I blog at http://et.cairene.net

I no longer blog here, but blog at et.cairene.net (feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/MindFromRWandering).


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Dan noticed that he was no longer getting posts from my blog and that he had originally subscribed to the wrong feed (i.e., the Atom feed from Blogger) instead of my Feedburner feed: this one.

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I apologize for any confusion this might have caused.



Changing CLR Version with ILMerge

This post has been moved to my new blog.


More from the PDC05 Day -3+

The third day of the PDC were of particular fun. It was so much fun, and it has taken me until Sunday to get around to writing about it!

Our booth was full of prospective customers, partners, and several Microsoft people.

In terms of customers, there were people from all sorts of companies both big and small. We heard from many IT people in need of improved performance and distributing existing processes. Many of the customer prospects said one of the following:
I didn’t know you could do grid computing with Windows.
Wow, you can do that with .NET (or C#, or . . . ).
We look forward to following up with these prospects and getting more satisfied customers.

We also talked to several exhibitors who could take advantage of our product to enhance the performance of their product. Look for the “Digipede Inside” logo coming soon to a product near you!

I had a good talk with Eric Lantz from the Microsoft HPC group on many things related to their coming offering and their beta that was just released. He cleared up any confusion (at least for me) about where CCE fits into the release schedule. The good news is that both CCE and CCS are scheduled for release in the first half of 2006. Kyril and Bob Muglia demonstrated CCS during the third keynote. As CCE is merely a limited version of the Windows Server 2003 64bit OS, it hardly got a mention. I think this makes sense for the PDC crowd, however, I think that the HPC customers will be quite happy with CCE for its competitive price.

I had several conversations with people in the Visual Studio and other groups. Not only did I get some technical issues resolved, but some good ideas for how to further enhance our product and its integration with different Microsoft products. And even better, now I have met many of the Program Managers that will help me if/when we have any difficulties. I will be blogging more about this as I dive into these integration points.

All in all, was a great conference for us. Sometimes when exhibiting at a conference, it can be hard to know if it will be full of actual customer prospects, or just an opportunity to interact with other potential partners. Of course, the answer to this is different for each customer. One company in a nearby booth had very little traffic. For us, though, it turned out to be the best of both worlds.


Universal Studios Party

The Universal Studios party was a lot of fun. I have not been there since the 70s. Jaws and the Six Million Dollar Man were the exciting things to see then. Now, I think the highlights are The Mummy Returns ride and the Jurassic Park ride.

They are not kidding when they say you get wet on Jurassic Park. The guys I went with weren’t too keen on getting wet, but I went straight for the front of the boat. The attendant told us the front-left was the worst on the boat. That is where I sat. I could tell what was coming because once I sat down (before the ride left) my pants were already quite wet. Anyway, it was a blast.

We brought a prospective customer with us to the party. He only recently began coding for the Microsoft OS. at one point, out of the blue, he said “Man, I have to tell you, that Visual Studio absolutely rocks!” He was talking about Visual Studio 2003.

Thanks to Microsoft for a great party and a great !


PDC05 Day 2

The keynotes today at were interesting. I'm excited about the Windows Workflow Foundation. Any chance that it will be released for XP? There was a lot more on Office 12 today. The server-side stuff looks great. These kinds of tools will transform the file-server from a ubiquitous catchall of data for all users into special purpose storage for IT staff.

I spoke with Jesse Kaplan today from the CLR team. We talked about different ways to selectively launch a process using a specific runtime. He also confirmed a strategy for supporting a second level of registration-free COM. We are already doing registration-free COM, but there are some ways that I want to make it more flexible for our customers. The best thing is, that if I have any trouble getting this to work I will know who to talk to! I recently blogged about putting together an article on COM APIs for .NET Libraries. One of my motivations for doing this is to provide end-to-end steps on how to handle getting registration-free COM to work with embedded Win32 resources in a real release environment. I'll have to get back to that soon.

My thanks to Jesse.

I appreciate the effort that Microsoft is putting into creating an open community for developers (and ISVs). Talking directly to people who have the answers certainly saves all of us a lot of time. This is a great thing about these events: for we can always locate the person we need online or through our Microsoft partner representatives, it is a whole different thing to walk into the middle of a group of 20 experts on a specific topic.

Jim Gray from Microsoft Research came by our booth today. This was my first time meeting him. Our CEO, John, has met him (and met with him) several other times. It is nice to see that he is taking an interest in what we are doing. We will be seeing him again in October up at a Microsoft gathering for academic and scientific computing.

And now, I'm looking forward to the party tonight at Universal Studios.

The LINQ Project

I forgot to mention the LINQ project yesterday.  Integrating query into the language is such an incredible productivity enhancement.  Of all of the new technologies I have seen at this PDC, this is the one that resonates the most with me as a developer.  The ability to create strongly typed data representations and queries integrated into the compiler for ensuring language semantics is huge.  I think of all the code that we have written in .NET for which we have to translate data in and out of SQL; all of the queries that we have written that cannot be effectively validated until runtime; and the numbers of places in our code where changes must be kept in sync.  With LINQ, the initial development time will be greatly reduced, but almost more important, the future maintenance cost will also greatly reduced.

I got into a discussion with Dan about the posting by Paul Mooney   about the Google/Microsoft judgment was bigger news then the Bill Gates keynote (as indicated by the relative placement of these news items in a newspaper).  This doesn't really surprise me (everyone wants to know if Ballmer really threw that chair).  Seriously, though, I think that a lot of the technologies that are being unveiled at PDC05 fall into two camps:

1. Vista and Office 12.  I fear that the delays in Vista and perception of Office (see my earlier post) may make these stories not "sexy" to the mainstream press.

2. Really cool technology for developers.  The typical business person has heard this story a million times already.  In fact, above I post that LINQ will allow me to develop better software more quickly and that it will be easier to maintain.  That is an obvious cost benefit to companies of all kinds.  But is saving money with better tools an interesting story?  Hasn't the press written thousands of stories just like this before?  I'm not arguing that it isn't cool or that it isn't revolutionary technology.  I'm just arguing that your typical reader doesn't get it.


Windows CCS. CCE?

Windows CCS is the Compute Cluster Solution that the Microsoft HPC group is working on. This is a collection of tools and prescriptions for reservation-based clustering on the 64-bit Windows platform. Windows CCE (Compute Cluster Edition) is a version of the Windows Server 64-bit Operating System tailored to clustering.

One of my posts yesterday mentioned Windows CCE (regarding a talk at PDC05). I expected to hear about that in today's talk by Kyril Faenov. So far, though, I have heard no mention of it. There is still time for this tomorrow (there will be a Windows CCS (or CCE?) demo on stage with Bob Muglia at tomorrow's keynote).

Kyril’s talk on CCS today was a good primer for people unfamiliar with MPI and message passing in general. It is interesting to see how many parallels there are between the work we have done at Digipede and the work being done by Kyril’s group. This will ease the integration points between our systems.

I'll post more on this another time – now, sleep is beckoning.

The Expo

I spent a little bit of time trolling around the Expo today at PDC05. My company, Digipede, has a booth at #123. Come by and say hello.

Check out the JetBrains booth. I didn't get a chance to talk to them today. Apparently, they came out here all away from Czechoslovakia. My whole team uses their product Resharper. It does refactoring for C#. Refactoring is cool. But what I really like about the product is its searching capabilities. It allows you to enumerate / list exact references to classes, types, members, etc. No more "Find in Files" to try to determine how a particular item is used. I was amazed at how much this boosted my productivity. It helps in refactoring, obviously, but also in code audits (where was this defined?), debugging (where is this field being set?), and just straight coding.

MSDN Universal subscribers: don't forget, always bring your ID card to these events. They always have something special to give out to subscribers. Or maybe it is just to Universal subscribers. Anyway, go talk to them. I got a cool rollup keyboard (that I think we'll go nicely with my new JASJAR).

I was interviewed today by Doc Holladay at isvchalktalk.com. They told me I did a good job. But I think they get paid to tell me that. They are all really nice and I think they have the giveaways (those blinky spiky balls) that will be the biggest hit with my kids. I have rarely been interviewed in that way (i.e., in one take with no editing). I certainly enjoyed it, but went away feeling I could have been crisper. Next time!

Comments on the keynote day 1

Bill Gates gave the keynote today at PDC05. I like hearing him talk about the software industry – here's a guy who truly loves software, calling it is the biggest agent for change in the world. Addressing the question of whether the best days of software development are behind us, he rightly says that this is one of the most exciting times in the future looks very interesting. The development of the Internet and the boom and bust cycle that we all witnessed was certainly an exciting time (mostly the boom). But the advent of truly connected devices and systems makes this an interesting time regardless of the platform on which you are developing. And the Microsoft platform is getting more interesting all the time.

I loved the Bill Gates / Napoleon Dynamite video. IMHO, the very best part is the dance bit at the end.

I was impressed with Office 12 (and I understand there's more to come tomorrow). I did not expect to be. I suspected that the world didn't need a new Office. For example, I think that the improvements in Office 2003, while significant, and did not make for a compelling upgrade from Office XP for a significant set of users. With Office 12, though, it is immediately apparent how they have made great strides in helping users get their work done faster. Of course, there are all sorts of other interesting features for sharing, workflow, etc. but I can see how your average user will look at Office 12 and say, "I've gotta have that."

The Vista demos looked very good. I have played around with some of this already, so it didn't feel particularly new, but it sure is cool. It will certainly do a much better job of helping users work with the data on their machines. And I don't mean in a Google Desktop kind of way, but with an extensible file edge view should model that allows for slicing and dies in your files in arbitrary, useful ways.

Radisson / LA Metro

It turns out we aren’t in one of the conference hotels. No shuttle service for us, but it did give us the chance to ride the LA metro. Pretty much door to door from the Wilshire Radisson to PDC05. I wish we were carrying a camera, because it was kind of cool to get off of the Metro and see the south hall of the LA Convention Center with the big Microsoft PDC sign.

The other bonus of the Radisson is the free upgrade to the Ambassador suite. While we will be scrambling for the shuttle to the Universal Studios party tomorrow night, at least there is a nice room to come back to.

Sweet suite.