For me, every conference has a 'feel.' OOPSLA has the feel of many bright often academically trained programmers gathered around a table arguing about object inheritance and extolling SmallTalk. JavaOne, which has only ever been held in San Francisco, has the feel of a Starbucks, of programmers that are just a few steps away from marketing, wearing black, with smoked Italian glasses, trying to get a Java phone to stop playing Joy to the World. TechEd used to be about Dockers (wide-body Dockers, that is), but now it is about Bermuda-style shorts. It is friends meeting over Granola bars and Haagen Dazs ice cream on their way to the next technical session. It has, in my humble opinion, more of a feel of work getting done than some of the other shows.
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This year's TechEd in Orlando was no exception. It was even a bit more workmanlike than in the past (although I can't be sure -- my plane took me out in time to miss the Thursday night party at SeaWorld). There wasn't much big new news in Orlando. We already knew SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 were coming this year; now we know they will be here the week of November 7th. At the same time, .NET 2.0 will officially come into the light.
After five years in the making, .NET is entering a new stage. Updates to VB.NET will bring more of the original flavor of Visual Basic development to that platform. VB hands ready to bolt for the C# platform will have reason to think again before they leap. ASP.NET 2.0 is a game changer too. Let's face it, the smart money usually waits for Version 2.0 of a software release before making a major move. .NET 2.0 will be the litmus test for this framework. Things continue to get more interesting.
Anyway, the most memorable view of TechEd was the podcast crew. Microsoft sponsored "Reporters of the Future" who bopped about with all the alacrity of Marvin the Martian in the old Looney Tunes. Carrying mikes and video-cameras; dressed in black t-shirts, black Bermuda shorts and black jogging shoes; riding Segways as though on chariots; rocketing through the halls; interviewing people -- the podcasters were quite a site.
Apparently, with iPods and such, streaming media has reached the mainstream. I had a little trouble figuring out why podcasts are so much associated with blogs, but Brian Swartz of Microsoft explained to me that they use RSS feeds to alert the pods of the world that the cast is ready. I guess the way the links to their podcasts work is as RSS feeds. For people without feeds in place, the geeks at geekswithblogs aggregated available TechEd podcasts onto a single page for viewing. They work, as you may have guessed, with Windows Media Player. Click here to go to geekswithblogs.net, and see the future.