Springing the Connection in Florida

OK, I know it's a bit of a duff title, but it's supposed to convey a mental image of the Spring ASPNET Connections Conference. This year the venue was Orlando, at a time when the weather there is distinctly bearable (unlike PDC in July 2000!). In fact, as you can see from the photo, I even ventured onto the hotel's (artificial) beach. Of course, I'm reading up on data-handling techniques in .NET, and definitely not reading Dan Brown's book "The DaVinci Code" - which, by the way, is an excellent novel.

And, for once, I don't even have any complaints about the cattle-class flights to and from the US. Well, hardly any. US Airways have just started flying from Manchester (England), and - although I'm generally tempted to use American Airlines - I have to say that US were fine, except their cabin crew seemed a bit over-stretched or disorganized (it took them an hour and a half to serve us with a drink after take-off). A brand new Airbus A330 for the trans-Atlantic flights to/from Philadelphia, and they even managed to do it in record time. Only 6 hours 10 minutes coming back, so obviously these European contraptions beat the Boeings for speed (or else we had a good tail wind). I told my wife that it was because Pennsylvania was higher above sea level than other airports, so it was down-hill all the way home, but I don't think she believed me.

I was going to tell you that the hotel was a bit old-fashioned and lacked space and views (see photo here). And then go on to rant about how us traveling presenters have to rough it in down-market places with no luxuries and no home comforts. Possibly I'd follow this up with pleas for money or beer the next time you see us at a conference.

But I guess that would be misleading. This is, in fact, part of the "Wild West village" set forming the backdrop for the outside events center. There's an old mine, a bank, a jail, a fire-station, and even a mechanical contraption where you can try rodeo riding and lassoing a steer (albeit a rather small one). The conference organizers laid on a great old-fashioned feast of chicken, beef and bully beans there one night. Unfortunately, at least from my point of view, it was accompanied by non-stop Country and Western music. But thankfully no one took up their suggestion of a Karaoke. And I can still taste those beans...

Just to be fair, the pictures below show what the hotel actually does look like, from the front and from the room window. Yes, I guess we did stay in luxurious surroundings, and so you can hang on to your money and beer. Even had free high-speed Internet connections in the rooms. Just a shame that the software they use to connect was broken. Getting a page full of PHP errors when you try and connect doesn't inspire confidence, though I suspect the security settings on my laptop and in IE might have contributed to the problem.

And I couldn't resist this picture of one of the residents who does seem to be annoyed about the restrictions imposed by the management. Especially when one of the other residents is obviously taking no notice of the sign. Maybe ducks can't read, or they are just naturally rebellious.

After all this rambling, I guess I should mention the conference. Although (as with most recent conferences) the number of delegates was less than in previous years, it did seem to be very successful. As usual, I spoke to many of the attendees and was told that in general they found all the topics covered useful and the presentations informative. I had a couple of people stop me to comment positively on my sessions, and several requested extra code and back-up information, so they must be brave enough to have a go at the techniques I discussed. Thanks guys!

In fact, all in all, it seems to have been a good week for everyone, and I even got a bit of a suntan to prove that I'd escaped the damp confines of England for a week. Of course, it was glorious weather here while I was away, but isn't that always the case...
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