A Canuck In The Machine

Mark Relph - Senior Director - Startup and VC Team

April, 2007

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    MIX07: Silverlight Goodies


    fun_venetian Some goodies have gone live.....


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    MIX07 - Some other coverage of the keynote.... and some slip-ups.


    bubble_blue Some other coverage:

    Check out the Technorati page (MIX07 is on the "hot" list today) - http://technorati.com/search/mix07 


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    MIX07 - Let's Light Up The Web


    MIX07 057MIX is underway here in Vegas.  Ray Ozzie is on stage as I type this.  The event looks great so far.  It's packed - completely sold out (rumour has it that we are even over-sold!).  It's nice to see that we have a great goodie-bag (including a copy of Vista Ultimate and Expression Studio)

    We have a great group from the Canadian Team here at MIX.

    • Myself
    • John Oxley (Director - Community Team)
    • Ryan Storgaard (Online Business Strategy Manager)
    • Jerome Carron (Platform Strategy Advisor)
    • Daniel Shapiro (Designer Audience Marketing Manager)
    • Paul Laberge (Partner Advisor)
    • Qixing Zheng (Designer Advisor)

    If you are here at the event, please say hi.

    There are (we estimate, because privacy rules prevent us for knowing for sure) about 75 Canadian customers and partners here at MIX07.  We also have 5 members of the Canadian press with us and they will be covering the event. 

    So far we have announced:

    • Microsoft Silverlight 1.0 beta availability. Optimized for the Web, Microsoft Silverlight enables developers and designers to easily use existing skills and Visual Studio and Expression Studio tools to deliver media experiences and rich interactive applications. Silverlight works with any back-end Web platform or technology, seamlessly integrating with existing infrastructure and applications, including Apache and PHP, as well as JavaScript and XHTML on the client. Beta 1.0 includes a go-live license, which means customers can deploy their Silverlight applications in production. Final availability of Microsoft Silverlight 1.0 is scheduled for summer 2007.
    • Microsoft Silverlight 1.1 Alpha availability. Based on the .NET Framework, Silverlight 1.1 Alpha offers broader tools and language support. It enables developers to take advantage of support for powerful .NET features including ASP.NET AJAX and Language-Integrated Query (LINQ) language, with full IntelliSense® editing enabled for client and server code; powerful cross-platform debugging capabilities; and rich language support for JavaScript, Visual Basic®, C#, Python and Ruby.
    • Expression Studio now shipping. Expression Studio, Microsoft’s end-to-end tools for creative designers, boosts collaboration with developers in the delivery of next-generation user experiences for Windows, the Web and beyond.
    • Microsoft Silverlight Streaming. Silverlight Streaming is a new companion service for Silverlight that makes it easier for developers and designers to deliver and scale rich media as part of their Silverlight applications.
    • Windows Live Platform Terms of Use. Microsoft is enabling the developer community to take advantage of the Windows Live™ services infrastructure and gain access to all the APIs through a simple, consistent set of terms that address multiyear supportability, scale, cost structure and commercial use of the platform. In addition, Microsoft announced new APIs to support programmatic access to Windows Live Spaces, Windows Live Contacts and Windows Live Messenger.

    Scott Guthrie is up now, digging into the technologies a little more deeply.  We are watching the Netflix demo as we speak.  (Very cool - video streaming, DVD-like controls, interactive elements)

    On Sunday, we went to Hoover Dam.  Interesting "web 2.0" twist on the visit.  Like all tourist locations, the Dam offers a visitor centre and a tour.  While not it's expensive, the web may have made these tours somewhat obsolete.  Instead of paying for the tour, I simply went to Wikipedia and downloaded the Hoover Dam entry to my Mobile.  We had ALL the info we could want and created our own "educational" tour of the Dam.....

    MIX07 051

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    Community Connection: Are User Groups Dead?


    An interesting post from Rodney on the future of User Groups on the IT Pro Community Blog.

    image"You probably think I am crazy.  You are probably thinking about the 30+ IT pro user groups in Canada with 10,000+ members with monthly attendance at meetings surpassing 2500 nationally.  You might then remember me being at some of these meetings as an attendee or a speaker and ask "what the heck is Rodney talking about?"  I know Wendy Rogers (the Developer Marketing Manager) thinks I am nuts after she went on the record with the Globe and Mail the other day saying the opposite!"

     Read it here.

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    Our Events Go Green(ish)


    Green powerAnyone who attended our recent Unify Tour event in Toronto may have noticed that we had our friends from Bullfrog Power onsite during the event.  I have talked in a past post that I switched the power I use at home to Bullfrog (something I feel great about). 

    The Unify Tour stop was our "beta test" to see how the logistics work to switch an event to be "green powered" and to see if the attendees thought it was a valuable thing to do.

    We had some good feedback and I'd like to hear some more.  If you were at the event, let me know if you noticed the "green" test and what you think of the idea.

    We have plans to expand this if the community thinks we should.

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    Out In The Cloud: Interview With Rick Segal


    Over on the Wellington Financial Blog, my friend and power-blogger Rick Segal is the subject of a featured interview. 

    A few interesting quotes:

    Question #3. Is the Angel investor network in Canada robust enough?

    Answer: No. Another 10 million dollars in angel money flowing into new ideas, projects, etc, would be great. I got the 10 million number from the number of $100k - $1MM chunks of money being asked for in the last 12 months. A more active/deeper angel network would grow the deal flow for sure.


    Question #6. You’re a MSFT alum. Why has Microsoft been unable to do anything with success (Zune, Vista, XBOX 360, etc.) for at least the past half a decade or so?

    Answer: Interestingly, the products you mention have not been out 5 years so hard to really comment on them. Given the numbers that MSFT produces, including the latest ones, I’d probably label that success. But at the Macro level of “WOW” stuff being a bit lacking, I think it is the nature of big/massive corporations to slide into ‘safe’ from a market share/business perspective. With 65,000+ employees, it is not easy to maintain the culture of a start up or the free wheeling machine of the 80s/90s. Amazon, Oracle, even Google, all have growth/big company challenges ranging from beating the street to keeping the troops happy. With stories about people leaving wonder-kid Google, there is simply an almost unavoidable cycle/trap of bigco disease which just happens. MSFT has some of the brightest people of the planet working for her right along side some of the biggest corporate butt wipes imaginable. Which, of course, describes most large companies.

    >> I do find it interesting that the interviewed think Xbox360 isn't a success.  Long before WII, we were kicking Sony's butt and Xbox Live is a killer service in the gaming world.

    I hope he thinks I am one of the smart people.... :-) .... rick?

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    CASF07: Final Post.... Content Update


    From Mohammad's blog.

    Last week we hosted 150 architects from across Canada in Vancouver for the 3 day Canadian Strategic Architect Forum. Everyone who attended the forum received a full copy of the Office 2007 Professional and Vista Ultimate plus one individual won an XBOX 360. In the spirit of Web 2.0 we allowed attendees to participate in real-time on http://www.csaf07.com , we also recorded all 47 sessions and are in process of making them available. A number of PPTs and recordings have already been posted and rest are on the way. The agenda for the event was as follows:

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    MIX: Heading To Mix!


    I have meetings until 5 then I am running home to pack and back to the airport for my flight to Vegas.  Mix starts on Sunday, but I will be relaxing in Vegas for the weekend.

    Are you at MIX

    It's going to be great.  I know they have a lot to talk about.

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    The Summits Of Canada - Mount Logan Expedition & Windows Live


    CanTREK is an expedition team that will be climbing Mount Logan, Canada’s highest peak.  The climb takes place in May and will involve 12 climbers.  Throughout the trek, they will be focused on geological study, education, fitness, health and the environment.  They will be linked to the students in their classrooms and homes and thru the site.  This means that we will have a link with over 1.4M Canadian youth via the VE mashup and live via satellite to the classroom!

    Check out the video and the site.


    Here is a brief summary of the features:

    • High res 2D imagery + 3D model of Mt. Logan & the base camps (EOW)
    • Details info. about the base camp and climbing route on the VE control
    • Tracking GPS on mountain (will be available in May when the climb starts)
    • Real time audio/video broadcast of the climb (will be available in May when the climb starts)
    • Learning Centre (including info. from Encarta)
    • News Alerts
    • School Registry (features allowing schools to register / signup for the learning materials)

    Check out some blog entries on Channel 10:

    The site was mentioned on CTV as well:  http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20060804/todays_info_060804/20070419/


    Watch for more on the blogs as the climb starts in May!

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    Building Communities


    Our Developer Audience Marketing Manager, Wendy Rogers, has an article in the Globe and Mail this week talking about the importance of user groups and communities - especially in the technology sector.

    If you build it, they will come


    Front Lines is a guest viewpoint section offering perspectives on current issues and events from people working on the front lines of Canada's technology industry

    Next time you visit your local bookstore, check out the business section. There you will find shelves groaning under the weight of books that promise to help companies overcome the latest hurdles on the path to profitability. Some are fads destined to fade, but take a closer look and you'll notice that the books with real staying power — many dating back decades — deal with issues that transcend economic, political and social conditions. Standing front and centre among them are books on how to make customers happy and loyal.

    Those in the technology industry know how challenging it can be to maintain a happy customer base. The rapid pace of innovation means companies must release new products or upgrades at lightning speed, while also ensuring value and ROI. This is a daunting task.......

    Read the full article here.


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    New Photography Tools On Live Spaces

    Spaces Photo Module After

    The Spaces team has upgraded the photo album features inside of Spaces, making them a lot more friendly to use and view.

    This will actually help make Spaces a great places for sharing photos with friends and family - especially since it is integrated with Messenger.

    Don't forget that uploading pics is even easier if you use Live Writer to author your posts.

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    CSAF 07 - Thanks! See You Next Year.



    The Canadian Strategic Architect Forum wrapped up this afternoon in Vancouver.  Thanks to everyone who attended.  The feedback seems to be very good.  People seem to have enjoyed the new venue and having it in Canada.  Vancouver seems to have been a good choice - especially because we have been able to pull speakers from Redmond.


    Here are a few good links to remember.  These are some of the best places to find the latest information and resources for Architects.



    • Architect Journal
    • Webcasts
    • Other Forums & Events

    www.csaf07.com (more content will be posted over the next few days to ensure everything from the show is up there.)




    • No Spin Architecture Blog: blogs.msdn.com/mohammadakif
    • Mark Relph Blog: blogs.msdn.com/mark_relph
    • Canadian Developer: blogs.msdn.com/cdndevs
    • Canadian IT Pro: blogs.technet.com/canitpro
    • Canadian IT Manager: blogs.technet.com/cdnitmanagers


    See you all next year!

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    Searching For Search


    Well, this is interesting :-)


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    Vista Gadgets In The News - All Of Them Supported By My Team


    I feel like a proud parent :-)

    My team has been working since before the launch of Vista to help forward thinking Canadian companies bring new web-connected experiences to market.  One of the ways we are doing this is by leveraging the new Sidebar Gadgets in Windows Vista.

    Canoe has a good article highlighting some of the great Canadian gadgets.




    "Canadians are getting into the act, too and are in the throes of developing useful tools. Not surprisingly, the Canadian banks and financial institutions lead the way. For starters, TD Waterhouse Canada Inc. has developed Market View, a gadget that enables users to view major North American market indices and stocks, as well as launch TD Waterhouse WebBroker, directly from their Windows Vista-based desktop.

    Banks, who have the perfect business model for the Web, want to make it easier for you to do on-line business with them. After all, the more you can do on line and the less you have to call or visit them, the more money they make! Anyway, the TD Canada Trust group is probably the leading bank in terms of understanding and using new technology. They seem to “get it” more than the other banks.

    Speaking of getting it, the Workopolis Canada (http://www.workopolis.com/workopolis_gadget) job site and resume database, uses a gadget for potential employees and employers who tie in the Workopolis back-end system. Users can search for jobs regionally, by career focus and by job title and also shows comparative information of jobs to resumes across the various regions in Canada.

    The Vancouver, BC-based company Maximizer Software uses a gadget to extend the power of its Maximizer Enterprise CRM suite to the Windows Vista desktop. The Address Book gadget allows business users to search for a company, contact or individual in the Maximizer CRM system without leaving the desktop. The Opportunity Manager gadget allows salespeople and sales managers to display reports summarizing all current sales opportunities right on the desktop. Together, these gadgets allow business users to access their day-to-day customer information instantly, without having to open their CRM system.

    Another Vancouver company, Flowfinity Wireless Inc. a firm known for its work with Research in Motion, uses a gadget to create a ‘super-shortcut” with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. Using a checklist metaphor that information workers can easily relate to, this Sidebar gadget provides an intuitive and rapid method of tracking progress. Users can instantly access and interact with their checklist without having to leave their current work to access a services list in Microsoft SharePoint."

    One gadget that the article doesn't mention (because it isn't on the Gallery yet - but soon) is the new Weather Network Gadget.

    Big thanks to Jerome, Cigdem and Ryan on my team for driving the gadgets mentioned above.

    Want to build one of these for your company? Check out MSDN.  If you are in Canada and doing cool work in this area, let me know.

    Want to know the one gadget we want more than anything for Canada?  Simple: TRAFFIC.

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    CSAF: Day 2


    Simon Guest makes reference to his AWESOME talk at the Forum yesterday. 


    We have kicked off this morning with Kathy Watanabe from Microsoft's IT group.  It's looking like another great day, more updates coming later in the day.

    It's also an beautiful day:


    and I am going to the Canucks game tonight ;-)

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    Messenger Bot - NHL Stats - Just In Time For The Playoffs


    12A Stanley Cup.jpgA little know technology call Messenger Bots .  These are "contacts" that you add into Windows Live Messenger and you can interact with.  There is already one for Encarta (try adding encarta@conversagent.com to your contact list).

    But now, there is one for the NHL Playoffs!

    Just add: nhlstats@hotmail.com to your contact list in Messenger.


    Contracts to Randy and the MSN/Live Canada team for getting this off the ground.

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    The Sun Shines On Vancouver


    What's the great thing about running events in Vancouver?  The weather.  (well, when it's not raining anyway)

    I snuck out at lunch and went down to Falls Creek.......gorgeous day.


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    CSAF - The Content Keeps On Rolling


    The CSAF site - www.csaf07.com is getting busy.  Thanks to everyone contributing.


    2 new videos:


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    CSAF - More Content


    The slides and audio are up from my welcome session.

    Norm Judah's slides are up as well.

    {update} Wesley McGregor's slides are up as well.

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    The Fight To Save Internet Radio

    Save Net Radio

    Interesting Article Here.  On my Sonos, we listen to a lot of Internet Radio.  It's great and it would be a shame to see stations like Radio Paradise come to an end.

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    CSAF07 - My Welcome Slides


    CSAF is underway!!  I just finished my welcome address.  Slides are here.  Full house - standing room only.  So far, so good.

    Norm Judah is on now.


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    Up This Week: Canadian Strategic Architect Forum



    This week I am heading out to Vancouver for the Canadian Strategic Architect Forum.  This is our premier event for software and enterprise Architects and I believe it is a unique event in Canada (it's also invite-only).  Solid agenda and great speakers.  40 breakouts in 4 tracks:  Solution Architecture, Infrastructure Architecture, Roundtable Sessions, and a Technology Track.

    It is a terrific event which started as a skunk works project 4 years ago and has grown in popularity since then.  The best part of the conference are the conversations that take place between the attendees.  It is also a great chance for us to get feedback from some of our key customers on our Enterprise technology roadmap and strategies.

    There are a few key changes this year, all driven by the feedback from the community:

    • Canadian Architect Forum should be held in Canada
    • (However) Continue to feature speakers from Redmond
    • Add more topics in the technology track
    • Add more sessions on security, web and virtualization
    • Provide more opportunities for networking with peers
    • Record sessions and make them available to us
    • Provide note taking during sessions
    • Continue to have the ‘table of books’

    With those changes in mind, the team has been working REALLY hard to put together a first class event again this year.  Mohammad Akif is the big brain behind the event, thanks in advance to him and the rest of the team.  (Mohammad has a great architect blog here)

    Based on what the community told us over the last year, our content will focus on:

    • User experience - Technology must serve business
    • Web – Realizing the potential of Software + Services
    • Productivity – Reduce plumbing, virtualization
    • Services – Easily produce and consume services
    • Tools - Finishing software projects on-time, on-budget
    • Security – Application, network, intranet and internet
    • Interoperability – Between MS technologies and with major vendors

    Want more Architect content?  Check out: http://www.skyscrapr.net/ and http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/architecture/default.aspx 

    If you are going to be at the event in Vancouver, please let me know or track me down.  If you can't make it, watch the blogs for the follow-up content, webcasts and podcasts.


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    Open Source vs. Microsoft on the Blue Monster Thread



    Hugh has started a serious conversation on this one.  Check out the post here.

    My friend Rick Segal weighs in here.  My question to Rick, who does see a lot of value in the MSFT platform normally - why do they see value?

    It is interesting - the comment "no CEO really cares about MSFT vs. Open Source".  I'd agree.  Solve customer need - that is the key.  Something we do well, even if we aren't the only ones.  The partner angle is interesting - our ecosystem is amazing.  It is a key asset in the Microsoft world.  It has always evolved to meet customer and market needs.  And it will continue.  Microsoft certainly needs to ensure we are doing the same.



    Hugh is answering Rick and others with this:


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    The Blue Monster Series



    Hugh @ gapingvoid.com has teamed with a few Microsoft bloggers out of our UK offices on a new "conversation" about Microsoft, our direction, telling our story and our marketing.  They are calling it the "Blue Monster Series"

    It is fascinating. 

    If you don't know Hugh - he is a cartoonist and "power blogger".

    I am still digesting.

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    Microsoft Silverlight Is Here.


    As we head towards MIX Microsoft has announced our new rich media / interactive platform for the web -> Microsoft Silverlight.

    Read about it here, here and here.  (It's also a main story on Techmeme.com today)

    Why do I like it?  3 reasons ->

    1. Enables amazing user experiences on the web with a great new set of tools.
    2. It works cross platform (yes, Macs)
    3. It's a good name!!


    Check it out.


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