October 31, 2008 - 09:35, by Dostalek, Kevin
2 Keynotes this morning. The first one went long but essentially highlighted Windows7, Live Services (including Live Mesh), Scott Guthrie's tour of new tech (including WPF futures, .Net 4.0 , SilverLight 2, and VS2010), and then a sneak peak at Office 14.
Windows 7 looks pretty much just like Vista with a few new UI tweaks and much in the way performance improvement. Two super cool new features though are: multiple-monitor support on RDP connections, and native mounting of VHD's as drives INCLUDING THE ABILITY TO BOOT FROM THEM! The major thing demo'ed from Office 14 was "Office Web Applications" which is essentially web versions of OneNote, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, that render pretty true to the desktop apps (both in interface as well as document formatting), and support multi-user collaboration.
The second keynote was Don Box and Chris Anderson doing their typical All-Code demo where they built a cloud app from scratch. It was highly interesting and entertaining, but as expected very fast and mind-crunching.
After lunch I caught the tail end of the Coding4Fun lunch session... I had hoped to see more of it, but with the keynotes running about 30 minutes late, there wasn't much time.
Next I went to Ori Amiga's Live Services: A Lap around the Live Framework and Mesh Services. Ori is a great presenter and with the LF and MS I can actually now see how Azure can be leveraged in real applications. They've really done a good job at abstracting away some complexities and providing some base services that can be used right away.
Then I went to the "Making Apps More Social" session. I think this session had a ton of potential and the presenter had some good ideas and a lot of passion. Unfortunately I think the presentation itself wasn't prepared that well and it was a bit of a disappointment.
Rather than going to the last session of the day, I completed my Surface scavenger hunt, which got me a ticket to their hands on lab and SDK invite. The lab was pretty cool, both using the Surface Simulator app (it uses 2 mice) and a Surface unit itself. I'm definately going to have to brush up on my WPF skills.
Tonight was the Attendee Party at Universal Studios, which was only a short walk from my hotel. They had a Halloween theme going on, including fog covered walkways and zombies/ghouls and stuff jumping out at you with running chainsaws and stuff. The rides were so-so, but one great show was the Bill and Ted meet HellBoy show which was hillarious and had great dancing. Of course all the food and beverages (beer) were free. Right towards the end I got trapped on the Simpson's ride with a bunch of the codeplex team, but luckily they got it running again after about 10 minutes of waiting in the dark.
October 27, 2008 - 23:30, by Dostalek, Kevin
Day started out kind of rough-- took my bus almost an hour to get to the convention center (LA Traffic), so I missed breakfast. Luckily I got to my seat about 30 seconds before the keynote started.
Keynote was good. Big news was the announcement of Windows Azure and the Azure Services platform. This new cloud computing platform is quite ambitious, and totally game changing. You can probably find much more about it just searching the web, but in a nutshell, it gives a developer a way of deploying a web application onto an almost infinitely scalable platform without all that infrastructure investment.
First breakout I went to was on "SharePoint Online: Extending Your Service". So basically SharePoint Online is a hosted offering of SharePoint that sits on top of the Azure stack (see previous paragraph on infinite scalability). The focus of this session was to delineate all the kinds of extensibility that will be supported on this platform vs. the things that you'll only be able to do with an On-Premise server. I'll blog more about this session later as there was a ton of good stuff in my notes... but one big take-away I have is this: Server-Side Custom Code is not supported. Customers are going to have a choice of deployment locally, in the cloud, or mixed. Therefore, we probably want to avoid making large investments in things like Web Parts because those customers that choose to deploy in the cloud won't be able to use them. HOWEVER, they DO support silverlight (including SL2 with custom code)... therefore, the best place for us to invest in is in SilverLight because you can do most of the same things (and in some cases more) in custom fashions with SL2 and SP webservices.
Next I went to the "Developing for Microsoft Surface" session. This totally blew me away. The idea that we've gone from CLI to GUI interfaces (which was game-changing) and now we're on the brink of going from GUI to NUI (Natural User Interfaces) opens up so many new ideas that it's dizzying. At the core, developing for Surface is almost identical to developing for WPF with some new added API's-- but the paradigm shift in thinking is huge (360 degree canvas, ie. there's no "up", multi-touch, multi-user, physical world object interaction, etc...) They have surface units set up all over the conference running a scavenger game (we all have these little ID cards we can drop on them).. pretty amazing. I love their call to action "Help us change the world." This is a technology that actually will do just that.
Next I went to the ASP.NET MVC session. While it was ok, I was a bit dissapointed. All the stuff that MVC is trying to accomplish is right on... but when I saw some of the code, I'm *SO* happy that we went with the WCSF/MVP architecture for Elanco. While it's a bit more complicated, I think it's way better for any complex application. I really regret no going to Scott Hansleman's session instead which apparently created an app that integrated many of these new .net technologies including some real-time audience participation hooking into Twitter to produce some sort of mega-mash-up kids game.
The last session of the day I went to was "Developing and Deploying Your First Cloud Service". This was great and I'm excited to get my hands on my Azure account so I can start playing with this. The web stuff looks right on... but I'm still a bit confused about the cloud-based durable storage.
Day ended with a Partner Expo Reception (read: free food and beer). Got to meet a bunch of folks from lots of companies and got some free swag. Highlight was spending about 15 minutes with the dev from Microsoft Research discussing PEX. Oh yeah, and DevExpress (the CodeRush guys) had Mini Me there. I had no idea he was THAT small.
Sorry for the long post, but it was a long day. If you've read all the way down to here, then you deserve a treat. Here are two links people tweeted to me that fall into the WTF category. Enjoy!
October 27, 2008 - 23:10, by Dostalek, Kevin
So yesterday I attended the PDC Pre-Conference session on "Agile Perspectives, Industry and Microsoft". The morning was pretty interesting, although it covered much material that I've already seen elsewhere. It was still good to see it presented in a slightly different way (Mary Poppindieck's focus is Lean Development, which is rooted in Lean Manufacturing techniques).
The afternoon had some high and low points. Gregori first talked about how Agile was used at Microsoft. The P&P team is pretty hard-core, while the product teams are still pretty hit-and-miss, although small feature teams are coming around more and more each month.
Mary then did a value-chain analysis, which is an interesting idea, and I've no doubt has much value in a consultative context, but it didn't really work for me as a learning session.
The best stuff came at the end of the day, when they tackled 4 difficult questions related to agile adoption:
- How to scale it to larger projects.
- How to deal with distributed teams.
- [something else I can't remember, so it was probably not all that interesting]
- Agile Contracts
This last one was especially interesting to me. The gist was that there are many inherent problems with Fixed-Bid and Time & Materials billing models, and that a preferred contract type is what they called "Target Cost Contracts". I'll delve into this topic deeper in a later blog posting.
So then in the evening I ventured out on the Metro (subway) to get from my hotel (which is at Universal Studios) back to downtown to meet up with a bunch of SharePoint folks at the Biltmore for drinks (SharePint). Got to meet SP Devs from around the world including some MVP's. Thanks to Andrew Connell for putting that together. Also, on talking with Andrew it looks like he's already going to have to back out of the April SPIN meeting due to a schedule conflict, but is searching for an "off-month" to reschedule.
October 26, 2008 - 11:00, by Dostalek, Kevin
Hey everyone! Thanks for visiting my newly re-launched blog now named "The Kick Board". In addition to the new styling, I'm planning on a whole new set of content that I think a wider audience will enjoy, and hopefully more engaging as well (feed me comments please).
(picture originally by Kathy Sierra on her blog)
Please note that this blog was originally an internal blog (at Ambassador Solutions) that has now been made public. Therefore I had to strip out many of the non-appropriate posts from the past as well as removing all comments.
While I'm still shaking out the publishing process for pod- and vodCasts, I will also be "mirror-posting" some of the best audio and video I find on the internet-- much of which in the past I would just email links to folks... It's not that I'm looking to "steal" content and I realize most of you could easily find them yourself on their original locations, but think of this as a pre-Kevin-filtered best-of-the-web one-stop-shop for your multimedia pleasures (or something like that).
Finally, the design of this website is intended to be a dynamic view of my whiteboard (duh). As such, I'll probably be posting much more whiteboard friendly posts in the future (ie. not a ton of text, but many more sketches and stuff). To be sensitive to those pulling an RSS feed, I'll not go overboard and try to keep the text content as TEXT. The blog engine I'm using is a pretty customized version of SharePoint with the CKS:EBE extensions... the Pingback/Linkback/Trackback functionality is still in need of testing, so please give those a go! Lastly, the "bookmark" functionality (digg, stumbleupon, etc...) could use some shakedown too :)
I'm really excited to start getting some more content up here, but I would very much appreciate feedback in the form of comments to let me know what you think, and what you're interested in hearing about from me. If you want to know more about me personally, click my picture taped to the board. (and to get to the homepage, click the picture of the green house in the upper right corner).
October 22, 2008 - 02:52, by Dostalek, Kevin
The "secrets" are starting to leak... see below:
Sources at Microsoft have announced that ‘Microsoft Office 14’ as it has been code-named will be on show at the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) next week. Office 14 will debut alongside the next version of Windows, Windows 7 and Windows Cloud.
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft chief executive has already described some of the features for us to expect in Office 14 which includes office running inside the web browser and we can expect many more to come be announced at the PDC.