I Survived October

It’ felt touch and go at times, but I did manage to make it thru PDC prep, PDC itself, shipping IPy 2.0 RC1 and Halloween relatively unscathed. I was Superman for Halloween – the perils of letting the five year old pick everyone’s costume, we we’re *all* Superman (well, Jules and Riley were Supergirl) – but given how exhausted I was, I could have skipped the costume and just gone as a zombie.

My inbox is currently just under 500 messages, I’ve got a mountain of stuff to finish for IPy RTM, I’m presenting at the p&p Summit and I’m finally get some attention from the legal dept (now that we’re past PDC). In other words, it’s not the end of PDC is ushering in a golden age of zero work for Harry. But with PDC in my rear view mirror, I don’t feel quite so overwhelmed as I did.

And on top of all this, I’ve been borderline obsessed with election news. I’ve basically given up on all my non-political blog reading – if I hadn’t been working on PDC I might not have even been aware of the big announcements like Oslo and Azure. Things are looking good for Obama and the Democrats, but as this hilarious video shows “Being in a good position to win is not the same as winning.” I haven’t had the time to volunteer for Obama but my father has been volunteering for Obama in Northern Virginia – aka “communist country”. It sure would be nice to see my home state go blue.

PDC08 Day -2

I’m in Los Angeles for PDC. Now that all the prep work is done, I’m going to to try and get back to regular blogging and I figure that daily reports from PDC is as good a way as any to get started.

I’m in town early for two reasons. We’re doing some last minute dry runs tomorrow afternoon and I wanted to make sure I was in town in case there was any other last minute stuff to do. Additionally, there’s a Code Camp in SoCal this weekend, so I volunteered to do my Pumping Iron talk.

The talk went pretty well – the room was mostly full (though small) and many folks stayed as much as 30 minutes over to ask questions. The Code Camp is being held at USC, my alma mater, so it was kind of strange to be standing in the front of the classroom in Vivian Hall rather than taking notes at the back. I made a trip over to the campus bookstore (thought I kept calling it the ‘company store’) for a new T-shirt for me and some SC gear for the kids.

Hung out most of the day with Mike Vincent whom I’ve gotten to know over the past couple of years thru his IASA and INETA involvement. He’s doing a talk on Dynamic Languages and the DLR tomorrow at Code Camp, so I’m looking forward to that. Also spent time with Chris Smith (F# SDET), Dustin Campbell (VB PM), Charlie Calvert (C# PM) and ran into DonXML as I was heading out.

I headed out early because I’m going up over the hill to Burbank tonight to see some of my old college / LA buddies, drink some beer and watch the SC game. With our early loss to Oregon State, we can’t make the Rose Bowl, much less the BCS Championship, without help. If win out but don’t get help, we’ll still probably get a BCS at-large bid. For a team that’s been in the championship hunt for the past five years, it’s disappointing, but it’s also like “no pressure” – at least for me, an non-obsessive alumni fan. (I typically save my obsession for Capitals hockey, but even that takes a back seat to the presidential election for the next 11 days.)

I forget who said it, but someone said today that “Los Angeles was like paradise 50 years ago”. Truer words were rarely ever said. It’s nice to be on campus and see friends and all that, but I can’t wait to go home. Why does PDC always have to be in LA? Mike? Well, at least it’s not on fire this time.

The PDC Prep Death March – It’s Almost Over

So it’s been just over a month since my last post, and I think it’s safe to say it’s been one of the busiest of my career to date. If you’ve been following my Twitter stream, you already know that I’ve spent the last two weeks in PDC dry runs – we went thru almost every session in the track, reviewing content and giving feedback to the speakers. Some were very good (as I twittered at the time, Ed Pinto’sBuilding WCF Services with WF blew my mind). Others, needed more work, but I think will be great by PDC. I got into several disagreements about the best way to present content, had to raise my voice once, and called some speakers “a little creepy”. (No, I’m not telling you which sessions those were.)

After 9 days of dry runs, I spent Friday with Jason Zander, General Manager for Visual Studio, again reviewing almost all the decks with him and some marketing folks. Frankly, spending that much time with my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss is a bit intimidating, but Jason’s been great and I’m guessing the visibility will be great for my career. I mean, come review time, he won’t be saying “Harry who?” I’ve also gotten to meet people from far and wide across my division, which has been great since I’m still new over here.

Unfortunately,  I can’t talk much about what I’ve seen, since as you know most of it is new and being revealed at PDC for the first time publicly. For example, I can tell you Ed’s talk was frakking awesome, but I can’t tell you why I think it’s frakking awesome, yet. But I’m queuing up some posts now that I will publish later once the sessions are public.

Tomorrow, I’m back to my “day job” as the IronPython PM. My teammates have been soldering on in my absence – the one time I was in my office in the past two weeks I joked that no one would recognize me since I’ve been gone so long. We’re coming up on the final release of IronPython 2.0, and my exclusive focus on PDC has left me a mountain of work to do here in the final stretch.

In addition to my teammates, I need to give a quick shout out to Shoshanna Budzianowski and Mike Swanson, without whom I’m not sure I would have survived the past two weeks. Mike is the PDC content owner, so as hard as the past two weeks have been for me, I’m sure they’re worse for him. Shoshanna is the track owner for the “Tools and Languages” track (that’s what the TL in the session codes stands for) and I’ve been the main representative for the VS group in the track. I don’t know if she’s ever done something like PDC before, but she’s awesome.

I leave Friday for southern California. I’m going down early to see a few friends and to do my Pumping Iron talk at the SoCal Code Camp next Saturday. That should be fun since it’s being held at my alma mater. Then Monday starts PDC proper. If you’re going to PDC, some find me in the PDC Lounges. I’ll be spending the vast majority of my time there, since I’ve seen all the content in my track already!

Morning Coffee 171

  • Big news for IronRuby out of OSCON. John and Jim have the details. Congrats to the IronRuby folks on reaching these milestones and paving the way for others (i.e. IPy) to follow some of the same paths.
  • One of those OSCON announcements, is a project my teammate Jimmy Schementi has been working on: Silverline, which “let’s you write Rails code that can run on the client“.
  • Shri Borde – the dev manager for IPy, IRuby and F# – tackles a tricky subject of static compilation of dynamic Python code. This came up on the mailing list recently as one of the outstanding requests for IPy to do is support custom attributes, which requires static compilation. Shri lays out some of the big issues with this approach. However, the community has been fairly clear on this, so it’s obviously something we need to look at.
  • I met someone from MS Research at the MS Product Fair who pointed me to the Institute for Personal Robots in Education, a joint effort between Georgia Tech and Bryn Mawr College and sponsored by Microsoft Research. Their Myro software (myro == my robot) is written in CPython, but there’s an effort underway (aka Miro 3.0) to build a .NET version that uses IronPython. Must investigate.
  • Seshadri shows how easy it is to extend C# types in IronPython. It’s also shows how simple it is to host DLR code in your app – it’s like 6 lines of code!
  • Early reviews of IronPython in Action are good.
  • If you want to run an IronPython IDE in your browser with Silverlight, check out SilverShell from Dan Eloff.
  • The XNA team has announced their business plans for community games. Basically, you set a price point between 200 and 800 points (aka between $2.50 and $10) and receive a “baseline” of 70% of the revenue the game generates. More details are available in the FAQ. This is pretty excited. I’d like to build some co-op kids games.
  • Speaking of XNA, Caligari is now offering TrueSpace 7.6 for free . David Weller and Glenn Wilson provide an XNA viewpoint on the announcement, Chris Pendleton shows how to upload your models to VirtualEarth.
  • Congrats to the CodePlex team on their latest drop, which features that a cool new feature – Mailing Lists! IronPython has had a Mailman mailing list for years, so I’m not sure we’ll use this feature on IPy, but I’ll investigate it
  • Two PDC notes: First, Rick Rashid – VP of MS Research – will be delivering a PDC keynote. Second, the PDC team has put up a video podcast on Producing a Ginormous Conference in 10 Minutes or Less! It’s the “inaugural episode” so watch for more Countdown to PDC video podcast episodes in the future.
  • I recently discovered Chris Smith’s F# blog. He’s got recent posts on Mastering F# Lists and Guidelines for Readable F# code. For the F# novice, check out his F# in 20 Minutes posts (part one, part two)
  • Pat Helland is moving to the SQL team. Good luck Pat!
  • I like Nick Malik’s formal definition of use cases, but I can’t help be reminded of Charlie Alfred’s Value-Driven Architecture article in Architecture Journal 5 where he said use cases were “easy to teach and explain” but that “if simplicity were the only goal that counted, we’d all still be walking or riding horses to get from one place to another.”

Programming Languages @ PDC08

The PDC folks pushed out a bunch of new sessions yesterday, including a bunch from my part of DevDiv. You can see the full list of sessions that have been published (so far) at the PDC site.

An Introduction to F#
Learn about Microsoft’s new language, F#, a typed functional programming language for the .NET Framework. F# combines functional programming with the runtime support, libraries, tools, and object model of .Net. Understand how F# asynchronous workflows help tame the complexity of parallel and asynchronous I/O programming and how to use F# in conjunction with tools such as Parallel Extensions for .NET.

Deep Dive: Dynamic Languages in .NET
The CLR has great support for dynamic languages like IronPython. Learn how the new Dynamic Language Runtime (DLR) adds a shared dynamic type system, a standard hosting model, and support for generating fast dynamic code. Hear how these features enable languages that use the DLR to share code with other dynamic and static languages like VB.NET and C#.

Future Directions for Visual Basic
Come learn about the new capabilities in the next version of the language, including: extensions to LINQ, syntax simplifications, and improvements to the IDE. We’ll provide insight into the direction of the language, including dynamic binding, meta-programming, and scripting.

The Future of C#
In this talk Microsoft Technical fellow and C# Chief Architect Anders Hejlsberg outlines the future of C#. He will describe the many forces that influence and shape the future of programming languages and explain how they fit into C#.

Visual C++: 10 is the New 6
Get more done. The next version of Visual C++ is all about improving developer productivity for large-scale applications. Learn about the IntelliSense and browsing experiences, changes to the project and build system, project-less browsing, collaboration through remote symbol indexing, and custom visualization of symbolic information.