The MSDN Northeast Roadshow: It’s What’s For Dinner

The MSDN Northeast Roadshow with Chris Bowen, Jim O’Neil and Bob Familiar is what’s for dinner.  It’s required for any serious .NET developer.  Those who skip the MSDN Northeast Roadshow are the symbolic equivalent of the guys in the black vans Philip Seymour Hoffman points to and yells, “Looooo-ser! Move on!” as they drive past the flipped truck in Twister.

The MSDN Roadshow is a day-long event for .NET developers.  It is required for several reasons. First, Chris Bowen’s smiling face will transport you to a higher plane of existence and restore your faith in humanity. (That’s for lucky Northeasterners only.  Sorry to everyone else outside of Chris’s region.)  Secondly, you are introduced to the very latest technology Redmond has to offer.  With that knowledge you are able to decide where to focus your efforts to build your chops, keep the inner geek fires burning, and in general, keep your Quality of Life Quotient in an upwardly mobile direction.  I should also mention that the road shows are free, but if you’re an independent like me, attending a day’s conference costs several hundreds of dollars.  Whatever your hourly rate, the insights gained at a day’s MSDN Roadshow (with Chris, Jim and Bob in the Northeast Region, that is), are more than worth their billable equivalent.

As for today’s Summer 2009 Northeast Roadshow review, let me start by saying I experienced my first Windows 7 saliva drippings during Jim O’Neil’s opening presentation.  Deep inside I’m a small kernel OS kind of guy, but Windows 7 still looks sexy as hell.

Chris then fired-up the Vermont Nerd Contingent with a review of Silverlight 3.  The out-of-browser capabilities are very cool.  Blend 3’s sketch flow ouput of project prototypes to Word, with annotations, table of content and screenshots has to be seen to be believed.

Jim’s Data Access presentation was an interesting walk-through of the past and future of data access in ASP.NET.  ADO.NET Data Services are where my current affections lie.

Bob Familiar showed me how much I’ve been missing by ignoring IE8, which I installed on both my Vista machine and Windows 2008 development Server through Window Updates.  Webslices, or subscribeable segments of HTML, are cool if you need them, which I don’t.  Accelerators, on the other hand, are something I’ll definitely be investigating.  I knew the Developer Toolkit was integrated into IE8 because I used it, but I didn’t use some of its new features, like the profiler and the script debugger.  Bob demo’d the script debugger breaking on a bad javascript function statement.  YOUSA!  VERY cool!

Here is the bit of information that was worth the price of admission to the day’s events, the ability to enter a metatag so that non-CSS 2.1 compliant sites (like several I manage) display in IE7 compatibility mode.  I ran into this just last week and didn’t understand what was happening nor what action to take. Now I’m back in the game.

Chris did a really excellent job introducing MVC to us. I have no interest in using MVC now or in the foreseeable future, but I was able to appreciate why it’s getting so much buzz in better understanding its retro-clean architecture.

Bob closed out the day demonstrating the WPF Toolkit Ribbon and new Datagrid capabilities, along with the Dispatcher, how to create asynchronous background tasks, and using the DispatchTimer.  I used asynchronous background tasks and many of the datagrid capabilities Bob demo’d in my Silverlight Datagrid application, so it was good to think I wasn’t too far behind the WPF Eight Ball.

I took two pages of notes with the intention of reproducing them here.  That’s obviously not going to happen.  Next Roadshow, however, I’m determined to have a new laptop with a battery lifespan of more than the 10 minutes my current laptop has. Then everyone (the “Loooo-sers” and Bill Paxton’s team alike), will enjoy all of the day’s exciting play-by-play MSDN Roadshow action.

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A long time developer, I was an early adopter of Linux in the mid-90's for a few years until I entered corporate environments and worked with Microsoft technologies like ASP, then .NET. In 2008 I released Sueetie, an Online Community Platform built in .NET. In late 2012 I returned to my Linux roots and locked in on Java development. Much of my work is available on GitHub.