Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

It's all about community!

June, 2007

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    TechEd Day 2 - User Groups: Benefiting You and Our Community! Starting, Running, and Succeeding with Your User Group!


    One of the great things that goes on here at TechEd is the concept of Birds of a Feather sessions, where people with similar interests can get together and discuss a topic. Last night I went along to BOF55 (yes, there are over 50 such sessions, one of my favourites is titled "Geeks with ADD: It's an Advantage!").

    The format of the session was a panel-led discussion with representatives from INETA and CULMINUS, as well as our very own Regional Director (and highly relevant author), Greg Low. There was some great discussion around marketing, sponsors and venues, re-energising committees and more, but the thing that seemed to be closest to home for me was the question of starting a new user group.

    This is something I get asked a lot. Greg led the discussion on this topic and shared his (very successful) formula for new leaders - personal contact. It's much more likely that people will come and, more importantly, come back if they feel like they're part of a community. Take time to learn peoples' names, assign members of the community to be door greeters to take new attendees under their wing and introduce them to others. Reply individually to RSVP emails. All of these things build a sense of belonging and identity and mean that your group has a much higher chance of success.

    In addition to this very important ingredient, I'd add my own 3 key factors at the beginning of a group:

    1. Have a passionate and committed leadership team. This can be one person or, preferably IMHO, two or three. Make sure that these people want to do it because they have a genuine desire to foster a community. It can't be something they have to do for their job, it's got to be something they'd do anyway.
    2. Decide on and stick to a standard day, time and location for the meeting. For example, always have it at 6:00-9:00 on the 3rd Tuesday of the month in room 104 at the local community college. Try very hard to never deviate from this schedule and location. Attendance will become habitual for members. They will schedule other things around this recurring appointment, rather than having to try to schedule the meeting around other things.
    3. Have content scheduled for 6 months from the start. Later, as the group becomes established, you can let this drop back to 3 months, but the thing new groups find hardest is sourcing content and speakers, so solving this problem early is essential

    We'll be running this session some time during TechEd on the Gold Coast in August, so if you're there, be sure to keep an eye out for it.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    TechEd Day 1 - Keynote


    Roger and I sat in the overflow room to watch the keynote. I took stream of consciousness notes and have annotated them to some extent.   My overall impression was that the demos were slick and well rehearsed, but that the keynote was more of a formality than a necessity. You can view the recording of the keynote on the Virtual TechEd site.


    Bob Muglia (Senior VP, Server and Tools) opened with a cool Back to the Future sketch with Christopher Lloyd.

    Started talking about the optimization models. Recognizing where your org is in the standard models helps you know what to do next to become more effective.

    The models tie into initiatives

    Case Study - Energizer

    Used to be 2 years in arrears in IT as a policy - going towards dynamic lets them concentrate on solving the business problems.

    Tom Bittman - Gartner

    Connections becoming pervasive

    Response time expectations are shrinking

    Relationships are online and short-lived - so Windows of opportunity are getting smaller - more frequent and smaller

    Agility means that some are able to take advantage of this and other not

    Agility requires us to take technology and apply it to itself

    Agility is balance between speed and operational efficiency - Sense and respond to change

    Agility needs to be system-wide including the interfaces

    Need a variable cost model - S+S? Certainly pay-per-use, not up-front investment.

    Focus on process, technology and organization.

    Dynamic IT



    • Products
    • Community
    • Standards
    • Access
      • OSP
      • Licensing



    Windows Server 2008 Demo

    Server Core

    Virtual Machine Manager

    • Convert VMWare VM - Next, Next, Next, Done
    • Runs on top of PowerShell
    • Shipping later this summer

    Add Microsoft System Centre for a great fit


    SML - industry agreement on modelling

    Domain specific models now being developed

    Model demo

    OBA Demo

    Cool Outlook extension from Brian Goldfarb

    Silverlight Demo

    Roadmap and Summary

    Mention as many product names as possible, including VS2008, Windows Server 2008 (both shipping this year) and SQL Server 2008 (shipping next year)

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    TechEd Day 0 - ASP.NET Ajax Pre-Conference Session


    On Sunday, I attended Jeff Prosise's ASP.NET Ajax pre-conference session. I love watching people like Jeff present. Even in the introductory bits, his depth of knowledge burbles up to the surface. (BTW, I said the same thing about Dan Green and Joel Pobar's sessions at CodeCampOz this year).

    <aside type="rant" subject="power">

    What is it about big conference centres which means they don't understand about attendees, especially techie attendees? There are about 200 people in this session and about 30% of us have laptops out. I manages to snaffle one of the 3 (yes, count 'em, 3) power points around the outside wall (well away from where the chairs are set up). About 15 people have wafted past, obviously looking for power. There's got to be a way to get more power in every room.


    Jeff did a great job explaining the workings of ASP.NET Ajax, but I would have loved some hands on time.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    TechEd Day 0 - The Bag


    After 24-odd hours cramped inside aluminum cylinders, I made it to Orlando. I spent yesterday at a couple of the local theme parks and then this morning jumped on the (branded) shuttle bus to the Convention Centre. I'm really looking forward to today's Deep Dive on ASP.NET AJAX, but my first order of business was to get THE BAG.

    After revealing our bag design already, I was surprised to see the conversations surrounding the US bag up on TechEdBloggers.

    Well, here are some photos:

    Bag Front Bag Back

    It's a hybrid backpack/shoulder bag with plenty of pockets. Last year's dominant sound in TechEd was not the Vista Startup sound, but the clinking of metal on metal from the bag's clips. None of that this year. All zips and plastic clips.

    There's the usual mixture of useful content and marketing bumpf inside, although for each person, the items that meet those descriptions will be different.

    I'm not currently planning on swapping it for my MEDC2007 backpack, but it's a lot better than last year's.

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