As always attending a Microsoft technology conference (TechEd India 2012) was fun & educative. You can catch the clips here and other information from here, so I will keep this post to few sessions I managed to attend.

The 3 day conference happened at Hotel Lalit Ashok, a fine hotel but as a conference venue I try to like it but I can’t. The map they give while registering keeps getting less comprehensible year after year, I was pretty sure if I run in circles I could have found the rooms faster than the map or ask the event folks. And this happens even though I am supposed to be familiar with the topography & room names as I have been here for many years now, either as a speaker or as an attendee.

In Windows 8, apart from Metro UI & WinRT there has been incremental improvements to Windows 7 in terms of Boot time, Tast Manager, Explorer file copy & so on. But I learn that there are significant improvements to Windows Server "8" from Windows Server 2008 R2. I attended the Windows Server "8" modern workstyle enabled by Pracheta Budhwar & Windows Server "8" The power of many Servers, the simplicity of one by Kamal Jain. Both were introduction sessions to new features in Windows Server "8", lot of improvements have been made relevant for all use cases, from Single Server to Clusters. DHCP Resiliency, SAN storage copy offloading, unified server manager, Hyper-V dynamic movement of running VMs & many more.   

Demo Extravaganza by Harish Vaidyanathan & Nahas Mohammed was fun & entertaining. They showed lot of cool stuffs around Windows 8 Keyboard shortcuts, roaming profile and so on. When they were distributing "goodies" like Nokia Lumia 800 or T-Shirts, the stampede like scene near the front rows were scary.


Vinod Kumar demos in Demo Extravaganza on tips for Office 2010 were interesting, I knew the Access email data collection tip but the PowerPoint Photo Editing feature (Remove Background in Format Ribbon) was new to me.

Remove Background in Format Ribbon

Day 2 the first session I went was BigData & Elastic Cloud by Ramkumar Kothandaraman. He rocked with his practical insights & applications in real life for BigData (How Target figured out a teen girl was pregnant before her father did, U.K. Man deported from LA for joke tweet about Destroying America). His example for explaining MapReduce was awesome – making juice by first cutting fruits, then grouping them by fruit-family (Apples, Oranges) and then putting them through a blender.


Juice and MapReduce

One of the biggest challenges of using BigData is the setup & configuration of something like Hadoop & its relatives (Pig, Mahout, Hive, Hbase, HDFS, Zoo Keeper). Ramkumar demo’ed the upcoming cloud offering from Microsoft Hadoop on Azure (currently in invite only beta), this was exciting to me as it makes Hadoop approachable to every developer out there. You can program MapReduce functions with Java or JavaScript, it is likely Microsoft will add support for .NET Languages in upcoming languages. Out of box you get cool Graphing features to visualize data easily

The next talk I went was a session by MTC (Microsoft Technology Center) team – Vinod Kumar, Govind Kanshi & Anirudda Deswandikar. MTC team rocks with their frank,practical advice on when to use & when not to use hyped technologies like ORM, Cloud, XML & Virtual Machine Platforms (Java, .NET). With all the marketing hype surrounding REST & Cloud, this talk was a bit of fresh air.


In the evening the last session I went to was by my fellow Microsoft Regional Director (RD) Stephen Forte (CSO, Telerik) on Agile Estimation. He was hilarious, putting serious data on why software estimate is always wrong at beginning. You can only improve estimate on iterations after each iteration, it is important you have many smaller iterations and there by improve your estimate. He talked about using "User Stories" & Tracking Backlogs as techniques to capture user requirements & maintain sanity in the project process. You need to insists on having one user story at least for each page if the project is a website, a single line like "Replica of" is not acceptable. Stephen demoed on how you can use for improving Estimations. His same talk made in the TechEd USA is available here, don’t miss to watch it.


He gave following books for further read:

  • Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher
  • User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development by Mike Cohn
  • Agile Estimating and Planning by Mike Cohn
  • Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great by Esther Derby &  Diana Larsen

(Disclaimer: Microsoft India had given me a free pass to attend TechEd India as I am one of the Microsoft Regional Directors, a honorary title & partner program)

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