Tech Ed Key Note

It's Monday morning now. Last night we found Bruce and went to the Key Note. It's was interesting at times, mostly when Mary Lynn Rajskub from 24 came on stage. Barry of course claims that was his idea. ;) We left part way through the Key Note. Hit a pub downtown and played a couple of games of pool accompanied by a few beers.

So far my impression of Tech-ed is not wonderful. I have attended PDC 3 times, but this is my first tech-ed. I'll be honest it's not developer centric enough. I have never cared about supporting servers, Share point, operations or anything even remotely related to these subjects. It's just not my thing. I am very happy there are people out there who do this. Had I known finding a session on development would be like finding an Irish man in the coffee shop next door to the pub. I might have given it a miss. It's only Monday and we are in Boston (my favorite US city) so it will be a good week. I'm sure there will be plenty of sessions where I will learn something.

At the moment I am sitting in a session on Reporting Services Report Builder. It's good. I have been meaning to play with this new part of the product in a while. Today I got a push in the right direction.


Tech Ed

I'm in Boston attending Tech Ed 2006. I flew down with fellow ObjectSharpees Barry Gervin and Rob Windsor. We flew at a ridiculous time. (6:30 am) The Taxi woke me up at 4:30 with a phone call and I was out the door in about 2 minutes.

Flight was OK but the cab driver from the airport to the conference centre. Was an ass. He didn't take Visa. No cab driver should be allowed to work the airport if they don't take Visa. I thought we were going to fight right there on the steps of the Conference centre. I paid him his precious cash while he ranted and raved like an idiot. “Welcome to America”

I'm going for a nap. Tonight at 7 PM is the Keynote. We should hook up with Bruce, John and Jen-Luc then.

Building Outlook Add-ins with .NET Managed Code

Why would you want to do that you ask? Well for developers, probably the main reason would be to rewrite or wrap up some ugly lotus notes application (or all of lotus notes for that matter) and expose it in outlook. But seriously, there is a good chance your end user might spend more time in Outlook then any other application they have installed. And then of course, outlook has some context that might be helpful. Maybe, just maybe, when a user wants to talk to a customer, they open up their contact details in outlook first. Nothing worst than having to then alt-tab to another application and lookup the same contact in another system, perhaps to lookup their order history, etc. Or maybe you'd just like to rip through the information in outlook (contacts, appointments, emails) and integrate that data with some other application.

The outlook support for VSTO 2005 was a well kept secret until yesterday at TechEd when this was demonstrated at the keynote. How long are you going to have to wait before you can get your hands on this? How fast is your internet connection?

Who is looking at your mobile device right now?

Korby Parnell tells of an unfortunate story about Rob Caron losing his Pocket PC in the Houston airport and then trying to have his carrier disable it since he has “everything on it”. They also lost their luggage enroute to TechEd in Orlando. How ironic it was then that Rob probably slept through Monday's keynote where Microsoft announced the Messaging & Security Feature Pack for Windows Mobile 5.0 and Exchange Server 2003 SP2. This dramatization shows how failed login attempts can be use to wipe the device, or even remotely wipe the device on demand.

Release Date for Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005, BizTalk 2006

At TechEd today, Paul Flessner announced that these products will be released the week of November 7th. Also of interest is that SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services will be available in the express edition. Report Builder will also be pushed down into Standard, Workgroup and up.

Anybody else think it's funny that MS is releasing products touted with “2005” and “2006” labels during the same week?

SQL Server/Visual Studio/Biztalk Developer Competition - $50K 1st prize

The stakes are getting seriously high on these competitions. How about $50,000 USD?

There are lots of prizes - not just the grand prize. There are many categories to develop in so I think there is something here for every microsoft developer, from SQL Reporting Services, to SQL CLR, to video gaming.

I'd love to see a fellow Canadian win this.

15% off of MCSD/MCAD Certification Exams @ Pearson/VUE

Use the following voucher number MSAU113E1020. Good until August 31, 2005.

.NET Celebrity Auction

Be a sport and click on this link:

Then make a generous bid. If you'll win, you'll get an hour (or more) of help from a .NET guru/celebrity (or possibly me). But more, you'll also be helping Tsunami relief efforts.

The top bid gets to pick their consultant. Then next, and so on and so on. If you are in southern Ontario, and you get me, I'll make it up to you by coming to your office - for a whole day, hang out, and bring donuts. What will I do? I can tell you everything I know about Visual Studio Team System (breaking all kinds of NDA rules, etc.), try to convince you to use data sets, do some code reviews, help debug something nasty, defrag your hard drive, organize your mp3's, tell you what DataGrid girl is really like, whatever.

I'm visiting Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal over the next 3 months so if you live/work near there, my offer stands, pending my schedule. I'll also be in Orlando possibly in June (for TechEd), LA in Sept (for PDC), and Chicago in August, so ditto on those as well.

For more info on how it all works....

And finally, special thanks to the other RD's who are volunteering their time (especially all those fellow Canadians). Last but not least, special thanks to Stephen Forte and Julia Lerman for organizing this.

USB Surges on Dell Laptops: Workarounds

If you are as unfortunate as I am, you have a newer Dell laptop that isn't so good at supplying power to “USB bus powered” devices. In windows, it reports surges on the bus and shuts them down.

I get this with my external GB firelite drive and my IPAQ 5550 when using the sync'n charge cable and fast USB charging enabled. The firelite drive can be powered externally, but they don't give you a transformer in the box. Instead they give you a cable that connects from your PS/2 keyboard port to the drives DC input. That would be great if my laptop had a PS/2 keyboard port.

When at home, I use a USB powered hub. If you are in the market, I recommend* the Promedia USB and Firewire Combo Hub Repeater. In addition to it being a USB 2.0 hub, it also supports firewire, over USB, which is great since my Dell doesn't have a built in firewire port. *I have ordered this device which is nice and cheap at $21 CDN, but still waiting for it to arrive - I'll let you know if I notice anything wrong with it.

When I'm on the road, I also used to carry around a Iogear Microhub 4-Port Hi-Speed USB 2.0 Hub. It's nice and slim and also can be externally powered which solves my IPAQ/Drive problems. I still hate carrying around stuff I don't have to.

Enter the Ultra Mini 2.5“ Hard Drive Enclosure (available at Tiger's outlet store in Markham, but not on their site for around $70 if memory serves). It is your typical enclose that supports both USB and Firewire (a nice addition if used on my older dell that is USB 1.0, yet has Firewire) and also offers external dc power (and they include a transformer). The cool part is the enclosed 10 Hour Li-ion battery. The back of the box says “ when not in use, the battery charges from your connection bus (both USB and 1394). I can't verify that (in fact, first time I've heard of something charging over 1394/firewire), but I can verify that when plugged directly into my Dell laptop, without the DC adapter, it works fine and without USB surges on the bus.





Shorthorn Longhorn

So this will cause a few blogs. I have just heard that....

  • Longhorn slated for 2006. Longhorn server 2007.
  • Winfx, and Avalon are coming to windows xp in 2006. Indigo as well - and on Windows 2003 as well. These are all part of WinFx that is going to be extremely important for .NET developers and companies wanting to take advantage of these improvements.
  • Winfs is leaving longhorn (post release). So that means ObjectSpaces and the Microsoft Business Framework too.

Wow. Never a dull moment. I'm attending a briefing with Jim Allchin in an hour so I might have more I can tell.

But will we also see a delay of ObjectSpaces or the Microsoft Business Framework until after the longhorn release. Those have been recently tied into WinFs - but no specific announcements about that - and I wouldn't be surprised if that changed soon.