... to whoever stands next to me in the lunch queue!
Yes! My employers (Paragon Simulation) have very kindly agreed to send me to Microsoft's Platform Developers Conference 2008 in Los Angeles in October. I've completed the booking today, along with flights. Just got to figure out the best way to get from Birmingham to Heathrow. I'm pretty excited about this. Going to LA (and the US) for the first time will be quite an experience, though I don't expect to see much more of it than the airport, my hotel room and the conference centre (or should that be center!). The agenda looks pretty intense: sessions from around 8:30am to 6:00pm most days,with Lounges, Labs, Expos and UnSessions going on till nine or ten in the evening. Will I have any time for blogging? I sure hope so, because I remember lapping up every post I could find on PDC last time round, and I hope to be a producer rather than a consumer this time!
Those in the know are hyping up the "killer content" at this year's PDC. According to Jon Box it's the one must-attend conference for 2008. The hot topics are likely to be Live Mesh (and Cloud Computing in general), IE 8, Windows 7, and the next version of the .Net Framework (including C# 4.0). Much of the content is kept under wraps until the beginning of the conference, but the published session abstracts give some clues to what will be revealed. Here's what I personally am looking forward to hearing about:
- C# 4.0 and .Net 4.0: Anders himself will be speaking on the Future of C#. This will surely be where we find out what's in and what's out of C# 4.0. There has been lots of speculation about what might be coming, but only a few definite maybes (about Dynamic Method/Property Lookup and Covariance/Contravariance). I'm predicting some kind of improved language support for parallelism and concurrency. Connected with this is an intriguing-sounding session about Advances in COM Interop. The session abstract talks about a "much simplified story for interoperating between native COM-based hosts and managed code, including Office". I wonder whether this will involve the DLR?
- Oslo: Soon after .Net 3.0 (WPF, WCF, etc.) was released the blogosphere heard rumours that the trio Sells, Anderson and Box in the Connected Systems Division had started work on a new product. Then there was talk about something they nicknamed Emacs.Net. In October last year project Oslo was announced. It seems to have something to do with Service Oriented and Distributed Applications, but it apparently comes in lots of different pieces (supplied in a box with one missing, no doubt!), including a new modelling language and some kind of visual editor, with tie-ins to Cloud computing. It sounds very grand: I'm sure it will be interesting, and could even be relevant to the work we're doing.
- Cloud Computing: This seems to be one of the latest buzzwords. Amazon and Google have both jumped on the Cloud Computing bandwagon, and Microsoft are determined not to be left in the dust. They've been talking about Live Mesh already, and in the Agenda are sessions on things they're calling Building Block Services. SQL Server Data Services seems to fit into the picture somewhere. Hopefully this initiative will be more substantial than its name suggests!
- Windows 7: For some reason, I'm not as excited about Windows 7 as the other things on the agenda (sticks thermometer in mouth). I use Vista at home, but at work we're plenty satisfied with Windows XP. All the goodness (from a programmer's point of view) these days seems to live in the Frameworks, which work on whichever version of Windows. It looks like it might stay that way for Windows 7, unless they make some big announcements at the PDC. I'll probably listen in on the session about Touch Computing, but at the moment there's nothing much else of relevance to me.
Since this is my first ever PDC, I've been googling for tips on getting the most out of the conference: Zach Bonham has some useful ones about the conference in general. Scott Berkun's main piece of advice is that "Conversations are more valuable than the sessions". Bearing that in mind, I went searching for articles on how to talk to strangers, never my strongest point - the childhood lesson was drummed in too well. I did find some handy advice from David Funk. If any stranger would like to meet up with me at the conference for some practice in this art, get in touch!
Does anybody else have any useful tips about PDC or conferences in general? Is there anybody in the Birmingham area who would be interested in sharing transport to/from Heathrow (flying out on Saturday 25th, back on Saturday 1st)?
Finally, an unusual request: does anybody know of a sound Evangelical Church where I could worship on the Sunday, in the area near the conference venue - or know of a way to find one?