October 28, 2008

PDC2008 Day 0 & 1 Recap

PDC2008 Day 0 consisted mostly of reacclimitizing myself to the LA Convention Center and a six hour session on Silverlight from Jeff Prosise (pronounced like precise, but with a pro at the start instead). I learned a lot of things that really explained some of the goofy corner-case problems I ran into. I'll be doing some posts this weekend summarizing all of what I learned this week.

Day 1 was strange from beginning to end. During the Windows Azure keynote, I was seated next to a transvestite Dutch reporter who was wearing fishnet stockings. Stranger things have happened.

First session was supposed to be a deep dive into the IE8 layout engine, but it ended up being more of a design pattern overview. Fascinating, but generally useless talk.

Next was the Expression Blend Tips & Tricks course, of which two tips were excellent, one didn't work in the demo, and then time ran out. That said, there was one wonderful tip. If inside Blend you are getting broken XAML (Blend can't render this blah blah) and the exception you are getting isn't giving you any information, close the XAML form, open the project in Visual Studio from Blend, attach Visual Studio to Blend, and reopen the XAML in Blend. The exception that is thrown will be caught by Visual Studio and have significantly more information. If you are using things like HtmlPage in your Silverlight code-behind that don't exist within Blend, this will help out.

Next was the ASP.NET 4.0 Roadmap and it was great hearing how about 80% of the existing pain points are going bye-bye, although it sounds like some of the cures will be worse than the disease (like the caching system redo).

From there I headed to the expo floor to try to get a lot of information from vendors I am going to have to be dealing with over the next six months. Ektron let me know that 7.5.4 is on track for the end of November and should fix the nested application issue. ComponentOne has their lighter ASP.NET components coming out around the same time.

Finally ended the day with the Framework Design Guidelines class. It was good hearing that most of the plans I had for our site code revamp matched up with the guidelines, but after hearing the talk, I'm going to be rewriting some parts because their explanations really explained why I shouldn't do things the way I was going to do them.

Well, better go. I'm sitting about eight rows back from the stage at keynote #2 of 4 and I'm afraid that the Dutch transvestite is stalking me now.

October 25, 2008

Rough PDC Schedule

This is a rough recap of my schedule for the next five days. If you are going to PDC or live near downtown LA, let me know. Contact me at romsteady -at- gmail.

  • Creating Rich Internet Applications with Silverlight


  • Keynote
  • Deep Dive: IE8 Renderer
  • Expression Blend Tips & Tricks
  • ASP.NET 4.0 Roadmap
  • Framework Design Guidelines


  • Keynotes 2 & 3
  • Coding4Fun
  • SQL Server 2008 Business Intelligence and Data Visualization
  • ASP.NET Deployment
  • Silverlight Optimization


  • Keynote 4
  • Parallel Development for Managed Code Programmers
  • XNA
  • .NET Application Performance/Scalability
  • ASP.NET for Server Core
  • Architecture without Big Design Up Front


  • RESTful web services using WCF
  • ASP.NET Caching or Silverlight Control Model...haven't decided yet
  • Designing Apps To Scale

I'm leaving straight from the LACC on Thursday to head to the airport so I can get home. I'll be walking in my door sometime between 12:30a and 1a, and I have work on Friday as well.

This is going to be an exhausting week. That said, the above schedule is subject to change.

October 18, 2008

Lost E-Mail

Due to a server configuration issue, all E-mails sent to my @romsteady.net E-mail address since October 9 have been lost.

If you needed to get through to me, please re-send your mail.

October 16, 2008

Locked Down

I've been here in Washington, D.C. since late Sunday for training, and I've been restricted in the systems I can use.

At the hotel, the wireless connection is unreliable at best and inaccessible at worst. At the training center, we're running on locked-down desktops running Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition and Internet Explorer 6 in high-security mode.

I wish I could say I was surprised at how much of the Web just doesn't work in this locked-down scenario, but I'm not.

AJAX is gone. Basic JavaScript is gone. Pop-ups (thankfully) are gone. Basic functionality (like ASP.NET hyperlink postbacks) can even be gone at times.

Sites that have the login prompt hidden by JavaScript (like Shacknews) are unusable. Functions that completely rely on JavaScript (like the directions functions over at MapQuest) fail.

It is definitely reminding me that when I am architecting our new system for release next year, I have to ensure that I have fallbacks in place for those poor unfortunate souls who are chained to neutered browsers.

October 2, 2008

How To Blog, Er, Break Software

Dr. James Whittaker, author of the invaluable QA training resource How To Break Software, has been working at Microsoft for over two years.

I just now found out that he has been blogging.

I really need to get back into QA a bit more.