Traveling to PDC (Planes, Cancellations & Automobiles)


I'm sitting in the Tools & Languages Community Lounge at the PDC here in Los Angeles. 
It's nice & warm outside with hazy skies from smoke & ash.  Even the
Southern Californian's don't want to go outside.  There's ash falling outside,
but it's comfortable in the enormous LA Convention Center.  There isn't a seat
available in the lounge.  It's incredibly crowded and the wireless network
just came back online (a rogue access point blasted traffic off the net).  There's
an X-Box kiosk nearby with Halo being played so the sounds are very nice (shooting,
screams, aliens, vehicles, monastic music).

But let me start with yesterday...

SeaTac

Sun 11:20am  (SeaTac)

Arrived at SeaTac with 2 hours 'til my flight to find that it had been cancelled. 
I calmly stand in line for a long time and finally learn that SoCal wild fires have
caused air traffic delays.  No big deal, I think, since I have a while to get
there. I'll just take the next flight.  Riiiiigggghhhht.

My 1:20pm flight was cancelled and there's nothing available.  All the airports
in SoCal have been affected since a FAA air traffic facility had to be evacuated and
control eventually shifted to Palmdale (high alt desert).  Pandemonium at SeaTac. 
People can only stay nice so long and things are now getting nasty at the ticket counter. 
I vow to be nice instead of yelling at the ticket agent like that woman in front of
me.

The agent looks all over the state for a suitable better flight with seats open. 
San Francisco, San Jose & Fresno are all booked.  There's a flight to Sacramento
(Arnold Schwarzeneger's new home-town) at 4:45pm.  Well, if it's the closest,
then I guess I'll have to take it.  I figure I'm fortunate to have found
a flight getting me 300 miles within my original destination. 

Sun 4:45pm (SeaTac)

A nice uneventful flight to California (central CA).

Road Trip!

Sun 7:30pm  (Sacramento)

Turns out Scott Swanson (VS) and Steve Hiskey (Windows Security) got the same flight
after I told them about it and we all decide to take my car (Avis was very helpful
getting my reservation changed last-minute) down to SoCal.  They got booked later
and the only seats left were First Class.  Go figure!

Scott is a PM on the VS Core team in the Help/Community space.  No sessions this
PDC in his area, but he is doing some focus groups on VS Whidbey Help.

Steve is a speaker with sessions on the Next Generation Secure Computing Base. 
Fascinating stuff!

We travel south very close to my home town and some very familiar landscape.

Mon 1:30am  (Los Angeles)

6 hours and 300 miles later we end up in downtown LA.  It's 1:30 AM and there
isn't a car to be seen on any SoCal roads or freeways.  I don't know why people
complain about the traffic here.

I finally find my hotel after dropping off Scott and Steve and collapse.  If
you ever have a chance to stay at the Park Hyatt LA in Century City (next to Beverly
Hills) I highly recommend it.  Very posh compared to the Adam's Mark Hotel where
I stayed for Tech*Ed Dallas.  Park Hyatt is even on the MS approved list of hotels
so I don't feel bad spending the company's money (I guess I'm getting the corporate
rate).

Fire!

You have heard about these California
Wilde Fires
.  Well, we saw them from I-5 near Magic Mountain (Valencia). 
Pretty cool (well, not the fact that so many homes have been lost and even some deaths),
but wild fires are fairly exciting even still.  Those were the only flames we
saw, despite imagining the drive would be more harrowing or there would be roads blocked,
etc.  It is a little eerie as I write this and look outside to see a sky
rich with an orange/brown hue.

Keynote & Demos

Mon 9:00am

Running on 4 hours sleep I get to the PDC just in time for the Bill Gates and Jim
Allchin keynote addresses.  Really cool demos of Longhorn, Avalong and Indigo.
(But they didn't schedule a bathroom break.)

The only thing I was irritated with during these two sessions was Don Box and Chris
Anderson's insistence on using emacs & visual slickedit.  Even Jim got in
on the act and used vi.  The whole time I'm thinking "VS blows these editors
away for productivity!  What are they thinking?!!!".    (Visual
SlickEdit does have some cool features, though).  Finally they did bring up VS
and was it cool to see intellisense, statement completion, F5 launching, etc.  The
VS IDE is something that my product unit can be proud of.  Don and Chris did
finally concede that "there is something about this VS thing that might just catch
on".  (Groan)

Tradeshow booth

Mon 12:00pm

Finally I meet up with one of my best friends (Bill develops for a network storage
company - something like that).  We have lunch early and Ester allows me to change
my badge from Attendee to Microsoft Staff.  This let's me get into the Trade
Show area early so I can at least setup before talking with customers.

We handed out free VSIP SDK (including the Extras Beta) CD's and engaged a lot of
new potential partners.  It's really exciting to finally get to show Everett
Extras to customers.  They really like the easy integration that the managed
interfaces allow. 

We got some good feedback on the IDE from one customer (some tool box suggestions
I'll deliver to the IDE team when I get back to Redmond). 

Mon 4:37pm

My feet are killing me after standing for 3 hours straight, now my sitting side hurts
after having to sit on the floor to type this (all the chairs are taken).

I'm going to pop in for the first part of the MSBuild talk.

After that, I'll have 2-3 more hours of booth duty to engage customers and consider
integrating their solutions into VS as well as a partner event 'til 11pm.  I
hope I can make it that long.  Check back here for an update when I have the
next opportunity (and thanks for reading all this drivel up to this point).

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