Microsoft PDC (2009)

Next week I’m going to be attending the Microsoft
Professional Developers Conference
or PDC.  I’m very fortunate to have been
able to attend three PDC’s previously in 2003, 2005, and 2008. These events included
the first looks at Windows Longhorn, Avalon, Aero, Indigo, IE7, Office 12 and “the
ribbon”, first looks at Windows 7, Azure, and the Surface SDK.

PDC 2003 was the first time I was able to hear Bill Gates speak live (And never would
have guess I’d have lunch with him less than 5 years later). PDC is also first met
some of the developers that have helped shape my career, becoming highly valued mentors
and friends.

For anybody attending PDC for the first time this year, I encourage you to take full
advantage of the opportunity, but don’t feel the you need to attend every single session.
While the sessions are great, this event brings together that absolute best minds
and talent related to Microsoft technologies. Make some time to interact and ask some
questions. Take a few moments and sit back and listen to what others are asking. I
still tell people the story about listening to Don Demsak, Kirk
Peter Provost , and more
debating over some minor aspect of the SOAP web service protocol, and during the course
of that conversation having my eyes opened to more knowledge and viewpoints on a wide
array of topics than any single session that week.

An excellent way to get out and meet some people is the INETA Birds
Of A Feather sessions that are taking place during PDC. The list of sessions is on
the conference schedule, so take a look at find a session that’s of interest to you.
The BoF room is also a great place to stop in to see what’s going at PDC and meet
some people actively involved in user group communities across the nation and around
the world. For more information on the sessions, visit

I’m looking forward to the technology surprises that lay ahead next week, but more
importantly I look forward to the people I will share the week with, the things I
will learn, and the opportunities that will be created by interacting with them. If
you’re attending, I hope I get the chance to chat with you!

For anybody not attending, Channel 9 will be streaming the keynote sessions live and
broadcasting live from the PDC with a variety guests. Many members of the developer
community not attending are participating in presenting
a variety of sessions during the week via Live Meeting.


Blackout Hits Large Portion of L.A.

Yup…. anther adventure in LA. THis time, unlike last PDC I didn’t have to spend
10 hours or whatever it was stranded in an airport half way! However this time, I
started to wonder as intersection after intersection downtown had flashing red lights
and people trying to remember how a four way stop worked. [Now, I’m sure we’ve all
had experiences where the traffic lights have been out, and we were shocked at people’s
lack of ability to resolve the issues of a 4 way stop, well in LA, it’s much much
worse! Anyways…. Finally made it to the hotel which had just received power, oh
just lost it, oh wait, nope we have it! The officialy news from read:

”   A wide-ranging power outage, set off when a cable
was accidentally cut, darkened large sections of downtown Los Angeles and many parts
of the San Fernando Valley shortly after noon today, authorities said. “

As luck would have it, my web hosting company who is usually on the
other side of the continent from me, apparently is near by and suffered some down
time from the event. All appears well and it’s back to the business of the PDC. Going
to be stopping by an event hosted by the Wintellect and SPI folks before heading over
to and helping out with the INETA BOF (Birds Of a Feather) Sessions that are taking
place. You should go check them out! (They’re at the main conference center)


MSN Developer Center Launch at PDC?

I have funny feeling that the MSN Developer Center will be launched at PDC. Their
404 error page for the web page listed in their early add in MSDN Magazine has now
been replaced with an updated page that lists September 13th as the day.



Blogging from Vista on my M200 Tablet PC

of the items on my list of things to do before heading to PDC was to install the latest
Vista Beta available through MSDN. Today I noticed that recently the Tablet PC Input
Panel (TIP) for Vista has also been released recently, which was the final push I
needed to install the
on my Toshiba M200 Tablet PC.


I am pleased to report that the
install went amazingly well. I clicked next a few times and before I knew it, my video
card and other devices drivers were being successfully recognized and
running. One more double-click to install the TIP and
was Ink enabled on my M200. Very nice! I give the user experience of the install an


On this topic there is a very informative
advertising insert in in the October 2005 MSDN Magazine “The Evolution of Tablet PC
Technologies in Microsoft Windows Vista”. It provides some answers to many questions
on the future of the Tablet PC. When people heard that Microsoft was no longer going
to brand a Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, some worried that the Tablet PC was going
away. Others of us hoped that this meant that the features of the Tablet PC edition
functionality would just be a part of Windows, enabled when the appropriate hardware
was attached. This article explains “In Windows Vista, Tablet PC shifts into the mainstream.
Ink becomes more ubiquitous, integrating indirectly into the presentation subsystem
in Windows Presentation Foundation”


In Windows Vista, there will apparently
be three parallel technology stacks for Ink: Com, Windows Forms, and Windows Presentation
Foundation (Formerly know as Avalon). This is very exciting news for Tablet PC developers,
users, as well as every future user of Windows Vista.




Get Out And Vote!

If you’re heading to PDC, be sure to get online and vote for your favorite INETA Birds
Of a Feather (BOF) session. You only have until Sunday to vote, and there are a bunch
of new session proposals so check it out. To vote, visit the PDC site

These sessions are a great way to spend some time with experts and other developers
interested in learning more about various topic areas. These community driven sessions
are an open and informal format is both fun and highly educational.

PNL08: Computing on the Beach: Visions of Mobility (A general overview)

PNL08: Computing on the Beach: Visions of Mobility (A general overview)

This last panel, on the last day of PDC was definitely one of the most interesting
sessions that attended. It was interesting not so much because of any specific content,
(Although there was definitely some great content!) but rather because the panel did
not agree. Unlike the other panels (that I attended) that included experts with slightly
different interests and views that were pretty much already heading in the same direction,
these folks were all headed in different directions.

 I think that this lack of agreement was very representative of the current mobile
device market. There was a lot of discussion about what the ideal combination of functionality,
form factor, and price should be to expand the market. Each panel member seemed to
have an interesting view on which were the major devices and which were simply “Tweeners”,
or devices that were between device A and device B. While nobody came right and said
it, the event appeared give a really good unscripted look into some of the competing
arguments that take place between the different product development groups trying
to win support for their ideas and concepts.

If you didn’t know better you would never have thought everybody on stage was from
a totally different company. While I can certainly see this looked upon poorly by
the marketing folks, I think it was excellent for the developers forum. There was
a lot of two-way conversation between the audience and the panel with some questions
submitted through PDC Bloggers thrown it. There were many great comments and if definitely
shows that this is a rapidly evolving market that is definitely being influenced by
not only those that develop the OS and hardware, but those that write and make use
of applications as well.

Otto Berkes, Senior Platform Strategist, Microsoft Research talked
a lot about small form factor devices with full computing power. His “goody bag” included
a small industrial prototype design of a small screen device with that featured a
split design allowing for a thumb keyboard to slide forward. He also had a Sony
Vaio U101 sub-notebook

Arif Maskatia, Chief Technology Officer with Acer America Corporation
shared the manufacturer’s viewpoint about the Tablet PC market. It sounds like there
are some very good things in the works as companies understand that a Tablet PC is
not simply a notebook with a special screen. The next generations of devices will
really be the first designed to be Tablets and not simply modifications to laptop
designs. Discussions also included display and battery life issues and solutions in
the works. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the things (including biometrics)
he hinted at possibly coming to market in 1Q 2004.

Donald Thompson, Software Architect, Smart Personal Object Technology,
Microsoft, gave some very interesting viewpoints about trying to engineer the extremely
low power, low cost, small footprint (Fingerprint?) size devices that are being used
in Microsoft’s Smart Personal Objects
. These devices initially are initially starting as watches
that can receive content specific data broadcast over the airwaves.

David Groom,  Lead Program Manager (Hardware), Mobile Devices
Product Group Microsoft shared how Microsoft is working with the OEM hardware manufacturers
to bring the best possible products to market to take advantage of the Microsoft platforms.
Microsoft has a small number of hardware people that design next generation prototypes
to show where they feel the market is heading.

Some of the mot interesting points brought up from the audience were:

Why can’t we have tablets with smaller screens (say 4×6) to reduce the power consumption,
reduce the cost, and reduce the processing?

Will we be able to buy devices and displays separately?

Durability was another major issue that received a lot of discussion.

For being the last session slot of the conference it was a surprisingly active and
energetic session that I wish could have gone on even longer. A big thanks to all
of those involved.

The full BIOS of all the speakers are available

A Day of Questions

Today I was very excited to wake up in LA knowing full well that I didn’t need to
depend on a form of transportation other than my own two feet to get me to the PDC.
(I confess, I took the shuttle, but I could have walked). Arriving early at the site
to register (Thanks to Scoble for the heads up on the early registration times) before
any sort of rush.

Without any lines I walked up and was rapidly provided with a bag full of goodies.
Since there was no line, the nice lady that helped me decided she had some time to
ask about my “I’m blogging this” t-shirt. “What does that mean?” She asked,
“What is blogging”. Hmmm…. what is blogging?? I know what it is. I have a blog,
but what “is it”? I did my best to explain that it was an online journal
that allowed me to make comments about subjects, in this case the event, that
allowed anybody on the internet to view it. She heard the words, but I think I need
to come up with a better definition.

I quickly found myself all ready nowhere to go. I used the time to get my devices
configured for the wireless access. Everything worked great just like it’s supposed
to. However, seeing that I was online brought a number of questions from others having
problems getting configured. (Most just needed to refresh and IP or connect to the
correct wireless service)

Before long it was time to get in line to get a good spot for the keynote. The whole
line up, file in, and find a site made the “longhorn” name seem much more appropriate.
However, before going in there was another question. A fellow in a “Longhorn” shirt
approached, greeted me and proceeded to ask what I expected to see and hear. Again,
more questions. If I knew what I was going to see and hear I wouldn’t be standing
in line. I did my best anyway to explain that I was optimistic we’d see the new OS
Longhorn and some demos about the other various aspects. I continued on to explain
that I was also there see the “hype” and too be inspired by it. After a few minutes
of chatting he mentioned his name (Hillel). A short while later in the middle of Bill’s
talk I was quite shocked when he introduced Hillel Cooperman to demo Longhorn. All
I could think about was what I could have said differently if he had walked up and
said “Hi, I’m Hillel Cooperman and I’ll be doing the Longhorn demo for Bill Gates.”
Oh well… You live and learn.

PDC Here I Am!

What started out as a day of excitment boarding a plane to head west to LA almost
become a day ending wondering what strange city (Other than LA) I might rest
my head in. While transfering planes half way accorss the country we were informed
that the Air Traffic Control Center for southern California had to be evacuated and
that all flights into that area were on hold. We were told that our 11:23 am flight
would be 12:30… 1:30… 2:30… 4:15…. 7:00…. and FINALLY at 8:30 (I’m not even
sure in what time zone) two flights worth of people were loaded onto one larger aircraft
and we all finally made it. I hope that everybody attending the conference will share
out luck.

It was interesting how during this wait time I was able to meet a number of strangers
heading to PDC from various places. We’re all really looking forward to the show.

Version 0.5 of my PDC Session Browser is ready to roll!

Version 0.5 of my PDC Session Browser is
ready to roll! This started off for me as a way to learn how to do a few specific
new things for a current project and to get ramped to attend the (Now sold out!) Microsoft
Professional Developers Conference in LA. In order to get the most from the conference,
I’ve been working hard to increase what I know going in so that I can build upon it
and do even more with what I’ll see. It has been great to hear the ideas of others
including those working on similar projects.
it has been great to make a number of new contacts and I look forward to meeting you
in LA. I think that this is an excellent time to be a Windows developer, with great
opportunities for us to make the most of.


As mentioned before, I decided to create a Visual Basic.Net application using the
Compact .Net Framework so that it would run on my Pocket PC PDA. The goal was to write
a small application that would provide me with informational details on the various
conference sessions.

A few of the things used in to achieve this were:


– To connect to a web
to receive the latest updated session list.
– Store the all data locally on the device in XML
– Create a custom control to display the session data
– Maintain as small of footprint and ease of deployment possible





My next steps are:

– Fix the date sort

– Refactor a lot of the code now that I know what I’m doing
– Provide better error handling
– Create some sort of P2P/Blog style message board WIFI equipped devices
– Provide session notes (Share session notes?)
– Update notifications.


The ARM self-installing CAB file is available
. Drop me an email if you require a different version. Just copy it onto your
device and give it a tap. It will install itself in the Program Files directory.


Thanks to everybody for your help and support!