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 5 - Everything Ends#

The last day of Tech Ed is always kind of sad. A lot of folks fly out early on Friday.

Greg and I got a RunAs interview with Kim Tripp and Paul Randal, two dear friends of mine. It was very hard to get serious enough to actually get through the interview, it was another big laugh fest.

With Speaker Idol over, our schedule wasn't quite as tight, but at noon we were still back at the Community Lounge one last time for two events - the last passport draw and a reprise of the 64 Bit Question.

Since it was the last day of the show, we offered to give away as much swag as people had left over... and they delivered. When we arrived at the Community Lounge the place was buried in swag. Greg and I spent a good half hour just doing inventory.

In the end we were able to collate a dozen bundles of prizes for the 64 Bit Question. Every contestant got a copy of Vista Ultimate, Office 2007 Professional and an MS Press Book. One contestant won an HTC Touch! Beyond that, there was dozen of t-shirts, extra conference bags, Microsoft mice, pens, notebooks... it was literally a large table covered in stuff.

When the 64 Bit Question was over, we ran over to the table and started throwing things to the audience. They helped themselves as well. In minutes, everything was gone.

And the conference, more or less, was over. At least for us. We started making our goodbyes.

Its astounding how many people it takes to run a conference of this size. Saying goodbye and thanking the folks we worked directly with took a couple of hours.

We got back to the hotel relatively early, but we weren't done yet - Greg and I had invitations to the Speakers Party!

Friday, November 16, 2007 2:13:00 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Tech Ed Barcelona IT Forum Day 4 - Speaker Idol Ends#

We started out the day doing RunAs interviews - we've been so busy doing other sorts of interviews that we hadn't taken care of our own stuff well enough. The good news is that there's lots of amazing people at IT Forum and getting a great interview is pretty easy.

The big event today was a double dose of Speaker Idol - Wave Four *and* the Finals.

Wave Four was a really strong group of competitors, Jakob Heidelburg won in a very tight competition.

We had a chance to grab a quick bit before racing back to the Community Lounge for the Speaker Idol finals. Then our mystery judge was revealed - none other than Mark Russinovich!

Before the competition could start, we had a special announcement. Mark Budzinski, the winner of Wave Three took the stage and very graciously explained that as much as he enjoyed Speaker Idol, he did not plan to be a speaker at Tech Ed in the future (which is the goal of Speaker Idol after all), and so declined his slot in the finals. The audience gave him a fine round of applause.

That left us in a bit of a spot - we were missing a competitor! Ilse Van Criekinge was the runner up of Wave Three, so she filled in. And don't worry, we knew about Mark's situation the night before and we gave Ilse some warning... just wanted to wait until the finals to make the announcement.

So now we had our finals line up: Peter Mendelsohn from Germany, Maral Topalian from Lebanon, Ilse Van Criekinge from Belgium and Jakob Heidelberg from Denmark.

All four competitors were very talented, I think every one of them would make an excellent Tech Ed speaker.

It took awhile for the judges to tally up their scoring, then the results came in. The winner: Ilse Van Criekinge! Ilse won a speaker's slot at Tech Ed IT Forum in 2008. The runner up was Maral Topalian. Maral wins a delegate ticket to Tech Ed IT Forum in 2008 (although everyone suggested she submit sessions too).

I was blown away to realize that the first two women competitors in Speaker Idol came in first and second. As the competition came to a close, there were lots of interviews for the contestants.

When Greg and I finally got clear of the hub-bub around Speaker Idol, we grabbed Steve Riley, snuck off to a quiet corner and grabbed a fun interview. Steve is such an entertaining guy, I think most of the edits for the show will be lifting out the excessive laughter.

Then it was back to the Community Lounge for another passport draw. Then back to the FishBowl for more interviews.

It turned into another late night... Greg and I had dinner at the hotel and crashed early. One more day to go.

Thursday, November 15, 2007 4:55:00 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [4]  | 


Tech Ed Barcelona IT Forum Day 3 - Interviews and More Interviews#

Today was the busiest day so far doing interviews. In the FishBowl they're really only equipped for one-on-one interviews, so Greg and I have been sharing duties when they come up, largely based on topic.

Around noon we split to the Community Lounge for Speaker Idol. The wave had the other woman competitor, by the name of Isle Van Criekinge. However, she didn't win the wave, the winner for this wave was Mark Budzinski.

After Speaker Idol we grabbed some lunch, squeezed a couple of RunAs Radio interviews in and then went back to the Community Lounge for the Passport Draw.

The Passport Draw is based on passports handed out in the vendor space that the attendees take with them from booth-to-booth, getting stamps in it. When the passport is full, its placed in a draw box at the help desk.

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday Greg and I draw from the box for a winner of a nice Casio camera.

Today was the first draw, we drew a huge crowd (its really a nice camera), did the drawing and tossed out a bunch of t-shirts as well.

Once the drawing was done, we were actually done for the day, and at a reasonable hour! We finally had a chance to get out of the conference center and head to Las Ramblas to have some fun.

Zaak and Susan joined us for dinner at a great restaurant called The Four Cats. Apparently Picasso used to hang out there! The food was lovely (I had an Iberian pork dish). We rode the subway there and back, the system in Barcelona works great and the TechEd folks gave us free subway passes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 6:03:00 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


RunAs Radio #32: Jeremy Moskowitz Sets Our Group Policy!#

Greg and I talked to Jeremy Moskowitz about Group Policy in Active Directory. Jeremy has the definitive books on the topic, and, as he points out, if you have Active Directory set up, you're already using Group Policy, just not very intentionally.

Let us know what you think at info@runasradio.com.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 4:24:00 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [1]  | 


Tech Ed Barcelona IT Forum Day 2 - Women in Technology#

Now that the body of the conference is underway, Greg and I settle into a routine. We hang out at the Virtual TechEd FishBowl and do interviews all day. For the IT Forum Virtual Side the interviews tend to be short - only five minutes or so. For Virtual TechEd the interviews are longer, 15-25 minutes or so. And then there's RunAs Radio - sometimes we do the interview in the FishBowl, but since its audio-only, that's not required, so we'll sneak off to some quiet corner, often the speakers lounge, to do the interview there.

We certainly don't do all the interviews, Tony Krijnen and Daniel van Soest from the Virtual Side have been handling most of them, and in some cases the interviewee comes with an interviewer. But when Tony and Daniel are booked and there's an interview to be done, Greg or I will step in. Its good fun.

Around lunch time we head for the Community Lounge in the vendor's hall to host the second wave of Speaker Idol. And for the first time ever (as far as I know, anyway), we had a women competitor in Speaker Idol - Maral Topalian from Lebanon. To top if off, Maral won wave two!

In the evening Greg and I went to the Women in Technology dinner. No, we're not women, but we weren't the only men there either. It wasn't a large group, only around 30 or so, but it was a fascinating discussion from my point of view. As a father of two daughters who are technically savvy (they really have no choice in the matter), hearing the challenges of women working in technology surprised me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 4:46:02 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


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]  | 


RunAs Radio #31: Randy Smith Helps Us Secure Vista!#

Greg and I talked to Randy Smith about locking down Vista. We couldn't help laughing a bit about UAC, but that's to be expected. We did get into more of the cool things that Vista adds, like controlling USB keys, using BitLocker, and so on.

Send your feedback to info@runasradio.com.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007 2:16:14 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]  | 


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