This is one of a series of posts on my preparations for sessions on Azure and ORMs at Software Architect 2009.

The plan vs actual for day five (The last day):

  • Play, play, play with the technology.  PART DONE
  • Produce outline skeleton demo sequence for both sessions PART DONE
  • Produce a backup VM “just in case” :) DONE
  • Run through both presentations for rough timing (mainly to figure out talk to demo ratio) PART DONE
  • Look into this annoying bug which appeared to have started after I installed Silverlight 3 into my VM DONE 

The good bit:

I did manage to get round the bug I was getting with “VsHost32.exe always stops working when starting VS 2010 Beta 1” by… starting all over again :-(. I built a brand new VM for VS2010 and resisted putting anything on it that wasn’t absolutely necessary for what I planned to show with Entity Framework 4.0. For instance I did leave off Silverlight 3 (not that I’m saying this is the culprit) and a number of other useful tools.

I also went gold on the Azure deck although I realise there is still a fair bit of tweaking still left for Entity Framework – but then again, I don’t actually present that until Thursday :-)

The bad bit:

I lost a lot of time on Friday – a combination of attempting to fix the vshost32.exe issues and a number of work things which I just could not put off any longer. Which means I need to still do work to be “spot on” for the sessions – unfortunately that will have to happen around other work commitments I have for Monday and Tuesday. Which really means “in the evening” and “on the train”.

How did the week go:

My five days of prep are up. It was interesting keeping this diary of those 5 days (which I suspect add up to more like 60 to 70hours). I think the split of time has been roughly:

  • 20% on “environment”. Which means installation and battling beta tools/vms/vs2010beta 1 issues.
  • 20% on getting the decks right, running through them etc.
  • 20% reading into the new stuff (remember, I had never installed VS2010 Beta 1 and had not been active on Azure for some time)
  • 20% on playing with the technology.
  • 20% on other work stuff that just had to be done.

And in way of a mini retrospective:

  • What did I do well, that if I don’t discuss I might forget?
    • I liked keeping the diary. I used it to keep me “true” to getting through what needed to be done and I felt the prep time was slightly more useful, as something searchable was being “published”.
    • 5 days of intense prep is pretty efficient. There were more interruptions than I would have liked (from rest of my job) but in general it worked well to ring fence the time and to it "just in time” for the conference.
  • What did we learn?
    • Linqpad rocks for playing with Entity Framework (not just Linq to SQL)
    • Windows XP Mode RC and Windows Virtual PC RC are not without the odd bug, but actually work great on Windows 7
    • There are lots of tools for Azure Storage and SQL Azure.
    • Boot from VHD rocks
    • VS2010 beta 1 overall was pretty solid and actually performed reasonably well, even in a VM.
    • Aero works inside a VM (I never knew that)
    • Entity Framework 4.0 is far better 1.0.
  • What should I do differently next time?
    • I need to spread prep time for these larger conferences over the previous few weeks.
    • I need to get a stock pile of VMs together (like I used to have many years back).
    • I think I will try and attempt to move over to VMs for all my dev work (especially given how much beta code I can go through). I tend to prefer installing on my host and simply rebuild the host every few months – but I like the way VPC works with Windows 7. I will probably also take a look at VirtualBox to allow 64bit guest OS (Virtual PC is only 32bit guest, you would need Hyper-V on the Microsoft stack to do 64bit guest)
  • What still puzzles us?
    • Five days may sound a lot of time for 2 sessions at a conference. But in reality is too short when you have been away from the technology for some time and the technology is advancing rapidly (as is the case with Azure and Entity Framework). I need to ponder about how to stay on top of this better when my current “day  job” doesn’t necessarily require that I do.

    What is left to do:

    Between now and the actual sessions I need to:

    • Finalised the demos for each session (I have too many alternatives)
    • Run through for times (at least roughly)
    • Play a lot more with Entity Framework 4.0
    • Publish the final decks and links