The keynote speeches

by Sander Gerz October 30, 2003 17:56

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PDC Day 3

by Sander Gerz October 30, 2003 17:44

This was a packed day. I've been so busy, that there hasn't been much time to write a review of the stuff I learned today. The keynote speech from dr. Richard Rashid (Microsoft Research) was very interesting. Making sure that we're not done (or rather, that we are never done). I hope that still applies to all developers using MS technology.

I found a link to the transcript of the speech yesterday, but I can't seem to locate it now. If I find it, I'll post it.

We went to Universal Studios in the evening. This is an amazing place. I especially enjoyed the Shrek 4D show. What's that? 4D? You'll have to come and see... and feel....

I'm unable to post the photos at this moment. I've been teaming up with a couple of guys from the hotel (Emad and Nj). Emad had an interview this morning with some developers in India, but he missed it (again). So he's trying to make up for it, but he still has my SD card from the camera since he forgot to bring his own camera to the evening entertainment. So I took the pictures for the three of us.

I found out yesterday that there will be an MVP summit in April (4-7), taking place in Seattle.

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PDC Day 2

by Sander Gerz October 29, 2003 05:54

Today has been a bit less eventful than yesterday. This morning there was the keynote speech by Eric Rudder, a vp from Microsoft. He introduced Visual Studio 'Whidbey', Sql Server 'Yukon', and the improved support for mobile devices.

The presentation was pretty good, although I had seen some of the new features from Whidbey, since I'm in the alpha program. I have to admit though, that I haven't spend nearly as much time on trying the alpha as originally planned. Since it's now officially announced, it means that we can discuss more on the features and functionality of the new development environment. The people at the PDC are, however, not allowed to make copies of the software, but I guess that with 7000 attendees, that will prove impossible to enforce. So those of you that were not here will surely see and even get more details on Whidbey. Microsoft will also spread the word of course.

Even though I wasn't as impressed now as I was when I got the first glimpse of Whidbey, that doesn't mean that the improvements to the tool are huge. But when you reflect, they are now giving features back that were in previous tools (like 'edit-and-continue') and added features that should have been there a long time ago (like html formatting). It almost seems like this is Microsoft's strategy. First, they give something that leaves much to be desired (remember dll-hell?) and then they provide a solution for the problem that they created in the first place. And now everybody is happy (the manager and the developer/administrator). Good marketing and having a marketing degree, I can totally understand the strategy. ;-)

So back to the features. One of the new things they showed was a set of tools (code-named "whitehorse") that enables architects and developers to easily design service-oriented applications and operations infrastructure simultaneously. "Whitehorse" uses a drag-and-drop design surface to connect XML Web services, and then validates the resulting applications against the deployment environment using the System Definition Model (SDM).

The overall goal for Whidbey is to reduce the amount of code that developers need to write for an application. By 70 percent actually, although this is an average. The focus is on common development scenarios, like databinding controls, navigation, personalization, authentication and authorization. ASP.NET "Whidbey" will also deliver support for themes and master pages, making it easy to create and maintain Web sites that have a consistent look and feel, and new management and configuration capabilities that simplify the management and deployment of Web applications.

There's also a new deployment technology, code-named "ClickOnce," that enables applications to be installed, updated and even rolled back to previous versions more easily.

The most important innovations for Yukon consist of support for CLR based languages. So any language that targets the CLR can run inside of Sql Server. Can you imagine the look on your DBA's face when you ask him to set up the new stored procedures for your application? That's one of the reasons why the new MCDBA track for 'Yukon' will include a Sql Server programming exam. Besided CLR support, a range of Web Services are included that expose the data in the database to the outside world. Finally, the tools for development and administration of Sql Server have been improved. Most management tasks can be done from within one consistent interface. Yukon is, however, still almost a year away.

Since I do not develop for mobile devices, it's a bit difficult for me to see the exact advancements that have been announced in this area. They did show a cool demo where an application was created from scratch that allowed for telephone with builtin-camera to take a picture and e-mail that picture to a person from the contactlist, together with weather info at that time and on the location of the telephone. The application was ready within 10 minutes, but of course, that only works when you know exactly what to do. It usually takes a mere mortal developer about half a day to figure out how to do the stuff that they showed within a couple of minutes.

The afternoon sessions were not always that interesting. There was one on the IDE features of Whidbey which was pretty cool, and one on the new features for ADO.NET (also nice, but the demos could have been presented faster). The session on the new Longhorn Identity system was not too great. The demos didn't quite work properly, and they spend too much time on the ins and outs of their new 'Information Card'. You can check out the msdn longhorn site to know more about this card.

There was a dinner with 'meet the experts' at the conference center. It was a bit difficult to find 'the experts' though. And in the area of 'Tools and Languages' I tried to find a J# discussion or expert, but that turned out to be in vain. I'm still wondering what the real deal is here (with J# that is). If I'm not too tired I check out some Birds of a Feather meetings later tonight. There are sessions till midnight, but I'm not making it that late.

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The PDC video

by Sander Gerz October 29, 2003 00:35

This site contains the Halo-video that was shown at the PDC. I haven't checked it out, because the wireless connection here is a bit flaky at times. You have to scroll down a bit to find the The PDC Video .

 

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PDC Day 1

by Sander Gerz October 28, 2003 17:44

So the show is now underway. Well, for some people it started yesterday already, with some preconference stuff. But today was the keynote speech from Bill Gates and then Jim Allchin, who is vice president for the platform group if I remember correctly. You will have to look it up to be sure. Bill's speeches are not very exciting or energetic. I've posted most of his slides, and you can basically just read these slides to know what he was talking about. After that, Jim Allchin presented more on Longhorn, the next version of Windows.

Actually, they call it the event the 'PDC for Longhorn'. I knew that they were going to talk a lot about this product, but other new stuff, like Yukon and Whidbey, are going to be released sooner, so I figured that it would get an even amount of attention. Not so, at least not in this presenttation. Longhorn is a major shift from the traditional operating systems that we all have either love or have to live with. I'm not sure what to mention when talking about the key features, but especially the UI is getting a big overhaul. Now you might think that we do not need more teletubby-style backgrounds and fancy animated menus, and you're right. But even if these things will still be available in Longhorn, it's more than that.

The new UI is designed around a new interface layer called Avalon. This layer is vector-based, so items on your screen can automatically scale from tiny to huge. It's also supposed to increase performance, but I have yet to see proof of that. Someone from Dell told me that you would need at least a 2.6Ghz machine to run the preview with acceptable performance. Of course, this is all very early in the release cycle. They are not even calling it an alpha release. But it is supposed to ship in 2005. By that time, according to Bill Gates, the average desktop computer has a dual core 5 Ghz processor and more than 2GB of internal memory (RAM that is). It'll probably run just fine on that kind of hardware.

So Avalon is the new way of displaying information to the end user. Be aware, Longhorn is a desktop operating system, not intended for servers. The presentation layer of an application can now be completely declarative. This means that you can write you UI in XAML which is the MS specification based completely on XML. Besides Avalon there's the new WinFS filesystem that actually sits on top of the traditional NTFS. WinFS is a database-centric storage facility in your OS, that allows you to store, organize, search and retrieve information in various ways. You are no longer stuck with a static folder structure that allows only for one type of organization, say by document-subject. This static structure becomes problematic when you are looking to documents all written by the same author, or in a specific date-range. With WinFS you can use the default available attributes or create your own, to organize your data in different structures, depending on the specific demands at that time.

Then there's Indigo, which is the new communication layer within the OS, relying heavily on XML Web Services (of course, since Don Box is the chief architect for this bit). Through so-called 'ports' that are available for developers in the OS framework you can hook your application up to various sources of information and display or process it. Like I said, this is based on Web Services. Beneath all this is the new OS api they call WinFX. It's the successor to DOS, Win16 and the Win32 api. They didn't spend much time on this part of the new software. After the keynote speeches and lunch I tried to get into a session. But it was cancelled, since the host was delayed because of the fires that are surrounding LA and even got to San Diego. Many people got stuck and couldn't be in LA on time.

So I entered another session on Avalon that had already started, but there was not much we didn't already get a glimpse from during the keynote. I had a seperate meeting with the people from the CodeWise community. It was nice to see the people behind popular websites like www.dotnetjunkies.com and www.codeproject.com. I cannot discuss much of this meeting because it's under NDA, but it has something to do with new features for Visual Studio 'Whidbey' and community websites. There was a party afterwards for people in the Visual Studio Integration Program, and I also had an invitation. It was cocktail style, with drinks and snacks and a couple of people making music. Don Box and Carl Franklin were among the bandmembers.

It's been quite and interesting day, and even though I had just formatted the memorycard for my digital camera, I forgot to charge the battery, so at the end of the morning I could not take much pictures anymore. I'll be sure to charge it tonight. The pictures I have taken will show up in the Gallery to the left of this page.

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Touring LA

by Sander Gerz October 27, 2003 17:14

I made reservations for a tour of LA today. The tour was ok, but the city is not too impressive. Of course it's big, like it would seem for anyone else from Holland. We went up to Beverly Hills, Rodeo drive, Melrose and Hollywood. Then downtown LA where we got off the bus to go straight to the convention center. I say we, 'cause I met this guy that's staying at the same hotel and also a PDC attendee. A coworker of him arrived later in the day. We were both looking for a place to get some breakfast, since, like I said, this hotel does serve. And if it did, I probably wouldn't want to eat here. He, Emad, said he wanted to go to the preconference sessions but didn't know that this required registration (and paying) for these sessions (which he hadn't done).

So he decided to take the same tour. In the afternoon we registered for the conference where every attendee is given a bag full of goodies. Kinda like at the TechEd this summer. And then I went to attend the .NET Rocks meeting at 18:00. It was a bit disappointing, since I listen to the shows and expected a more indept talk with one or more guests. They had Robert Scoble, Tim Huckaby, Scott Hanselman and a few other people that know a lot about .NET. But they went for a quiz-type session, where people from the audience would come up to a microphone and a question on some .NET subject was posed to one the the experts. The one from the audience would have to agree or disagree with the answer given. 2 out of 3 right meant a few gifts, Xbox games, a t-shirt and even an Xbox. The questions were pretty lame. They were not dumb, but they were trying to hard to make it funny by answering most questions with a joke first, and then with the real answer, without much of an explanation. They were all done in 45 minutes.

Anyway, after dinner we went to a couple of BoF (Birds of a Feather) sessions where they would discuss Visual Studio .NET features, tips and tricks with the audience or the application blocks and other patterns and practices. It was both of limited interest and I was getting tired. Looking at my laptop clock, which is still set to dutch time, it's 7 o'clock in the morning (and 10pm in the evening here). So we decided to leave and be up at 7.30 to get to the conference center for breakfast and the first keynote speeches.

 

BTW: I'll try to post some of the pictures every day, but the number will depend on the upload bandwidth. There's a wireless lan available which worked pretty good so far, but a lot of people are expected tomorrow when the actual conference starts. Then again, lot's of people cannot make it in time, because there are huge fires at the border of LA county and the surrounding area. So many flights have been delayed and even canceled.

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Arrived in LA

by Sander Gerz October 27, 2003 00:34
Yep, I'm in Los Angeles for the Professional Developers Conference (PDC). It's 19:40 here, but it must be 4 or 5.40 in Holland. So it's the middle of the night for. Nevertheless, I do not feel too tired. I do wanna go to bed early, since I have a tour of LA booked and I'm going to be picked up at 8:15 am. Then, we're going from daylight savings time back to standard time, so that allows for an extra hour of sleep. The trip went pretty well. No delays or anything. The hotel is a bit of a disappointment. I know, I tried one one the cheapest on the list, but some features remind me of the time when I travelled low budget through France. In fact, it's a bit better than that, since there's airconditioning. But no remote control for the tv and they do not serve breakfast. I'll have to check later where I can get something to eat tomorrow morning. I believe I can get a breakfast at the PDC for the rest of the week.

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64 percent good

by Sander Gerz October 23, 2003 22:16

This site is certified 64% GOOD by the Gematriculator

So, does this mean that this site is 36 percent bad? No it's:

This site is certified 36% EVIL by the Gematriculator

And what about www.sun.com? And www.microsoft.com?
It's 62% evil, 38% good and 39% evil, 61% good respectively. I suppose that's about right.

 

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So I'm Windows XP

by Sander Gerz October 09, 2003 20:57

You are Windows XP.  Under your bright and cheerful exterior is a strong and stable personality.  You have a tendency to do more than what is asked or even desired.
Which OS are You?

So it's a good thing I'm using it right now...

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Free ASP.NET Hosts

by Sander Gerz October 05, 2003 15:36

Some guys at work and others online, have been asking me for some suggestions on a free .NET web host. Free hosting may be a good way to play around and learn .NET (ASP.NET in particular) but by no means is it suitable and reliable for live production-level applications. Although I strongly recommend a (paid) basic shared hosting plan for any meaningful development but I just did a bit of lookup and came-up with the following list of free .NET web hosts:

1. Web Matrix Hosting - 20 MB Space, 10 MB SQL Server 2000 DB, .NET Framework 1.1, Windows Server 2003 hosting, FTP/MMC support

2. Brinkster - 30 MB Space, No DB support (but I guess Access DB works)

3. ASPfreeServer - 100 MB Space, Access DB, FTP

4. InnerHost - ASP.NET Beta 2 trial hosting, 100 MB Space, No DB support

5. ASPECTO - 50 MB Space, Access DB

6. MyLittleHost - Access and MSDE 2000 DB, FTP etc.

Disclaimer: I'm not related or working for any of the above sites/companies. The above suggestions are merely based on personal opinion. Use at your own risk.

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