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TechEd Day 1

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 04-06-2007

I’ve actually been in Orlando since Thursday but today TechEd 2007 officially got underway.  I took a few personal days from work so Ellen and I could go to Disney World before TechEd started.  We hit all four theme parks, one per day.  I told her that I was going to have to go to TechEd just so I could rest!  It was tiring, but fun. 

Last night we officially kicked off TechEd with Party with Palermo at the Glo Lounge.  The who’s who of the developer community showed up.  Lots of people showed up, several hundred if I had to guess.  Jeff just keeps making his event bigger and bigger.  There is no end in sight!  I rode with Jason Follas to the party and we stopped off at the convention center before heading to the party so I could get registered.  While I was getting registered, Dustin Campbell called and we picked up him across the street at his hotel.  He fit nicely into the back of Follas’s Mustang (haha).  At the party we saw lots of people and talked geek shop until late in the evening.


The keynote was this morning at 8:30 AM and I had a hard time finding a parking spot but I made it on time to still catch breakfast with Josh Holmes and Drew Robbins.  After breakfast it was off to the keynote.  The keynote was mostly about server products.  The developer stuff they showed I already knew (silverlight, wpf).  It seems that Microsoft is really making their virtual server offerings stronger with Server 2008.  MOM (Microsoft Operations Manager) also appears to be doing some really cool things.  One of the demos showed how virtual servers were created on the fly to scale a web site and when the web site had errors MOM was alerted.  I really like the server side of IT but I just don’t get to play in that space much.

First Session – Microsoft and Mobile Devices

After the keynote the first session I went to was a talk about how Microsoft handles roughly 40,000 mobile devices.  The talk was given by Microsoft IT employees who support mobile devices for Microsoft.  The session wasn’t that great really, mostly because the presenters were not that good.  I could have had them tell me what they wanted to say before hand and done a better job I think.   There were some good tips on things people should do before adopting a mobile platform.  One of the questions that was asked at the end was “What are your most popular devices your users use?”.  The answer is about what I expected.  Most people they said use a device similar to my Cingular 8525 form factor as well as the T-Mobile Dash form factor. 

After the session ended I headed down to the Microsoft TechEd store and picked up a few t-shirts and then went to the Mobile Planet store and picked up a 1GB microSD memory card for $10.  I hadn’t purchased a memory stick for my cell phone and haven’t been able to take a lot of pictures and store applications on it so it was a good $10 investment.

Dynamics CRM 3.0

After lunch I went to a session on Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0.  The CRM session was interesting to me since our team builds the CRM for our company and I haven’t had a chance to view their product.  I mainly went to the session to get new ideas for our CRM and see how the other half lives.  When the presenters finally got to the demo of the product I was surprised at what I saw.  The contact screen in CRM 3.0 looks pretty much the same as ours.  It is funny because I have never seen their product.  When I built ours I simply mocked the screens up based on our business needs and how the information would best be represented.  It was cool to see the exact same design. 

I really like the way they did their customizations and how forms are designed but the Outlook integration and customizations is where I started to see why we made the right decision in investing in our own CRM system.  The windows presentation relationship views they showed during the demo were neat but how many CRM systems have pictures of each contact?  Probably zero.  There are a lot of things CRM 3.0 does that we really wouldn’t want.  For example, the ability to export data to excel would be something we wouldn’t want as well as the offline capability.  Also the advanced find functionality is something that would need to be “gumped”.  I suspect that if you had 4000 desktop users using the advance search capabilities as we do it wouldn’t scale the way it is done.  It would really need to be moved to a data mart but I don’t know if the architecture supports that. 

After the session I went down to the expo floor to talk to the CRM team so I could see the product up close and personal and ask questions.  The product seems to be very customizable in terms of being agile for a business but at the end of the day it just isn’t customizable enough for our needs.  For example although CRM 3.0 integrates with Outlook, the main contact screen where you work contact records is actually a web page that is skinned to look like Outlook.  Being a Smart Client fan this really turns me off.  For example there are only so many events that can be fired on a textbox or other controls.  We use a lot of these events to trigger validation and other things behind the scenes.  When I looked at the customization there was only an onchange event that could be wired up via JavaScript.  There are other things that just aren’t possible with the way we customize our CRM.  For example in our system when a user enters a valid phone number into a phone field we display a CTI icon next to the phone number so our users can call the person using our internal CTI system.  I asked if this was possible and was told no.   Well, technically no because that kind of customization would have to be done by a certified partner.   This is where I stopped investigating CRM 3.0 and moved on.   In the end I did take away some ideas about how to handle a few things but I think we have a much stronger middle tier. 

Wrap Up 

Once I got done with the CRM investigation it was time for the Expo Reception.  I joined Jason Follas in the Virtual TechEd where Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell were doing a live show and giving away swag.   Both Jason and I won a copy of Coderush and Refactor.  After the show I spoke to Carl about doing an up and coming DNRTV show.  Stay tuned for future info on that.   Coderush and Refactor are two tools I’ve been wanting for a long time.  We decided to head to the Developer Express booth (the guys the write coderush and refactor) and bumped into Mark Dunn, Regional Director.  We wound up swapping war stories with Mark for about 30 minutes and are formulating a plan of attack to get some community going on in Mississippi.  Then it was off the the Developer Express booth to rub our winnings in the faces of Dustin Campbell and Mark Miller (who write coderush and refactor for Dev express, both MVPs).  We also met Ray the CEO of Developer Express. 

Long day to say the least and my dogs are a barking (my feet hurt). 

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Comments (2)

thank youu:)

Good to see you at the party. The count was 437 people. That’s a lot of people!!!!

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