Wednesday, 15 August 2007

TechEd Day 3

It's amazing how fast three days can go when you've having fun and trying to learn everything there is know about everything in one hour sessions! But, the end has come, TechEd is over and, one hour later than the flight was scheduled, I have arrived back in Wellington. I will put together some 'lowlights' and some more detailed notes once I'm a little more awake but in the meantime, here's the highlights from today:

  • Lukas Svoboda on Development Teams was interesting for the first half when he was talking about principles of building great teams and how to recognise them, but less so when he moved on to telling us how great Team System is, at length. Shocking moment for me - he asked the audience "Who's used continuous integration builds of some kind?"; the entire Intergen contingent put their hands up... and about 2-3 other people. In a crowd of probably more than 300. I can't imagine working without my CCTray... what are people doing?
  • Andrew Peters on .NET Languages took us on a quick romp through static, dynamic and functional languages in the .NET platform. Andrew covered a lot of ground in a hour and kept it interesting with lots of demos. He finished with a challenge to go learn a dynamic language - that's been on the I-really-should-get-around-to-that-sometime list for quite a while, must do that. Python or Ruby anyone??
Overall, TechEd has been great. While some sessions have been decidedly uninspiring, they're in the minority and I've been able to hear a lot of good stuff on a huge variety of topics. I have been reminded again and again of two things in particular:
  1. As I've mentioned previously, how passionate I used to be about User Experience design, and how much I should be again.
  2. How much knowledge we have at Intergen that we take for granted but that a fair proportion of the industry doesn't seem to have picked up on yet e.g. continuous integration builds, test driven design, the MVP pattern... Our management often say we're ahead of the game, TechEd has served to prove to me that it's true.
If you get a chance to go to a TechEd anywhere - go. :)

TechEd Day 2

I'm half asleep as a result of the TechFest party last night so if this doesn't make much sense I apologise...

Highlights from TechEd New Zealand day two:

  • Shu Scott on SQL Server 2005 optimisation was a usefully practical set of best practices to ensure queries run as efficiently as possible. Packed with content and some good explanations of why things work the way they do. I'm fascinated by the way the query optimiser chooses query plans, something to look into more.
  • Joel Pobar on C# 3.0 - probably the 'geekiest' session I've been to so far and was tremendous fun. Looks like there's lots of cool new features in the next version of C# to make our lives easier and coding faster. Auto-implemented properties and initialisers and type inference I'm sure I'll be using as soon as they're released. We also implemented LINQ from scratch in about 15 minutes which was a great romp through the new features. I'm particularly looking forward to playing with LINQ.
  • Jeremy Boyd on SQL Server 2008 - lots of new features here too, and again often around making life easier and faster. Being able to insert multiple rows from a single INSERT INTO VALUES statement will make creating test data rather less painful and the new MERGE statement will also be used a lot I'm sure.
Overall, very 'geeky' day yesterday but good fun and plenty of things to continue playing with a investigating. Downloading SQL Server 2008 CTP and having a play is definitely on my to-do list once I'm back home.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

TechEd Day 1

So far, so good. With one day through and a second just beginning, TechEd New Zealand is looking to be a great few days.

Highlights thus far:

  • Keynote from Lou Carbone on the shift from 'make and sell' to 'sense and respond', experience engineering and being 'clued in'. Lou was not just saying good stuff but saying it well, keeping to audience engaged and laughing. My favourite quote: "Businesses exist to provide value to customers. The reward is profit." The implication being that profit is merely a side effect of accomplishing the actual purpose, the focus should not be on profit but on customer value. I had a great (if brief) conversation with my manager afterwards talking about how we all need to be reminded of that sometimes.
  • Grant Paisley on Analysis Services was a very geeky and good fun session from a presenter who knew how to make sure people remember what he says. He had the audience with their hands in the air doing actions for each of his main points... "Attributes (wiggle fingers), attribute relationships (cross fingers), consolidate dimensions (hands together), partitioning (karate chop your neighbour)"
  • Darryl Chantry on UX Design served to remind me not only of how passionate I was about user experience while I was at university but also how much knowledge I picked up in the process and take for granted. A lot of the good points Darryl made (e.g. good design is invisible, users want predictability) my colleagues were commenting on as new and exciting while I'd heard them all before... Inspiring session with lots of examples of design the way it should be.
  • Women in Technology dinner brought 150 women from all sectors of the technology industry together for some good food and networking. It was a good night, although many of the audience didn't entirely agree with some things that were said (more on this later I'm sure!). Favourite quote was Helen Robinson's (Managing Director Microsoft NZ) comment that "The best teams are made up of the most varied people."

Overall, it's been fun and informative with lots more still to come. The yellow camo pants are actually pretty comfortable and we're certainly hard to miss - come and say hi if you're around.