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last week i was a part of something that has become a bit of an annual event -- the 'microsoft technology summit' as we call it...it originated from the group that i am a part of 3 years ago, and has continued since then (with some bumps admittedly).  the goal of the summit is quite simple really (from the organizers' perspective) -- gather the not-so-typical-if-any-microsoft crowd (read: not the i hate microsoft crowd, but those that don't frequent our diner so to speak), bring them to redmond, and attempt to gather the brains of microsoft that they may want to a) hear from and b) challenge.

the audience is a mix of community leaders, enterprise customers and academic staff.  with this type of a mix of a crowd, i have to admit that it is a challenge to find the right balance of conversation/content/etc.  for instance, one of our community guests (primarily community i'd say) suggested a barcamp style.  some of the academic guests didn't know what that even was -- then add to the mix an international audience from asia.  yeah, it can get pretty dicey and i'm not sure we've found the right formula (more on that later).  we missed in some areas, and did better in some that were unexpected.  there are a lot of blogs covering the event as it was happening (i'm late to the game this time ).  this was a non-NDA event.  i taped everything.  personally, i had a great time.  as with most events, the better things happen in the hallways and the conversations at night.

i had dinner with some of the guys from and we had some really good conversations that were pretty insightful and thought provoking...and not about technology at all!  after discussing for about an hour various socio-political topics and deep religious beliefs, ben turned to me and said "so, we've covered politics and religion...lets' see...how much money do you make?" after which dion jumped in with a quip of "what's your favorite sexual position?"  um no, we didn't discuss either...but heck we were deep enough in the other taboos it wouldn't have surprised me!

the event brought this community together for a goal from my team (the 'field' -- those not in redmond) to give feedback to the redmonites, to learn a bit in the process, but most importantly for me, to foster relationships for the greater technical good in our respective geographies.  no that's not bs -- personally, i really mean that.  i really believe that a better technical community makes us all better personally, professionally, financially.  i'm not sure everyone who attended learned a lot, if anything, but there were some challenging points to some key microsoft people...and i hope they(we) listened...i took notes for a report card i know.

there is no sense me re-iterating what happened as i think the blogging coverage has been fair to the event.  i think ben has some really good coverage as do others. 

now, more on the right formula.  perhaps one of the challenges in something like this is finding the right mix of people and doing the agenda right.  we clearly missed in some areas as to be expected.  how do we make that better, if we choose to do the event again?  one suggestion, which i'm really going to push for is to get some of the attendees as a part of our planning team -- give them a stake in the agenda.  the other is to invite previous attendees -- we heard that repeat customers is good, it deepens understandings and provides a check-and-balance on what we've said the previous year.  the barcamp style stuff -- i love it...wondering how it would work with getting people in redmond to commit to three days versus 1-hour (yes, i know we are asking the attendees to commit, so should msft -- trust me, i hear you).  NDA -- this was an interesting one.  we wanted it to be a non-NDA event so there were no barriers to come...what we are learning is that NDA is okay...especially if they don't have to hear "i can't talk about that right now" -- this is something we are already seriously considering...man oh man there were a few things that i wish we could have talked about given a few people in the attendee list!  argh, oh well, live and learn.

anyhow, thanks to those who came...and keep the dialogue open and feedback coming!

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i was reading some stuff today that pointed to a report on top 20 sites (as reported by alexa) and their downtime.  the report can be viewed here.  it reminded me of a post i made long ago defining what "five 9's" meant in downtime...to put it in perspective, here's my analysis of the report as defined by "9's":

SiteDowntime% Uptime
yahoo.com 0m 100%
google.com 7m 99.999%
myspace.com 1h 99.989%
msn.com 2h 45m 99.969%
ebay.com 6m 99.999%
youtube.com 4h 44m 99.946%
facebook.com 25m 99.995%
wikipedia.org 2h 23m 99.973%
craigslist.org 1h 9m 99.987%
live.com 1h 48m 99.979%
amazon.com 21m 99.996%
blogger.com 4h 47m 99.945%
go.com 8m 99.998%
aol.com 3m 99.999%
microsoft.com 13m 99.998%
cnn.com 22m 99.996%
comcast.net 3m 99.999%
imdb.com 29m 99.994%
flickr.com 30m 99.994%
photobucket.com 1h 23m 99.984%

this is only in "9-speak" nothing else...i'm not attempting to analyze the data anymore than put it in a different perspective.  quite frankly, we don't know the stories behind some downtime...it could be that youtube took their site down to do a cleansing of copyright material...which might be a good reason to have downtime...but again, no analysis here.

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they spoke at arizona state (they being the vice president)...for your digestion: http://www.geekmethod.com/2007/03/30/riaa-at-asu-campus/ -- he makes some interesting comments, even disparaging walmart a bit for choosing what they want to sell.

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the utah code camp is just around the corner.  unfortunately i won't be there due to some previous travel, but if you are in the area, it would be great to participate in!

you can visit www.msutahevents.com for session schedule, speaker profiles, etc.  check it out and attend!

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a colleague recently showed me the latest edition of wired magazine (something i used to subscribe to but don't anymore just because i'm more "online").  after getting past the cover, peter showed me the article where was featured and interviewed.

first, i think that is pretty rewarding for the team [for the record i'm not on that team...i wonder if they have an opening for field reporters :-)].  i know that jeff and others team members work hard on channel 9 and reaching out to the community, bringing transparency to microsoft, etc.

SIDEBAR: What is Channel 9?
You can take a look on for what it is and how it is evolving, but here it is in a nutshell (from my words).  Ever fly on United airlines?  Ever plug in your headphones and listen to the airplane audio?  If not, do it and turn to channel 9 -- you'll hear the cockpit, conversations with air traffic control, etc...a view from the inside.  There's the genesis...bringing you a cockpit view from Microsoft...and thus for Microsoft.

This has spawned other communities for a "prosumer" crowd (read: probably not as propellerheady as you/me) called .  This has some great stories/content as well that you might want to look at.

i thought one of the funniest things was the photographs in the article (by the way, wired has the article online if you aren't a subscriber).  i particularly liked this one:

Jeff Sandquist

i'm picturing some captions:

    • "i didn't say that, ballmer did."
    • "not that there's anything wrong with that"
    • "i'm not sure i can tell you since we're not under NDA"
    • "whoa, wait a minute, that was scoble, not me"

i know that scoble will (and is) talking about his contributions to , and i think there is some credit to be given here, but it is always a team effort of enablement, management support, production, etc, etc...so great job team and let's keep the raw conversations coming.

i've recently been armed with some new audio/video equipment and am planning on bringing some field (read: not-in-redmond) perspectives to the channel 9 content arena if charles/rory/jeff allow me to.  look for podaudiocast content, video interviews and some other good stuff.