feet up. Beyond is stairs into a second open air chamber.

After taking a look at the rock formations, the shrines and the macaques scattered throughout the caves, we headed back down the many stairs and into our taxi for our next stop on the religious tour... the museum of Islamic art. However, the cab driver was a bit confused and took us instead to the National Museum of Malaysian Art... its a nice museum, full of stories of the heritage of Malaysia. But it didn't fit with our theme of all Malaysian faiths, so after a quick walk through we headed back to the cab.

On the second try the cabbie did find the Museum of Islamic Art, and also found out it was closed on Mondays. Ah well. Third stop, a Buddhist Temple. This place was open, and fabulous.

Our cabbie came with us to give us basic instruction on how to get around the temple, including proper observations of lighting some incense, and getting your fortune.

Here Steve and Brian, shoes off, are getting instructions on using the luck sticks. You pick up the sticks in a bunch, then drop them back into the bin a couple of times. Then you pick one, and match its number with a little drawer in the bin. Inside the drawer is a bit of paper with your fortune on it. Those towers with the ladder beside them are wish towers, in a different ritual you put a wish on a bit of paper and the temple staff put the wish in with one of those lights on the towers.

That was enough fun for Monday, we headed back to the hotel.

On Tuesday Steve and I headed back to the Islamic Museum of Art, which was now open... only to discover that you weren't allowed to take photos inside. However, it is an amazing place, lots of old copies of the Quran and other artifacts from the history of Islam. There was a big screen tied to a computer in one room that would read the Quran to you in Arabic, showing simultaneous English translation. Very cool. And the favorite part of the museum was the model room, full of 1/100 scale models of the major mosques around the world, including Mecca and Medina. Incredible structures, temples with room for two million people!

Tuesday afternoon was my first bit of work, a SQL Server “Ask the Experts” panel I sat on with Kim and Steve, along with Rodney Fournier (the cluster god!) and Prakash Sundaresen... Joe Yong from the SQL team showed up to field all the “When is SQL Server 2005 shipping” questions.

Its now early Wednesday morning here in Kuala Lumpur, and the real work begins. I have a session every day til the end now, two on Thursday.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004 3:45:50 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [2]  | 


Off to Kuala Lumpur...#

I'm just a few hours away from flying off to Kuala Lumpur for Tech Ed Malaysia.

I'm flying on Cathay Pacific, not my usual airline, but their routing kicks ass: Vancouver-Hong Kong-Kuala Lumpur. I leave at 3am Friday morning (that's late, late Thursday night) and arrive around 1pm on Saturday. Its about 24 hours travel, door-to-door, I did the same trip in March for a Business Intelligence workshop.

There's a significant contingent of RDs going... Adam Cogan, Goksin Bakir, Kim Tripp, Malek Kemmou, Steve Forte and Tim Huckaby. So expect some serious speaking, and serious partying.

A bunch of us are heading out with one of my favorite Malaysians, Razali of the Utan Bara Adventure Team. We're going to spend the day with Razali, exploring Malaysian jungle and hanging with the elephants of the Kuala Gandah Elephant Center.

And then there's the actual conference. I'm doing an all SQL Server set of sessions:

  • SQL Server Profiler for the Developer
  • Advanced SQL Querying Techniques
  • T-SQL Error Handling in SQL Server 2005

Plus Steve and I are going to do our duet session on interoperability between SQL Server on Windows 2003 Server and Oracle on Red Hat Linux.

We're staying at a place called the Palace of the Golden Horses, apparently its an amazing resort, I guess we'll find out when I get there.


Thursday, September 9, 2004 5:06:16 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [1]  | 


Allchin lays down on Longhorn#

Man, I'm a huge fan of Jim Allchin. He's straight talking, serious and kicks ass. My current favorite quote from Jim: “Malware. I want it dead.” And follows that by saying that he hadn't been able to deliver that 100% for XP SP2. But they're still plugging away.

But the topic of the day was Longhorn. Most people know that the name comes from the Longhorn bar that sits between Whistler (the code name of Windows XP) and Blackcomb (which was supposed to be the next version of Windows). But the reality of Longhorn is that it has grown to be an amazing and complex version of Windows. The highlight peices have been Avalon, Indigo and WinFS. Microsoft has promised a stunning amount of new functionality in Longhorn, and Jim is promising to deliver on it, just in a different form.

What's happened is that the Windows team is fixing the date of Longhorn - for “holiday time 2006.” To do that, they are breaking up the delivery of all these different features.

The exciting part is that versions of Avalon and Indigo are going to be made available for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. This is great news for developers, we're going to get a chance to build software utilizing the capabilities of these subsystems without having to have Longhorn. We don't have to drive our customers to the latest OS to take advantage of this new technology.

WinFS is being pushed back, to be delivered after Longhorn. The way Jim talked about it, it sounds to me like WinFS is growing in scope - the more they realize the power of object based data storage, the more development they need to do. Jim said they realized they don't want to ship the WinFS client component without the server component, and that means they need more time. It makes sense to me, it sounds like its going to be worth the wait. And it doesn't sound like its going to be long after, either. Jim says that WinFS will be in beta when Longhorn ships. That pretty much means that WinFS must ship in 2007 - Microsoft rarely ever goes over a year in beta.

The obvious question is “what's left for Longhorn?” and the answer is plenty. Sure, Avalon, Indigo and WinFS have been the highlight elements, but there is plenty more in the plan. A vastly more advanced search system is key, along with better functionality all around. The new display driver model of Longhorn is going to make a huge difference, I don't think we'll see the full power of Avalon until that is in place. A vastly improved deployment engine is going to make a big difference to anyone handling more computers than they can reach easily in one room.

In the end, the room applauded Jim, not just for being forthright about the realities, but because I think everyone here realized that this new plan is a better plan. Waiting for a massive shipment of all new code is not the best way to go - break the important bits down and get them out the door. That way we can kick the tires, explore the capabilities, and feed back into Microsoft to make them better. When the whole comes together, it'll be vastly superior to what we originally came up with at the beginning.


Friday, August 27, 2004 12:46:42 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [1]  | 


Evangelism Concentration Camp#

I'm down in Redmond at the Evangelism Airlift, also known as the Evangelism Concentration Camp.

We're all in the same hotel together, all sessions are run in the hotel, and the sessions run from 8am to 9:30pm every day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is included, such as it is... bagels and fruit for breakfast, various catered lunch objects, and dinner has a focus on meat popsicles.

The concentration comes from the non-stop, high-density content about what the next generation (2005) tools can do, should do, and how it should be taught.

For the most part its all Microsoft employees in the audience, but there's a small, but rather vocal (as if they came in any other form) contingent of Regional Directors. Steve Forte (the vocal part), Kim Tripp (the SQL Goddess!) and Chris Kinsman (local dude) are all in the room with me...

Thursday, August 26, 2004 12:37:39 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [4]  | 


Touring Toys...#

Kim Tripp, Clemens Vasters, Goksin Bakir, Christain Weyer and I all went out yesterday (Tuesday) to take a look around Seattle. The weather was just plain nasty, so we went for indoor type things.

In the end, we went to the Museum of Flight and did a tour of the Boeing 747 factory in Everett.

Kim Tripp, the Gadget Girl herself, has this groovy navigation system in her SUV... the discussion turned to making a business out of improved voice communication for navigation.

Clemens is an advocate of the sexy female approach, so that when you miss a turn, the system says “Don't worry baby, I know you'll get us back on track.”

Kim is on the mother-in-law side of things... “You idiot! Turn around right now! I'm not calculating another route for you!”

Methinks this week's ToyBoy spot on DNR is going to be over the top...

Drivel | Toys | Travel
Wednesday, August 25, 2004 10:20:00 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [2]  | 


Wrapping up at DevTeach#

I'm about an hour away from delivering my last session in the last time block at DevTeach in Montreal.

Its a repeat session of my Introduction to OLAP, a session I've done a number of times and can have a lot of fun with. I love the last session of the conference, its a good time for humour and lots of silliness. I did this session in the first block in the first day... 8am Sunday morning is a tough time to present, much less to attend.

The conference has been lots of fun, many of the usual suspects were here (many are already leaving)...

  • Guy Barrette (thanks for setting up the great dinner, Guy!)
  • Jim Duffy (believes he's funnier than I am, and may even be right)
  • Sylvain Duford (behind that enigmatic smile beats the heart of an evil bugger like the rest of us)
  • Markus Egger (Austrian, and not afraid to tell you about it, over and over)
  • Carl Franklin (pick a card, any card)
  • Cathi Gero (way too nice to hang around with this evil crowd)
  • Rob Howard (enjoying his new found freedom)
  • Tom Howe (the indominable, the incomparable, and my dear friend)
  • Don Kiely (from Alaska, and it shows)
  • Kevin Kline (its all about SQL Server, dummy!)
  • Nick Landry (hey, settle down, I'd like to come back to this place again some day, I live here y'know)
  • Julie Lerman (have you seen my husband?)
  • Ted Neward (I call him slash-boy, ask him about it if you get a chance)
  • Rod Paddock (trying to keep Duffy under control, when he isn't hassling Markus)
  • Marcie Robillard (the DataGird Girl herself!)
  • Joel Semeniuk (take my clients - PLEASE!)
  • Rick Strahl (the dude with the hair!)
  • Christian Weyer (popped his sushi cherry and is never going back)

Missed my buddy Steve Forte, who was supposed to come along and do the Oracle/Linux to SQL Server/Windows Interop session with me. I made it work solo, but its not the same. I also presented a brand new session on Error Handling in SQL Server 2005 (Yukon). While I appreciate the sentiment of giving SQL Server real error handling, I'm still debating about its relevance... how many errors occur in SQL Server that don't have to be propogated back to the client anyway? I brought this line of discussion up during the session, and I think the general consensus was that deadlocks were pretty much the only error that we really want to handle on our own.

I was thinking along the same lines and had written a bunch of test code to try catching a deadlock in a stored procedure and recover automatically... to no avail. Blame it on the beta, I'll wait for Beta 2 and see how things behave then.

Marcie (DataGridGirl) Robillard crashed the conference to catch a couple of sessions and ended up presenting one! What's up with that!

Poor Cathi Gero - we pick on her endlessly. The problem is that Cathi is a genuinely nice person, while the rest of us are evil buggers. The number of times over the course of the past three days that I've seen Cathi with her hands over her mouth, turning pink with embarassment are almost beyond count. Here's an example:


Here, Ted Neward is feeding Cathi some odd thing from our dinner at this lovely Belgian restaurant that Guy Barrette arranged for us. Somehow the feeding of Cathi became highly amusing (you can see me laughing in the background) and Cathi was red all over again... I don't know why she puts up with all of us.

After this final session (only a few minutes before I have to go set up), I'm conference free for a couple of months - a relaxing summer polishing barbequing skills and enjoying being at home. Oh sure, I'll still be working, but that's the easy part.

Next conference - Tech Ed in September, Kuala Lumpur for sure, and Tokyo a maybe!

Tuesday, June 22, 2004 10:34:21 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [6]  | 


Time's Up!#
Off to Tech Ed...
Friday, May 21, 2004 12:16:48 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Toy solutions for toy problems...#

My buddy Stephen Forte has convinced me to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with him this October.

Its not a technical climb (no hanging from ropes here), really its just a hike... to 19,300 feet. It takes place over 18 days, although only (heh - only) nine days of climbing. There's a four day safari at the end.

When I travel, I like to take lots of pictures. Like, a couple of hundred in a day. A digital camera is essential, but so is the laptop to dump all those photos out (and write silly captions for them).

Needless to say, laptops are not considered essential hardware for a hike like this, but I still want to take lots of pictures. So, I have two problems to deal with. The first is capacity - where am I going to store all these pictures? The second problem is power - not a lot of outlets on Kilimanjaro.

My camera of choice for the moment is the Olympus C-750 my wife bought me for Christmas. It uses xD picture cards, up to 512MB. Each 512MB card should hold about 600 pictures, so three ought to do it, if I can limit myself to a hundred photos a day.

One of the best things about this camera (besides the amazing 10x optical zoom) is that it uses AA batteries. I have a couple of sets of Nickel-Metal-Hydride batteries for it. So I suppose I could carry ten pounds of AA batteries for it to cover all those pictures, but then I had a better idea. Silicon Solar makes a fairly small solar AA battery recharger. It does four batteries at a time, the same number of batteries the camera takes. So I can have one set charging while I'm snapping away with the other.

Of course, now that I'm thinking solar, maybe a bringing a laptop along isn't so crazy after all.

Toys | Travel
Tuesday, May 18, 2004 7:28:16 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [5]  | 


There's feature creep in hardware, too...#

Okay, I admit it, I love toys. No, not little plastic whatzits (although they can be pretty cool too, I always had a softspot for transformers), but technology toys. I buy first, I buy often, and I have boxes and boxes of crap that didn't survive their first test runs. I like being on the bleeding edge and I have lots of blood to give.

Plus I'm pretty good at retaining what I see, so once I've looked into a toy once, I usually remember it. I think it was Steve Forte who first called me the Toy Master, when during a phone conversation about whether or not some gadget actually existed, I was firing links over IM to him without a pause in the chatter.

So when my friend Michele Bustamente asked me about networking her two demo laptops together, I knew it was going to turn into a toyfest. Its all about feature creep, y'know.

Besides asking me about the weather in Amsterdam (which was just about the worst I've seen in May yet), we also talked about networking her machines together, and we talked about crossover network cables, switches, point-to-point wireless and other good stuff like that. But, as with all “clients”, if you don't get to the heart of the matter, if you don't ask the magic question “So what do you want to do?” you really miss out on hitting a home run in terms of solving problems.

Besides just wanting to network her two demo laptops together, Michele was also thinking about her Web Services Interoperability Education Day on May 22nd, just before Tech Ed San Diego. There, she figured she'd have at least three machines involved, and possibly two projectors, and wanted to have all the machines talking to each other, possibly with Internet connectivity, and so on, and so on...

Crossover ethernet cables are fine, as long as you're prepared to live with fixed IPs and no additional connectivity. And it falls down as soon as there's three machines involved. Its a one-off solution, and you always need more.

For years I've been carrying around a little D-Link DI-713 whenever I was travelling to any form of geekfest, geekfest being defined as any place where more than two geeks are. Because as soon as you have more than two geeks together, you have connectivity issues. We all have laptops, we all want internet connectivity, and we all want to fire files back and forth between each other.

If you're in a hotel, you soon find out that hotel broadband, while nice, is really a per-machine product, and so if you have three laptops in a room, you end up hopping the wire from machine to machine and then arguing with the manager at the end of the day as to whether or not you should be charge $10 for the day, or $10 per machine per day...

The D-Link box solved the problem: its a NAT router, a switch and a wireless access point all in one. So you can plug the hotel broadband into it and everyone can share, as well as network, or use the wireless connection. It even provided DHCP support so we don't have to mess with the network settings.

Unfortunately, my little D-Link gave up the ghost a few months ago. It owed me nothing, having been the saving grace of many a geekfest, and having logged tens of thousands of miles in baggage, multiple irradiations and so on. It won't be missed though, it'll be replaced.

Meantime, it was apparent to me that Michele needed the same little gizmo for her demos. All those laptops are likely using DHCP, and they need to speak to each other, and could use some Internet access... so a quick sprint around the Internet (I have a great favorites section called Shopping) returned this list of products:

There's more, but they're essentially all the same: a NAT router, a four port switch and a wireless access point. These four all were 802.11a/b/g compatible too. There were a bunch that left out 802.11a, which is fine with me, in my experience it only takes a piece of paper to block 802.11a signals.

The non-a variants get as cheap as $50 US, the tri-mode units are $100-$200 US. They're all relatively compact, but the SMC unit is the smallest (a mere 5"x3.5"x1.25") and hey, if you're travelling, that's important. They all have decent web-based configuration, and they're all routinely updating their firmware. You couldn't go wrong with any of these units really, but I liked the SMC for its compact size and decent looks.

I see these gizmos as essential fare for anyone who's going to be working with more than one geek at a time. When we're all speaking at conferences, there's always a gathering somewhere, often the speaker who got the biggest room. This solves the networking problem.


Toys | Speaking | Travel
Sunday, May 16, 2004 6:38:22 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [1]  | 


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Speaking at the SoCalCodeCamp!
Stephen Forte Calls From Pakistan
Passport Disaster! No Pakistan Conference For Me...
Home from Tech Ed US 2007
Arriving in Orlando...
Devteach in Montreal now, this fall in Vancouver!
Hanging in Phoenix
A Weekend in Austin
Dallas Bound
Chillin' in Atlanta
Orlando Date Cancelled
Looking out to Wilma
Online in the RV
Post-Tech Ed
Hanging in New London
Recapping SDC
SDC Day One
My poor, neglected blog...
Out of Florida, into the Fire...
Enroute to Florida, DotNetRocks in the news (again)...
DotNetRocks comes to Florida...
Home and Kili-Bagged...
Last weekend before Kilimanjaro...
Tech Ed Malaysia Post-Mortem
Kuala Lumpur - ToyBoy Heaven!
Too Much Fun To Blog...
Off to Kuala Lumpur...
Allchin lays down on Longhorn
Evangelism Concentration Camp
Touring Toys...
Wrapping up at DevTeach
Time's Up!
Toy solutions for toy problems...
There's feature creep in hardware, too...
This site
<June 2023>
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