Notes from TechEd 2006 in Boston

  • First of all, I would like to publicly apologize for the bad attitude I have had about the city of Boston.  I was dreading this trip.  My previous visits to Boston have left me with hatred and bitterness.  I see now that this is because in the past I have always rented a car.  This time, I did not, and I experienced a great change of heart about this amazing city:

    • I still think that visiting Boston is an indescribably hideous experience for someone driving a car.  If your religious beliefs include the concept of a place of never-ending torment, think of it like this:  People who get sent to hell should spend a week driving in Boston first.  That way, the rest of eternity won't seem nearly so bad.

    • On the other hand, for people who are walking, Boston is a wonderful city.  The weather this week was essentially perfect.  The seafood is excellent.  The buildings are historic.  We saw the Boston Public Library and the Old South Church, both of which are stunning.  The people in Boston are friendly and they speak with a cool accent.

    • Bottom line:  If you visit Boston, don't make the mistake I have made in the past.  Hail a taxi.  Use public transportation.  Walk as much as you can.  Leave the driving to the local professionals who know what they're doing.  As long as you don't touch a steering wheel, Boston is a great place to visit.

  • I was scheduled to arrive at my hotel very late Sunday night.  Even though my reservation was guaranteed with a credit card, I was worried they would give my room away.  I've had hotels do that to me before.  The only suitable punishment for that crime is a lifetime of driving in Boston.  So I called the hotel Sunday morning and reminded them that I would be there late and that I expected my room to be available.  I told my kids that if the hotel gave my room away I was going to throw the biggest tantrum Massachusetts has ever seen.  (Only later did I realize the sheer scope of my threat:  Ted Kennedy is from Massachusetts).  Anyway, all my worrying was in vain.  I arrived around 1am at the Jurys hotel and got my room as expected.  Everything about my stay was quite pleasant.  In fact, Jurys Boston is one of the nicest hotels I have seen.

  • My new alarm clock worked really well.  Not only does it have an alarm, but it has a snooze feature!  Oh, and it's also a phone.

  • OpenVPN is awesome.  We deployed it several months ago when we started expanding with presence in other cities, but this was my first experience using it on a trip.  I am very impressed.

  • TechEd itself was fine.  I didn't go to any of the sessions, but the traffic in the expo hall was generally quite active.  The organizers did a great job this year at driving the attendees to visit the exhibitors.

  • If you were annoyed at my use of the word "driving" in the previous point, then you've probably never been to TechEd.  Picture a bunch of event staff trying to move twelve thousand geeks around at a conference.  Now picture cowboys trying to move a herd of cattle.  The techniques are similar.  :-)

  • Thanks to the many cows visitors who came to our booth.  :-)  Seriously, talking with people about our product is the whole point of a trade show.  I particularly appreciated the opportunity to meet with a bunch of our existing customers.  As a company that sells software over the Internet, the chance to meet users in person is a rare pleasure.

  • It was really funny to see so many people crowded around the TV screens to watch the World Cup.  I'll confess I watched a little, but I just don't get soccer.  More generally, I'm not a fan of sports which are dominated by defense.  My boredom threshold is far too low.

  • It is always nice to talk with Julia Lerman, a regular at conferences like these.  We had a great conversation about WCF.  I learned some things I didn't know.

  • I had an interesting chat with Ted Bahr of BZ Media.  I was embarrassed to learn that I had failed to notice that he had written a comment on my recent blog post about the death of developer magazines.  Ted is the 'B' in BZ Media, the publisher of SD Times.

  • An impromptu conversation with Scott Hanselman was a lot of fun.  Actually, I did a lot more listening than talking.  Scott talks really fast, and he has a lot of very smart things to say.  We started talking about version control systems and "Tortoise" clients and blame features.  At some point he started delivering a very passionate sermon about the virtues of CodeRush, which somehow looked even more neato with Hanselman preaching than it did in the DevExpress booth just down the aisle from us.

  • I enjoyed a very nice chat with Brian Harry, the guy who created SourceSafe and who now leads the development of Team Foundation Server.  The design challenges in building a version control system are incredibly hard.  I sometimes wonder what it would be like to carry the experience from one system while designing an entirely new one.  Brian is one of the very people on earth who have done this twice, so I seized the chance to grill him with a few geeky questions.

  • I hate the decision to drop the WinFX name in favor of ".NET Framework 3.0".  I stopped by the WinFX .NET 3.0 kiosk to say so.  They gave me a couple pieces of WinFX-branded swag, which I guess are now going to become collector's items.

  • Ian and I enjoyed a pleasant conversation and a game of 8-ball with a couple of guys from Red Gate Software, including Simon Galbraith, one of their founders.  Simon is an interesting guy, and Red Gate is a company that I admire very much.  BTW, Team SourceGear won that game, but just barely.  Given that we have a pool table in our office, it was a lot closer than it should have been.  :-)