Back from TechEd

My trip to Australia
and New Zealand went very well -- lots of customers are interested and/or excited about Office
development and the possibilities that VSTO provides for them. Nice to actually
be around 3,000 people who (for the most part) actually like Microsoft after
spending most days browsing Slashdot and
thinking the whole world hates us...

One of my demos for my "Security and Deployment"
talk was, naturally, deploying a solution from one machine to another and
setting up the correct security policy, etc. For TechEd US, I took two
laptops with me "just to be safe", but ended up nearly being out of
luck due to network problems -- I really needed to take two laptops, a hub,
some network cables, a portable generator <g>, etc. Anyway, after getting
over the network problems, the demo worked flawlessly.

For TechEd AU / NZ, I was not prepared to lug two laptops
around with me (you get a very funny look from airport security when you take
TWO laptops out of your bag... and an even funnier one when you put two of them
back in on the other side 😉 ) so I decided to use Virtual PC. In general it's
pretty darn good (all the Hands on Labs at TechEd were done in VMs with
rollback turned on, so there was no need to re-image or "clean"
machines between users) but there were two problems:

1)    512
MB is not enough to run two instances of Windows XP, two instances of Microsoft
Word, VisualStudio, ASP .NET, etc

2)    Virtual
PC does not work with wireless network cards

Issue #1 was merely embarrassing as my demos took forever to
launch in front of a "live studio audience", but #2 caused me some
grief. After much messing around and some helpful advice from the VPC PM, I
finally got it to work on the loopback adapter, but then of course it couldn't
find the Redmond DCs to authenticate with so it couldn't talk to the host box
anyway... in the end I got it working, but it was not pretty and I think I need
to flatten this machine and start again.

Anyway, to get to the point, after all that the internal
build of Office I installed on the Virtual PC refused to run the deployment
demo correctly (which was the whole reason for the virtual PC in the first
place...) which led to further embarrassment and much apologising; luckily most
people are forgiving of such things and would rather see "live" demos
go bad than "staged" demos go flawlessly.

Despite this, I had pretty good audience numbers, the initial
customer satisfaction numbers are quite promising, and the customers I spoke to
all said they enjoyed my sessions. (Although I've found that 99% of the time,
the sentence "Your talk was really great!" is immediately followed by
"Can you help me with this problem...?" so perhaps that's not a very
good measure <g>)

I must say TechEd NZ folks really know how to treat speakers
well, and the TechEd Party was amazing -- much better than the US (and quite
possibly illegal over here <g> ). TechEd Australia
was also fun, and I got to see a bit of Brisbane
which had fabulous weather (even in the middle of winter). Melbourne
was of course cold and wet, but hey that just reminds me of Seattle.

Oh, one other fun thing was I got to meet and hang out with DataGrid Girl (my claim to fame), the
local MSDN regional director from SSW
and some other really cool MVPs, etc.

On a lighter note, Midtown Madness 3 on the XBox is
a lot of fun, and I'm off to see Freddy
vs Jason
on Wednesday -- yeah!

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