Thursday, 06 October 2005
At the PDC, we were shown what Office 12 is going to be like, and it was impressive. But since then more announcements keep coming out about it that in many ways are more impressive than the new user interface. (If you're thinking "what new user interface?" you need to check out the future Office page at MSDN for details.) Apparently the Channel 9 Video has been insanely popular also. In some ways the Open XML formats are more exciting than the UI , especially for developers. And now this: Office 12 - not just Word, but Excel, PowerPoint, Visio, everybody - will all know how to publish their documents as PDF. No third party tool, no add in, it will just work. I read about it on Brian Jones' blog, but there are also details on that future Office page.
Saturday, 01 October 2005
I fly quite a lot. Over the first six months of this year (I pretty much stopped travelling after TechEd USA) i flew 25,000 miles. That's not a lot compared to those who reach Air Canada Super Elite status at 100,000 miles (a handful even fly 300,000 miles a year) but it felt like a lot to me. I'm about to fly another 30,000 in just a few weeks... to South Africa and back, then a week later to Las Vegas and back. But it's nothing compared to what someone I know is up to.
Air Canada is selling an "unlimited" North America travel pass. $7000 gets you all the flights you can stand in October and November. A fellow Flyertalker with two months off has bought one and is trying to get the maximum possible mileage from it. Because he's already Super Elite, he gets a 50% bonus on every mile he flies, and there's a promotion on to get a 25% bonus as well (I earned a 542 mile bonus to and from LA for the PDC). Add in threshold bonuses and he has determined he is going to earn a million Aeroplan miles for just $7,000 ... and two solid months of his time. Most of it will be up front, thanks to the upgrade certificates he's going to earn as he goes, and his status moving him to the front of the line for "op-ups" on full flights. His sleep, what there is of it, will be exclusively on overnight transcontinental flights.
He's blogging his progress... a must read!
Update: there are now four Flyertalkers doing this, but Marc is the one blogging it. Today he mentioned on FT: "I was home last night, had dinner with family. Leaving at 820 am. Its a job like any other. I am home 4 nights a week. On overnight trips the other three."
Thursday, 29 September 2005
One of the real ironies of consulting life is that when you are super busy doing work, you don't have time to look for the next piece of work. It can cause a really dangerous work hard - no money - take work you really shouldn't - work unhappily - still no real money - cycle. The only way around that is to have the discipline to land project B before project A is finished. The larger you are the easier this is, because if 1/3 of your firm has finished a project and has nothing to do, they can pitch in on whatever the other 2/3 are doing for a bit while you sell the next thing. But at six people, we really don't have that kind of buffer.
Now that I've been doing this for 20 years, and have a reputation, opportunities quite often come to me. That's certainly better than calling around trying to get people to give me work. But even the most golden opportunities come with work attached. "Can you get me a resume by noon?" But I don't have a resume, I have worked for the same company with the same job title for two decades. I can give you a bio that lists my skills and awards and some recent projects I've been on. "Sure!" Only thing is, it needs to be updated, or shortened, or lengthened, or something. It's worse when they want resumes or bios from three or four of us. Or "could you flip through the scope of work and give me a quick ballpark of how much work you think your part will be? We'll write up the detailed estimate together next week." Some truly wonderful stuff just lands in my lap, but all of it requires work to ripen it into fruit. Finding the time to do that work, quickly and responsively, and tailoring the bio or company description or whatnot to the opportunity... that's where contracts come from. Back to work for me.
The wheels of standards committees grind exceedingly fine and slow, but they do grind. Herb Sutter reports that after almost two years and eleven face-to-face meetings, the working group is recommending the C++/CLI standard for binding ISO C++ to ISO CLI (the most popular implementation of the CLI is in the CLR of course) become an Ecma standard. Next stop: an ISO standard.
Congratulations to all involved!
Sunday, 11 September 2005
We're having a CODE CAMP in Toronto in January! I'm so excited! A Code Camp is a very different kind of community event, and one that can only happen when you have a strong and vibrant developer community. If you've never heard of it, check the Code Camp Manifesto or just Google for it and find people saying things like this:
"the buzz from Atlanta Code Camp is starting to wear off a bit and let me just say I had a great time."
"I laughed, I cried, I found a bunch of new tools to use."
"When I asked him if it was as good as a commercial conference he said that he thought so. Perhaps even better. And that comes from a guy who was just at TechEd 6 weeks ago."
Now the deal with Code Camps is that they ALWAYS:
- Are free
- Are held outside business hours (typically a weekend)
- Feature a great variety of speakers and topics (except no marketing fluff allowed)
- Provide an opportunity to speak for the first time
Many Code Camp attendees have never been to a daytime or paid-attendance event - we don't all work for companies that make that possible, after all. If you've been to plenty of such events, you might consider speaking at this one: an hour on something you know well because you're doing it at work isn't hard at all, really. This is a great chance to "crossover" to the other side of the microphone. If you haven't been to lots of these events -- you've never been able to get to a DevDays or a VSLive, or heaven forbid something out of town with actual travel expenses -- plan now to set aside a weekend in January to fill your brain with free technical content and get to know the developer community in the Toronto area.
Toronto is a large city, over 3 million people, and the "Greater Toronto Area" supports a LOT of user groups:
And out of all these people, who is spearheading the Code Camp initiative? My two co-executives from the East Of Toronto group, that's who! I'm very proud of that. The GTA is full of good organizers and speakers (and has three Regional Directors on top of that) and I know we will be able to put on an amazing day. Right now Jean-Luc is finding a location and sponsors (or Contributors as Code Camp likes to call them) and shortly he'll be gathering speakers. You should use his blog to get in touch. My firm is sponsoring for sure: a Code Camp is a really low-cost event to put on and reaches a number of developers other events never do.
ps: I wanted to say that this would be the first Code Camp outside the USA, but once again Derek Hatchard has shown what a star he is: there will be a Code Camp in Atlantic Canada just next month. Go Derek!
Update: They've had them in the UK too (http://www.developerday.co.uk/ddd/default.asp ... Benjamin Mitchell is the RD involved in those) and in Australia (www.codecampoz.com.)
Friday, 09 September 2005
This morning I got an email that my blog was down... turned out that one of the drives in my web server had died. We were in the process of moving everything off that server anyway, to a more modern one, but needless to say this accelerated the schedule a little. While we were at it, we upgraded dasBlog to 1.8. I believe all the comment spam should have gone as part of the upgrade, and from now on you will need to do the Captcha thing to leave comments. If you hate that, email me and we'll discuss it. I sure was hating clearing out the you-know-what.
Monday, 05 September 2005
The Regional Directors had so much fun doing the GrokTalks at Tech Ed USA, we just couldn't leave it as a one-time thing. So at the PDC, we've arranged an event called PDC Underground. While we won't be filming and uploading the talks, we will be able to accomodate an actual audience. If you're going to be in LA, or if you're there all the time anyway, you want to come to this event. Ten RDs, fifteen minutes each, just the essence of what you need to know about one topic.
I'm doing "C++ is alive and well":
Abstract: The "C++ for the runtime" in Visual Studio 2005, C++/CLI, features everything developers love about C++ -- including templates and deterministic destruction -- and everything we love about the CLR -- including generics and garbage collection. This best-of-both-worlds approach enables the fastest and easiest interop between managed and unmanaged code. Preserve your legacy without a port, use the same binaries to support old and new clients, control the cost of interop: that's what C++ does so well.
More details and a registration link at http://www.pdcunderground.com/. If you're a member of a user group in the LA area, contact your leader who probably can get you a button to wear.
See you there!
Wednesday, 31 August 2005
Kang Su kicks off his blog (two and a half weeks ago, I can't believe it took me this long to notice) with a big red HIRING in the middle of his first post, then goes on to give you the C++-eye view of PDC including the so-worth-your-while upgrade lab. Then he tells you how to find out what the Profile Guided Optimization process discovered about your code. Excellent and you know I'll be reading regularly.
Next time I get out to Redmond, though, I am going to have to ask for a tour of the office so I can see where they keep the “your turn to blog regularly” baton or hat or whatever they use. It seems as soon as one or two start, the others all stop. :-(.
Wednesday, 24 August 2005
In less than three weeks I will be at the PDC! On the first day, I'll be a panelist at the Women in Technology panel. If you've been to one of these at TechEd, all I can say is PDC isn't TechEd. Things will be a little different this time. Here's the abstract that's going in the guide:
This panel will cover how women have used their intelligence and creativity to excel in the software industry. Hear from women IT professionals who are successful in a male-dominated industry. Learn, connect, and engage at this networking panel, where your questions drive the agenda, and hear tips and tricks on how to succeed as a woman developer or technical professional in the computer sciences and technology marketing. Both men and women are invited to join in the conversation, and learn from each other about how to grow diversity in the IT industry.
One thing that will be the same is the quality of the panelists. I'm not going to brag about myself, but let me tell you the other panelists are fantastic: Angela Mills (Microsoft), Anne Thomas Manes (Burton Group), Dee Dee Walsh (Microsoft), Michele Leroux Bustamente (IDesign Inc.), Shoshanna Budzianowski (Microsoft) and our moderator, Esther Schindler (Ziff-Davis). I've been lucky enough to watch most of them in action before and you're sure to pick up valuable career insight.
And in case that sentence from the abstract didn't quite click the first time, let me paste it again: Both men and women are invited to join in the conversation. See you there!
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