I'm James Snape. I joined the team nearly three years ago but have been in the industry for 14 years now. Before Microsoft, I worked as a PM/Architect at Exony and as a Research and Development Engineer at Sony Broadcast.
The short answer is all of them since I need to know where the pieces might fit in a customer architecture but I specialise in both development process, Office development and business intelligence so: Team Foundation Server, Office, SQL Server, Analysis Services, Reporting Services, PerformancePoint Server etc. There is always a need for .NET too.
I think the main reason is nobody really tells you what to do, just the desired outcome you need to achieve. Then it's all up to you. It can be a little disconcerting when starting but you soon get used to it. Equally important is the shear range of things you get up to from management consulting to performance tuning.
To be honest I don't keep them all up to the same level; there is so much stuff coming from out of Corp at the moment that it's impossible. I follow releases and check what's new or changed making a note of anything I'm interested in (which is quite a large list) to investigate further. I get a lot of information from the blogs and the internet like everyone else but also monitor internal e-mail lists, read the PowerPoint decks from conferences and swap information with my colleagues.
One of the great things about the team is the diversity so I can rely on others to have the deep technical knowledge in areas where mine might be lacking. This leaves me time to really dig down on my specialty areas.
(Sorry, I thought the question was too specific). The tool I probably use the most is a whiteboard given the amount of communication we do but I spend almost as much time in Visual Studio, SQL Management Studio, PowerPoint and Outlook.
There is no such thing as a typical day so using today as an example I'm working from home:
· Writing a presentation on "What's new in Windows 7"
· Coding up a sample data warehouse from IIS logs for a customer
· Troubleshooting performance issues for another customer
· A conference call to discuss pre-sales opportunities
· Answering a lot of e-mail
· Looking after my wife who has the flu today
I would have to say Windows Presentation Foundation and Silverlight. Given my BI background I have a huge interest in data visualization and believe these technologies are going to make data a lot more approachable. Check out this video for a great demo.
My best moments are when a customer ships - I can't help but feel really involved with my customer's projects so it's great when they achieve that.
My worst moments come when I've taken on too much - given the variance in our schedules you can find yourself with not much to do when your customers don't need you so take on extra work to help out. Unfortunately that's the moment you usually get the call from a customer who needs help quickly. You get used to it though - I'm getting very good a time management.
If you click the link through to my blog then please excuse the photographs. There is technical content on there but it is also a personal blog and I love photography.