PDC 2005, Day 0 – Travel, prep, and talk…

This day started off very early at 5:00 AM when Robert showed up at my house to carpool to the airport. Jenny dropped us off and the flight SEA to LAX was uneventful. Always a good thing when flying in airplanes.

After acquiring a minivan (which seem to be popular with the Microsoft PDC crowd from a quick perusal of other blogs here) we drove downtown Los Angeles and checked into the hotel. From there it was a quick walk (less than 30 minutes, approximately 15 blocks) to the PDC where we registered and found some lunch.

As many people noted (for example, Robert here) there was a power outage that took out all the lights in the "Big Hall" (more about how big it is later). Actually, the power outage apparently took out much of the LA area including LAX. Supposedly no plane landings were disrupted by the outage but I'm glad I got in as early as I did. The funniest thing really was when about five minutes after the emergency a voice came over the PA system that said, "We are experiencing a power outage." Yeah, like no kidding, dude (the inner surfer in me is coming out while in CA). <smile/>

Before I continue on with this simple story, I want to comment on the "Big Hall". Some one mentioned over lunch that the "Big Hall" is 20 acres big. 20 acres! I used to live on 20 acres. There were about twenty head of cattle, tons of trees, three ponds, two barns and a house on 20 acres. 20 acres is huge! And here in the PDC's "Big Hall" were banners with corporate logos as far as the eye could see (even up, with the Office and Windows logos overhead). Crazy.

In the end, I'm not sure the "Big Hall" is really 20 acres big but the room is very large.

Anyway, the afternoon was spent setting up the "Fundamentals Lounge" which is right at the entrance to the "Big Hall" and fighting with wireless as I tried to keep up on email. It's kinda' funny but I think I'm going to end up ranking the quality of the various conventions I've been to by their wireless coverage.

OSCON 2004 had great coverage pretty much everywhere. It was also a great convention. Linuxworld 2005 had really crappy wireless coverage and didn't really live up to expectations... although I did get to wear a Stormtrooper outfit. PDC 2005 wireless coverage today was spotty and thus is looking like PDC will be better than Linuxworld and not quite as cool as OSCON. <grin/>

But, we'll have to see how the next four days play out.

At the end of the day, a few of us were just sitting in the "Fundamentals Lounge" (which is where I expect you will be able to find me over the next few days, so swing by and say "Hi!") talking with some guys from the "Department of Commerce's Shoestring Laundry Division" or something like that. They are better known as the Department of Defense (and no I'm not making that up, that's how the guys introduced themselves, it's a "cover story"). Of course, we were discussing installation and deployment and they were lamenting the fact that installation was so hard. To them there were two problems. First, their Installation Team could not keep up with what the application developers were building. Second, they felt like their hands were bound by the tools they were using to create their MSI packages. It pained me to listen to the stories because the pain they are having is exactly what I see when people centralize their install teams.

Of course, I suggested to them that they suggest distributing the setup development to the application developers. They were interested but one of the three suggested that there was a missing "special sauce". So I suggested the three guys check out the 200 level Hands-On-Lab that would walk them through creating a MSI package using the WiX toolset. At least one of the guys there seemed interested so maybe they'll find something useful in the Hands-On-Lab to stream line their installation packaging process.

We'll see what tomorrow has in store.

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