A Canuck In The Machine

Mark Relph - Senior Director - Startup and VC Team

November, 2005

  • A Canuck In The Machine

    The Launch Tour Rolls Into Quebec City!

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    I am out on the road today and will be rejoining the Launch Crew in Quebec City.  I am exited to reconnect with the tour and to see how things have evolved since the first event in Toronto.  If you are heading out to the event, please stop by the experts area to say hello.

    A review of the day and some photos to follow.

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    Want A List Of The Canadian Microsoft Bloggers?

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    I have posted an OPML file you can download to get a list of all the blogs from our team.  Just import this into your RSS Reader.  Enjoy!
     
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    Playing Photographer @ The Xbox 360 Launch Party Toronto

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    I had the very cool opportunity to not only attend, but also to take photos during the event.  About 1,000 people crammed into the Guvernment (a nightclub in downtown Toronto) for the party.  Not only was the place loaded with 360s, but the party also featured an up-and-coming band called OK GO (www.okgo.net).  The band rocks - I really recommend checking them out.
     
    I took my trusty DSLR along with a few awesome lenses (thanks Anthony!) and snapped almost 500 photos.  I have posted a few of the better photos from the night.  (http://www.flickr.com/photos/26606128@N00/tags/xbox360launch/)
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
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    Rocking The Toronto Launch - My Day At The VS / SQL Event In Toronto

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    Rocking The Launch:
     
    Bristowe Rocks Out At The Launch
     
    Here at Microsoft Canada we have been working our butts off getting ready for the tour.  I am talking about really long days and a lot of effort from a lot of people.  So, it was a real thrill to finally get to Launch Day.
     
    For me, Launch started on the 7th with the press event (see my previous post).  It was held downtown and featured 6 of the customer case studies that my team worked on.  I am really proud of the team for working with our customers and partners on such amazing stories such as Toronto.com, Workers Compensation BC, TD Bank and Squirrel Systems.
     
    From the press event I headed home to do some email and to change (I was wearing a suit and tie for the press event, which wasn't going to go over well at the largest Developer event in Microsoft Canada history!)
     
    First stop was the venue to check out the setup.  It was about 5pm when I arrived at the Congress Centre and after figuring out how to actually get into the building I was able to see first-hand how much work it takes to transform this giant building into an event.
     
    Piles of chairs, tables were spread across the floor while the AV crew assembled the massive screens in the main room.
     
    We waited while the speakers went through the keynote and prepped the machines for the next day's sessions.  Jerome and John have 2 state of the art AMD 64-bit demo machines to use.  We run all of the demos as VPCs -> it's the easiest way to maintain a constant state and is super easy to restore to the beginning of the demos (thanks to the "don't commit changes" feature in Virtual PC.  Actually, the guys load Virtual Server)
     
    Once we were sure things were under control at the Congress centre, we headed over to a local bar for the User Group reception.  This was a ton of fun.  The very cool thing about my job is the interaction with the community.  We had a really great turnout for the event - thanks to everyone who stopped by.  After the UG event I headed home to get some sleep.
     
    At the UG Event with the Community folks!
     
    I was out the door and on my way to the event at 6am.  I occurred to me that this wasn't even all that early compared to the dozens of folks from our events company that had been at the show for at least an hour before I even got into the shower at home!
     
    The event looked GREAT when I arrived in the morning.
     
    The room just before the crowd came in.
     
    People started flooding into the event.  If you have never been to the congress centre, let me paint a picture for you.  It is a large warehouse-looking building near the airport in Toronto.  It is surrounded by huge parking lots.  These lots were completely full by the time the keynote started!  People have asked me, why the Congress Centre and not somewhere downtown.  Well, two reasons - 1) there are really only 2 venues that can hold an event like this - the Congress Centre and the Convention Centre.  2) the feedback we have had from the attendees overwhelming tells us that people find events downtown hard to get to, expensive to park at and hard to get home from.
     
    9am.  Keynote Time!  David Hemler (MS Canada President), Craig Symonds (VP Tools Division), John Bristowe (Developer Evangelist) and a few guests were the featured speakers.  The keynote went well, but I have to say the John's demo was the high point.  He really brought great energy to the morning (which was on the verge of seriously lacking intensity).
     
    John Rocking The Keynote
     
    Several people said they felt that John did better with the demo than the guy in San Francisco!
     
    The day then moved into 2 tracks.  The "IT Pro" Technet (SQL) track and the Developer (MSDN) track.  Barnaby and Damir were the presenters on the IT Pro side and John, Jerome and Barry Gervin were on the Developer side.  Given that this was the first time any of these guys had presented this material to a live audience (outside of the dry-runs) everything went quite well.  It wasn't perfect, sure - but try to run 8 hours of content flawlessly - it's hard.  We had 1 demo self-sacrifice to the demo Gods, but it wasn't a major part of the content.  (And with a quick restart of the VPC was easily fixed).  We haven't had the evaluations come back yet, but I think we did well.  (If you have comments, let us know)
     
    John and Jerome
     
    During the breaks a lot of people went to the experts area.  I am so glad we did this, it really helps to raise the technical level of what is essentially a marketing event.  30+ experts from Microsoft Canada, Microsoft Corp and the community were on hand to answer questions.  For anyone going to the other cities ->  save your questions up and visit the experts area!! You won't regret it.
     
     
    Anthony holding court in the experts area
     
    Check out the "Launch2005" tag for more photos:
     
    (I had my SLR with me - I am a bit of a photo nut.  I took 200 photos and have uploaded about 60 of them to the Flickr pool)
     
    I previously announced 2 contests in the blogs.  The first was "wear your old Microsoft clothes to the event" - the winner was a gentleman wearing a VB4 t-shirt.  Not bad!  This contest will still be in effect for the other cities.  Just show your stuff off to one of the staff or the VJ. 
     
    The second was the blogging contest.  This was a little disappointing to tell you the truth.  We had to basically beg to find 3 people with blogs and even then they weren't seriously posting material about the launch.  So, if you have a Launch post (good or bad) let me know and you might still win a prize.
     
    Some people felt that the banter between the presenters was "forced" - I am not sure on this one.  Yes, this was the first event so it was a little scripted, but the other option is a free-form approach that means things are more likely to go off the rails.
     
    Here is what I think could have been better in Toronto:
    • We need to promote the experts area a little more.  Too many people missed a chance to talk to some very smart people.
    • The main area was a little noisy because of the music from the launch area during the Developer Track.
    • Not enough chairs in the SQL track
    • The Q&A session wasn't practical in the big rooms -> just too many people and not enough time.  (if you had a question you wanted answered, please do visit the blogs of the presenters and post your questions.
    • Traffic was a bit of a problem.
     
    The good news for the remaining cities -> we take everything we learn and make as many positive changes as possible.
     
    I think that the day was easily an 8/10 in my books.  Not perfect, but a great day.
     
    Check out the launch blog for links to the various other blog posts.  http://blogs.msdn.com/canadian%5Flaunch%5Ftour%5F2005/
     
    Thanks so much to everyone who attended.  I really do hope that you found the event valuable.
     
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    Behind The Scenes At The VS/SQL Launch Press Event

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    We are at the Century Room in downtown Toronto which serves as a nightclub most of the time, but today it is host to our press event.  There are about 30 press here from a variety of media types.  The day kicked off with David Hemler (who is the President of Microsoft Canada) welcoming the crowd and providing the introductory remarks.  Just before David went on stage with got the first glimpse of the "rock concerted" themed videos that will be a major part of Tuesday's kickoff event in Toronto. 
     
    Craig Symonds (VP of the Developer Tools Division at Microsoft) was next.  Cool fact - Craig is Canadian - one of many Cannucks in key positions in Redmond.  It is just great to have Craig north of the border for our launch events.  Craig provided a deeper view into the business and technical value that VS/SQL/Biztalk (and .NET) brings to our customers and partners.
     
    We have a very cool group of customers and partners showing off the work they have done with the new products.  My team as had a great deal to do with helping these customers, so I am particularly proud of how many case studies are featured as part of the launch.
     
    Here are just a few:
     
    TorStar / Toronto.com ->  they are working with iMason to rebuild the Toronto.com portal in ASP.NET 2.0
    Workers Compensation Board of BC -> presented a very cool video case study of the work they have done on a field application
    Squirrel Systems -> hospitality ISV that has built an all .NET / SQL point of sale system
    TD Bank -> has built a mission critical application with the new tools
    Active -> ISV in the municipal government space that has committed to VS/SQL in the production of their products
     
    Telebec, CGI, HP and Coast Mountain Bus were also in attendance.  There is a press release hitting the wire later today with even more great customer success stories.
     
    Here is a quote from one of the releases:
     
    "Some of Canada's premier companies, including TD Canada Trust, RBC,
    Toronto.com, Coast Mountain Bus and WorkSafeBC (the Workers' Compensation
    Board of B.C.), have leveraged the Microsoft-based application platform to
    achieve greater business value across their organizations.
    "We've been very successful in delivering a variety of innovative
    solutions using the Microsoft-based development environment, from e-business
    applications to our wireless mobility solution," said Brian Cooper, CIO,
    WorkSafeBC. "We were particularly interested in using Visual Studio 2005 and
    SQL Server 2005 on our WorkSafe Mobility project, as it will not just be a
    point solution for our prevention officers, but also a foundation for all of
    our mobile solutions over the next few years. As such, we wanted to use the
    latest tools that would give us the best productivity and functionality
    available."
    Microsoft technology partners such as HP, Squirrel Systems, imason and
    Active Networks have implemented SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 across
    a variety of vertical and horizontal industries. Customers can benefit from
    their deep knowledge of the platform and their ability to harness its
    capabilities to deliver enterprise-class solutions.
    "These new products deliver more than just a platform any business can
    trust to build and run its most demanding, mission-critical applications. With
    SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005, companies can take advantage of a rich
    set of new capabilities that will help the people within their organizations
    to better understand their business and drive for better bottom-line results,"
    said Scott Howlett, principal, imason inc."
     
    We had 28 press show up - which was a great turnout based on what we had hoped for.  There should be plenty of stories appearing in the next 72 hours.
     
    I am now going to catch up some mail before heading out to the community VIP reception tonight.  It will be cool to chat with some of the key folks from the developer community.  I hope to take my recording gear - perhaps we can get their thoughts on the launch into a podcast.
     
     
     
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    Ready To Rock - The Launch Press Event

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    This morning I am attending the Press Event for the Launch Tour.  We are at the Century Room in downtown Toronto and all of the major press outlets and trade publications will be here to hear from us and our customers.  The cool thing is that the majority of the case studies for the Launch were created by my team. (I will send links in the next post)
     
    I am going to take some notes and some pictures and will post again in a few hours.
     
    Later today I will be attending the dress rehearsal of the Toronto Launch event (which is going to have 4500 people at it!!!!).  Right after that we are heading over to the MVP and UG Community VIP Reception.
     
    Let the Launch craziness begin.
     
     
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    Sneak Peak Pictures - The Launch 2005 "Special Edition Software"

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    So, we just got a shipment of the special edition DVDs into the office.  Very cool.  I just couldn't help myself, so I took some pictures just for all you blog readers out there.
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    With 4 Days Left To Launch We Have Come Up With 2 Cool Contests

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    The Visual Studio / SQL / Biztalk Launch is next week.  4 days to go and the team is working around the clock getting ready.
     
    We had 2 cool ideas for contests to get our faithful blog readers involved in the Launch.
     
    First, pull out that old NT3.5 t-shirt and maybe win a prize - http://blogs.msdn.com/canadian_launch_tour_2005/archive/2005/11/04/489026.aspx
     
    Second, blog about your experience with the Canadian Tour, let us know and you might win a prize as well (no matter what you say about us!) - http://blogs.msdn.com/canadian_launch_tour_2005/archive/2005/11/04/489035.aspx
     
    (Be sure to read Barnaby's post on tagging your blog entries - http://blogs.technet.com/barnaby_jeans/archive/2005/10/28/413240.aspx
     
     
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    zoominfo.com - Look Yourself Up And Get A Little Freaked Out

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    I guess this is what I get for having a blog and doing PR for Microsoft, but man - these guys seem to know a lot about me and it is easily searched.  Cool or Scary.  Not sure.
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    Plumbers @ Work - John and Dan start podcasting from Calgary!

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    Well, thankfully someone smarter than me has started podcasting from our team.  John Bristowe and Dan Sellers from my team along with two MVPs - James Kovacs and Bil Simser have started a new show called Plumbers @ Work (www.plumbersatwork.com)
     
    Check out the new site and subscribe to the Plumbers RSS feed - http://msdn.microsoft.com/canada/audio/plumbersatwork.xml 
     
    You can also visit or audio page for other content - http://msdn.microsoft.com/canada/audio
     
    Enjoy.  (And please let John and Dan know what you think of there show)
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    Rick Segal - Lessons learned from the OneNote blog

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    Ok, so Rick has been on a bit of a blog frenzy of late, so forgive the multiple posts linking to his stuff (but I think it is valuable)
     
    In this post Rick talks about the importance of adding value and being open in your connection with the community.
     
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    Google vs. Microsoft (VC Style)

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    My favorite VC Rick Segal has posted his take on Google vs. Microsoft.  It's more interesting than Scoble's take on the same topic, in my opinion.
     
     
     
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