Rick Glos Life in Portland, Oregon.

Family visit

24. February 2010 11:08 by Rick Glos in

My Dad and his wife Mary flew out this past weekend to visit for a couple of days.  We went out to the airport to pick them up.  Here’s a dark picture.

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And here’s one with a flash.

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Wow.  White-out.  This leads me to believe I have a shitty camera (PowerShot SD1000).  I thought it was great at the time I bought it but perhaps it is time for a new one.  Heidi and I were trying to play with it while waiting for them to get off the plane.

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Self portraits are hard when you are trying to hold the camera and not look like it’s too close or see your arm holding the camera.  Every shot to me looks like I have double chin because of trying to hold my head up.  Maybe I do.

We spent time just hanging out.  Since they only had a couple days, we didn’t want to drive all over showing them sites like we did back when they first visited Portland for our wedding in September 2007.  So we watched movies (good ones like Open Range and bad ones like Pandorum), had fires in the fireplace, watched the winter Olympics and just hung out.  I did a bunch of cooking too (Cinnamon French Toast and Bacon, Sausages and Eggs, Steaks and Dungeness Crab).  The old man got a kick out of New Seasons, especially the butcher shop/meat counter and almost fell over when someone approached us twice and asked us if we needed help since that’s not common in stores back east.  We also went to HUB for beer and pizza – well root beer since the old man doesn’t drink beer.

It was great to see my Dad again and have a room in the house for them to stay.  I took them back to the airport using the bus and train.  A good way to see Portland in just a couple days I think.

Riding with no pants

19. February 2010 08:34 by Rick Glos in

It’s springtime in the Pacific Northwest in February apparently.  Sunny and 60s.  I feel guilty looking at the weather temperatures back in Chicago/Milwaukee where it’s below freezing and/or snowing every day.

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The first day this season I’ve been able to ride without rain pants or tights on.

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My trusty steed has been getting me back and forth to work, running errands, and keeping rain off me all ‘winter’ long.  I guess it’s time to give her a bath and lube her chain.

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Comcast Data Usage Meter

17. February 2010 08:57 by Rick Glos in

Comcast announced back in December that it was launching a data usage meter and mentioned it on their blog.

While I’m thankful that they created the tool, I think the entire download cap is a little dubious.  More and more content is being made available over the web, movies, streaming live TV, downloading and installing games etc. and suddenly we are capped at 250GB per month.  We could wax and wane about how 250GB lets you download x number of movies but like anything, over time, setting that maximum has set a precedent from which we will always be measured. As more content gets converted to higher definition, larger file sizes are created and suddenly 250GB will not be enough.  Then Comcast can say, “well we will increase it to 500GB, that’s a 100% increase!”, and so there’s that precedent coming up.

If I use my bandwidth test from November, and I was to download something at my max bandwidth of 16 Mb/s, then in just 36 hours, I would use up all my bandwidth for the month.  [Math: 16 megabits per second = 0.001953125 gigabytes per second; 250 GB / 0.001953125 gigabytes per second = 128,000 seconds which translates to 35.55 hours].

Anyway, the tool is available from your users and settings tab.

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And my current data usage meter.

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Note that I’m already up to 45GB and I have yet to even stream a movie through Netflix or Amazon.  I think a majority of bits came from buying a few games off of Steam, some of which have large (5-8GB) installs.

Breakfast - 2

16. February 2010 14:18 by Rick Glos in

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The lazy man, I’m-too-groggy-to-do-anything breakfast.  Pour granola in bowl, pour milk, commence eating.

(Yes Dad, this is very much like the ‘stick & twigs’ breakfast you commented on yesterday. Further, note that the Granola is bought in bulk, I’m using organic milk, and I’m weighing it on a scale to make sure I don’t eat more than 4 ounces.)

Lest you think that’s healthy granola, it’s not.  Over the past few years I’ve found I’m constantly looking at the ingredients label on things and buying less and less processed food.  Portland does have a great selection of grocers and local organic food.  That’s another storey.  One of the helpful things about our grocer, New Seasons Market, is you can shop online and get nutritional and ingredient information.

2-16-2010 1-11-13 PM

Breakfast

15. February 2010 11:45 by Rick Glos in

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This has become one of our staple breakfasts, oatmeal, chopped toasted almonds and brown sugar.

Bob’s Red Mill makes some damn fine oatmeal.

Splitting firewood

9. February 2010 14:17 by Rick Glos in

My father in law brought over a 1/2 cord of firewood at the house warming party.  Since the wheelbarrow was busted, it took me 2 hours moving it piece by piece from the pickup truck in the front to the back of the house.  For computer desk jockey - ouch.

My first time stacking.  Don’t think I did too bad of a job.  Course I had to look up on youtube how to stack firewood (nerd).  The crossing pieces at the ends thing was a good idea.  I called my builder and he recommended a couple 4x4’s to use as a base for the stack.  Yes, when you code for a living, you may find yourself inept at the basics in life.

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I’ve been having fun splitting the firewood with an axe.  Making it a workout by doing it in 15 minute increments.  That way is burns nicely in the fireplace and stacks nice in the log cradle.

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It’s fun working with my hands instead of my head.

Always lots to learn in life.

Home Network Project

12. December 2009 09:18 by Rick Glos in

Last weekend I spent finishing up some of the wiring in the house for the home network.

When the house was built, we had lines put in for each room which terminated in the basement.  Although the lines were put in, they weren’t physically wired to the jacks in the walls or the basement.  Because both the TV and the bluray player that I bought are network capable, I wanted to hook them up to the internet so that I could perform software updates and use services they provided.  Unlike your old TV, VCR or CD Player, these new devices run on software that gets consistently updated throughout the year giving you additional functionality and features you may not have had before.

So in this simple network diagram, what I need to do is connect the wires in the office, where the Comcast Internet connection comes into the house via the cable modem and router, wire the connection to the wall, connect that to a switch in the basement, and connect the Great Room wall outlet to the basement to yet another switch in the great room.  Confused yet?

Note: Some of you may be thinking, “Wires?  Go wireless dude.”  Sure you could.  Wireless isn’t bad for say, downloading firmware updates, but for serious video streaming, we want bandwidth and wireless isn’t going to cut it when multiple devices stream video in high definition, playing music on another room, or um… gaming.

Remedial Home Network Drawing

I need to go get some tools for this.  Fry’s to the rescue.  There’s one only 20 minutes from the house.

  • Crimper
  • Stripper
  • Punchdown Tool
  • Cat5e Cable (or Cat6)
  • Connectors
  • Cable tester [not required but saved time]
  • Switches (2)
  • Bluray disc to test bluray player [shh… don’t tell my wife]

Instead of buying the tools individually, they had a kit which had the crimper, stripper, and punchdown tools plus some connectors and 75 feet of cable so I bought that.  If you are reading this and looking for a kit, this one on Amazon is basically what you need.  Here's a link for a tester.  I already have the router in my office but needed to get two switches.  One for the basement and one for the great room.  The Planet Earth Bluray disc?  Well that’s required for right?

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So remember I said all the wires from the rooms in the house terminated in the basement?  This is what it looks like.  A bunch of wire ends in the crawl space.

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Luckily at the end of each wire they put a nice note telling where the other end of the wire goes.

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So when connecting the wall plate in the room to the one downstairs you split the wires (there’s 8 of them total, grouped in pairs) and punch them down into the wall plate.  Don’t worry there’s great directions included with the tool kit telling you what color goes where and in what order.  This is both for the wall plate and for making your own Cat cabling to connect the switches to the wall plate and the devices to the switch.  This will save you loads of money over buying pre-made cat cabling.

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To make sure it all worked I did by a tester.  I saved me twice.  First time I connected the wire in the wall to the wall plate I accidentally cut two wires with the wire stripper.  Second time I did the same thing making a cable.  Get one, it’s worth it.

So when checking the connection from the wall plate to the other end, the basement in my case, you plug this doo-dad into the wall plate and use the tester on the other end.

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So down the in basement I used Heidi’s label maker to label the wires a little better after installing the connecters on the other end.

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Here’s what it looks like with the switch.

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In true trailer park fashion, I had to use a long extension cord to power the switch.  I guess I forgot to ask the builder to put a couple of extra outlets in the basement.  Guess that’s a project for another time – electrocuting myself.

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Upstairs behind our awesome (read too small and I need to make something better, yes, yet another project) TV stand here’s the 2nd switch all hooked up.

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The cool part was plugging the TV and Bluray player into the switch.  Now that they are connected to the internet, they came alive with more features and started to update themselves.

Here’s the TV performing an update.

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Once the update was done, it had to ‘reboot’.  Just like a PC.

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There’s a ton of version numbers.

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Looks like there is one specific number though for the software?  Note that this is after the update.

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One interesting thing I see from the License menu is that the TV is running on Linux.

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Ok now the cool stuff.  Once the TV was connected, I was able to link it up to my Amazon account.  Notice how the bandwidth test shows excellent connection information and that I should have no problem viewing HD content.

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I’m not sure exactly what VieraCast is yet, but when you use the button on the remote, you can see the original picture gets minimized in the center and now you can access the weather, youtube, picasa and Amazon video on Demand plus a ‘coming soon’ area.

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There’s a nice list of video’s to rent.

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The bluray player had a similar software update.

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Download in progress…

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Since the bluray player is connected to the internet, you can access Vudu (like Hulu?), youtube and my Netflix account.

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Since I’m already a member of Netflix, I just need to authorize the device to connect to my account.

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Then finally the Netflix instant watch queue is now available on the bluray player.

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I’ve yet to stream any video watching but I did watch some of the Planet Earth stuff and that was jaw dropping.

Heidi has setup a house warming e-vite invitation thing.  She’s setup to do it on Saturday January 9th, 2010.  In true procrastination fashion, I’ve yet to add anyone to the email list.  But when you come over, I can show you this stuff in person.  If you’re into that.

HDTV – Panasonic TC P58V10

6. December 2009 08:52 by Rick Glos in

We finally jumped on the High Definition bandwagon.  I’ve been wanting a HDTV for like 4 years but with building the new home and/or living in smaller spaces there always seemed like a different priority or reason not to do it.  So since I just turned 38, I decided a little birthday combination Christmas gift to myself was a nice TV.

We’ve had a 33 inch tube TV for the last 4 years.  When the cable guy came to the new home to drop the cable line he actually made fun of my TV.  Something along the lines of, “you have like 4 computers and this home network and then you have this old tv!”

After some diligent research I decided to go for a Plasma TV.  From the reviews I read on CNET and the avforums website, plasma is still the way to go for movies and sports.  Something about the overall image quality is better – technically it’s the 1080p/24Hz output that allows the TV to play at 96Hz so that blu-rays are in their original format and eliminates flicker mode.  Modern plasma’s also have lower power consumption, much like their LCD brethren, as well as low chance of burn-in or image retention.

Panasonic plasma HDTV’s in particular are now seen as the leader excellent plasma HDTV’s.  Especially their V10 series (not the G10) which come in 50, 54, 58 and 65 inch models.  It seemed to me that the price really jumped when you went from 58 to 65 so I decided to go for 58.  The reviews on Amazon and CNET were really key factors in making me feel comfortable with the purchase.

Price was comparable so I actually purchased the TV from Best Buy (and their Magnolia Home Theater) though because I wanted someone local to be able to contact if something went wrong with the TV.  I also paid the extra cash (almost $400) for the insurance for 4 years.  If anything goes wrong with the TV, they will come out and service it, if they can’t fix it, they replace your TV with the same model and if they no longer carry that model you get a newer TV as an upgrade.  Seemed like a smart thing for a $2700 investment in a TV (though we did get a 10% discount just by asking at the register and bringing it to $2,429.98).  One additional nice thing about living in Oregon is lack of sales tax, very nice for large purchases like this.

Here’s some shots of it – try not to laugh at the silly TV stand that’s way too small and has the TV hanging 30 inches over each edge – that’s yet another project in the new house.

Next to the fireplace to give you some idea where we put it and size.

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Heidi watching Rudolf in standard def (guess they didn’t think about high def in 1964)

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Another shot from upstairs while the snow monster appears.

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Later on during the week we watching some football in 1080i (I guess that is the best signal you can get from the Comcast HD DVR).

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When you live in a house with a girl born in Eugene you are forced to watch the ‘Civil War’ football games between the two state colleges.  It’s serious business and was the leading story on the news for the day.

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After 1 week of use so far I’m quite please with the TV.  I’ve learned alot, like you can’t use the coax from the Comcast HD DVR because that only sends 480p output – you have to use a HDMI cable.  I do like the HDMI cables that combine both video and audio because it makes for alot less cables.  I did purchase a couple HDMI cables ($10 ea) off Amazon as well and I think I saved quite abit compared to purchasing them in Best Buy.

I did also purchase the LG BD 390 Network Blu-Ray player but I’ve yet to watch anything on it.  I did consider a PS3 but since I’m not a console gamer, I decided on the LG for it’s ability to network, play Netflix, and high quality.

Next project is to finish up the wiring so that I can connect the TV and Blu-Ray to the network.

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!).

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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.

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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).

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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.

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The view from SoCal was mostly desert and palm trees.

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

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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.

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Launch towers?

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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.

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

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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.

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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.