Tech-ed Berlin 2009: Day 1

After a boring cab drive to the airport, I had an even more boring flight to Berlin. And that is exactly how I want all my flights to be. I don’t want it to be the thrilling and exciting near-death experience I had once, flying to Nice.

I arrived in Berlin safe and sound, and took a cab to the hotel. Sadly, the hotel is not near the conference center, on account of there not being any hotels nearby. The hotel is 2 short train rides away. It’s really easy to find. And of course, to those that know me it will come as no surprise that it took several tries for me to arrive at he correct location.

What sucks most is that a) my flight got rescheduled sometime ago (leaving 1 hour later than expected), delayed for half an hour, and the event agenda got re-shuffled since I booked. As a result, I missed 2 sessions. Because for some silly reason, someone decided that the keynote should be at the end of the day instead of the beginning.

Had I known this in advance, I’d have left for Berlin yesterday. I didn’t because I wanted an extra day with my wife and kids. Ironic, since they weren’t at home yesterday due to unforeseen circumstances. Next time I’ll just leave on Sunday, taking some extra time to travel.

Whatever. I am typing this while the keynote speech is starting. It’ll probably be an hour and a half filled with mind numbing explanations of why Microsoft technology is the greatest on earth.

I have to say I preferred Barcelona as the venue for tech-ed, for a number of reasons:

1) Walking down the street in November. Berlin: 5 degrees Celsius and rain. Barcelona: 20 degrees Celsius and cloudless skies.

2) Crossing the street from the hotel and being at the event in less than 2 minutes.

3) The venue itself. The messe is a complex of industrial looking buildings, with concrete, asphalt, etc, rather than the aesthetically pleasant looking ICC in Barcelona.

4) additionally, the idea of having 1 big event for developers and IT professionals is less than stellar. Because now, there are only half as much developer sessions as there used to be in Barcelona. Only 1 real C++ session, no large selection of .NET and C# and SQL Server sessions…

Still, I’ve had my first coffee of the day and I am starting to get a feel for the place. Tech-ed is still a good place to be. And if my knowledge of German cuisine is still accurate, the food will be good, plenty, and NOT drowned in olive oil.

CLI324: Windows ‘Lucky’ 7

This session was hosted by Mark Minasi

It was a good session, and basically enumerated the features of 7 that are either new, or changed from Vista or XP.

Mark is a great speaker, and managed to make the time fly while discussing the topics. It was not in depth so I am not going to repeat too much of it here. The things that got me interested most are the ability to image disks into files, like VMWare virtual disks. These disks can be shared, backed up and mounted. Very exiting stuff that would make my life easier, if we ever get to the point where we will actually use 7.

Other cool features are the ability to deploy to USB media, which would presumably allow me to boot from USB disk, as well as the ability to easily perform preconfigured installs.

When talking about Vista and how 7 compares to it, Mark mentioned that one Microsoft developer said ‘We are going to throw Vista under the bus’, comparing it with Windows Miserable Edition. Interestingly, In terms of raw speed, 7 is really not that much better. But when it comes to perceived speed, 7 is the clear winner due to being more responsive, and getting less in the way of what the user wants to do.

The talk was great, and the speaker connected well with the audience.

Sadly, this was the only technical session I will see today. As luck would have it, there is only 1 C++ talk this tech-ed, and I missed it. At least they could have scheduled some boring IT talks in the first 2 sessions but alas.

The actual keynote

The keynote itself so far has the hallmarks or every other keynote I’ve seen so far. A couple of tech delegates got singled out for public humiliation while a couple of IT bigwigs (presumably million dollar customers) sat on stage explaining how good their infrastructure is and how Microsoft helped them to enable it.

Bla bla bla snore.

I don’t want to sound jaded here, or un-appreciative of the fact that my company is letting me attend this event (I am really grateful), but keynote speeches tend to be hype and blubber, void of tech content and generally a waste of time. What was even worse about this keynote is that they didn’t show off anything related to Visual Studio 10. Instead, they demoed Server 2008 Hypervisor and Exchange 2010.

That said, it is interesting to a developer like me that with the newest release of 2008R2 and the System Management Center software, detailed knowledge and understanding of the low level OS guts are no longer absolutely necessary. Between the 2 of them, those applications let admins manage their infrastructure with only a modicum of nitty gritty knowledge. The software goes out of its way to be user friendly.

That is not a bad thing. It just feels weird that you can administer a complex system without having to troll through log files, understand dcom security configuration, and other arcane things.

At least tomorrow I’ll be able to dive deep in technical content, and hopefully start my day with bacon and coffee. At least 2 plates of the former and 2 big cups of the latter.

Wrap-up day 1

The travel was good, the weather not so much.

The windows 7 presentation was good, the keynote not so much.

I had a very good pizza in an Italian restaurant, for only 7 euros. Dirt cheap.

I am now making a schedule of which sessions I want to see, and when to see them. Some of the sessions I’d like to see are scheduled in the same slot, but some of them get repeated throughout the week so I can probably schedule my attendance so that I can see most of the people I want to see.

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