Rick Glos Life in Portland, Oregon.

PDC 2009 Recap

24. November 2009 17:14 by Rick Glos in

This post is going to be a combination of fun and work.  After all, all of me went to LA for PDC, not just the work aspect or the pleasure aspect.

PDC 09 Conference Recap

These are notes condensed from 4 days of note taking in OneNote.

Stuff that got announced

Main Theme

3 screens and a cloud  (next 'wave' is Cloud computing [Mainframe (1970's) --> client-server (1980's) --> web (1990's) --> soa (2000's) --> cloud (2010's)]

  • Phone, TV, PC
  • Silverlight being the client mechanism (they are really pushing this to be the main UI mechanism)

Data playing increasingly larger role - Vivek Kundra - Chief Information Officer for the USA live via video feed

  • make information public - for public consumption and transparency of data
  • data.gov - searchable data catalogs

Conference Sessions Attended (11) + 1 pre-conference workshop

Workshop

  1. Developing Microsoft BI Applications - The How and the Why
    1. Note that I struggled with this decision.  I signed up for Getting the Most out of Microsoft Silverlight 3 but having spent the last 9 months on a Silverlight project for one of our clients, I did not think it was going to be that beneficial.  There’s a ton of info on the web for Silverlight.  However, there’s not much for BI.  The Silverlight application I worked on sits on top of a Analysis Services Cube – the API is completely different than just throwing down a Entity Framework model on top of a relational database (which I did as well for some parts of it).  This app has an AdoMdDataReader, CellSet and MDX statements.  I was curious how others approached this area.

Sessions

  1. Data Programming and Modeling for the .NET Developer - SQL Server Modeling Services
  2. Overview of SharePoint 2010 Programmability
  3. Evolving ADO.NET Entity Framework in Microsoft.NET Framework 4 and Beyond
  4. SketchFlow: Prototyping to the Rescue
  5. Microsoft Perspectives on the Future of Programming
  6. Should I Use Silverlight, MVC, or Web Forms for Web User Interface Development?
  7. Networking and Web Services in Silverlight
  8. Advanced Topics for Building Large-Scale Applications with Microsoft Silverlight
  9. Automating the App Lifecycle with Windows Azure
  10. SQL Server Modeling Services: Using Metadata to Drive Application Design, Development and Management
  11. Mastering Microsoft WCF RIA Services

Conference Sessions I wanted to attend, 44.

There was alot of concurrent session angst for me.  At any given time slot, there were 11 sessions and many of those I wanted to attend more than one in that time slot.  Luckily it was all being recorded and available at PDC, http://microsoftpdc.com/.  It will be interesting to see how making this all available online affects conference attendance in the future.

I might add that one of my favorite sessions, ‘Should I Use Silverlight, MVC, or Web Forms for Web User Interface Development?’, was an audience participation session where I got to talk quite alot because out of the mass of people in the session, I was one of the few using Silverlight in a LOB application.  However since it was audience participation, there is no video or audio available – an experience you can only get by being there.

Also, this years swag was pretty nice.  A laptop.  I brought my wife to this years conference because last year Microsoft booked Universal Studios theme park.  This year there was nothing planned.  In fact, the twitter stream was full of folks lamenting the lack of a breakfast this year and no party – until the laptops were announced.  Every attendee got one.  Pretty nice.

IMAGE_016 IMAGE_015

The touchscreen is the highlight.  The other specifications aren’t too shabby either.  Windows 7 Ultimate, 2 GB memory, 250 GB HDD, huge battery life (8+ hours), bluetooth, all wireless specs (G, N, etc), and on…

The LA Experience

I’ve posted a few times here about how I’m going native so it wouldn’t surprise you to say I’m not a fan of LA.  You have to drive everywhere.  I saw a few bikes but with the weather so nice all the time this is the city that could lead the way in cycling.  The downtown area was a ghost town – during the day and at night.  All these high rise buildings.  Where is everyone?  One the streets driving.  The traffic was fun to watch from the hotel room.

The hotel, the Omni, was downtown and since I didn’t rent a car, I had some decent walks.  About 1.5 miles to the conference center (or you could take the attendee bus which was nice as well).

The conference center is in this area called an ‘entertainment campus’ called LA Live (wikipedia|web).  This was where we started off eating because we couldn’t find a place near the hotel.  Basically your franchise eateries plus some shops and anchored by the LA Lakers stadium.

We did ESPN bar the first night – they had good wings, good beer and lots of big screen TV’s.  It was fun watching the Sunday night game between the Colts and the Patriots on a huge screen.

IMAGE_011

The next night we did a bar called Yard House.  They have 135 beers on tap.

IMAGE_012

Then on the 3rd night I was feeling beer overload.  We did Mai Tai’s at Trader Vic’s.  It was fairly empty so we chatted up with the staff.  The manager was very cool and gave us this free drink in glass shell.

IMG_5347

During dinner my Mai Tai was in a SoCal cup and my wife (born and raised in Eugene Oregon – Oregon Ducks country) had to let em know how she felt about SoCal (sorry Jeff!).

IMG_5345

On the third and fourth night we were ready for some exploring.  We went to Little Tokyo which was a decent but nice walk (hey it’s like 65 degrees at night).  The sushi at Sushi Gen (500+ 5 star reviews in google maps) was very good.

IMAGE_014

The following night we checked out La Golondrina on Olvera Street.  This was a pretty cool market and reminded me of the shopping I did in Mexico City years ago.  The food was awesome and the manager spent alot of time talking with us.  There’s some good history around the restaurant and shopping Olvera Street (oldest part of downtown LA).

IMG_5351

The Train Ride

The highlight of the trip although it almost didn’t happen.  We flew down and took the train back (Amtrak Coast Starlight).  After going through 3 lines (the line at the baggage check, the line to get through the TSA where you undress and then the line to get on the plane) it reconfirmed why I hate flying.  It’s customer-no-service at it’s finest.  For travel the train is the opposite.  No lines.  Comfortable seating.  Relaxed travel.  Yes it takes longer though.  Vote with my dollar is what I say.

When we went to Union Station to check in we discovered I made reservations for the wrong date.  We were supposed to board the day before.  Luckily we were able to switch but I gave my wife a nice scare (I think that will be the last time she let’s me make the travel arrangements).

Our cabin was very spacious and comfortable.  It had a bathroom with shower in it, two bunks and a chair and a nice window to watch the landscape roll by.  When I wasn’t plastered to the window watching the view I did lots of reading, I was able to finish two national geographic magazines and make it 1/3 of the way through my latest book series I’m starting, Wizard’s First Rule since it was a 24 hour train ride.

IMG_5358

The view from SoCal was mostly desert and palm trees.

IMG_5360   IMG_5359

We then made are way along the coast and the train runs right on the beach and along cliff edges.

IMAGE_019

IMAGE_021

We even went past some kind of rocket launch site for NASA and a USAF military base.  I heard this is only accessible via the train.

IMAGE_020

Launch towers?

IMAGE_022

Lots of interesting people to meet at mealtime.  4 people sit in a booth.  This girl was from Australia doing a 14 month world tour – spending 6 weeks in the USA.

IMAGE_018

Then we started heading into the mountains as daylight started fading on the first day.

IMG_5362

IMG_5365

I lost track of the number of tunnels we went through.

The next morning we awoke to the mountains of Southern Oregon with the morning fog still sitting on some of the trees.

IMG_5370

IMG_5371

IMG_5372

The beauty is hard to describe.  You are going to have to see it for yourself.

PDC 2009

14. November 2009 11:21 by Rick Glos in

PDC09

This will be the second year I’ll be attending the Microsoft PDC, Professional Developers Conference, in LA.  I was a bit confused at first that they were having this in back to back years.  According to wikipedia, I guess it has been done before in 92-93 and 00-01.  I’m still not excited about LA but at least the weather will be very nice in the mid-70’s.

Last year this conference really blew me away.  It’s huge.  Lots of new product gets announced for the first time.  The sessions are very professional with video and audio being recorded.  Huge amounts of free food, drinks and water available.

I’m going to bring my wife along this time.  Last year they rented out Universal Studios for the night during Halloween for just the attendees.  All food was free.  They had drink stations setup all throughout the park where you could get a beer/wine/soda.  All the rides were open with no lines and they had setup haunted areas in each section of the park with fog and actors trying to scare you.  It was really cool.

Heidi is actually looking forward to just relaxing during the day while I’m filling my brain up with new stuff.  She did mention possibly checking out the tar pits and Venice Beach.

I’m looking forward to riding the train back.  We are flying down to LA and then going to take the train from LA back to PDX.  We leave Friday morning from LA on the Amtrak Coast Starlight and get back to Portland Saturday afternoon.  The trip is 29h 25m by train.  We have a bedroom reserved with a shower, a little expensive but, I think it will be a relaxing ride back with some great views of the forest, mountains and streams of Southern Oregon and Northern California.  I’ve heard the train goes places where there are no roads.

Portland Food Carts

12. November 2009 09:42 by Rick Glos in

We’ve recently been praising the food we are eating at lunch time at the office by going to what we call ‘cart row’.  Eric, my co-worker, and I make it a point to head to the carts for lunch each Wednesday – the only day I need to be in the office.  We are one of the those progressive companies that work from home and only meet once a week together as team.  Otherwise we use all the modern tools, instant messenger, live meeting and even Ventrilo to have discussions.

Anyway, we been surprised at the quality and freshness of the food at such a reasonable price.  It’s just over your standard $5 McDonald's price range – around $6-7 ish dollars for a meal but the quality is easily in range of some of your best restaurants – sometimes better.  Just yesterday Eric bought a sandwich and soup from the Portland Soup Company cart and they sliced the apple right in front of us that was making his topping for his Pork Butt with Apple and Cabbage Slaw.  How cool is that?

We both got the Beef Borscht soup.  I’ve never had beets in soup before, and it was a fantastic and a brilliant bright purple soup.

It seems to come in a wave and this seems to be a movement that has been going on in the background for awhile.  That same day, another co-worker, Serena, email us a link to a video touting the Portland Food Carts.  Then via twitter this morning I see Sam Adams, the Portland Mayor, has tweeted the same video plus an additional one.

I guess Portland is proclaiming itself the Food Cart Capital.

I have been thinking lately of posting some things about my cooking at home.  I’ve gone native.  Before moving out here I was easily your glorified meal guy.  Hamburger Helper, Tuna Helper.  I bought things in boxes at the grocery store with 30-40 ingredients of things you can’t even pronounce.  Today I cook mostly everything from scratch, buy veggies and fruits at the farmers market, and try to eat in season.

I don’t know if it’s the culture here or more of a national thing.  My Dad says there’s not the choice of grocery stores back in Illinois like we have here.  Portland does seem to love good food.  I sure do love eating it.

Here’s a couple videos just recently created about it.  There’s even supposed to be some kind of late night, evening food cart area where you can buy a beer and eat food under this tent that Eric has been mentioning at work.  Some kind of new hang out.  I see they mention what looks to be that place in video #2.

Video #1

Video #2

Perspective

2. November 2009 15:58 by Rick Glos in

I’m mostly jotting this down because I want to remember it and reference it in the future but thought it might also be interesting to share.

On my last stop today on my meals on two wheels route I had a longer than normal conversation with Dorothy Yoshida.  Dorothy is a first generation Japanese American.  Her parents moved here from Japan and her and her 8 siblings were born here in the Portland Oregon area.  Only 12 years separate those 9 siblings.  That in itself amazes me.

Dorothy is 92.  She told me today she was born in 1917.  Among other things I asked her if she remembered World War 2.  Why she sure did.

She spent 4 and 1/2 years in an Japanese internment camp.

She says she thinks about it alot and how hard it was.  She was trying to provide for her two children.  Dorothy said she was 26 when she went.  She said she was shipped to Idaho, specifically to Minidoka, and which I can see from the Wikipedia article. 

Barracks-group-shot1

This is history alive.  One of only 9,397 people.  She said she had all her possessions taken away.  That is was very cold and hard and dry.  I sort of remember driving across Idaho to get here to Portland and how it was a dry, high desert sort of place.  I remember discussions of this in history class and the history channel but it’s something else to run into someone your delivering a lunch time meal for.

While she was talking I had to hold back for not getting teary eyed in front of her.

She said she lived in the barracks and that she made $12 a month delivering mail as a volunteer.  There were other jobs but the most you could get paid was $18 a month.

Perspective.  I was just thinking about how would i have felt at 26 to lose everything and get sent somewhere for 4 1/2 years and all of a sudden I’m almost 31 with nothing.  I’m amazed.  Something to think about when you’re thinking about your lot in life and how you got here and where you are going.  Doesn’t seem to bad compared to others does it?