Archives / 2005 / September
  • MVP Summit - Day 2 (MVPs, MVPs, MVPs)

    First off, my apologies for those that were tortured in their news aggregators with yesterdays blog entry. It was a long day and I did 4 or 5 separate postings in Notepad throughout the day then a single blog post which was probably the longest one I've done so far.

    Today was the first "real" day at the summit as we had some great keynotes (including one from Steve Ballmer, boy does he just have a killer stage presence) and then some general sessions (some new, some stuff I've seen at PDC). Again, a lot of networking and talking and meeting with new people. There's just so many of us here and so many Microsoft people to talk to as well.

    As I mentioned, I'll keep these posts shorter as I'm sure you don't want to spend more than a few minutes reading my blabber. The fact that I can't post details about what's going on here will keep the posts short and like I said before, will be more about how many beers per MVP are being consumed and what blackmail pictures we can post on Microsoft employees.

    I've created a Flickr Group Photo Pool here. If you have MVP pictures please add them to your Flickr site and join the MVP group! It's open for anyone to join so just join up and add your pics (as I'm sure everyone is getting tired of my SharePoint people pics). C'mon MVPs, let's see pics from the other groups. Also you should tag your pictures with "mvp05" which will allow anyone to find the pictures from the Summit quickly and easily. Please pass this information to other MVPs that you see taking pictures! (and yes, Channel 9 guy is back for the Summit!)

    MVP Group Photo Pool
    My MVP Summit Flickr Set

    Speaking of Notepad, we don't have an MVP for Notepad. I think this is a serious gap in the entire MVP substructure and something needs to be done about it immediately.

  • MVP Summit - Day 1 (Here we go again)

    I'm at the airport waiting for flight AC205 to Vancouver then another hop down to Seattle for the Summit. I have to hand it to Air Canada for the check-in process. It's a slick set of machines that you walk up to, insert a credit card and get your boarding pass and whatnot printed out for you. Took all of about 10 minutes to get through it and checked my bag in then I was off. Sometimes you can upgrade your seat or whatever, which I was hoping to do, but guess the flight is filled up. In any case, it's a great way to check in and gives me that little shot of nerdrenaline in the morning that we geeks need.

    Getting through customs was easy, as usual. Hey guys, this is Calgary and while we do call it an "International" airport, expect to show up about an hour (tops) before your flight at any time during the day. I'm planning on doing a lot of traveling this year as I now have clients down in the States to nuture and pamper so the Aeroplan guy convinced me that $120 a year is a good thing to for their plan. Seems like a good deal and it was after I had my morning coffee at Timmy's so why not.

    I was waiting at the terminal and looking at the no smoking sign everywhere but there were a ton of places to buy tobacco at the shops. This doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense to me but okay, I'll go with it (there are some places in the food area sectioned off like a glass house where you can toke up). A guy who was obviously going to head into smoke land asked me if I had a lighter. What the hell? Why do smokers never have lighters? You're a smoker, isn't that the main tool for your habit? You need two things as a smoker, a cigarette and a way to product flame. You ever see anyone with asthma borrow an inhaler? I don't think so. Some peoples kids.

    I'm staying at the Crowne Plaza (Room 2055). I'm planning on hooking up with Al Dunbar at Seattle to share a ride with him and his daughter. Also picked up the required items for the flight, a tin of Tim Horton coffee for our ex-Canadian MVP Lead and a keychain Calgary for someone who's collecting them at the Summit (sorry, can't remember who so hopefully we'll hook up before the weekend). As odd as it may sound, I collect sand from various places in the world (my secret plan to build my own beach) so hopefully there are a few people at the summit that are going to be bringing me a sample. The security I hear at the Summit is pretty tight if you're not an MVP and with all the NDA stuff going on, as I said, this may just be a series of horrible blogs on Bil's Adventure in Microsoft Land with pictures of drunk MVPs and homeless Seatle people (or drunk Seattle people and homeless MVPs, whichever works for you). Feel free to change the channel to something more interesting.

    The weather looks great for take-off here in Cowtown but I don't have any WiFi access at the airport so can't check to see what's going on in Seattle. I really think it would be great if they just provided free WiFi at all airports and not for certain customers (Telus Mobily customers get it free, but I'm on another plan). Really is it that hard to make us geeks happy when we're stuck sitting around for a couple of hours? It's not like we're going to be downloading the latest Brad Pitt movie on our laptops at the airport are we? Oh well. Someday. I did however buy a new Brookstone umbrella (complete with light up handle for the nerd factor) coming back from PDC just in case it's wet down there.

    They just paged Mr. Douglas MacArthur to the desk. Can't wait to see old iron guts show up. I thought he was dead but guess the heroes don't die, they just wander aimlessly through the Calgary airport looking for their luggage. I'm off to find Elvis and Jim to see if they want to jam.

    Takeoff was good. I missed a great photo-op with the downtown core being lit by the morning sun and the Rocky Mountains in the background while water flowed off the window. Oh well. The Rocky Mountains look awesome, as always, and even more so at 10,000 feet as the snow covers the tops now. It never ceases to amaze me how stupid people are when they get onto a plane. I mean, how freakin' hard is it to find your seat? The seats are clearly labeled (at least IMHO) with the row and what letter is the window seat. Watching everyone board no less than 3 groups were in the wrong seat with 1 not even near the right row (they were 3 rows off and on the wrong side). Is it that much to ask for people to learn their ABCs and 123s by now? The flight is pretty thin and I lucked out to have an empty seat next to me so nobody bumping my elbow as I update the blog.

    I can't see anyone else on the flight I know but I'm sure there were some coming from T.O., Edmonton, and Calgary on here. Maybe I could scream "MVP Rocks!" at the top of my lungs and see if anyone looks. I could always chalk it up to Tourettes if the air people ask. Well, I have my dorky MVP badge around my neck so that's about as dorky as I can get for someone to spot me. The upside is that if I get lost (say in a bar or something) you can just drop me in a mailbox and hopefully they'll return me to the SharePoint group in Redmond (wouldn't that be a neat package to get at the office eh Fitz?).

    I do find that I'm just going to have to change to business class (and why is it called business class now instead of first class? to ease the blow to those in the "hospitality class" so they don't think they're second class. That's just plain dumb). At least in first business class, my extra deep laptop won't dig into my gut as I type. It's great that they have a nice wrist area for the new laptops, but now you need an extra deep seat (which you definately do not get in second hospitality class) just to open the damn thing.

    So I rolled into Vancouver airport without incident and met up with Eric from Winnipeg and Al Dunbar from Edmonton (whom I setup a ride to the hotel with). The flight was short from Vancouver to Seattle on board a tiny prop plane which isn't much bigger than a SUV (but probably uses up a little more fuel). Didn't we invent some technology called the jet engine back in the 50s or something? We hit Seattle and checked into the hotel. The hotel I'm staying at (The Crowne Plaza) is quite nice (trust me, anything where the shower head is at eye level is bonus in my books) with the room being nice and roomy. You can reach me in room 2055 if you're looking for me. Feel free to drop by sometime. It was interesting to find a package with ear plugs, a face mask, and a hypno-CD that I can play on my Sony "Dream Machine". Guess they figure we're going to be so burnt out from the day we need it to relax (either that or the CD is actually subliminal messages telling us to buy more Microsoft product). It was also interesting to find movies that are still in the theatre (like War of the Worlds) available for $13 on my TV set. In any case, check out the pics in my Flickr site for more goodness. 

    The summit, well, is fantastic. It's going to be bloody exhaustive the next few days so expect more long dribbly blogs from me at the end of the night. I grabbed a short bus ride (30 minutes) from the hotel to the Microsoft Campus. Oh boy is the campus impressive. It's a proverbial city unto itself, with buildings all over each unique in architectureal design. Very, very slick. After registration I had planned to hit the Employee store and stock up on my Linux posters, but networking took it's toll and I hooked up with some great people that I've been reading their blogs for months now. It's truely awesome to put words to faces and great to meet people like Michael Greth from Germany in person (watch for a MVP Summit podcast from him soon). Like PDC, this event is huge with over 1500 MVPs in attendance and 1200 Microsquishy employees catering to our every need. Pure magic.

    So it's off to a dinner and drinking and whatever gutter I end up in tonight. At least this trip I still have the same camera I started with. Catch you guys tommorow.

    Flickr MVP Photos

  • Windows SharePoint Services Service Pack 2 Released

    It's here! It's here! Just wanted to let you know that WSS SP 2 is now available on the Microsoft Download Center. You can find the direct download link here.

    The WSS SP 2 release has substantial supportability improvements including:

    • Support for running on 64-bit machines in 32-bit emulation mode 
    • Support for Reverse Proxy and Alternate URL support
    • Support for IP Bound virtual servers
    • Support for off-box SSL termination
    • Support for SQL Server 2005
    • Support for ASP.NET 2.0

    Everyong running WSS and SPS are encouraged to update to WSS SP 2.  However, although SPS SP1/RTM will be able to run on top of WSS SP2, Microsoft is restricting support for the "shared" functionality that is added in SP2 for SPS and WSS until SPS SP2 ships. The shared functionality is the support improvements above.

    In other words, even though you'll be able to install WSS SP2 on SPS SP1/RTM installs, you still need to wait for SPS SP2 before utilizing any of the newly-supported functionality above.

    Some useful KB articles related to this release:

    The Windows SharePoint Services Administration Guide will be updated later in the day today. Make sure to download the latest copy so that you have instructions for using the new WSS SP 2 feature functionality.

    Windows SharePoint Services SP 2 will also ship in Windows Server R2.  Additional documentation about the new SP 2 features is included in this walkthrough document.

    Thanks to Gabe Bratton for this information and Microsoft for this very cool release. Get yours today before they're all gone. Operators are standing by!

    Update (14:26 MST): Added links to the KB articles with a description of the Service Pack and what issues it fixes. These are now online for your consumption. Enjoy!

    Update (23:18 MST): Microsoft is also (officially) supporting FireFox 1.0.4 (and later) with this SP2 for WSS. Sweet!

  • Advanced Extranet Support Documentation Update

    A couple of quickies tonight.

    In preparation for the upcoming Service Pack 2 for WSS (which provides ASP.NET 2.0 support to enable WSS to run on ASP.NET 2.0. but we do
    not get to use native ASP.NET 2.0 web parts until WSS v3), the online SharePoint Products and Technologies SDK documentation has been updated already to include information about reverse proxy support and the WSS object model. You can check out the updated documentation here (Note that the Service Pack hasn't been released yet but stay tuned for that).

    Just a note with the next few days I'm away at the MVP Summit, I'm delaying my WSS V3 Deep Dive series to start next Monday, October 3 when I get back (also gives me more time to prep and get as much in as I can).

  • PDC fallout

    I've finally got caught up on everything that happened at PDC (as well getting my system back online at home). I'm starting a series of SharePoint V3 Deep Dives next week focusing on various new features so stay tuned for that. The week will be cut short as I'm off to Redmond on Wednesday for the MVP Summit and I think all of it will be NDA so no blogging (but I'll post pics on my Flickr site of other MVPs getting drunk which should be good for blackmail sometime in the future).

    Stramit (among others) has a great blog posting with links to all the non-NDA PowerPoint presentations on Office 12 and SharePoint V3. Check it out. There's also a whack of other slide decks here as well for the rest of the conference covering Vista, Windows Workflow, and other next year goodness.

    Finally I just got an email today about Amazon and Microsoft hosting a Developer Challenge. It's dated September 12 and was supposed to be done at the launch of PDC but for whatever reason it dropped in my inbox this morning (you probably already know about so ignore this passage if that's the case). First place is $5,000 of Amazon bucks and there are some pretty good runner up prizes (like an X-Box 360 which is always good). Basically build an interesting application using the Amazon Web Services. The contest runs through until December 31 so there's plenty of time to check out the details here and get building!

  • It's good to be home

    Back in Calgary after a week in sunny L.A. It's good to be home but took me awhile to get going. When I returned one of my development PCs had decided to do some Windows updating while I was gone (how nice of it) and ended up getting screwed up on reboot as it looked for hal.dll (I'm sure some of you have seen that before). Had to fiddle with some drives but got it back now.

    Kit Kai, a fellow MVP, has posted a series of great articles on allowing a team to edit a document together. It's broken down into 4 articles and you can check out the series here:

    Finally there's a global MVP summit coming up at the end of the month. A week from now I'll be down in Redmond hanging with the SharePoint dudes and having a grand time with other MVPs. It's quite an event as MVPs from all around the world get together and have a good time. Unfortunately for some, their governments (for whatever reasons) have denied issuing visas to them. The MVPs from Sri Lanka won't be attending the summit which is too bad as global should mean global and not "everyone except these countries..." So Jinath, Manzi, and Prasanna won't be joining us in Washington next week. We'll remember to raise a glass to you and get you some cool schwag.

  • PDC Day 04 (Goodbye, Vista Brick Road)

    That's it for this years Professional Developers Conference. It's done like dinner. As I'm writing they just announced that there was a single winning ticket for the L.A. lottery here, which was at $250 million. Yup, that's a quarter billion dollars which is about what it probably cost for this years PDC. A slow day for walking (9,030 steps, 6.84 miles) and pretty quiet as things wound down. The Channel 9 guys were giving away the bean bag chairs so a few people were on the bus with their own Channel 9 guy they can use in their cubicle (can you imagine explaining that to airline security or even buying an extra ticket for your chair?). 

    No SharePoint sessions today. Sad huh? I finally managed to hook up with Kate Gregory this morning during breakfast. When you come to these things there's sessions you want to attend (or have to give), booths to see, etc. but you end up always hooking up with people and getting distracted (the butterfly effect). This is what's been happening all week with me and others mention it as well. It's good that I met a few people (even stumbling across Medhat, a MCS guy from Calgary that I've known for years) on the last day as it might be awhile before I see them again, even though we're always travelling around and such. Kate of course was heading off to the C++ talks which I heard was pretty interesting.

    I sat in on the future of Agile panel discussion. It was a good talk but didn't seem to talk much about the "future" of Agile but rather the current state of Agile and what Agile meant to everyone. On the panel were (pictured below, left to right) Don Reinertsen, Peter Provost, Jim Newkirk (father of NUnit), Don Reifer, and Clemens Szyperski, with Randy Miller moderating the fishbowl session.

    What is Agile? The panel generally agreed that was "emphasis on feedforward rather than feedback" with emphasis on keeping the feedback loop short and most stated it as a "series of practices to add value to clients" which sums it up nicely. Jim Newkirk had a biased towards "the smallest amount of process needed to get the job done" with a high bandwidth within the team (which is key to any Agile practice). Peter Provost was happy to say that Agile was about the "right thing at the right time for his customers" and to do the right thing at the last "responsible" moment.

    Don Reinertsen had a great analogy for Agile. He said it was like standing in the fog on a road. Waterfall is where you put a plan together to get to the end of the fog (where that is) whereas Agile tends to have you walk 50 yards, make adjustments, continue, etc. until you complete the journey. This "plan as I walk" approach is great and will give you that immediate feedback that you're on the right track (or allow you to correct it if you're heading down the wrong way).

    Randy stepped up during a question and talked about the "total team" where everyone is communicating and collaborating, not just the devs. Get your testers, analysts, and architects all involved as it's important how they interact. The concept of "exploratory testing" came up (which is a term I hadn't heard of before, but then contrary to popular belief I don't know everything [except when it comes to SharePoint]) but the whole panel was quite happy about seeing this emerging and suggested taking a look at it to involve everyone.

    All in all a good session (but I did have to duck out early) but check out the blogs linked above for more information. There are also a great set of links all over the place for Agile but you can start here (which is one of the many jumping points to other places).

    So I'm here in L.A. for another day taking in the tourist stuff tommorow and snapping pics of the Los Angeles wildlife. A few things that I've learned from this trip:

    • Take the business class flight if it's over a couple of hours, your butt will appreciate the extra space
    • Don't check into a hotel with a shower designed for munchins.
    • Don't answer your cell at 11pm at night from a complete stranger who only knows you through your blog. More importantly, don't say "Yes" to going out on the town with them
    • The only quake I experienced in L.A. was in my head the morning after said phone call.
    • Don't take the Universal Studio tour at night. While the lines were short and beer was free, the only thing we got to see were chipmunks and it wasn't even Alvin and Theordore (and I think I just lost about half the readers of this blog with that comment, so that cuts down my audience to 4 instead of 8)
    • I genuinely feel that I have Electro's super powers as I was responsible for restoring power in our hotel after the blackout (well, at least it looks that way to me so just go with me on it)
    • Taking notes on my PDA sucks as it note only screws up when you switch away, but it's just a bloody mess trying to make heads or tails out of it hours later. Next time is a Tablet PC and OneNote.
    • Wireless was hit and miss. After the first day I couldn't get my laptop reconnected to wireless except back in Munchkin land so it was wired hookups. It's odd because I could almost always get WiFi'd with my PDA. Go figure.
    • Oh yeah, SharePoint v3 ROCKS!

    Again I want to say hi to everyone that I came across (it was cool seeing a few dozen people reading my blog while I was wandering through the computer areas). Also shouts out to those that I came across at the last minute like Julie Lerman, Kate Gregory, Todd Bleeker (wish we had more time to talk), Ted Pattison, Eli Robillard, Patrick, Jan, of course Fitz and the Professor and Mary Anne (and everyone else I missed).

    Next week I'm starting a series of V3 posts with focus on individual features so a bit of a more deeper dive into what's to come. Talking to Fitz before I left he'll be posting almost daily for the next few weeks with all the stuff that he can now say so keep an eye out there as well on other blogs in the SharePointSphere so you can see all the cool stuff coming to a virtual machine near you.

    Tags and Links

    Google Maps where I'm staying (Miyako)

  • PDC Day 03 (T-Shirt Frenzy)

    When there's no more room in Hell, the geeks will scrounge for free schwag. At least that was the scene today as the Channel 9 guys handed out PDC shirts to what seemed like everyone at the conference. The catch with these shirts is that they're all unique with spiffy geek phrases (mine said "No, I will not fix your computer... until after PDC05). Jeff, Scoble and the rest of the Channel 9 gang (including the big guy himself, no not that big guy but the foam one) were on hand tossing shirts around, taking video and pics, and generally having a great time. Hope you got yours.

    It's been a fairly lax day (18,120 steps, 13.72 miles) as I wandered about the SharePoint lounge, took in a couple of sessions on workflow, and generally just watched things like the exhibitors booths tear down. I met up with Julie Lerman today who was hosting a BOF session this evening about Going Solo. It was a great session with a good turnout from lots of people (Rob Howard even poked his head in) and a lot of great discussion around going solo, working for yourself, and generally making it in the real world (and sustaining whatever "it" is). I snapped some pics of the whiteboard where we captured some trains of thought and resources so check Julie's blog as she'll provide a summary with links (at least that's what we told her she had to do <evil grin>)

    Tommorow is the last day with a few more SharePoint sessions to go and goodbyes to say to everyone. I'm staying in L.A. through Saturday as I want to check out the facsinating architecture in and around town and generally do the touristy thing (any suggestions for places to go let me know). Will be blogging next week as I sift through a few thousand notes on SharePoint and what I can blog about vNext along with some stuff that I've had in the works for the vThis version. Night, night.

    Tags and Links

    Google Maps where I'm staying (Miyako)

  • PDC Day 03 (The Universal Aftermath)

    All I have to say is a jaw-dropping wow. Not only did Microsquishy rent out the entire Universal Studios lot for the evening for all attendees, they opened up most of the food places (Mel's Diner, Flintstone's Drive-In, Jurassic Cafe, etc.) and provided that gratis (along with beer and wine booths everywhere). I can't imagine how much that cost but I'm sure it's just a rounding error for Mr. Gates and co.

    It was a great night last night and I'm sure everyone has a fantastic time. This was my first time in L.A. (besides driving through the airport on the way to Mexico, but that's another blog) so actually seeing the sites and events is bonus. The park wasn't very crowed as it's designed for probably 50,000 people and PDC caps out around 7,000 so lots of room to move around, short (or no) wait times on all the attractions, etc. The only drawback was that it was dark so the studio tour wasn't too exciting as you couldn't see very much (or get very many good pics). I highly recommend taking the studio tour during the day as you'll probably see a lot of activity and actually get some cool pics of sets and whatnot. There were a few films and shows shooting (like Alias) but the most we saw were some extras standing around waving (unless that was Jennifer Garner in the white, in which case... call me).

    So a busy night of fun with lots of walking (26,922 steps, 20.28 miles!), eating, and drinking and no computers, Office, or SharePoint. Hey, even a geek has to take a break once in awhile. Even Wilson got into the fun so check out my Flickr pics for more. Now it's off to a short breakfast and a long day of walking and talking and posting long blog posts (that nobody seems to read but I'm just not a bullet point kinda guy).

    Tags and Links

    Google Maps where I'm staying (Miyako)

  • PDC Day 02 (Here comes the fire hose)

    It's about 15 minutes before the buses start to roll out to Universal Studios where probably everyone is going to be. Microsoft has rented out the entire park for the evening along with all the food places so it's going to be a movie smorgasborg tonight.

    Today was SharePoint day at PDC as Microsoft pulled back the covers (or opened the Kimono as Fitz puts it) and opened the fire hose to SharePoint V3. I found the time to sit in on two sessions on configuration and customization and the new additions to the object model, deployment changes, and other good stuff so this is going to be a long (and hopefully informative) post about that (actually took me about 1 1/2 hours to put together from all my crappy notes and memory). More descriptive and more my thoughts rather than bullet points that you've seen around so far. I'm sure my other fellow SharePointers will have more to follow and I hope it's useful to you.

    First there's some pretty nice stuff happening under the scenes with V3. There's a nice audit model built-in so things like the number of views of a document are tracked but you don't need to iterate through each document to find it. Makes for a nice simple Web Part that you can build to display based on views (think number of views on a Flickr photo and you get the idea).

    For the geeks in us that like to see what the kimono is made of, there's a schwack of great stuff happening in the Object Model. The big thing is the flip from SharePoint intercepting HTTP calls and passing them onto ASP.NET (or rendering ASPX pages with it's own custom parser) to doing a 180 where ASP.NET handles the call (no more ISAPI filter) and then proxies to SharePoint if it needs to. A much better Architecture that will not only expose all (yes, all) of ASP.NET 2.0's capabilties but also play much nicer with ASP.NET apps. The other big thing in the code space is the compatibility with ASP.NET's Web Part Framework and really leveraging the ASP.NET model.

    Generally ASP.NET 2.0 Web Parts will work in SharePoint V3 (you can "kind" of get this with ASP.NET 2.0 and WSS SP2, but check out SmartPart 1.1 and Son of SmartPart for a better setup). There are some small things that don't work and limitations. For example you can't use ASP.NET 2.0 Web Part Pages as-is in SharePoint, you have to use the SharePoint implementation. You also can't use ASCX controls natively like you can in an ASP.NET 2.0 page but again, turn to SmartPart for this. What you can do is write a small ASP.NET 2.0 wrapper for now, but Microsoft will be providing this later in the cycle. The thing to remember here (as a result of PDC) is that this is all for WSS only! Remember that and don't ask when SPS will have these things available to it as there are many other products and services in the Office 12 eco-system that will be coming in the next months leading to the betas and release next year.

    So in a nutshell, if you're building for tommorow today, do it with the ASP.NET Web Part model and make calls to SharePoint specific classes to retrieve information, update lists, etc. You can use the SharePoint Web Part base class if you need it and there may be times you want to (e.g. web part caching is only in the SharePoint classes) but use it liberally as the long term is a single Web Part model.

    As for forms, the form templates are now in XML and you can replace the base ones on a web basis or per list (as well as other options). Have you ever wanted to modify the New.aspx page for a list but just saw gobbly-gook in FrontPage? Now you can 100% customize the form using a simple XML file. Do some branding, do some rearranging of fields, introduce new fields and controls, whatever. You still need to use CAML for views so don't go throwing away those skills just yet, but that's okay for all the other goodies we're getting.

    More stuff. Master Pages. They're big time present in WSS and that, combined with some very cool Master Page Tokens will make it a breeze to totally customize the look and feel of your sites. This is much more than just themes or even custom CSS. Another thing (and I can't remember if this is 100% correct) is that the Master Pages are applied to all pages, not just default.aspx. So the current issue of branding a WSS site and having some pages not take form (except for colours) to your changes is gone. There's a Master Page Gallery (just another doclib) that holds the master page file and you can apply a master page across the web, a site or an entire farm (which is pretty much the same for more of the changes with V3).

    On the customization and deployment front, V3 will have less XML and less duplication. It's now easier to change things in the system via the Features and apply it. Again you can apply it to a web, site, web application (think Virtual Server) or an entire farm. Most of the extra stuff that you always had to copy and use (even though you couldn't touch it like base types) is now in what's called a Global Template. Your customization comes in the way of Features. This is very much like features that you get in an MSI where you can choose items to include or exclude. There's also hooks in the OM for handling features so you can do custom code whenever a feature in installed, activated, uninstalled, and deactivated (like extra SQL work, go off to a legacy system, email notifications, tracking, etc.). It's basically the Add/Remove Programs for SharePoint and as a developer, you can create dependancies on your Features so (for example) one feature depends on another before it can be used. This will help avoid putting end users into unsupported or weird configurations.

    Another great new feature is the timer job subsystem. This allows you to hook into a continuous running process on the SharePoint server. You specify what gets called and when, how often, etc. so things that are currently built as separate console apps or services can be just another assembly on your server that can be turned on and off (even from within a Web Part say to turn archiving on and off).

    More goodness, in a word, XSD. Yup, a fully qualified XSD file for all the configuration files so editing them inside of Visual Studio 2005 will do validation and intellisense on the tags including allowed values and other stuff to prevent you from shooting yourself in the head when editing config files. Okay, so we still have XML based config files but at least there's less of them and they're validated now.

    As for customization you can hook into any part of the UI which is similar to what we have today (like adding options to the Modify Shared Page menu) but this goes beyond that and lets you build you own toolbar items, menus, and even hooks into the new Welcome menu which allows you to sign in/out, change the current user, etc. All of these can be security filtered as well.

    For hard core coding, there's some new classes like SPGridView which is basically a DataGrid but has a bunch of SharePoint-like look and feel to it as well as features to handle sorting and filtering, ala SharePoint style. So if you have custom classes that do this for you now (like I do) you can throw that code away and just instantiate a SPGridView and Bob's your uncle. There's more goodies like the SPBoundColumn class that you add to a SPGridView and lets you bind to a SharePoint list or library column.

    Another much needed class is the SPDataQuery. This is a class that will do cross site queries with a little CAML (set as properties). Basically create an instance of it, set the properties (list type to search, scope, keywords to search) and fire it off to get back a result (or bind it directly to a SPGridView). Sweet.

    If you look around the SharePoint space, there are a lot of navigation components. SharePoint V3 has these now baked in including breadcrumb trail stuff and a new Navigation Node object that you can get and traverse tree views of the entire site. This also has security filtering so if you don't have access to a feature, it's not available to you. Yes, in V3 we finally get links filtered based on your security or role.

    Still another beautiful thing (that got some applause in the audience) is the SPDataSource which is a SharePoint class exposed as an IDataSource. Yup, just hook it up to anything you want now and treat a SharePoint list as any data source which will make SharePoint reporting a snap.

    There's a small SharePoint/CMS MVP group growing at PDC. Today I met with Jans Tielens and Patrick Tisseghem. Interesting how people are different in person. Jans is taller than I imagined, Patrick younger and Angus Logan... well, Angus is just plain Angus (complete with his Porn room at The Standard). Good times and I'm sure you'll see more interesting blogs from them on the sessions they attended and thoughts that they have about things (Angus has been doing a series of one-line blog posts everytime he hears something new, we'll talk to that boy).

    That about covers it and I do apologize if there's some errors or omissions I made here. Like I said up front, the fire hose has been turned on and trying to go through what I have access to and what was presented, I might be wrong here and there in details so my apologies for that. If you're unsure about something or want more details, just yell and I'll see what I can do. Off to be a movie geek now!

    P.S. My heart almost stopped today as I saw Fitz blogging. Again. That's twice in two days, a record for him. Now that the gag is lifted, he's got a LOT of catching up as do we all. Watch for more to come.

    Tags and Links

    Google Maps where I'm staying (Miyako)

  • PDC Day 02 (An early morning start)

    I just woke up after dozing off in my room. It's 2:30AM and HBO is just finishing up with The Terminal starring Tom Hanks. Some days I feel like Viktor Navorski. Wonder if I could fall asleep at PDC and live there for a week undetected? Maybe I'll try that tonight after the Universal Studios party.

    After watching the public unveiling of Office 12 there's been a lot of posts of screenshots and peoples opinions of the new UI and features (including a lot of bitching and griping from the Slashdot crowd which isn't surprising). One thing I really like is the paradigm shift from the traditional Windows menu to the tabbed toolbar idea. Sure, there are some applications that I've seen that have tabbed toolbars but to merge the toolbar and menuing system and replace it, that's slick. I mean, we've been with the File/Edit/Help menu design since Windows 3.0 (or even earlier) and it's part of the CUA/SAA (?) standards (my memory may be stale but I think it's CUA?). I for one really think this is a big change and something that is for the better. I love the menu system idea but then when you look at tabbed toolbars, well it just makes more sense. It still takes up the same real estate for the menu items and on applications with a toolbar (which ones don't have it these days) you still have the same toolbar area (okay, the Office 12 toolbars take up a little more horizontal space) so why not only have toolbars? It makes sense and seems like an improvement. As for user training and such, I don't see a big leap here as the tabs appear very much like the current Menu items and well, people are used to toolbars already. I for one welcome our Toolbar Tab overlord.

    The killer is of course the extensibility that was briefly demonstrated during the keynote where you can add your own tabs or inject controls onto existing tabars. I really hope by the launch that they'll adopt this consistently across all products as it still isn't completely there for IE7 and things yet but I'm sure it will be. Just a little thing but a nice improvement and something to look forward to. For those building on the Vista platform, you can take advantage of it through the improvements in the framework but today, keep it in mind when you're building Fat and Smart Client apps the next time you sit down to start a design. You might like the change and it would prepare your users for the leap forward into the next version of Office. Again, keep an eye out on Office 12 stuff especially around new SharePoint features which will be flooding the channels after the keynote today.

    If you're looking to see who's going to be "manning" the SharePoint/Office lounge check out Erika Ehril's post here with the names and times. Erika is responsible for the lounge and is also the Site Manager of the MSDN Office Developer Center (ODC) and runs a pretty tight ship (yes kids, a girl who knows code and stuff, odd huh?). Fitz isn't officially listed (guess he's higher up the food chain? or maybe lower) but he'll be there as will some of the MVPs that are down here at the conference (I don't have a definitive list of who is but feel free to chime in on MSN and let me know).

    Tags and Links

    Google Maps where I'm staying (Miyako)

  • PDC Day 01 (Holy walking Batman!)

    Today I capped out at 14,592 steps. That's 11.04 miles according to ped-o-metre. That's a crapload of walking and I spent a lot of time just messing about at the SharePoint lounge. I expect it to be bigger later this week. It was a great day and there's so much to keep on top of here.

    First off must be Bill Gates keynote speech. With a hillarious back to school video (Bill G and Napoleon Dynamite star) it was really great to see the progression from the beginning of Microsoft and the shift that seems to be happening every 10 years or so (has it be 30 years already, wow). Check out Barry Gervin's post for an excellent summary and if you can find the webcast online take the time. It's worth it.

    Some of the covers on Office 12 got pulled back with some demos at the keynote and there are lots of screenshots popping up all over the place. I have to check with some people to see if I can use Office 12 for posts now that it's been revealed as I would prefer to use that for some SharePoint screenshots so check back later on that. There's a lot of great stuff happening for SharePoint and Office 12 but it's just the surface. Stay tuned in the next day or so as everything comes out of the closet. You'll be in for a wicked ride. Trust me.

    I stumbled across Mike Fitzmaurice in the SharePoint lounge so that was good (we SharePoint guys just can't seem to get organized enough for a dinner or drink-fest, hopefully we'll be able to all get together by the end of the week). Fitz has been doing his mole-like behaviors but popped up with some nice stuff about SmartPart and with the release of SmartPart 1.1 and Son of SmartPart, well, just go and start building. Jans and Patrick do such great stuff. Watch for (hopefully) a lot of posts by Fitz as he's got a ton of new stuff to blog about (mostly as a result of the stuff coming via PDC).

    Finally, PDC is freakin' huge. I think there's something like 7000 attendees but they have 50+ buses running from 7am to 10pm between 6 different routes. That's just to shuttle people from hotel to convention centre. I'm sure someone will do a detailed blog post about all the resources that went into this PDC, but as Bill Gates said this is the biggest PDC ever and we're still not even halfway there yet.

    Tags and Links

    Google Maps where I'm staying (Miyako)

  • PDC Day 01 (Grooving my way to PDC)

    Well another half day, another 5000 steps (thanks to my Microsoft ped-o-metre), and about 20 new t-shirts later here's the afternoons blog. I've been wandering the floors and will be heading off to the Groove session shortly. Talked with Hugh Pyle, the Senior Product Manager for Groove. He'll be there talking about it (and I think there's a demo). Check it out in Room 406AB at 2:45. You can check out Hugh's new blog here.

    I stopped by the Ontolica booth. They're the ones that make the most excellent free SharePoint Explorer tool (that I'm sure you all have downloaded by now). They have their newest version of their commercial search add-on there and I got to see what was up with it. Their new feature is very goole-like (as if that's news with new products these days) and will display hits within documents. Nice. The demo we did was a search in a Word document which then got rendered via the HTML Viewer and the hits were colour code highlighted. I think the beta is available for download, but check their site here.

    That's it for now. I'm pretty wiped so far and it's only 2pm. Another few more hours, some dinner and copius amounts of drinking should finish off the day. I'll be spending a lot of time in the Office and SharePoint track lounge (but would spend more time here if they got an X-Box hooked up, hint, hint). Catcha later!

  • PDC Day 01 (Lost in Translation)

    Good morning! The night went well with no blackouts, earthquakes (where are the earthquakes!) and very little food as parts of this town seem to roll up at 9PM. I'm staying at the Miyako hotel, not an "official" PDC hotel but it was what Expedia suggested to me and looked pretty good so I went for it (note to self: 3 star hotels in L.A. do not mean what I think they do as far as the rest of the world is concerned). So it seems everything here is geared, well, for the more Oriental types whos average height is 4'5". I'm not a really tall guy at 5'11" but as you can from the photo below, the shower doesn't make for a good morning experience. Next visit I'll ask for the hotel run by Amazons (not the Jeff Bezos type).

    Well, at least Channel 9 guy can get a good start on the morning.

    I just wanted to mention Flickr just plain rocks! I mean there are some great tools out there (Skype, Google, etc.) but Flickr just plain rocks. I've been using it for awhile now but didn't get to upload a lot of pics until PDC. Then I figured I would see what the "pay" version was like and it's great. Get it. Really. It's only $25 bucks a year. Yes, a year! It's more than worth it.

    Anyways, Channel 9 guy and I are off (I've decided that he will now be my official guide while I'm here in California and handle all the press and photo ops that may come my way as he works on being my agent). Everyone needs a travel companion and at least he's foam and not imaginary. So we're off for breaky at PDC and hit the sessions, Bill G's keynote, and the SharePoint pit (I'm just teaching Channel 9 guy the SharePoint ropes so be kind to him when asking questions). Back later from the floor and more pics!

    Flickr (what is with that shower?)
    Google Maps where I'm staying (Miyako)

  • PDC Day 00 (yawn, it's been a long day)

    Pop quiz. Who would be the person at PDC to lose the most digital cameras? The second question is how quickly (and often) can someone lose a digital camera at PDC? The answer is me on both parts. Well, almost. I was at PDC this evening after getting my replacement camera that went MIA last night and, yes, after leaving from one of the BOF sessions guess what SharePoint knob left his camera behind. I made it all the way to the hotel before I realized what was missing from the picture and then stumbled back to the bus, tore down the hall ways to the room and luckily I did manage to get it back but boy was that close. From now on I'm attaching it to my neck so if you're looking for me, I'll be the uber-geek with a camera permanently attached to his big head.

    Tonight I stepped in for Michael Herman to host the BOF session about open source tools and SharePoint. I was there to attend the session but for whatever reason Michael was unable to make it so I figured I would step up and do wherever I could. Thanks to everyone who did show up and not leave (yes, my jokes can be painful especially if you haven't had enough to drink). The session was fun and while I was completely unprepared, we covered a variety of tools and talked about a few aspects of SharePoint development. Hope everyone had a good time.

    I mentioned I would provide as much as I could in this blog so here it is. Below is a list of links to some of the bigger resources out there for SharePoint including specific links to some (hopefully most) of the tools we talked about tonight. Let me know if  I missed anything or if you just want to say hi. I'll be on MSN most of the time ( and on the floor and hanging out in the SharePoint/Office 12 lounge.

    OpenCanal Community - A WSS site with resources for open source tools, webparts, etc.
    SmartPart - Grab the latest version (1.1)
    SyncToy - Sync file system folders with SharePoint web folders
    SharePoint Discovery Kit - Everything you need to really understand SharePoint with labs and screenshots
    Mark Kruger - Excellent list of tools, webparts, and more (also check out the left sidebar for more resources)
    GotDotNet Workspace for SharePoint - Big collection of tools and utilities, most with source
    SharePoint Resource Kit - Lots of handy tools and excerpts from this great book
    SharePoint Tools Galore - Another fabulous list of tools and goodies for SharePoint
    CAML Builder - Forgot to mention this during the session (doh!) but it's a must-have tool if you're pulling your hair out with CAML
    SharePoint Explorer - A must have tool for developers and admins. Free from Ontolica.
    SPSDev - Lot of great little utilities and web parts.
    CorasWorks - The grand daddy of rollups for those with a budget
    NinTex Smart Library - Workflow (and more) for your libraries
    AJAX.NET Library - More DHTML to load up your otherwise bloated SharePoint sites but cuts down on post-backs
    Bluedog Limited - Technical blog for SharePoint
    Code Segment Blog - Free rollup type web parts
    Reflector - Lutz Roeder's tool that every developer should have.

    There's always more to talk about with SharePoint. The discussion did come up and people are still maybe confused over the whole SPS vs. WSS thing so feel free to grab me and we can head into the SharePoint lounge for a longer discussion around that with an impromptu get together (could be a long one, so pack a lunch). Also I noticed there were some pictures taken at the session so if you do have that it would be great if you can direct me to where they are or send me a copy (the session was at 7PM in room 501B).

    That's it for me tonight. Tommorow I face the amazingly short shower (with pic so you get the full experience, don't worry this is with clothing) and the almost as amazing long day (complete with keynote from big Bill). A day of sessions, hanging out in the lounge, and finally coming to grips with my own inhumanity to people with one eyebrow.

    Flickr (new pics of Channel 9 guy in various situations, make up your own and join in the fun)
    Google Maps where I'm staying (Miyako)

  • PDC Day 00 (A new camera)

    While the day is just winding down, I managed to find the incredible toy district here in L.A. and replace my lost camera. L.A. seems to be broken down into districts. There's the bank district (where most of the office buildings and banks are, so appropriately named). The jewelry district where you can get the latest knock-off tiaras and whatnot. The fashion district where Gucci and Louis Vuitton clones are more prominent than a gaggle of Jango Fetts (okay, that's a geek reference in case you missed it). And then there is the toy district. Yes, an entire district where you can buy toys and electronics and pretty much every other odd and end (like a 50 quart (50!) pot which is great for cooking copius amounts of chilli, or small nocturnal marsupials; which I'm sure happens here all the time).

    There are probably other districts (the overpaid Hollywood actors who starred with Kevin Bacon district?) the but it was there in the toy district where I found a suitable replacement camera for my stupidity. I was able to haggle for a new Olympus C-60 camera. Pretty nice with 6.1MP, lots of modes (auto, aperture mode, shutter mode, etc.) and got a 256MB card thrown in (to replace the crappy 32MB that comes with it). All this for $200USD so I don't really care where the guy got it from. It turns out to be better than my old FinePix camera, still uses the xD cards (which I'm happy with and plug right into my laptop) and has lots of great modes for taking better pics. Here's the first pic of the PDC swag that I got when I registered this morning.

    There's a lot of great stuff here. First off the bag itself is pretty nice. Well built and lots of nice components and compartments. The only problem that I have with it (that others have commented on) is that it can't handle anything bigger than a 15" wide laptop. These days I think everyone is getting the 17" widescreen ones. Oh well, can't please everyone. There's some sweet stuff in the swag including a free subscription to Visual Studio Magazine (Thanks PDC!) and the even better wristband that's required for us to wear which will let us in Wednesday night to Universal Studios for a night of debauchery. Also included are some nice CD/DVDs including a pretty cool package of some Smart Client apps that you should load up and check out.

    So the pics are back (at least until I lose this camera) and you check my Flickr blog below for all of the images over the next week. Hopefully I'll have the pics showing up on the group Flickr pool site but I've been a little technically challenged with my posts. Flickr didn't seem to be grabbing the images (even though I have the "pdc05" tag) and my blog entries haven't been showing up on the PDC blogger site (even though I'm listed as a PDC blogger). Whatever. Stay tuned for lots of great pics tommorow starting with Big Bill G. and the keynote speech (yeah, pictures of a billionare talking are not very exciting, but hey go with the moment).

    Off to find some kind of nightlife. Feel free to bug me on MSN ( if you want to hook up and make fun of the locals (after a few rounds of course).

    Flickr (new pics are up with my new Olympus! Hurray for the Toy District!)
    Moblog (some new pics including me in my shower, stay tuned for blog tommorow on this)
    Google Maps where I'm staying (Miyako)

  • PDC Day 00 (Later that same afternoon)

    Wow. What is it with me and trips? I come to a new city and first there's a terrorist threat, then I lose my camera and now there was a power blackout. I was heading back from PDC to the hotel and we started to hit various traffic lights that were out. After driving for awhile, we noticed it was a blackout. I hopped off the bus and asked a couple of LAPD officers walking the beat here in Little Tokyo and they said it was out for about half an hour. I was going to just hop back onto the bus and head back to PDC (where there is power) but as I walked into my hotel, the lights came back on. I personally attribute it to my own electric personality. Looking down the street, all the lights are blinking but at least they're powered now.

    What is it with drivers? When the lights go out, you treat the intersection as a 4 way stop. Here in L.A. the drivers basically run as they see a whole, and god help any pedestrian running across the street at the time. Anyways, on the bus ride back to the hotel we passed through various districts. The jewelry district was cute but nothing I need (right now). Then we hit the fashion district. Good to know. I saw a trickle of electronics store scattered amongst the Gucci knock-offs but then lo and behold... the TOY district! Yahoo. I'm going shopping (as long as the power lasts anyways).

    Flickr (no pics yet but there is hope in sight courtesy of the TOY DISTRICT!)
    Google Maps where I'm staying (Miyako)

  • PDC Day 00 (AFT)

    Hi guys. I'm blogging from PDC after registering this morning. The setup is pretty freakin' impressive (and huge). WiFi everywhere. Geeks everywhere (not a good looking woman to be had) and more PDAs and laptops than you can shake a stick at. Tommorow is the big launch day with Bill G. in da house giving the keynote. Until this we struggle to look for a nightlife, parties to crash, and bars to upheave. Hooked up with Angus Logan and we wandered about the town trying to find a camera store and a place to get a mobile SIM for Angus. The people of L.A. are a little off as they keep looking at me like I have three heads everytime I ask someone for a place to buy a camera. I mean, there's a jewelry district here so where the hell is the geek district? You know, the place with all the geek stores side by side and I can just max out my credit card? I suppose if I asked them I wanted to buy a suitcase full of uncut coke they could direct me to that (and would maybe he have a camera to sell me?). Anyways, the quest goes on as I try to find a camera replacement, a nightlife and some semblance of fun in this town.

    Flickr (no pics yet as I struggle to find a camera store in the %#$%@ town)
    Google Maps where I'm staying (Miyako)

  • PDC Day 00 (AM)

    It was a dark and stormy night and all around.. oh wait. No, wrong blog post. It's sunny and 80,000 degrees here in L.A. and the night was quiet. No earthquakes or terrorist attacks from some valley guy (yeah, I picked a great time to visit a new city). No word yet on my missing camera so I'm going to write it off. The good thing is that I'm located in Little Tokyo so I just have to fall over before I'm surrounded by electronics.

    Some of the broken things I was experiencing earlier are working now. I have the Julian thingy working on my PDA now and downloaded the sessions. They've updated it to include things like the .NET Rocks trivia contest tonight (yeah of course I'll be there, like you had to ask?) and the BOF sessions. Nice. Although with good comes the bad. After unpacking everything I forgot the power cable for my external drive. I had all my virtual images on it and was hoping to play around with some new stuff this week that I had. Sigh. Even with a checklist this nerd just doesn't get it. Let's see, 1 day here and I lose my camera, and forget my power cable. At least I have the power for my laptop and other goodies. Can't wait to see what happens later in the week.

    Anyways, I'm off now to hunt down and kill some breakfast here then down to the conference centre to check-in or whatever and get some geek booty.

    Flickr (no pics today as Mr. Fuji has going MIA)
    Google Maps where I'm staying (Miyako)

  • PDC Day -01

    Well that went well. Checked into the Calgary airport at 4pm for a 6pm flight. Hey, it's Calgary. Expect to show up about 20 minutes before the flight for domestic and an hour (or so) for international. I don't know what it is with our airport, but waits are pretty short and it's actually a pleasant experience (at least as far as airport experiences go). Spent about 25 minutes waiting in line then 5 minutes telling the attendant where I was going, what I was carrying, etc. etc. Another 15 minutes or so getting through customs and I was ready to go. The take-off worked which was a good thing. It's pretty cloudy here in Calgary (which comes directly from it raining the last 3 days straight) so got some pretty cool shots as we were taking off. Of course check out below how those pictures are probably gone into the ethers of the tangent universe forever now.

    The flight is longer than I thought. I keep forgetting I'm going over the great imaginary line of "set-your-watches-ahead-an-hour". So it's actually 3 hours cramped in my 18F seat (note to self: next trip I'm going Executive Class so I have some leg and elbow room). At least I was 1 seat away from the emergency exit so in the case of unexpected meteor strikes (I was watching the skies) I'll be pretty good. Just a quick hop over the seat in front of me and I'll be boucing my way to freedom.

    We landed in L.A. with relative ease but the dude in 17D (you know who you are) kept staring at the hot German babe as she was getting ready to leave. I kept looking at him as if he was maybe finding a good thing to say to her, but he just stared at her boobs. After a few moments he glanced up to see me looking at him (at which time I shifted my glare to his 60ish old wife). He smiled briefly but knew he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Yes, that was the most eventful thing of the trip. Two things I noticed on the way down here (and I haven't flown for a few years, so bear with me) but a 3 hour flight with no dinner? And no movie! I got to watch a crappy episode of That 70's Show, a bunch of PSAs for various services, and (yes, I find it hard to believe to) a documentary on Lemurs. Yeah. Lemurs. And they wonder why people commit random acts of violence on flights.

    I'll also admit that I guess I'm not as clever as I think I am sometimes. I was taking some time last night as I got my crap together and realized a few cool things I stumbled across. First there's a pretty slick .NET app that will download the PDC sessions to your PocketPC and download various notes and whatnot. I tried hooking it up but I'm running Windows Mobile 2003 on my Dell Axim and it keeps yelling at me like an angry housewife about it not being compatible. It runs however but the login didn't work for me. Sometimes I wonder how I get my laptop booted some days. Second the PDC guys have come along with a wicked night at Universal Studios for all attendees. Free of charge (of course).

    So I finally get to the hotel after a bitchin' ride that shaved all but a few years off my already dwindling soul. The driver seemed like a cheery fellow (telling us how Paris Hilton takes shuttles too) but then proceeded to burn rubber throughout LAX with 9 people in tow (and me digging my fingernails into the seat in front of me). He said at one point that it took him and hour to get somewhere the other day. I'm a calm guy and will believe a lot of things that are fed to me but if that dude ever took an hour to get somewhere I'll eat this blog posting in public. The hotel I'm staying at (the Miyako) isn't bad but I got a bit of a shaft on the Internet site and comments from it. It's fine and all. Clean. Quiet. On a side-street so not a lot of traffic. However it just seems plain. Next year it's the Wilshire Grand or something a little more upscale.

    And to top the day off, I seem to have lost my digital camera. Yeah, stupid me must have lost it in the shuttle or when I tripped getting out of it (trust me, I was running as fast as I could from them once it came to a complete and utter stop). So now here I am, a day away from PDC and I'm going to have to go find me a new digital camera to carry me through the conference. Bummer. Didn't really want to drop another few hundred on something as silly as that but my poor camera phone just doesn't cut it and I doubt I'll get my old FinePix back. Oh well, off to shoppping in the morning.

    I'm still struggling with what to do with myself off-hours but I'm heading out to the PDC Underground event and the Universal Studio night is going to rock. Otherwise I'll just wander the streets of L.A. hoping to find something fun to do. Maybe I'll roll a homeless person, start a small racial-based riot, or just stand on the corner waving a sign "Will code for food" and see where that takes me. With losing my camera, I might change that sign to "Will code for electronic equipment" so take pity on the poor Canadian boy.

    Flickr (no pics today as Mr. Fuji has going MIA)

  • PDC Day -02

    Here we go. We're counting down to PDC and we're at Day -02 (PDC doesn't officially start until Tuesday and I'm a 0-based counter just like C#). I'm sitting here going through my sessions, getting my papers ready for the evil border police (waving the Canadian flag at them just doesn't cut it anymore), and otherwise panicking as I'm sure I'll forget something. Here's my checklist for the event:

    • Passport and money to bribe border officials, needed to get past the security drone at the airport (note to self: don't use Monopoly money this time round)
    • eTickets for flight, pretty necessary if I want to get onto the actual plane (other than waving a bar of soap that might work but it's raining in Calgary so it might sud up, 10 points to Gryffindor who can name the movie that's from)
    • Extra large bag with minimal clothes so I have room for all the geek toys I'll pick up in L.A. and the conference (or whatever else I pick up, homeless people, small marsupials, etc.)
    • Earthquake-proof Presario R4000 laptop with enough games and music on it so I can keep myself occupied (or at least look that way)
    • Laptop case for said laptop so I can take it on the plane with me. After all it's been days since I was last at CPR so controlling safety critical software with a computer is just in my blood.
    • More USB flash drives than you can shake a stick at so I can quickly steal any content that happens to be lying around at the booths.
    • 80GB USB external drive with my virtual machine images and various other stuff (porn of course) so I can show off whatever we geeks show off at the conference.
    • Official Microsoft "I'm an uber-geek" clothes and badges so everyone knows how nerdy I really am
    • Canadian flag on pretty much everything just in case America is invaded by misplaced Peruvians. I figure they'll put us Canucks in hotels because they pity our lack of indecision/responsibility/whatever with the NAFTA.
    • A ton of AA batteries for my MP3 player and digital camera (no, nothing else is battery powered so don't even go there!)
    • My name written into my Spiderman Underoos just in case I get lost. If you see a nerdy looking guy wandering the streets of L.A. next week, check the tag and return to sender.

    One thing about PDC sessions. They have a nice feature online to launch a calendar object so you can add it to your Outlook schedule. However my Outlook is on my desktop so I'll be syncing with my PDA. When you launch the iCal file, it automatically adjusts the schedule to whatever your current time zone is so all my sessions are 1 hour off. I only realized this after adding them all to my calendar but for those that are doing it this way, just keep an eye out for that.

    You can track me through this blog everyday from now until I last (or I come back to Calgary). I'll be posting through three different mediums:

    1. Through this blog (which will become part of the bigger tagged posts)
    2. Through my own Flickr page here (which will also appear on the official PDC Flicker tagged photos here)
    3. Through my photoblog on if I catch anything with my camera phone that I can't with my camera (lower res but handy for those public police beating type events that come up)

    Well, it's off to bed shortly and a new blog tommorow as I face my annual full body search event at the airport. Cheers!

  • Compliance Server Public Beta

    I've been testing a new add-on for SharePoint called 80-20 Compliance Server (hey, I don't make these names up) for some time now and it's a pretty nice package. The team responsible, 80-20 Software, has been quite voracious in getting new builds together, responding to feedback, and keeping the product up and stable in the last few weeks.

    The package is made up of a few components that site next to SharePoint (including a server, Web Parts, admin tools etc.) and is primarily targeted at managing the retention lifecycle of content in SharePoint. It does this by applying business rules that you define to handle the retention for you. This is a little more than just archiving as it has search and other goodies for the documents and just doesn't offload something to a tape farm but applies business processing against them like what should be retained, how long they should be kept, etc. It's quite nice and has some added value if you're looking for this sort of thing that SharePoint doesn't provide OOTB. It also has a SDK (unfortunately I haven't had a lot of time to play with yet) which allows you to integrate their system with your own CRM, ERP, or whatever you want.

    The official release of the public beta is for Monday but you can check it out now on their page here and join the public beta program.

    Also I'm leaving Cowtown on Sunday for PDC all next week. Can't wait to meet everyone out there so be sure to look for the big geek spouting SharePoint goodness to everyone. Stay tuned to the blog for daily blow-by-blows, pics, and of course the infamous Whack-a-Fitz videos (subject to participation and state and federal export laws).

  • The Goodbye Caboose

    The blog has been pretty barren the last while but last week I made a pretty big decision and submitted my resignation to my current employer, Canadian Pacific Railway. I had been with CP since 1996 (my 10 year anniversary would be April 1, 2006) and it was the longest I was with an organization (previously I was at H&R Block for 3-4 years). Many opportunities came up over the years, but I stayed loyal to the railway. Finally an opportunity and circumstances came up that I couldn't pass on. It was a tough and hard decision but the right one for me.

    It's been a great time with CP and I've done a lot of amazing things over the years and moved the IT department in some pretty interesting directions. As CPR is primarily a railway, it's hard to actually get the business to buy into this whole technology thing (don't even ask me about introducing Agile to a Railroad) but I was pretty instrumental in getting the organization to adopt new versions of software the same year it was released (yes, sounds silly but it actually was a challenge). CPR was the home where I was exposed to and introduced SharePoint (I'm sure they'll hate me for that) and it was a fun place to write software that controlled 120-ton trains and the track they run on (yeah, you can feel worried at railroad crossings now that you know who's software is behind them).

    Anyways, I'm off now into the wild after almost 10 years to bigger and better things and will be working in the private sector doing SharePoint and .NET Architecture and Consulting for a variety of clients. New daemons to battle, new technologies to conquer, new Microsquishy people to badger, and new expense budgets to blow. Hope the next 10 years are as fun as the last 10 were (at least I won't be crashing any trains anytime soon).