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TechED 2013 : Final day & Keynote

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.

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