Leaping from one new Microsoft technology to the next - hoping that the next LINQ will be the LINQ home

Arrival in LA for the PDC 2003

clock October 26, 2003 02:11 by author Michael

My first post from the PDC is on getting ready and getting to LA.  I have been getting ready for the PDC over the last few weeks.  I have been getting Ghost images of my hard drives ready.  Creating backup DVDs of the software if I want to re-load my laptop from scratch (OS, VS, Office, Servers, etc.).  I also zipped everthing up so its on my laptop as well.  I  have about 40GB free of the 120GB.

Even though I live in the Cleveland area, I flew out of Pittsburgh, which is close to my in-laws.  They dropped me off at 6:30 AM.  I have not flown since the new security checks have been in place.  I knew that I would have to remove the laptop so it could go through the x-ray machine.  I also unloaded another section of my briefcase, which took about 3 minutes to do.  The security gaurd on the other side of the metal detector said all I need to do was send the laptop through.  Then she got a look at the second tray that came through.  It was packed to the top with the digital camera, MP3 jukebox, PDA, spare batteries, cell phone, plus the normal loose items in the pockets.  She then thanked me for having done it.

The flight as uneventful, until we got into the LA area.  There have been forest fires 30 miles east of downtown.  These fires really started to explode on Sat.  I was listening to the flight deck and there were asking if they could divert the plane north, rather than fly through all of the smoke.  The control tower said that only 2 planes out of the last 30 actually diverted, and they could only divert south.  The plane divert slightly south of the main smoke cloud, but we flew about 1 minute through the smoke.  As we went through, the light in the plane became dim, and had a wired yellow-brown tinge.  As we made our way through the smoke, you could actually smell it.  The landing was normal.  Once I got on land, I got the rental car and drove to the Whilshire.  I got stuck in a traffic jam at 2:00 PM.  Only in LA.

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MSBlast and Microsoft Support

clock August 28, 2003 17:11 by author Michael

While I have been helping a number of customers, a number of Microsoft employees volunteered to help Microsoft PSS support customers who had the MSBlast virus.  I would like to thank Robert Scoble, Steven Makofsky, Chris Anderson and the other Microsoft employees who took the time to help.  From their posts, it definitely was not in their job requirements to do this type of work.  I know that they learned a lot.  I know that they will take the lessons that they learned to heart and apply it to their current work assignments.  I subscribe to a lot of RSS feeds of many Microsoft employees.  The interesting thing I noted is that I did not see any entries about helping out in PSS from program managers, product managers, or marketing.  These are the people that I wanted helping out.  Why?  Because they are ultimately responsible for determining which features get into the product, which bugs get fixed, which get delayed to the next version, etc.  These are the type of people who need to walk in their customer's shoes.  Robert has talked about how Microsoft executives are compensated based on many satisfied customers there are.  I am just one developer, and in next year's performance review I will be judged on how I quickly I supported customers and my company's Tech Support, as well as how quickly I developed fixes or workarounds for those problems.  Robert and the others at Microsoft had an eye-opening experience directly supporting end-users.  For me, that is part of my everyday job.  I hope that Microsoft makes it a part of everyone's everyday job.


Original comments for this post can be found here



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Tech Support and the Blackout of 2003

clock August 28, 2003 16:41 by author Michael

One of the reasons that I have not been posting was that I was tied up doing a lot of customer support for several electric utilities.  These support cases started well before the blackout.  I do know that out Tech Support was called to help a number of power plants dump their respective data and logs as part of the investigation.  My test system in the office can log nearly 2 million events and 10 million sensors readings per day.  It will take some time to syncrhonize all the data from 100 power plants and determine the sequence of events that led to the blackout.  It is interesting to live in Twinsburg, just a few miles from where several of the failed power lines are located.  I also work a couple of miles from First Energy's Eastlake plant.  Every day the local news and TV stations present some new piece of information or new video footage.  Today, they had amateur footage from just before the blackout which showed a power line arcing to a tree.


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Reviews of the latest developer events

clock August 12, 2003 17:49 by author Michael

It was a busy day today.  This morning, I attended the Technet Briefing put on by Marc Malotke from Microsoft.  Marc always puts on a great session.  The first half covered Debugging Active Directory and the second half covered Group Policy Management.  It was tough for all of us to get going, since the briefing started at 8:00 AM, but Marc made the presentations fun, by demonstrating Group Policy management with sample users Good User, and Evil User.  As a developer, I feel that it is important for developers to hear about the MIS side of things.  Sometimes developers forget that our users are not just end-users, but the people that support the end-users.  The afternoon Technical Sales Seminar (TS2) was put on by Sjonia Harper from Microsoft.  Sjonia, like Marc, put on a great presentation about a number of tools and programs available to people who sell and service Microsoft software.  It is interesting to listen to the questions from resellers and solution providers.  Their questions usually deal with issues like licensing, Small Business Server, and how to present things to the client.   This gets back to what John Porcaro was talking about needing to see things in your client’s shoes.  I try to attend all the local seminars put on by Microsoft.  I always learn a lot about the software business, beyond the typical developer arena.

The evening wrapped up with Cleveland’s .NET SIG meeting.  Cleveland’s .NET SIG is sponsored by Microsoft, and Bennett Adelson Consulting.  Today’s meeting was a blast.  We played .NET Jeopardy.  The attendees were divided into two teams, and we answered questions on a variety of .NET related subjects.  The B team ended up winning.  We wrapped up the meeting with pizza and pop and some networking.  Monthly meetings typically have an hour and half presentation with demos and coding on a .NET subject.  They are held the second Tuesday evening of each month, and start at 5:45 PM.  Sign up at the Bennett Adelson Consulting website.

I know that a lot of people are complaining about the cost of the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference.  The important thing is that there are a lot of resources that Microsoft provides to developers that are free.  Besides the MSDN website and web casts, there are a lot of local resources and seminars that are available in your own city.  If you live in the US, I recommend checking the Microsoft Across America website to look for events and groups in your area.  When you attend a seminar, besides learning something new, you might just meet your next customer or employer.

[Now listening to The Search by Pat Metheny Group from American Garage (04:55)]

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Best Practices

clock July 17, 2003 16:58 by author Michael

The latest thing that I am working on at work is a best practices document for one of our products.  This document will ship with the next release of the product.  This got me to thinking.  Best practices are the best ways to design, install, deploy, configure, and maintain an application for optimum performance.  I look at this as this is the way the product was intended to be run.  The old saying “when all else fails, read the directions” comes to mind.  Aren’t best practices the directions that should be followed?   Microsoft has a lot of best practices books (see Microsoft Products Search - Practices and http://www.microsoft.com/resources/practices/).   If my company includes a best practices document with their product, shouldn’t Microsoft?  I think customer satisfaction would increase immensely if Microsoft included the best practices documents when a product ships.

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