Tech-Ed Australia 2009

IMAG0042 I’m at Tech-Ed again this year (that’s three in a row!). Unfortunately this year I had to pay for the privilege since neither the company I’m currently working for nor Microsoft came to the party. Being an independent contractor I hardly expected my client to foot the bill – but I did try and get a ticket off of Microsoft – after all they footed the bill last year.

Day One of the main event has just finished and I was generally very impressed with the sessions I attended. I don’t really expect to learn a great deal at Tech-Ed. I figure its geared mainly towards corporate developers/IT pros who don’t necessarily have the passion/inclination to keep right up with emerging technologies and processes outside of company time. So if I don’t come to Tech-Ed to learn about the future of WPF, MVVM trends, ORMS and MEF then what am I doing here?

Well – to answer that he’s a quick recount of the sessions I attended today.


Pretty much on target this year. Some opening spiel about how now is a good time to be innovating which was further enforced by a HP representative. Then into some demos – Office 2010, a glimpse at VS 2010 CodePlex and Blend 3 and some Windows 7.

SOA303 A Lap around Microsoft Code Name "Oslo"

This Oslo thing has got to go somewhere… eventually… right? The presenter certainly did the best job I’ve heard yet of describing Oslo with demos of M, Quadrant and Intellipad. The talk was done well, the demos flawless but i still came away wondering whether this is really going to mature into a product that will be accepted in the real world.

DEV230 A Tour of CodePlex

I was one of the many that joined the petition to get Sara Ford to come down to Oz. I’m a relatively new subscriber to Sara’s blog – having caught the end of her VS 2008 tips and then her musings and tips for her new role as Codeplex PM.

She seemed a little nervous in her part of the Keynote (looking up at 2500+ strangers) but in this session she was on fire. Its always a little awkward watching how the US speakers react to the subdued Australian audiences – but Sara didn’t miss a beat – she just steam-rolled ahead with a level of enthusiasm that was truly contagious.


In fact – so inspired I’m going to post my latest project (Windows Mobile stuff) on Codeplex.

ARC203 How to build a small software enterprise from zero

I picked this session at the very last minute and as it turns out that was a choice very well made.

The speaker was a Perth based book author ( {yawn} – so who isn’t) by the name of Joseph Albahari. But then I discover he also happens to be the author of Linqpad (automatically elevating him to Legend status)! Just last week I was considering upgrading his most excellent utility to the premium version that includes intellisense auto-completion.

This talk was full of practical advice on how to make your own business out of developing software, with plenty of good examples from Joseph’s own journey with Linqpad. The slides, delivery and content in this talk were all first class.

WEB303 Free up the UX Bottleneck

This session was an overview of Sketchflow (within Expression Blend 3) by Shane Morris. Of all the sessions I attended today this one was the least rewarding. That was through no fault of Shane’s who covered the topic well – simply that I was already to familiar with the content. Particularly considering I’d seen Matt Morphet’s similar (dare I say superior) presentation at Remix and since then had a chance to play quite a bit with Sketchflow myself. Bad choice on my behalf – but then there wasn’t any other compelling content in this timeslot.

DEV260 Distributing and Monetizing Windows Mobile Applications through the Windows Marketplace for Mobile

I’ve been messing around building a few simple apps for my new HTC Touch Diamond 2 device and have considered launching an app or two on Microsoft’s new Windows Mobile Marketplace. I’d even gone so far as to entering a couple of very simple entries into the Codemason’s competition.

This talk became a very frank discussion about the good and bad points of the new Marketplace. It was definitely worth going to and the speaker was very open about the shortfalls in the scheme. For instance, although the marketplace will allow apps to be delivered to any of 29 countries you have to target each country individually – effectively taking a US$99 hit for registering each application instance in each country. Seems to make sense to initially target any application for the US only – I can’t see Australia or New Zealand having the volume of Windows Mobile users to support anything but a very locale specific application.

I got the general impression that most people leaving this talk would be less inclined to launch applications via Windows Mobile Marketplace. Seems a shame – like Microsoft almost got it right but then the marketing team came along at the last moment and crippled their solution.

Some random negatives:

  • Seriously – invest in a schedule builder that works. Please! How hard can this really be? Every year they insist on having some terrible web interface that has an awful user experience. It takes forever to get things into your schedule. This year is the worst yet. Its truly appalling – it doesn’t seem to work at all. Doesn’t matter how many times you click add/remove the schedule just won’t update. Most annoying!
  • With so many delegates with mobile devices Telstra’s NextG network seems a little saturated. It’s been a bit hit and miss and early in the evening I’ve been getting some really poor throughput.

And the flip side:

  • All delegates at Tech-Ed Australia 2009 receive a HP Mini 2140.
  • Mine was scheduled to be given to my mother-in-law as a lame-ass cheapo computer that will let her surf the net. The more time I spend with it though the more I’m starting to like it. The build finish is really very nice, performance seems not as bad as I expected and it seems to run Windows 7 Ultimate very nicely. The only thing about the device that is anything other than sweet is that it seems very loud. In a quiet hotel room my Fujitsu tablet PC can’t be heard at all over the HP Mini’s constant whirring even though its not in use.
  • Wireless connectivity at the event has been very good so far. After a few initial attempts at getting a connection the HP Mini worked flawlessly with the wireless. Resuming from sleep it connects back to the network in a matter of seconds. Good job!
  • Weather is awesome.
  • Got a good room at Jupiter’s Casino which is connected to the venue by a walkway.

Phew – that post was a little longer than I had originally intended. Anyone who has read this far is probably a work colleague – and yes I’m about to order room service then connect via VPN and start working on those bugs.