Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What A Week!!!!

I just returned from BUILD 2012 and I can’t say enough about it. If you’ve never been to a Build or PDC, you haven’t been to a conference. Microsoft pulls out all the stops!!! It is amazing. Of course, the goodies are great but they pale in comparison to the people you meet and what you learn.

The People

I met some amazing folks but my Hackathon team is at the top of the list: Glenn Henriksen, Geir-Tore Lindsve, Laura Thompson and Joseph Tu. Five folks who had never met came together win the Windows Azure category! These folks rock!

I also met some ‘softies who just plain kick tail! Sreekanth Kannepalli was our mentor for the Hackathon and was invaluable in our win. We also got help from Denis Delimarschi. Of course, I can’t forget the Dan Fernandez, the host and moderator. It rocked, Dan!!! Arif Shafique and Theo Yaung are two other folks I met through the days. I’m telling you, Microsoft has some smart cookies!!

The Goodies

Each attendee got a Microsoft Surface RT 32GB, a Nokia Lumia 920 and 100GB of SkyDrive storage.

Let’s skip the storage and go straight to the Lumia 920. The pictures are stunning even in low light (see below) and the large screen makes them come to life. It’s fast and Windows Phone 8 just flows.

The Surface RT is not an iPad competitior, it’s an extension of your computing space on a tablet. Working on my Surface is not much different than my desktop aside from form factor. Will I do all my work on it? No, but when I need to be mobile and agile, it’s the tool. Using SkyDrive everything is connected and available. I don’t need to think about where things are stored and what I need to do to make sure they are available. Open a Word or Excel doc, use OneNote, just about anything I need to do, I can do.

So far the only glitch seems to be that I sometimes have to restart to get the touchpad working. So far I haven’t figured out the pattern but I sense there is one. Since I use the screen keyboard most of the time, this is not an issue.

The Technologies

Windows 8 is different but I really like it. If you are not on a touch device, it takes some getting used to (see post on short-cuts coming soon). If you are on a touch device it takes about five minutes to get going and about two days to get the true hang of it. The Metro UI makes sense in a touch world. All of the gestures feel natural and unforced. The Live Tiles feature is visual candy but nice to have. So far, I’ve been running about a month and it is faster than Win7.

Windows 8 Phone flows. Best way to describe it. Everything makes sense and I don’t spend time looking for things that should be there. Only thing I wish it had is the ability to close an app. I know the OS is supposed to take care of that but it’s not perfect yet.

Windows Azure was my “Doh!” moment. I had really passed on it as a miss by Microsoft because I felt the learning curve and cost were going to be high. Wrong! I attended 1 session by Josh Twist and was up and running in nothing flat. More on this in a later post. Looking at the pricing structure, it seems very affordable.

JavaScript was described by Scott Hanselmann as an operating system. Five minutes into his talk and I agreed although it stills seems wrong somehow. JavaScript was everywhere. It’s used to script in Azure which reduces the learning curve tremendously.

That’s it for the overall. I’ll start posting on using the above soon.

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