Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Working on Blog Template

I upgraded to Blogger's new account, and need to rework my template to take advantage of new features. Until I get the time, I just picked one of their existing templates to start working off of (though, I really didn't need to since the classic templates still work, but I wanted a fresh start).

As a result, things like Haloscan are not yet linked up.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

PDC '07: What's going to be revealed?

Dustin, Steve, and I were chatting at the Developer Express booth at CodeMash about what we thought might be revealed at PDC '07. The Professional Developer Conference is an event where Microsoft usually reveals all of the cool stuff that will be upcoming (1-2 years out).

So, what can possibly be revealed that hasn't already been? Certainly, they won't be talking about Visual Studio 2007 (Orcas), because that's old news by that time.

Then we started speculating. With Ray Ozzie at the helm, I think I know exactly where they're going with the Visual Studio IDE:

<TotalSatire PleaseDoNotSueMe="true">


CodeMash: Closing Thoughts

CodeMash 2007 v1.0 is now complete, and I've had the chance to finally get plenty of sleep in my own bed.  I uploaded the last photos from my camera to Flickr, and now I'm just sitting here amazed that the event went so smoothly and is getting great feedback on the Blogosphere (in fact, "CodeMash" is the #2 #1 search term on Technorati at the moment--how cool is that!??!?).

The reason the conference was such a success really comes down to planning.  We didn't have all of the details nailed down when we arrived at the venue on Wednesday, but we did have the vast majority of them handled.  This created a natural momentum that allowed the event to just drive itself to completion, whether we were there or not! 

The Kalahari staff was just amazing in being responsive to our needs on that first day (I think we wore out the help line's digits on their phones).  They were able to provide anything that we needed, from tables and chairs to extension cords to stapling banners to the wall. 

As usual, I didn't get a chance to attend many sessions because I was traveling from room to room to make sure that there were no issues.  I also tried to chat with the exhibiting sponsors to handle issues or help them feel welcomed, and I popped into the speaker lounge on occasion to see who was hanging out.  By the end of the first day, my legs were really aching, and I had a wicked blister on my toe.

I thought it would be cool to start compiling a list of "fun facts" about the event.  Perhaps the other organizers will follow suit with trivia that I left out/was not aware of.

  • The CodeMash "Gear Head" logo was originally brown, not green.
  • The conference was originally named "Free Your Mind", but that sounded like a better tagline than a conference name.  John Hopkins, president of the .NET User Group in Southfield, MI, owned the domain name "", and let us have it. 
  • "DevMash" was one of the names being considered alongside "CodeMash".
  • There is a little error on the cover of the Conference Guide, but it's really only apparent to me (since I'm the one who did the layout).  The "2007" under the CodeMash logo is supposed to be in a wider/thicker/more-technical typeface.  However, I used a non-standard font when I created it, and forgot to provide this to the print shop.  The result is that MS Publisher defaulted to Arial, and the final "2007" came out small and weak looking.
  • Speaking of the Conference Guide, the clever "Welcome" message was written by Jason Gilmore.
  • The blurry code that you see as the background of the cover is actually from my ZMachine.NET project (the opcode handler methods section).
  • There's a reason why this event's T-shirt strongly resembles the Day of .NET in Ann Arbor shirt: I'm not all that creative, and I happened to have produced both shirts...  Maybe the next one will be done by a real designer!  /grin
  • The registration fee that you paid went entirely for food (venue prices are expensive, for those of you playing along at home).  If we charged more, then we could have had hot meals all of the time.  But, I think that Jim Holmes and Dianne Marsh did a fantastic job of balancing the menu and the pricing.
  • Even with all of the planning around meals, we were surprised in the last week by the venue pricing for soda, bottled water, and coffee service.  A big thanks goes out to two of the sponsors in particular who stepped up after making their initial commitment to ensure that attendees would have free beverages throughout the days:

    Microsoft paid for coffee service (i.e., "Microsoft provided the Java")

    Pillar Technology was a superb sponsor in stepping up and offering to cover the pop and bottled water expenses with no hesitation after we approached them while they were setting up on site at the conference. 
  • Many of the books that were given away at the close of the event were written by our speakers, and we had those speakers sign the books (look to see if yours was signed!).
  • Scott Ambler signed each of his Refactoring Databases books with a unique message.
  • Josh Holmes and Brian Prince shaved their heads before the blog-post threshold was actually met...
  • Ted Neward loved the venue in part because they served Coke instead of Pepsi.  I didn't have the heart to tell him that I personally found this to be a flaw... ;-)


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

CodeMash: Day 0

The exhibitor tables are in place, and a little more than half of the sponsors have already set up (some are not arriving until tomorrow morning).  There are some pretty neat displays, but one that everyone is talking about already is Quick Solution's booth, where there's a Wii that you can try out (and enter for a chance to win at the end of the event)!

The Expert Panel on Programming Languages is currently under way.  I snuck off to a quiet corner to crank out this blog post, and then I'll be returning.  Be sure to check out the Flickr tag "Codemash" for photos from the conference.

CodeMash: Today's The Day!

I'm trying to finalize all of my email and blogging before throwing some clothes into a bag, loading up my pickup truck with sponsor swag, books, t-shirts, and other conference material that have been piled up in my dining room for a week, and then jumping onto the Ohio Turnpike to head out to Sandusky to help set up CodeMash.  The organizers are arriving mid-day, and sponsors will start to arrive soon after to set up their booths.

Don't worry: the conference itself doesn't officially start until tomorrow (Thursday).  But, if you're arriving this evening (Wednesday), try to get there around 5:00PM or so to check in.

We recognized that there would be a nice crowd of attendees arriving today, so there's an Expert Panel on programming languages scheduled for 7:00pm this evening as a pre-conference event.  Immediately after, Bruce Eckel will be introducing the concept of Open Spaces (this is another "something extra" that we're offering to enhance the conference experience).  Open Spaces is a little bit like Birds of a Feather, but from what I can gather, it's even more ad hoc and informal than BOFs typically are.

Of course, maybe you just want to swim tonight, and that's perfectly alright!  Make the most of the venue, which is a beautiful indoor waterpark.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

WoW, Someone Messed Up...

A few days ago, Blizzard announced that there are 8 Million subscribers playing the World of Warcraft.  At $12-$15 a month (USA pricing), this is A LOT of revenue that they are bringing in.

This Tuesday, the much awaited expansion pack (Burning Crusades) is being released.  In an attempt to make sure that the game is ready, Blizzard forced the second patch in a week today (Sunday).  This means that instead of me jumping into the game this morning, I instead sat drinking my coffee and watching the ever-so-slow "Downloading Updates" screen.  15-20 minutes later, the game was patched, and I logged in.

Or, I attempted to log in.  Again....  and again.... and again...

"Ok, the authentication servers must just be busy because everyone patched at the same time, and now they're all trying to get in," I thought.

After maybe an hour of this insanity (trying the same thing over and over, expecting different results), I finally noticed a message from Blizzard on the login screen:

[8:10am PST January 13th 2007]

The 2.0.5 client-side patch has caused issues with our authentication system. These issues can cause players to be suddenly disconnected from the game, as well as prevent them from logging in to the game. We are working to resolve this issue as soon as possible and will provide you with updates as soon as they are available.

Nice!  So, what they were probably doing is updating WoW in the 11th hour preparation for BC's release on Tuesday with some new top-secret authentication/anti-piracy system, but instead, they managed to lock out 8 Million paying subscribers!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bright Comet in the Sky

If you haven't been paying attention, there's currently a very bright comet visible in the evening sky. 

Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1) is approaching the sun, and has really brightened in the past week.  A few weeks ago, you would have needed a pair of binoculars or a telescope to see it, but now, it pops out of the western sky even before the sky is completely dark! 

The last comet that I was able to see was Hale-Bopp, and I remember that to be pretty bright.  McNaught is supposedly brighter!  In fact, only Venus shines brighter at the moment, and they say that this is currently the brightest comet in 30 years.

Today is really the first day that we have sunshine in Toledo, so I'm hoping to be somewhere with a view of the western horizon when the sun sets this evening.  However, I don't know if being at the Ann Arbor IT Zone to hear about Windows Workflow Foundation would necessarily qualify...  Maybe tomorrow...

UPDATE: We've been cloudy and rainy here ever since I wrote this.  However, has been running a series of articles stating that you can see this comet during the day!  The caveat being that you first must stand in a shadow to block out the glare of the sun, and then search about 5 degrees above the sun (roughly the size of your fist when held at arm's length from your eye) for the bright head (which will likely appear dim because of the blue sky surrounding it).  Supposedly, the tail can also be seen during the daytime, too, once you locate the comet.  I'll be sure to try this, if the clouds ever disappear.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Tag, I'm It...

Dan Ciruli, the "I did 66,795 pushups last year and now my wife loves that I'm chiseled" guy tagged me.  I'll play along.

Five Things You May Not Have Known About Me:

1. College?  Uh, Yeah... I Went to College

Despite being a decent student and taking college-prep courses in high school, I didn't start college right away, opting instead to work as a sorter for an overnight freight company.  When I did start at the University of Toledo, I only attended part time while I kept working for the same company.  I might have accumulated enough credits to be classified as a Sophomore before moving from manual labor into a programming position "upstairs".  Shortly after, I took a break from school in order to concentrate on my career.  That break is still continuing today, a decade later, as is my successful career...

2. Sure, I can swim.  Watch me!

The summer between my 2nd and 3rd grade, I almost drowned at my town's public pool.  I wasn't a strong swimmer, and leaped into the "5-foot section".  I found myself further away from the wall than I should have been, couldn't touch bottom, and began to panic.  I remember being out of breath, and starting to take in water before a friend (Myles Cartwright) pulled me to safety.  Thanks, Myles!

For the record, I'm a great swimmer today, despite my adversion to cold water (and thus, my general adversion to swimming when presented with the opportunity)

3. I've Traveled the World..... of Warcraft.....

I'm hopelessly addicted to the World of Warcraft at the moment.  I resisted playing for so long, because I know my inability to control myself when presented with a game, let alone a never-ending game.  But, a couple of friends finally convinced me (damn you Blizzard and your free trials), and now I have two Tauren Druids that I'm alternating between (Jaesyn of Dalaran is currently a level 42, and Jaesyn of Dragonblight is currently a level 22).  Interestingly enough, my wife now plays, too, and her Dwarf Paladin is a level 28 on Dragonblight.

4. Potty Pumper

I am an Eagle Scout, and worked at different summer camps for 3-4 years.  One of the most respected camp employees, IMHO, was the Camp Ranger who lived on-site year round and served as a caretaker for the property.  The ranger at the first camp that I worked for became a very influential role model to me, and helping him out was a very desireable activity among my circle of friends (because we drove trucks and tractors and did cool things that nobody else got to do). 

Interestingly enough (as I look back on this time of my life), a great assignment to receive was to "pump potties".  This involved pulling a large "honeydipper" (tank) behind a tractor, backing up to the latrine, connecting a big hose to a pump, and filling the tank with whatever was in the latrine vault before you got there...  I'll leave that to your imagination.  Then, you had to transport the "stuff" to a septic pond and switch the pump from "suck" to "blow" in order to empty the tank.  I'll let you ponder the visual on that detail for a moment, too.

Another interesting fact: I later married the daughter of a different camp ranger.

5. Skilled Performer

In high school, I used to perform for audiences all of the time.  I was a member of our Choir and Show Choir, and also acted in plays and musicals.  This is probably why I don't mind standing up in front of a group.  However, don't ask me to sing or dance today...  These activities are no longer performed... in public, at least.  I don't think I was exceptionally good back then, and certainly things have not gotten better over time.


Now, in the honored tradition of this Meme, I come to the point where I must tag five other bloggers in order to keep this pyramid scheme alive (and to give future Googlers more fodder to enjoy): Greg Huber, Dustin Campbell, Bill Wagner, Josh Holmes, and Jim Holmes...  Have fun, guys!