24 November, 2010

Tech-ed 2010 in Durban

2010 was the first year ever that I went to a Tech-ed session, and must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. My decision at the beginning of the trip was to get as much out of it as I can, and hopefully there would be a break somewhere where I could do a geocache, which would have made it my 700th find.

Sunday: The opening keynote was not very impressive but not bad either. It definitely was not awe inspiring. This was not the case of the local Microsoft MD. The evening’s Halloween street party was quite entertaining, and the food was good. I did not stay to late, as I wanted to get up early, be fresh, and enjoy the next day without a hangover.

Monday: I attended all the sessions for the day, and even did a lunch time breakout session. I went to the ADO.Net Entity framework session, and was quite intrigued how simple ADO.Net can populate simple entities. I seem to remember quite a bit of configuration though.

The highlight of the day though was Miha Kralj’s session on “If there was a school of IT Architecture, what would I learn there?”. It was a riveting session. Although I cannot remember much of the session now a month later, the one thing though that I clearly stood out and what I remember him saying is that an good architecture one should have a certain “gene se qua”. This made me reflect on some of the systems I have worked with previously, and have come to the conclusion the “gene se qua” for me is simplicity.

Bart De Smet’s session on function programming and F# was also very good, and I was amazed at how different F# is to C# and Java. Somehow in my mind I though the three programming languages were closely related in their syntax. Some of the things Bart did in his session went over my head, but I could start to relate back to the F# code once I saw what the output was of the programs. I changed out one of my set session afterwards to hear more of Bart. He definitely knows his stuff, and is very interesting to listen two.

The last session ended at 18H15, and Janco and I stayed to go to the Dev Idols. I thought it would take no longer then about 90 minutes, but we were there till after 21H00, and just got back in time to the hotel to have dinner before they closed.

Dev Idols was held here in Africa for the first time, and each of the six contestants had 10 minutes to present a small session, to a panel of four who would judge them. The contestants were quite entertaining, and the most interesting one was remote controlling a TV via the UPnP protocol. William Brander presented this spoke well, by first stating the problem, some considerations he had to make, then his program’s basic architecture, and then delving into a little code.

There was also a 10 minute session on DeepZoom Composer, and how to secure the images. But why the images had to be secured was beyond me.

Tuesday: Over all, an interesting day, and not as long as Monday, although I did have some toothache, which was a bit of a dampener.

I went to some session where the most notable one are: Patterns of Parallel programming, 10 mistakes of Unit Testing and new C# 4 features.

I did not go to a lunch time break-out session, but rather opted to eat lunch quickly, and go for a 2 km hike through the neighbourhood, to work of some access energy, and attempt 2 geocaches. As it turned out there were muggles (non game players) close by each cache, and I had to leave them both.

The excursion to uShaka Marine was another notable experience, and lovely to see the fish so close up. The food was good, especially the lamb shops. I am not that fond of ice-cream but I thoroughly enjoyed the chocolate ice-cream, while viewing the fish below ground level.

Wednesday: This was to be the last day of Tech-ed Africa 2010. The morning started with learning how to slice and dice legacy code so one could add unit tests to it, and so find bugs in the code. The sample used was C#, and the variable names were in Russian, and although they were foreign to us, we were still able to debug, and fix the code.

The closing keynote was AWESOME!! Miha Kralj was the speaker, and for 40 to 60 minutes he bombarded us with verbal and visual information. To such an extent that at times the I was totally lost, and had to exert effort to keep up reading the slides, and listening to him. Very well done, and he is high on my list, with Bart de Smet, of sessions to go to, for when I go next time to Tech-ed Africa.

In Closing: I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Tech-ed Africa 2010, and definitely would go again. Much was learnt, and my field of knowledge widened and also opened to other new possibilities.

At home I am writing a WPF based geocoin program for my geocaching coins, and trying to build two things into it:
a) A certain “gene se qua”, and
b) “Code I’m proud of”

Here are some additional images from the trip: