Saturday, 10 November 2007

Reflections of a Week at Tech Ed Developers

Got back home from Barcelona at about 2 am this morning. It's been an interesting week in many ways:
  • Flew out on the Sunday, having arrived at the airport just 10 minutes before the check-in desk closed (they closed the M4, resulting in massive delays and forcing us into detours and a few wrong turns)

  • White-knuckle ride in the taxi from the airport to the hotel... felt just like we
    were living in a computer game!

  • Clean hotel within easy walking distance of the conference centre (but why don't
    Spanish hotels have tea-making facilities in the rooms?)

  • Attended some very interesting and useful sessions, including:

    • debugging in a production environment (ie. without Visual Studio)

    • hidden gems in ASP.NET 2.0

    • how to make phones ring in code

    • continuous integration

    • top 10 mistakes developers make

    • XNA game development

    • embedded development (.NET on a chip!)

    • how to make your T-SQL code a gazillion times more efficient in certain scenarios

    • extreme XSLT

  • Took rather too much advantage of the free bar at the country drinks night and had to miss the first session the following day as a result (whoops)

  • Won a remote-controlled helicopter

  • Bagged some swag (including four t-shirts, a stack of magazines, various software
    goodies, a good book on the security development lifecycle, and, of course, the delegate bag)

  • Through the week, actually got to hold some real conversation in Spanish

  • Flight on the way home delayed due to wranglings between the airline and the Spanish immigration authorities over a deported a passenger

On the whole, it was a very worthwhile and genuinely useful event. However, I couldn't help noticing differences between this year's event and the one I attended in 2005. There was less of a wow factor this time (check out the 2005 video, if you can find a copy, to see what I mean). There were also fewer giveaways and leaner facilities (most noticeable was the lack of VOIP, an overall event party and key Microsoft software). I presume these changes are due to the developer event now being separate from the IT professional event and therefore the budget having to be spread more thinly. Additionally, I preferred the old format of four days, plus a pre-conference day. This year, it felt like a four-and-a-half-day event.

One welcome improvement over the 2005 event is the introduction of proper videos of the sessions. These are likely to be a very useful resource and more engaging than screencasts.

Adios amigos.

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