MVP Summit, days 1 and 2


Hello again from Redmond. As usual, I incur the penalty of a four and half hour flight, lack of sleep (still on Central time) and overindulgence in networking (okay, number 3 is not that bad) to get some time with the insiders at Microsoft. Of course, this year, the sessions are not as startling, as there are not a huge amount of alpha products being shown (Orcas has been out in CTP since last May – 2006 for archaelogists reading this site from the far future).

Once again, I am playing the role of bad MVP and I am flipping from track to track to see things that better fit my professional role (I am also too rebelious to be pigeon holed). NOTE: If Sean O is reading this, Rafael and Ben have both strongly encouraged me to stick to the sessions in my session planner. I am just hard of hearing.

Fortunately, this year, I can share a lot of the information I am learning here without breaking my NDA. I will google to make sure it is public prior to saying anything, just to be sure.

Day 1 (Monday):
Could not find a direct flight that fit my schedule on Cattle Car Airlines (Southwest), so I had to fly through Chicago Midway. To get in at a decent hour, I was up at 5:30 AM Central time, with about 3 and a half hours under my belt. Six hours and forty five minutes of flying sucks.

My first duty was a focus session on Newsgroups and Consumer front ends to community. Very interesting focus group session and I discovered it had a $50 Amazon gift cert as a perk. I probably need a new book about now.

The next duty was the Americas dinner with perhaps the most horrid Master of Ceremonies in the world. So bad, in fact, that nobody was paying attention, even when giving out schwag. After meeting up with fellow MVPs (Billy Hollis, Kathleen Dollard and my old FrontPage buddies – Patrick Altman might like to rib me on that one). After dinner, we had a SupportSpace party where they handed out heavily loaded Gameworks cards (good for 90 days, too bad there is not one in Nashville). For those not familiar, SupportSpace is aiming towards being a truly expert exchange site, where experts can get online and help people, instantly (even on their machine) for real cash (unlike the outsource overrun sites where someone will build a casino site for five dollars).

Day 2 (Tuesday):
Normally, day 2 (day one of actual sessions) is a marketing "rah, rah" show. Fortunately, there was not a lot to "rah rah" this year, as there are not a plethora of alpha products coming out. Oh, sure, there are some additional extensions, like PLINQ (LINQ for Parallel processing – cool stuff), but the vNext products, overall, are known (Orcas first CTPed in May of 2006).

The Bill Gates session was good, but really the least sexy session, IMO. For the "Bill Gates is God" people, I am sure this session was far more exciting than it was for me. I sat, online, working on how to fix a problem at work. 🙂 At least this year, there was no major sucking up during Q&A, like there was in 2001. No, I am not going to name names, but any old MVPs who were there know the guilty individual.

Next, there was a developer futures session with Somasager. I sat through about half of this, but found the session focused a bit too much on VSTO in the middle, so I took a temporary sabbatical from the session. I have nothing against VSTO, personally, but the deployment aspect sucks right now. I missed the parts about teh Expression bits being placed into Orcas, but I already was familiar. It is blogged here, for those who might be lost.

My third session was on LINQ, primarily LINQ to XML and LINQ to SQL (and, of course, PLINQ). I have used OR Mappers for quite some time, and while LINQ is quite a bit more than a typical OR Mapper, I think it can do great things. Microsoft will, of course, have to provide good examples of how to use LINQ properly in your layers (or libraries) to avoid having it become another cluster. Anders Heljsberg used most of our hour and a half to demo … demo … demo. I found myself using my digital camera to take pix of code as I could not type into the Orcas CTP fast enough. As I am working with the CTP and Anders was using what I assume is a dog food build (internal build monickered from the statement "eat your own dog food"), some of the code broke in my CTP build. I guess I will have to wait.

The final session was Don Box and Chris Anderson. If you have never seen these two interact, it is an interesting experience. The talk is formulated largely from audience questions, although certain bits are planned. This particular session was on MDA or Model Driven Architecture and much of it showed modeling (using DSLs that have a GUI to model, ala Visual Studio Team Architect) is just one way of modeling. Great session.

That night, we had a party at the Museum of Flight. While there were many great things I could have done (flight simulator rides, caricature artists, jam sessions (Rob Foster would have loved this) and karaoke), I spent most of my time networking with the SQL Server MVPs.

I am now in day three, in a session (how rude of me), so I will sign off and write more later. And, no, I am still not going to break my NDA (as a bad MVP, I will definitely hit some of the futures sessions in areas other than C# – sorry Rafael, maybe next April I will be good).

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