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Another day at TechEd.  I met early this morning with a group from Los Alamos National Lab.  Obviously I don't want to divulge any customers plans, but it was good to meet with this group and I hope to help them out in the future.  I'm glad that my Regional Director, Michael Palermo was able to introduce me to these people.

I'm hoping to attend some sessions today on sharepoint best practices as well as .NET internals -- apparently there was a great session on ASP.NET internals yesterday that I missed.

Michael Palermo is also giving his Grok Talk today on code snippets in VS2005, which should be cool.  The Grok Talks have been pretty cool and should be available when they get them edited on the site.

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Today was a lot of good sessions on ASP.NET 2.0 (where I find most of my passion).  Scott Guthrie is certainly packing the house in every session.  The technology is really slick and all the features in the framework as well as the VS2005 tools are incredible.

I also spent some time today with other Regional Directors across the US, trying to get ideas on how to better engage with the developer community through programs.

In the evening we had the “influentials” party.  It was okay -- a lot of the same bar scene with finger foods...not exactly my 'thing' but we went and spent some time there...there was a lot of people and it was LOUD (typical bar scene).  I decided to retire somewhat early for day 3 to get some rest -- too many late nights!

I've often been asked what defines an “influencer” in the community.  Typically (but not always) an influencer will already be very involved and maybe recognized via the MVP or RD program.  This is not always the case (in fact most of the MVPs in the area where I am at are not part of my influencer sphere).  The best way to describe it (stealing a definition from a colleague of mine) is someone who has REACH and SWAY.  I look for these people in the community who are respected champions of their chosen fields in technology.  You would think that I only look for MS-related people, but that is not the case.  Understanding the competitive landscape is very important...and we have influencers in the Java/Linux community as well.

In the earlier evening I helped out moderate a Birds of a Feather TechEd session on sharepoint and using it in the intranet and extranet.  I actually thought we wouldn't have a lot of people, but there were about 20-30 people there.  Lots of the typical deployment questions/challenges.  JMauer was the facilitator and did a great job -- it is tough not having concrete answers to a lot of SharePoint related questions.  It did start to turn into a tech support session a bit, but we switched that track right away -- you can tell people who may not have understood the full deployment scenario of even a typical installation as well as general networking guidelines.  At any rate, it was good and I'm glad I went.

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Well, I'm learning that most MS employees don't attend most of the sessions because it is a chance to network and hunt down those people you've been emailing the previous few months!

At any rate, the day continued with a meeting with the folks of Pearson Technology Group -- you may know them better as Addison-Wesley and SAMS Publishing.  I had a great lunch meeting with them and will be coming out with something pretty cool (I hope) for the community in the very near future.

The rest of the day was spent with our “influential” community -- those individuals in the community who represent Regional Directors, MVPs, and key community leaders in our representative areas.  Most of these individuals helped out in one way or another with a new venture from Microsoft, Codezone.  Tuesday was our “launch” party of the site (it actually launched Monday) and we got a chance to thank those who helped participate in the beta testing and feedback sessions for the site.  Codezone is basically a technology aggregation portal -- gathering rated content from other developers and communities.  Check it out and send feedback. http://www.codezone.com.  Today I'm helping “man the booth“ for Codezone with some other colleagues.

A few of us then went to a Brasilian restaurant for the night -- if you haven't been to one, you should go (unless you are a vegetarian).  Green=meat; Red=stop feeding me.  Again, if you haven't been, go and you'll understand.  It was a lot of fun and the food was awesome. 

Off to Day 3.

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The day started out with more wireless woes at CommNet – the coverage here is terrible.  It’s an easy target for complaints and I’m lucky I brought my Verizon aircard (which is still terrible), but you would just expect that resolution on the internet access to be solved ASAP and all attention to be on it whenever there is an issue.

We started with the keynote with Paul Flessner.  He's the corporate VP of server products and had a lot to say about SQL Server 2005.  Finally in the messaging he showed some competitive benchmarking against Oracle.  It isn't often any exec points out the negatives in competetive products.  Paul pointed out the security issues that SQL has had in the past (and apologized again for Slammer) and showed charts of the number of security patches related to SQL for 2002-current (1 for 2004, 0 for this year).  He overlayed that with the security patches for Oracle (74 for 2004, 2 this year).  It wasn't necessarily a jab (well, okay it was), but more a reality check that it isn't easy to build global, enterprise software.  Oracle faces the same challenges that Microsoft does...it's just for some reason nobody airs their dirty laundry as much -- point being we all have it!

The first BattleBot built on .NET Compact Framework 2.0 was shown (uses a PocketPC as it's control system on the unit).  It came out to help do a demo on SQL failover -- by smashing a network switch with the hammer/razor blade arm it had.  Before that it helped with the first RFID raffle.  Each attendee has an RFID tag as part of our name badge -- they demo'd an app showing the use of that -- it was pretty cool.  The RFID “tag” is really a label -- looks like a standard Avery label...with a built-in RFID antenna.

I picked up a copy of the Visual Studio Team System book (beta edition) and have been perusing it -- Richard Hundhausen, et. al. did a great job!

Well, off to lunch...more later.

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okay, well, not yet, but paul flessner announced today at TechEd that Visual Studio 2005 (along with SQL Server 2005 and BizTalk 2006) will launch the week of November 7.

http://msdn.microsoft.com/launch2005/