Sunday, November 19, 2006

Technocrats @ TechEd!

One of the highlights of my visit to Microsoft TechEd 2006 was my interaction with Technocrats - be it at the Ask the Experts (ATE) pavilion where I was invited as one, or outside it.

In addition to meeting intelligent geeks that had challenging questions aplenty, I also got to meet and interact with two stalwarts in the Microsoft Visual Studio development team - namely, Steve Teixeira (Group Program Manager - Visual C++) and Ayman Shoukry (Program Manager - Visual C++).

Both Steve and Ayman were present at the TechEd not only as representatives of the Visual C++ teams but also as speakers that made an outstanding impression with the delegates attending their presentations. The general consensus was that TechEd should feature more sessions for those into C++ programming.

After the first day of the conference, Steve invited all the VC++ MVPs along with Ayman and Danny Thorpe from Windows Live to a dinner at an Italian Restaurant. In course of dinner I got acquainted with fellow VC++ MVPs - Bruno van Dooren, a delegate from Belgium; and Marcus Heege, a speaker from Germany. I already knew of Bruno from the MVP Private Newsgroups and while it was the first time that Marcus and I met, Deutsch and Deutschland helped us establish an immediate connection.

Here is a snap from that evening (Bruno who left early is missing)...

(Clockwise from left: Marcus, Steve, Danny, me, and Ayman)

It was a nice evening with us discussing all and sundry - cultures, people, travel and technology (Shh... Technology is beyond the realms of this BLOG, remember!). Interesting to note was Steve's ability to understand a good amount of what the waitress said in Spanish - something that made me wonder if I could recollect the French I've learnt - un peu, perhaps.

In addition to their speaking engagements, Steve and Ayman were also present at the ATE pavilion - this however was really not the first time that I got to know of them.

It was only 3 months ago that Codeguru (that popular online software development forum that has me for a Moderator) featured a special chat forum ("Slow Chat: Visual C++: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow") where members could interact with the Visual C++ Product Team. Ayman and Steve have both been active in this Slow Chat and hence, they were in effect no strangers. For instance, here is one discussion where Ayman (Codeguru: aymans) and I had both contributed to. Similarly, Steve (Codeguru: steixeira) had responses I knew of to other threads in this forum. World is such a small place - little did I know then that I would be meeting these two in person. I must add that these people were as approachable and knowledgeable as their online avatars seemed to be.

A couple of days later, as I took a tram on my way back - I saw the winner of the Speaker Idol contest and C# MVP take a seat facing me. It was a no-brainer and I invited Bart de Smet to join me for dinner. He obliged and we enjoyed a good evening together.

TechEd is to me as much about people as it is about technology. I believe, I got the best of both, and hope to see all those mentioned in here during the MVP Summit at Seattle scheduled in March of 2007.

I had a wonderful time in Barcelona, even got featured on the VC++ Team BLOG (thanks, Steve!) - and can only say that Microsoft Tech Ed 2006 beat my expectations.

Looking forward - 2007 has all the makings of a challenging year what with two TechEds of interest to me. SAP TechEd that I should be visiting in the role of a speaker presenting SAP's latest deployment tool that should roll our products to all our customers - architected by me, and Microsoft TechEd as... Time will tell!


How the ball got rolling - Microsoft Tech Ed 2006...

Honestly speaking - at first, Sid attending Microsoft Tech Ed 2006 almost didn't happen!

The story goes this way: having attended Microsoft TechEd 2005 at Amsterdam last year, the deal (in my company) was that this be the year when a ticket would be purchased and for another employee (actually, my boss... So, no scope for negotiations there).

It was pretty clear since the beginning of 2006 that I would actually not make it this time - clear, save for one small (but rather significant) detail. This time, I was a Microsoft awarded MVP too. Time passed, the event was announced, and finally I was landed an innocuous email asking MVPs that would wish to volunteer for the event as Product Experts to apply!

There wasn't much to think about, and certainly nothing to lose. Being one that has a reasonably long experience in the software development world, as someone who is responsible for the design and development of a popular product that literally reaches millions in it's current version and as an appointed Moderator in one of the most popular online Forums, I thought I had a chance.

Luckily, I was right.

No sooner came in an email accepting my candidature as a volunteer with "Ask the Expert" for Visual Studio, I got my supervisors to sponsor my flight, and my stay in Barcelona. Bless them!

Microsoft TechEd 2006 was already set to be a very different and a very enriching experience. I talk more about it in the posts to come...

Last but not the least - many thanks to Ronald Beekelaar for organizing the ATE and having me invited. It all started with you, Ronald - meeting you was a real pleasure and so was meeting Kim. I hope to see you both again.