Tech-Ed South Africa 2008 Photos

This year Tech-Ed South Africa was held in Durban, South Africa’s playground, and I managed to snap a few photographs with my new Sony DSLR-A350 camera.

The event started off as per usual with a bit of a show by some talented dancers and some sexy ladies in bikinis. 🙂 Unfortunately I had to rely on a steady hand to get the opening keynote photos as I was way back in the auditorium.

Opening dancers Opening dancers - E X P L O R E

And to get the ball rolling Manoj Boohla was rikshawed to the stage, body board under his arm and wearing a Sharks supporter shirt.

Manoj Bhoola, body board in hand

This year BB&D sponsored the MVP Cave where South African Most Valuable Professionals were invited to stay together at The Sandringham B&B in Umhlanga.

View from the balcony in the morning View of the pool at night

I took way too many photos to blog about, so you can browse the rest of the photos over here.

Silverlight 2 Beta 2 now available

Microsoft Silverlight Microsoft earlier this week announced at Tech-Ed North America 2008 that Microsoft Silverlight 2 beta 2 will be available for download this week.

The new Silverlight 2 beta 2 control updates the version number from 2.0.30226.2 to 2.0.30523.6. This release is expected to break compatibility with Silverlight 2 beta 1 while improving compatibility with Silverlight 1. For a full list of changes and new features, take a look here.

Please note, that you should uninstall all previous Silverlight 2 beta 1 bits before you attempt to install the new beta bits. The Silverlight 2 beta 2 control seems to upgrade seamlessly enough though. A list of stuff that should be removed includes:

  • Microsoft Expression Blend 2.5 March Preview
  • Microsoft Silverlight Tools Beta 1 for Visual Studio 2008
  • Microsoft Silverlight 2.0 SDK Beta1

Also note that the Microsoft Silverlight Tools Beta 2 for Visual Studio 2008 will install fine on top of Visual Studio 2008 RTM or Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 Beta.

Well they were really cutting the before the end of the week promise close but you can now get hold of the latest beta developer bits using the following links:

If you aren’t using Visual Studio 2008 then you can download the SDK on its own using the following link:

I’ve also noticed another build of the Silverlight 2 beta 2 control that is targeted for developers. I assume it has more debugging support as its slightly larger in size. I don’t think its included in the Microsoft Silverlight Tools Beta 2 for Visual Studio 2008 installer.

And if you liked the Deep Zoom technology that was first shown in Silverlight 2 beta 1 then get yourself an updated set of tools to work with Silverlight 2 beta 2:

I personally can’t wait to get started with this new build as it now finally carries a commercial Go Live license.

Take a look at the following post which goes into details about the new features in the Silverlight Tools for Visual Studio 2008.

  1. WCF templates for Silverlight Enabled.
  2. Build configurations.
  3. XAML Validation now reports build errors.
  4. Setup Improvements.
  5. Projects created in Beta 1 are prompted for conversion when opening to Beta 2
  6. Linking a Web Site to a Silverlight Application.

[tags]Silverlight,Silverlight 2,Tech-Ed[/tags]

South African Communities on Virtual Tech-Ed

A couple of us local community enthusiasts quickly put together a last minute idea for a Fish Bowl video at Tech-Ed 2007 South Africa last year. The video finally went live on the site today. You can watch it by clicking here.

Thanks to Hilton, Nicholas and Willie for helping get the word out there and putting South Africa on the international map.

Now does anyone know how to download a copy of the video for storage purposes?

[tags]Tech-Ed 2007,video[/tags]

Tech-Ed 2007 day 3

Tech-Ed South Africa 2007Its honestly amazing how time flies when you are at Tech-Ed. I found that day three just flew past in comparison to day two; I suppose it has to do with the sheer number of sessions I attended.

The first talk worth mentioning today was one by Angus Logan where he shared information about the Windows Live technologies currently available for integration by developers. I never realised that Windows Live ID was recently made available as a single sign on solution for end-user applications coupled with the various other services likes Virtual Earth, Live Contacts, Silverlight Streaming and numerous other cool services. They are all covered under one “no lawyer required” terms of use and unless your web site has more than about a million users, its free to use. For more information on the APIs, code samples for .NET, Java, Python, Ruby and many more take a moment and check out dev.live.com and there is even a .NET wrapper library for the REST APIs on CodePlex. Don’t forget to attend Angus’ talk for SA Developer .NET this Thursday, you won’t be disappointed.

Chris, some other dude, Hilton, Nicolas and Ronald Hilton Giesenow, SA Developer Lead and MVP, gave an awesome talk on the hidden gems of ASP.NET 2.0 where he shared some very cool but lesser known features of the ASP.NET. One of them that comes to mind is the SessionPageStatePersister class that provides a simple means of reducing the viewstate of each page in a site with no changes to the actual pages themselves.

Chris Auld from New Zealand was highly entertaining to experience. He was wearing a Sprinkbok rugby jersey after he lost a bet. He is genuinely a unique character and showed us all how to implement and use WCF (Windows Communication Foundation) for various connection endpoints including TCP, SOAP, JSON and even RSS. Unfortunately his demos were plagued with exception pop-up dialogs due to the Visual Studio 2008 beta quirks but seemed to work nonetheless. I found his “go go gadget stack trace” comment quite amusing.

Just to make sure we didn’t have a dull day, we got Nicolas Blank to interview Hilton Giesenow, Willie Roberts and myself about the technical communities in South Africa. I’ll make a post here when the video has been edited and posted on the international Virtual Tech-Ed site.

Laser finger-tipped skeleton dancerAs day four is a half day it is customary to have the closing party the evening before. The theme was CSI and we were treated to an awesome buffet in the Sun City Superbowl followed by local band Springbok Nude Girls on stage and then lots of dancing and partying.

[tags]Tech-Ed 2007,Windows Live,ASP.NET,WCF,Virtual Tech-Ed,Springbok Nude Girls[/tags]

Tech-Ed 2007 day 2

Tech-Ed South Africa 2007Today the sessions started bright and early at 08h00 which is way too early if it was work but strangely enough I found myself downstairs devouring the buffet breakfast just after 07h00. I missed attending a few sessions that I would have liked to have attended purely due to logistical issues. I didn’t know where the bloody session rooms were and I left my map in the room and was too lazy to go back and fetch it.

Pieter Germishysen's XNA talk I would have to say that the best session I attended today must have been Pieter’s chalk ‘n talk session on XNA. He spent the morning in the Community Lounge writing a remake of the classic Space Invaders game. Willy-Peter and I however started making a few suggestions and before long the game became BokInvaders with the enemies appearing as English Roses and the ship becoming a Springbok. Oh and to top it all off, the South African national anthem became the theme music. The chalk ‘n talk room had seating for about 30 delegates and was overflowing with delegates sitting on the floor and standing at the back. I believe the talk went down extremely well and garnered a considerable amount of interest in hobbyist game development using XNA Framework targeting Windows PCs and Xbox 360 consoles.

For those that have been to Tech-Ed you will be familiar with the MultiNets. For those that haven’t they are essentially PCs distributed throughout the venue where delegates can logon for free and either plan their schedule, provide session feedback or browse the web. I have got to say that I am not impressed impressed with the Internet access that is provided. I managed to access my Gmail account once throughout the entire day as most of the time it was simply just timing out. I believe that Internet Solutions is providing the outside connectivity and I can only wonder what connection they are running. It feels worse than accessing over a shoddy dial-up. One good thing was that they provided free WiFi access as well, however my mobile phone can’t even connect to the access point as it doesn’t stay up for long enough. C’mon guys, get with it.

In general the day was awesome and I really enjoyed Louis de Klerk’s talk on the new features of SQL Server 2008, code-named Katmai. I have been playing around with CTP4 and I can’t wait to get hold of the new CTP5 that adds spatial support. Its rumoured that CTP5 might drop before the end of next week. I can’t wait.

[tags]Tech-Ed 2007,XNA,Katmai,SQL Server 2008,spatial,rant[/tags]

Tech-Ed 2007 day 1

Its the end of day 1 of Tech-Ed 2007 South Africa and I must say it is what I expected it to be. Apparently there are almost 2000 delegates here this year which is an impressive improvement over the 1600 delegates last year and the most delegates at any Tech-Ed event in Africa ever. Are there any other Tech-Ed events held elsewhere in Africa, I’m not sure. Strangely the male to female ratio is still sitting at 10:1 which doesn’t surprise me at all considering women are generally illogical. (I’m going to suffer for that comment, I just know it, but its true.)

This is my first Tech-Ed event as I finally decided to take leave from work and cough up the cash to see what its all about. I haven’t bumped into too many people that I know as of yet although the first person that Willie and I happened to stumble upon was Angus Logan. Angus is an Australian now living in Redmond and on the Windows Live team. The great thing is that Angus will be giving a talk for SA Developer .NET in Bryanston just after Tech-Ed and you are all invited to come and hear about the cool stuff happening in the Windows Live realm. Take a moment and RSVP over here.

I must say that the keynote speech was a bit too long; two hours and my butt was asleep and I was surprised that I wasn’t as well. Thankfully it was followed by a Lost themed opening party at the Valley of the Waves. The food was ample, hot and delicious. The pudding afterward was even more delicious with the bread and butter pudding disappearing moments after new trays were put out. Naturally the free beer flowed happily and there was an awesome fireworks and laser presentation. Some random band named Voodoo Child or something to that effect was on the stage for most of the evening thumping out popular covers that really set the mood for a chilled out evening under the stars on the fake beach. All in all, a great start to what hopes to be an awesome 3 day event.

[tags]Tech-Ed 2007,South Africa,SA Developer .NET[/tags]