So I haven’t really posted anything since Tech Ed, so here is a quick update.
Things have been a bit busy at work since my last post, but ill be having a bit of a break starting next week. So the plan is to re-up at least once more in Gears of War Judgment. I also want to spend some time in the Microsoft Virtual Academy and rack up some points there. I am looking at some certifications and might spend some time towards that. And hopefully get cracking on some Windows 8 apps that I have been planning for a while.
Other than that, I am still enjoying the Samsung Ativ Tab, and are still considering swopping my laptop for a little more powerful Windows 8 tablet. It just makes sense to me. All my devices are already so integrated and I m always connected anyway, so why not.
Looking forward to posting some stuff while I am on my break, so watch this space.
After suffering from some information overload and the prospect of presenting someone else’s presentation to out holding companies directord, I have not been able to finish off the last post for TechED. So here it is.
As usual the final day started a bit later due to the party the previous night. This year however it only started 30 minutes later where previously we started an hour later. Needless to say the first two sessions were a bit empty as most people were tending to hangovers or maybe sleep deprivation.
My first session was “Building LOB Applications for Windows 8 pt 2″. Now I missed part one due to a meeting, but this did not matter as the sessio9n was self contained. Various topics were discussed including data, authentication and testing / deployment. Some great tips on what will work within the WinRT environment and there was some good quality items for this. They also showed us how to remote debug on the WinRT devices, which makes it great for testing performance. Something I think a lot of Windows 8 developers are not paying much attention to. A fair amount of apps I currently use do not perform very well on WinRT, including the WordPress app I am currently using.
The second session was “SharePoint Online Unplugged”. Now in this session I expected a good amount of very technical topics & demos, but this was not the case. Instead we went through some of the not so widely known items that is actually described in the Service Description. Which is something I have not yet heard of, but it basically covers all the features and supported services. All products / services apparently have one of these. Some interesting things were the browsers supported, sharing related items like the fact that you can share items with 10K non employees without impacting costs. We have been considering moving some of our stuff into SharePoint online after we do our Office 365 deployment, but we would need to revisit this shortly.
My last session before the keynote was “Making Great Apps for Windows & Windows Phone”. This was a panel discussion with some Microsoft employees and also an ISV. The discussions was mainly about they liked and not. We had the chance to rip the TechED app apart a little, but only realised halfway through that one of the people involved in its design and development was part of the panel. Some specific tips and no-nos were also discussed and the floor did participate a little. It was a pity we did not have more time available for this discussion.
Then it was time to head off to the final keynote. As with the opening keynote we were stopped from sitting at the top. So I tried to go to my previous spot to get a good view of the stage and surroundings.
The closing keynote was not too bad this year. But I still have some mixed feeling about it. Microsoft created an initiative called 4Afrika, which basically looks at their plan for Africa for the next 20 years. The person leading this initiative spent the next hour describing the goals and also some of the wins already achieved in Africa. One of the big things they were showing and discussing was the use of TV White Space which is a low spectrum not being used but has a range of 350 odd square kilometres. The hardware required consumes very little power and can be run using solar power. This means broadband to rural areas that are very dispersed. They should a really good clip of tribes in the middle of nowhere using the same device as I am using now and getting information. They were all excited and one of the elders saw this as a perfect way for him to get better prices for his goats further away than where he was currently selling them. They also handed these samsungs out in some schools. Obviously the kids were ecstatic, and the funny thing was that each device came with a keyboard but none of these were opened.
The second part of the keynote focussed on the work that was done by the AppFactory. They showcased three apps which was very nice and had a local flavour to them. Then there was the traditional firing or this time round, dropping of the monkey. For those that do not know, a wheelbarrow full of prizes usually sit on the stage. they then have a fluffy toy, a monkey, that somehow makes its way into the crowed. The lucky person that gets it get the wheelbarrow. This time around the firing device half malfunctioned, but just as Clifford was about to use a copy of Office 2013 to throw iot at the monkey, it dropped. I had sudden visions of a big brawl as people were diving for this monkey as if their lives depended on it. Not a good sight.
As we were leaving the hall some clips from the past few days were shown and we got to see some of the activities we couldn’t make.
All and all a good event. I had a few complaints of some stuff that was changed. We also had less sessions that before. The turnout this year was just below 2000 delegates. Looking forward to the next event, but I am hoping it is not in Durban the next time around. Also hoping I would be lucky enough to go then.
The second day of TechED found me barely making it in time for my session. Traffic was very backed up this morning and my usual travel time was doubled. But luckily managed to just make it.
The sessions for today was still along Azure, Mobility and some LightSwitch was also thrown in. These are the more interesting sessions for me at the moment as we are busy working in those areas.
The first session was “Advanced Windows Azure Infrastructure as a Service for Developers”. For most of the session we discussed automation tasks via Powershell and REST. This was very interesting as we were creating Virtual Machines on the fly, configuring them at the same time and then deploying them. Automating VHD uploads and binding them to live Virtual Machines. Learned a lot from this session and will definitely be using some of this soon.
The next session was “What’s new in LightSwitch 2013″. I must admit this was not my favourite session. Although we went through a timeline of changes and new features and the new features are very good. The presenter really put me off. His presentation style was not very “good”.
The following session I had to miss due to some work that I needed to get done by lunch time and it related to Tips for Enterprise Architects. So a muffin and coffee had to keep me company at the charging station while I complete a document on my Samsung Ativ WindopwsRT Tablet.
Lunch was good today and I decided to go and sit in the hall with some other employees from our company.
Next up was “Windows Azure Active Directory”. This has been another session I was really looking forward to as it relates to several things we are wanting to do with Azure. The good thing was that we had some of our IT Engineers in the session. We went through examples of setting it up and doing Single Sign On via several Cloud Services as well as hosted Virtual Machines. Another great session.
The following session was another one I was looking forward to. “Monetisation of Applications on the Windows & Windows Phone Store”. The tone was set with some global trends relating to user experiences, social, context awareness, banking and big data. We then dived into the various ways of monetising your app and what Microsoft had on offer, but also other options. We also had a well known Windows Phone developer in South Africa chat to us about his experiences relating to his apps that are available. Again a great session.
The second last session for the day was “Building connected iOS & Android apps with Windows Azure Mobile Services”. Now I was playing with this a bit last night, but seeing them more in action from an Android application was really good. The features available are great and I am already thinking hard about how we will be using it.
The last session was “SharePoint Online Deployment and Migration Best Practices”. This session was mainly ar4ound the best practices and some experiences. It was a good session and their are some pointers I will be taking back as we will be migrating to office 365 very soon and possibly also more some sites into SharePoint Online.
All and all another great day at TechED. The closing event is tonight but I will not be attending this as I have a whole3 house of ill people which needs tending to. If the early sessions are empty tomorrow, I know it would have been a great night.
Tomorrow is the final day with a few sessions in the morning and then the closing Keynote. Looking forward to it.
The next session I attended was about SharePoint 2013 Administrator concerns relating to security. This was one of those Chalk & Talk sessions where the room was fairly small and the presentation was very informal. There is a lot of things we tend to take for granted and ignore during installations & setup. And most of the time it is because the setup process is so streamlined and easy, that the brain tends to take a few minutes break. And it’s in that break that we tend to create major security issues for our installations & configurations. What I loved about this session was that an initial overall structure was given to what we are already supposed to know, and then showing how these miss configurations & installations affect it and how months later a SharePoint installation was be rendered as useless. Great session for me.
My last session for the day, due to meetings with Microsoft around Azure, was about changing behaviour by means of Gamification. Now I must admit I was not 100% about what this was about, but had an idea. This was one of those gems, but the room was surprisingly empty. Maybe because it was not technical at all and very fluffy, but a great session nevertheless. The concept of gamification basically relates to trying to motivate people during either system adoption or just working in general. The idea is to introduce those gaming concepts that keep us coming back for more into a working environment. Some great arguments in this session and also some interesting methods. Something I will definitely consider to get more out of my team. Below is an interesting slide that was show relating to this…
In between I have a few moments to explore the Expo. Below are some pictures of the Expo. One thing I must say is that the room was less open this time around and more little stalls than before. I missed a few usual suspects, like Intersoft for my books. And it also seemed that less people were interested than in previous years. I did however managed to get to the Xbox stand and met up with Glenn from 2UpGamers in CapeTown and had a bit of a chat.
Similar to previous years there were some workstations to do the evals from, and also a charging area for when you run out of juice for your devices. A lot more snacks were served in the Expo than before as well.
Tomorrow I will hopefully have a full day of sessions, so the round up will have some more insight into some of the sessions. Tomorrow night is also the closing event party and I will hopefully attend this to give some feedback on that. From speaking to friends, the opening party was however a bit of a dud. So lets hope the closing event is much better.
To co-inside with TechED, Microsoft arranged for one of the Microsoft Corp guys to some down and have a full day session around Cloud Strategy, and I was lucky enough to be invited to this session because of the cloud related work we are doing and investigating with Microsoft.
The sessions were handled by Beat
Schwegler, Director, Platform Strategy Group, Microsoft Corp (@cloudbeatsch) and the following topics were discussed:
- Microsoft Devices & Services Strategy
- Making Money with Apps
- Key Architectural decisions
- Cloud enabled App scenarios with Windows Azure
It was an extremely interesting session, starting off with topics like create a move before reaction forces you to move, and how companies who has done this are already the benefits and cornering unusual markets. Talks went into the BYOD arena and interesting point were brought up which has not really been on my radar yet. And this is where a cloud strategy does really make a lot of sense, even if it is for internal company use and not yet something that you would on sell.
A fair amount of time was also spent on monetization and the different was for the different sectors were discussed and also key differences noted.
So the first half of the day was nice and high level with those type of interesting discussions. The second half was more specifically related to the Microsoft Cloud Stack and what is available.
We also had to do a little task at each of our tables involving creating a business model around a specific problem. This was great fun and the results were very interesting.
All and all a very good few hours spent in a smallish group of people having good discussions.
I might in a later post provide some specific detail, but I want to keep those separate to this. Will be posting some more information about TechED as the days progress.
So eventually after 18 months of waiting, TechED Africa 2013 is eventually here. Today was the usual registration day for the event. And as per usual, registration opened early morning and continued throughout the day.
But it seems that this year, the forgot to add enough ink to their printers as illustrated below and myself and a few delegates had some interesting chuckles about this.
But as expected, and very much appreciated, new bags were on offer again. I must say that TechED bags are the best for work purposes as they seem to cater perfectly for what I tend to carry around. This year they decided to go with a complete local theme and the bags have been up -cycled. The bags have been made from recycled billboards. What an interesting idea… And all labour is from locals. What a great way to support the local community.
We also received the usual paperwork from all the exhibitors and loads of competitions. One of the ones that stood out was the opportunity to win a iPad mini… Go figure.
T – Shirts were also handed out, but if you were as eager as me and took advantage of the super early bird registration, a second t-shirt was also provided.
As I mentioned earlier, the bags were from re-cycled billboards, so most of them are unique and you would be hard pressed to find another one the same as yours.
No on to the keynote. The layout this year was very different from the previous TechED. This year we had a triangular shaped stage in the middle of the room with pods for collaboration, development & servers. The main goal of the keynote this year was to cover new technologies and features in products & platforms to cover the pods noted above. This was a bit of a shift from previous years, but worked well and the role play was done very well. The role play was based on a fake company and how they “upgraded” to version 2.0 using various aspects of the Microsoft Technology stack, including cloud.
They really only brushed on several things, but it gave you enough of a carrot to push forward hard for more information in the coming days. So all and all, the keynote I feel did deliver albeit very different from the past and initially left me wanting. But satisfied at the end of it.
So tonight is the opening party, and unfortunately I have far to much work waiting for me to attend, but I will have some details on the closing party as I do not intend to miss that one.
Over4 the next few days I will post some more details about the sessions I attended and also about the Expo which is opening in the morning. Below is a picture of the keynote hall busy filling up.
So tomorrow is the start, or shall I say the registration & keynote for TechEd Africa 2013. Super excited as last year TechEd was cancelled. The reasons given was something about economy etc. Just happy that we’ll have it this year.
Spent some time tonight setting up my program of sessions that I will be attending. Was a little disappointed in the sessions as it seems like there is not that much to say. Also some very key sessions seemed to be missing from the list. Would have liked to see more sessions about Office 365 and maybe also some specific Azure sessions. But I have managed to select a few interesting ones that I am looking forward to.
As previous years, I will try and post some details from my sessions during the course of the day and also a recap after every day. This year I will be missing about half a day of sessions due to some meeting with the Cloud specialists from Microsoft to discuss some new releases and also to get more insight and how we can grow our business and products with Azure.
Registration will start at 9am tomorrow, after which I will be attending a whole day of Cloud talks and then it’s the keynote. Hoping for some big announcements as there are some specific cloud services we are anxiously waiting for here in deep dark Africa. Services that are way overdue. Intune, CRM Online & Xbox music are just three I would like to see ASAP.
All devices are on charge for the event, so look out for some quick and also some long posts of what transpires at TechEd Africa 2013.