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Yesterday (22nd August 2010) was mvcConf – “the Virtual ASP.NET MVC Conference”. This was an ambitious undertaking by the community to deliver a three track, 20+ session conference for FREE using Live Meeting. And… it worked great. A big well done to everyone involved.

It was  particularly interesting to me and my team as we are hoping/planning to do similar online conferences in UK time around technologies such as the Windows Azure Platform and Windows Phone 7 – and attending yesterday gave me the confidence that we are on the right track.

Highlights for me included:

Three tracks, great mix of sessions, no excuse to be bored!

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Could join all three rooms at the same time

and follow the open space “Law of two feet” with ease

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Every session could be rated on http://speakerrate.com

All sessions can be found at http://speakerrate.com/events/503-mvcconf. Alas only 78 ratings so far which is a shame. Rate them now!

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The return of IRC

IRC is my fave “chat thing” and is too often overlooked.

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Very professionally done

e.g. the slides explaining how it will all work

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and the joining a room page

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Sponsors a plenty

That were given plenty of air time at the start of sessions which is to be applauded. E.g. the wonderful JetBrains

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And plenty of buzz afterwards

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The interesting thing about the Windows Azure Platform is there is never a shortage of new stuff to explore.

You can either manually select the operating system that you want to have deployed to your nodes via a drop down box or allow automatic mode to upgrade to the latest operating system as they are released.

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  • Steve Marx has written a Windows Azure application called  Swingify that allows you to upload any song to the internet and convert it into a swing  version. How about  Lady Gaga – Bad Romance for starters 🙂
  • Not sure I mentioned it before, but Windows Azure Platform Training Kit got a June update.  The kit contains 15 Hands On Labs,  15 Presentations and Videos, 21 Demos, 3 Samples and Tools. Download the Training Kit here.
  • Cloud Computing: A Guide for IT Leaders this is an online resource for business and technology leaders interested in the cloud, Windows Azure and BPOS.

Note: Cross posted from IUpdateable from Eric Nelson.

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A couple of weeks back I was at Web Directions manning a stand showing off Internet Explorer 9 Platform Preview 2 (check out a post I did at the time including videos to watch on IE9 development).

The developers and designers present were in general impressed with the progress we were making with IE9. Way faster than IE8, far better standards support, focus on being great at HTML5 etc. IE9 is big news. Seriously big news. Its existence (once finally released) will significantly change how developers will build rich UX for the web, especially the web “outside the firewall”.  However Platform Preview 2 still was missing several key features which prevented a number of sites we tried out during the two days at the conference from rendering/working correctly – and just about everyone asked “will we implement canvas?”

The good news is yesterday we released Platform Preview 3 which adds a bunch of those features along with some great demos to show them off. You can install Preview 3 now alongside IE7/8 and check out the demos yourself. They are very impressive – my personal favourite being 250 gpu accelerated fish at near 60fps using <canvas>:

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But others such as Amazon Book Shelf come a close second:

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Related Links:

Note: Cross posted from IUpdateable from Eric Nelson.

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This question has come up a lot in recent weeks as early adopters move from prototyping with the platform to actually needing to deliver real applications.

Whilst fundamentally you are using the same approaches and best practices for the Windows Azure Platform as you would use for a Web application or service (A good IIS7/ASP.NET based architecture is likely a good Windows Azure Platform architecture), there is still plenty of differences which impact on architecture.

Note: Cross posted from IUpdateable from Eric Nelson.

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Note: Cross posted from IUpdateable from Eric Nelson.

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On Monday (21st June) we had our last Live Meeting for the 6 weeks of Windows Azure training virtual training we have been running out of Microsoft UK. Monday pretty much hit the mark of what we were after for the final day – good technical content mixed with a fair old sprinkling of fun. As a reminder, Adrian lost 3-1 in the “Students vs the SME” homework battle. Admittedly I was determine to make sure Adrian lost 🙂

This may sound a little corny, but I did want to thank all those who took part during the 6 weeks – attendees and mentors – to make this pilot a great success. Plus a special thanks to my partner in crime, David Gristwood, who shared the load 50:50 throughout and as always, is a pleasure to work with and Adrian Jakeman for his tech savvy and great sessions he delivered.

But the real stars were “the students”. The dedication they have shown has been awesome – individuals completing homework while on holiday, sending in homework late because of child birth (Congrats!), cramming several weeks of study into a long weekend and even taking annual leave just to complete the training. Amazing stuff.

As I mentioned, this was a pilot. Which means we have been very diligent in collecting lots of feedback and stats to understand behaviour when 500 people sign up to this format.

We plan to look in detail at the feedback and the stats, but I thought folks might be interested in a mid point “pulse” we took 3 weeks in.

And finally, as part of yesterday we also gave away some books. FYI they went out (randomly – ish) to:

  • Paul Hadfield
  • Bhaarath Balraj
  • Trevor Fawcett 
  • Mahesh Devjibhai Dhola
  • Gavin Meiklejohn
  • Brian Watson

First 3 weeks “pulse”

We had 500 people registered for the training with an option to attend a weekly Live Meeting or watch the recording. Each week a new study guide was released and each week the students submitted homework.

Engagement – did the 500 actually do something 🙂

Live Meeting attendees

  • Week 1 130
  • Week 2 63
  • Week 3 45

Live Meeting On Demand Viewings/Downloads

  • Week 1 191, 162, 173 (We published as 3 separate LMs)
  • Week 2 276
  • Week 3 143

Guide Downloads

  • Week 0 270 (Overview)
  • Week 1 676
  • Week 2 404
  • Week 3 234

Meeting Notes downloads

  • Week 1 200
  • Week 3 98
  • Week 3 108

Homework answers downloads

  • Week 1 141

Useful – did folks learn stuff?

A consistent poll we did on the LMs throughout the course was “Would you recommend this course to a colleague?”. I love this question above all others – “recommend” is just a powerful word.

I am pleased (TBH amazed) that every week 100% voted “yes” to this question. Wow. Thanks all!

Locations – did we help UK developers?

This was intended primarily for UK developers but we didn’t turn away folks from elsewhere.

  • Week 1 Guide – 66% of downloads from UK
  • Week 2 Guide – 70% of downloads from UK

Misc

Browsers and OS usage:

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Note: Cross posted from IUpdateable from Eric Nelson.

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A new community has popped onto my radar, created and delivered by James Burns, a top chap I have known for many, many years. The aim of the community is to foster dialogue between Architects and Senior Developers across Financial Services in the UK. The format of the first event is a mix of short high level presentations on hot topics that we hear across Financial Services and networking with a few drinks and canapés. It is free to attend for all Architects and Senior Developers. If you wish to attend please email James.Burns@microsoft.com. IMHO, worth a punt, if only for the free canapés and a change to network.

Time 6pm-8pm
Date Thursday 1st July

Location SQS UK,7 – 11 Moorgate, London EC2R 6AF (MAP)

Agenda

Welcome

The Microsoft Application Platform         20 Minutes      Jim Burns

  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • AppFabric
  • SharePoint 2010
  • SQL Server 2008 R2

The .Net Framework                                      20 Minutes      Simon Thurman

  • What is the .Net Framework?

Microsoft Development Tools                    20 Minutes      Richard Erwin

  • Visual Studio 2010
  • Languages
  • Application Lifecycle Management

Discussion on topics for the next event

Note: Cross posted from IUpdateable from Eric Nelson.

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One of the “warts” on Windows Azure development has been that once your application was deployed to the cloud, if things went wrong it was pretty tough to figure out the root problem. I knew for sometime we had a solution coming for Visual Studio 2010 users and I couldn’t wait to tell folks about it once it became public. I planned to do a detailed post subsequent to briefly mentioning it when I talked about the 1.2 SDK release. However … other stuff just keeps on getting in the way.

Hence I have decided to point at Somas blog post on just that. Enjoy.

Check out Peering into the cloud with IntelliTrace 

NB: You will need the Ultimate Edition of Visual Studio 2010 to use this feature. Sorry.