I have to say that I didn't realize I had so much influence with Microsoft's conference organizing committee. But they obviously read my comments about having summer conferences in hot places and winter conferences in the frozen North (see Copenhagen in Winter). This year I got two weeks in the sun in October! My neighbours must think I've bought a tanning bed.
It started in the second week of October with a trip to Palm Springs to present four sessions at the 2003 ASP.NET Connections conference. It was held at an amazing place called La Quinta Resort, nestling in the mountains near Palm Springs. The blurb on their Web site says that they have 42 swimming pools, so I told my wife/PA (who is, of course, absolutely necessary on trips like this) that she had to do six every day. You can just about make her out in the photos below aimlessly wasting time in number one. Honestly, some people have absolutely no sense of urgency!
I've never been to a place anything like this before. We had a room with a walled terrace that together was bigger than our house, and you could have fitted my car into the bathroom (in fact, you could have fitted my wife's Mini into the shower). But after all, this is resort where film stars come to unwind. My wife reckons she saw one - she says he must have been a film star because he had a perfect tan and shaved legs. Obviously she knows more about this topic than I do, and I wouldn't dare to try and fault her logic. And I bet he could afford the $20 for a small salad and $25 for a pizza on room service.
As to the conference, it was a shame that the turnout was somewhat less than expected, no doubt due in part to the fact that Microsoft went and dropped PDC into Los Angeles just a week later, after Connections was all arranged. But it was a great week all the same. Lots going on (the SQL Server, Office and Visual Studio Connections tracks run alongside ASP.NET), and everyone I spoke to said they found it extremely useful, friendly and informative.
I did a pre-conference tutorial on XML, which seemed to go down well. I'd assumed that people would be ready for some more advanced stuff than in previous years, so I added quite a few slides on topics beyond the basics. However, it turned out that the majority wanted to start from the beginning with XML. They're probably all wondering what on earth the slides we never got to cover, but were included in the printed handouts, are about. I expect to start getting a lot of email any day now.
One other session I presented covers design and implementation details for n-tier distributed data applications. It contains a swish demo that draws the data from my own server here in England to show how a good client-side implementation can provide a great user experience when working with data. The chat that goes with it talks about "six thousand miles of wet string", but unfortunately the string had dried out that day. I couldn't access my servers, so we had to use a local database and the result was somewhat less swishier(?) than anticipated. Still, I think I got away with it.
Returning home and investigating the server logs, I discovered that there had been no packets inbound from exactly midnight on the Tuesday until exactly 6:00 AM on the Thursday. Now I don't know about you, but to me that sounds rather suspicious - especially as there were no indications of any other failures in the server logs. So I spend an hour on the phone to my ISP and they admitted that they'd been playing with statefull packet inspection and rejection to protect their network against one of the current crop of viruses. Just a bit annoying that it took them 30 hours to get the formula right. Still, it seems to be OK now.
On another note, is there anyone out there from the Guinness Book of Records? I want to put in my bid for the most circuitous route from Palm Springs to Los Angeles. I know that my knowledge of US geography is less than optimal, but I understand that these two places are only around 100 miles apart. I managed to cover 11,000 miles and a week getting from one to the other, via Derbyshire in England, and I reckon that must be some kind of record. And why was I going to LA? You can find out more here.
Meanwhile, in line with my afore-mentioned USA-oriented geographical non-abilities (wow, three hyphenated words in one go), maybe you can see your house from up here. I did the usual touristy thing and took the photos below from the plane 'cos the scenery seemed so fantastic as we flew over. And while the results are less that spectacular, I reckon it might be the Grand Canyon and the famous town of Red Rock. Or maybe not. For all I know it might be Minnesota - but I'm sure someone will recognize it.
|... onwards to Los Angeles|