DevTeach Toronto - in the bag - see you next year...

Well it's just 1 week since DevTeach came to Toronto for the first time. What a great conference and it was my pleasure to be involved as a speaker, track-chair and attendee. The conference organizer Jean-Rene Roy just sent me a note with some of the comments from the overall evaluations. If you didn't attend this year, here's some reasons why you may want to next year:

Great conference! I especially enjoyed the up and personal nature of the conference. I was able to talk with the presenters. I spent most of my time at the agile track. Having topics that are rarely dealt with at user groups was a bonus. I enjoyed all the sessions I attended. The venue was great and the attention to little details, e.g., afternoon ice cream was appreciated.

Jean-René, thank you SO MUCH for bringing DevTeach to Toronto. It was fantastic and I will go again. Your tech chairs did a great job choosing sessions for each track. While I especially enjoyed the Agile sessions, I attended something from each track and the variety was good.

An outstanding conference! All the speakers I saw were terrific — affable, down-to-earth, talented, incredibly knowledgeable. The sessions were entertaining as well as in-depth and honest — no BS, no company line. I also met many people and had many interesting and thought provoking discussions outside the classrooms, and came away with new knowledge, ideas and inspiration. “Training you can’t get anywhere else” is an understatement.

Most of the speakers tell us 'why' and 'so what' instead of 'how'. This is what I expected and is good for developer in the long run. Please let speakers know this is good.

This is an excellent conference. I feel I updated my skills intensively effectively during these 3 days. I believe it will become a key event in .net area.

DevTeach was an amazing experience, especially for first timers. It was a good way to network with people in the industry, learn new techniques, make friends and bring home stories.

This was my first DevTeach and if I have any say in the matter, won't be my last. I had a great time, the sessions that I attended were top notch for the most part. Jean-Rene and his team deserve a hugh pat on the back for their efforts. What-ever they're getting paid - isn't half enough

What can I say. You'll definitely see me next year. I hope its still in Toronto. This was one of the BEST training conferences I've been on in quite some time. The "take-away's" from all the sessions were astounding. My mind is still spinning. Anyway, great job, nice prizes, great orgranization, absolutely no negative thoughts or comments.

This was a fantastic experience, MUCH better information than what I got from TechEd last year. TechEd's information was very visionary, things I can talk about now but not use for a few years out. DevTeach taught me things and gave me ideas I can use NOW! I LOVE THAT! The presentators were awesome, professional and very gifted at presenting their material. The only suggestions I would make are to have hot food every day (cold cut sandwiches are fine, even suggested for people at the Pre/Post Con but not for the actual event). More evening sessions (like at TechEd). I would have liked to have seen a presentation on MSBuild. PS You should have a value for the drop down of NA for hotel and accomodations if you didn't stay at the hotel.

Live Search is actually getting pretty good these days!

image Live Search got a refresh recently and it's actually pretty good, dare I say may be even better than Google.

  • Performance: The load times are very snappy now and it feels pretty much on par with google performance.
  • Image Search: Functionality on Image Search has been superior for some time with the ability to size the thumbnails and I quite like the "add to scratchpad" feature but wish it was available for video and web content as well. The ability to refine the search by size, aspect ratio, colour, Style (photo vs. illustration) and Face (i.e. head & shoulders, just face, etc.) is brilliant. It's not 100% accurate, but it is still quite useful. Google can do a subset of this, but frankly, never noticed it until I went looking for it. These features are more discoverable in Live. I have to say that I'm in love with the fact that I can preview the context of the pages split screen so I don't leave my list of results. As far as relevancy goes, I'm going to have to give it a try for a week. Google does a better job finding pictures of me, but Live does a better job of finding black & whites of Darryl Sittler.  Live found 12 good b&w's of the Sitler while google found absolutely nothing of relevance. Unfortunately, Live fails my vanity image search and google prevails with more pictures of me. 
  • Video Search: I honestly have never used video search on live or google until this blog entry. Live has a nice feature where it can play videos from the results page by just hovering over the thumbnails. It can't do it for every video type, some you have to click on but it is a lovely feature when it works which from what I can tell is about 60% of the time. Google only manages to get 10 thumbnails per page where live gets twice that. Live brought back a few extra total results. It seems like google favours primarily youtube.
  • Map Search: Mileage seems to vary greatly depending on where you are searching. Live has the great integrated 3D maps with buildings, contoured terrain and birds eye view vs. google with street view as it's killer feature. For Canadians, google hasn't made any of these features available yet. Live has thrown us Canadians a few bones with birds eye view available in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal. Live also gives us some traffic in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa.

    Live maps has some great directional tools as well. I like the feature where I can just click on a point and ask for 1 click directions - which will give me generic instructions on coming to a location from all major available directions/arteries. This is great if you want to include directions on an invitation but you don't know where everybody is coming from. The Live Map collection editor and the ability to easily add pushpins and draw (with distances) on the map is great.

    One thing I do like about Google maps is the ability to take a set of directions and drag segments around to tell it how I really want to get somewhere. All in all though, I much prefer (as a Canadian) Live Maps as the most

  • Plain Old Web Relevancy: Plain old web results are perhaps the most important criteria. I think this will be impossible to provide any meaningful observations after spending < 1 hour using live search. I'm going to give live a shot as my default search engine for the next week and see how it does but a few immediate observations:
    • Live wins on relevancy for the "Barry Gervin" vanity search, easily. By the bottom of the first page (items 7th-9th), Google is showing results that are irrelevant - in fact, no mention of Barry or Gervin on any of those pages.
    • Searching for some things that I know are on MSDN Forums - posted yesterday, google seems to be crawling that site faster than Live. Google still has a dedicated newsgroups search engine. I used to use this a lot more than I currently do so I have mixed emotions about live search. In fact, in some of my tests for searching things that I knew were known to exist in newsgroups, live search actually referred me to google groups - so it does appear that live is indexing the google groups search engine. I think the thing I find most appealing about google groups is not the content that it finds, but the way it presents it, showing me what group a result was found in, and then making the detailed results essentially a web based NNTP client. Live could do much more than they are doing now that's for sure, I'm just not sure that it really matters.
    • I'm making more and more use of google alerts to have things I am constantly tracking or researching searched and emailed to me. Live has no equivalent to this.

I'm going to give Live Search a trial as my default search engine for the next week or so and see how it goes. I'm optimistic.

Live Search Maps - now with Bird's Eye View in Toronto


It's amazing what MS will give you, if you give them a Team Canada Hockey Jersey.

Countdown to DevTeach

May 12th is just around the corner and I'm getting excited about DevTeach coming to Toronto for the first time. Guy says it all. DevTeach is unusual in that while the sessions are great, hanging around with the Speakers is what it's all about. I'm really looking forward to it. It's not too late to register. The 3 days of the main conference cost only $1200. Pre & Post cons are only $375/day. Some great sessions on Agile Development, .NET 2.0 through 3.5, .NET Futures, SharePoint, SQL, Architecture, BizTalk, and RockBand!

Hope to see you there.

MS MVP Summit 2008: Who did you give your Team Canada Jersey To?

The 2008 Microsoft MVP Summit concluded yesterday with a closing keynote from Steve Ballmer, which was great as usual. This was the second year that the Canadian MVP's wore their Team Canada Jersey's. I was a bit surprised that more countries didn't follow our lead on this one - although the Aussies did have touques, they were pretty subtle and they all didn't wear them or they didn't sit together at the keynotes. I saw some Russians with jackets, but again - sitting together is the key here.

One of the things I've always enjoyed watching at the Olympic games was the international bonding between athletes. During the opening ceremonies - countries file into the stadium very proudly in their matching uniforms and by the closing ceremonies - everybody is mingle and has swapped clothing. Maybe that has more to do with something else - but it's very heart warming nonetheless.

Likewise, the MVP Summit is a great place to make new friendships and renew old ones. So I decided on the final day to give my Jersey Steve Ballmer.

Thanks Steve for humouring us Canadians by wearing it. You'd make a totally wicked hockey player! There was a find the secret hockey puck thing going on all week at the Summit and 10 lucky non-Canadian MVPs ended up finding all the pucks and scoring themselves a Jersey. But after this keynote, I saw a lot of people coming up to us Canadians followed by spontaneous Jersey giving. I saw a French guy wearing one (he took this video but I forgot his name - sorry), and then also saw Ken Cox and Rob Windsor giving their jersey's away to somebody from China (I think) and Italy.

Steve Ballmer's call to action in this video is that each Country bring their national pride next Summit which has already been announced as March 1, 2009. Bring it on World! Bring it on!

Where is Barry Gervin?

I'm a pretty mobile guy and if you work with me, it can be hard to know where I am on any given day. I could be in our ObjectSharp office, working at home, at a client, working or meeting with peers at a variety of meeting places, coffee shops, etc. around town. Or I could be be traveling, perhaps visiting MS in Redmond or at a conference some where. Maybe you're my wife and want to know why I'm not there for dinner yet :)

Well this is the page for you. Right now I'm experimenting with Loki. It uses an IE plug-in combined with some wifi triangulation that will allow me to quickly update my location with the click of a button, provided I'm online (that's more common that you'd think).

So here is some Loki information about my current whereabouts:


Click on those will take you to some more detailed information. And if you'd like to stalk me without refreshing this page, feel free to subscribe to this RSS feed.

If you need to contact me, all my contact details are here. I'm also on plaxo, linked in, and facebook should you prefer to find me there.

Now this information is more or less "where I was" - it's only as accurate as I refresh it. If you're one of my pals - you may want to check out - I use this for planning all my travel so if you happen to be in Redmond or at a conference the same time as me - it's a great way for doing that. It's also a great itinerary planning tool that I've mentioned before - just forward your travel confirmation emails to their email bot and it will parse out and build up the itinerary for you nice and spiffy with Google Maps and weather forecasts for your destination.

Visual Studio 2008 and Windows Server 2008 for aspiring Architects

imageAre you an architect or an aspiring architect interested in learning what's new this year for the MS platform?

On February 11th, 2008 come to the MS Canada Office in Mississauga and visit yours truly and some other dazzling speakers to learn more about Visual Studio 2008 and Windows Server 2008.

You can choose either the morning or afternoon session as your schedule permits. Only a 1/2 day out of your busy schedule and you'll know everything you need! Ok, well maybe not everything, but I hope that you'll be inspired to take the next steps in learning about technologies such as LINQ, Windows Communication Foundation and Windows Presentation Foundation and how you can make the most of these technologies in your applications.

Register Here.

VS 2008 at The Movies, Feb 7, 2008 Toronto Paramount

Posters_Codefather Our designer is having a field-day with this "at the Movies" theme for our upcoming review of Visual Studio 2008 being held Feb 7th from 8:30am-12:00pm @ the Paramount in Toronto. Grab a copy of this movie poster before it gets "whacked" by the lawyers.

Hope to see you there. Check out all the details after this link.

Visual Studio, SQL Server, and Windows Server 2008 Launch Events in Toronto


On February 27 in Toronto, MS Canada is hosting the official launch of the above mentioned products. The event will be all day long and in addition to a keynote from COO Kevin Turner, there will be some great breakout tracks running in parallel for IT Professionals, Developers, IT Managers, and Architects.

The event will be held at the Direct Energy Centre downtown. Of course ObjectSharp will have a booth there with some great offers for both our Training and Professional Services along with some awesome prize raffles so please stop by.

Also make sure to stop by the expert's area where several MVP's and speakers will be able to answer your individual questions including many of the MVP's from ObjectSharp.

You can also register for this event here along with all of the other cities and their events happening across Canada.

And don't forget, we're also doing a 1/2 day briefing for developers & architects on VS 2008 at the Paramount in Toronto on February 7th. You can view the details here.

TSPUG Presentation: Using Visual Studio 2008 for Developing SharePoint Workflows (and other stuff)

Last night I gave a presentation to the Toronto SharePoint Users Group on using Visual Studio 2008 to build SharePoint Workflows. I also covered a little bit on LINQ to SharePoint and WCF/WF integration at the end. Attached are my slides. Enjoy.