this past week I spent travelling through the northern part of the Southern California district and presenting my last seminars in the current cycle of ASP .NET content to audiences in Bakersfield and Santa Maria.

i've never driven the two outbound legs of this trip before. the first leg i drove almost completely in the dark so i didn't realize the altitude change until it got very chilly in the car. it only started to get light as i was coming down through the hills but it was a nice sunrise in my rear view mirror.

the trip through the hills and valley plains to Santa Maria had some nice scenery too as the TechNet presenter, Michael Murphy, variously discussed the worthiness of Shakespeare productions at Stratford (Ontario) contrasted with Peter Brook's most recent production of Hamlet, the Deborah Warner/Fiona Shaw solo tour-de-force of the Waste Land and that Greek infanticide tragedy (Medea), and the originator of the modern theater of cruelty theories (Antonin Artaud versus Bertolt Brecht), until we hit the rain and the need for directions at the end of our journey.

prior to my departure and on my way back down to L.A., i went to help out Warren, whom the president of the L.A. .NET developer group does some work for. Warren had been trying to get the training courseware in the new InfoPath Developer Resource DVD up and running.

this training courseware is cleverly provided as Microsoft VirtualPC images with Trial versions of the operating system, applications, sample files, etc., already installed.

the first problem is that when you run the setup that will expand and combine the two halves of the (multi-gigabyte) image file, the default destination will point to the source CD-ROM folder which is obviously not write-able so be sure to use a destination that is on your hard-drive.

problem number two pops up if you are using Virtual PC 2004 (rather than version 5.2). the image was created with the latter so be sure to follow the special instructions available online.

after following these and re-activating Windows Server 2003, Warren still had problems with the latter parts of the training. i looked in the event log and it seems like BizTalk is having problems (possibly to do with corruption in the SQL Server data inside the Virtual PC image?). if i get a chance this weekend, i'll look into this further and report anything i find.

one of the things that Warren mentioned and that i read Monday in the press release, is that the InfoPath SP1 Preview now available also contains a preview of the InfoPath Toolkit for the Visual Studio Tools for Office. notwithstanding that "service packs” aren't supposed to be the ship vehicles for new functionality, there are an awful lot of significant enhancements here which i'm looking forward to digging into further.

currently on the turntable: Ransom Wilson conducting John Adams/Grand Pianola Music and Steve Reich/Eight Lines on EMI/Angel. i bought this back in the mid-eighties primarily for the b-side, Wilson's orchestral arrangement of Reich's previous Octet, which i was very fond of. in recent years of course, it has been John Adams who has become arguably the most prominent living composer in the country. i kept seeing his name turning up - in Los Angeles in conjunction with the opening performances at the new Disney concert hall designed by Frank Gehry, in Seattle guest conducting the local symphony in a program that included his own and two works of Sibelius, etc. in Grand Pianola Music, one can distinctly hear the stylistic debt owed to Reich in the phased pulsing of the dual pianos, in addition to the alternating lyric, playful and pastiche qualities which would re-surface in Adams' later works. while it was all of the recent attention paid to Adams that led me to listen to this record again, it is still Reich's music that continues to impress me more in its composition, texture, rhythms and arrangement.