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i started out the day attending software tools that make life easier with jared richardson.  jared took an interesting approaching describing 'a tale of two shops' where in reality it was the same dev shop within 6 months and using two different methodologies...namely the shop got better when implementing source control management (scm) tracking, testing, etc.

he had a lot of ground to cover in the short time and really only got to detail in on scm.  he concentrated on talking about subversion mainly, but did poll the audience on what is being used.  there was subversion, cvs, perforce and only one microsoft guy using vss (i chimed in and said i used team system ;-)).  jared talked about something i believe in as well -- the best way to learn something is to sign up to teach it.  he talked about creating guides for the users as one of the best ways to learn about a new scm system that you'd implement.  he did this when he created his subversion cheat sheet.  he went in to a demo on subversion using the command line tools, etc.  i couldn't help but wonder how command-line interfaces are 'making life easier' as his talk suggested...but i guess that's just me -- the *nix users of the world likely prefer that way anyway.

there was a question about developer workspaces, the concept of being able to isolate the developer from the source repository and still have them check-in working code without affecting others.  jared suggested different developer repositories.  this feature the gentleman wanted is implemented as 'shelving' in team foundation server...one of my favorite features.  it removes the need for multiple repositories while at the same time providing some developer isolation for peer reviews, semi-complete code, etc. -- an awesome feature that all other scm systems should implement.  this was a decent session, but i had wished we'd get into the other tools...unfortunately time ran out.

the next session i went to was on soa and if it was the new corba by .  first i must say if you get a chance to see neal, do it.  he's intelligent, funny, and knows his you-know-what.  generally i felt he was the most level-headed of the group (ted neward was there and speaks a lot about java as well as .net praises...so go see him too--he's a bit more in-your-face than neal though) and spoke on the merits of the topic rather than zealot views (note: i still think he's a zealot in some areas).  neal pointed out that 'soa' has been around forever -- distributed computing isn't a new concept (i.e., COM/DCOM, etc.) but that soa seems to have gotten a new revival.  he attributes this to two things namely it seemed like: 1) vendor proprietariness (a term he's hoping catches on) and 2) the 'in-flight' syndrome.  the latter is something i totally believe as well.  what this means is that you have the 'the boss' that managed to read some 'in-flight' literature and soa just happened to be the topic...so thus, that's the new buzz word and new initiative at the company -- nothing progresses unless it is tied to an soa initiative!  sometimes this is so true!

neal did a great job describing what soa really means and how it should be approached in software design.  i was surprised at the type of questions from the audience.  even though distributed computing has been around for a while, it didn't appear a lot had been even approaching the topic in their designs.  the questions were, at best, elementary.  kudos to neal for answering them calmly.  there seemed to be a lot of concern about performance.  i subscribe to neal's comment as well that there is no guarantee that soa will improve performance...in fact, there may be situations where you are sacrificing performance for efficiencies.  i really enjoyed this session and it validated in a way for me that soa is much more than just a buzzword that should be attached to any initiative, but something that (as with any component of software design) should have much fore-thought.  neal was quick to point out (and re-iterate) that the #1 problem with soa will not be technology, but rather getting the business to agree on the isolation of business entities (i.e., what a 'customer' means to one department could differ to the other).

i had lunch with some guys that are microsoft developers and got their take on the event so far.  they thought neal was the best so far as well and had attended some of his sessions on day 2.  they made the same comment i did about the jsf technology...how they'd been using that since 2000 with asp.net.  another guy at the lunch table wasn't too impressed with the event so far and thought the sessions he went to lacked the 'no fluff' mantra.

after lunch they had an 'expert panel' which was essentially the speakers who were present for the day.  the panel was moderated by ...who again, a good 'must see' if he is ever in your neighborhood.  I tried to scurry as many notes as I could on what questions were asked and the responses in summary...here's my best interpretation of my own chicken scratches:

  • Q: Java has 'gone the way of the dodo bird', true or false. A: J2EE is dead like elvis and dead like cobol; Sun has a bad track record of software development; JSF has stench of committee on it
  • Q: what's the next platform. A: some comments around Flash evolving as a platform because it is everywhere
  • Q: What do you think of XUL? A: XUL is cool if you can control the platform.  XAML is also becoming an attractive platform and may be worthwhile looking at, but right now the momentum is more behind simple AJAX than richer platforms
  • Q: Rails, hype or not (this was my question) A: it's as much a hype of any other technology, but worth looking at -- anything new is worth learning.  NOTE: Ted polled the audience to see who is getting paid to write Ruby/Rails.  I think me and Jared were the only ones that raised our hands - and I'm stretching it ;-)
    • venkat talked about how and is bringing the best of both worlds and that it is good to learn things and take best practices learned into new innovation
      • side note here: so why then does microsoft get bashed when our community does that.  all i ever hear are things like 'yeah, you stole nunit from junit', etc. -- yeah, so what -- you should take best practice harvesting as a compliment!
  • Q: what is the next big thing? A: NetKernel (generalized architecture); dsl; dynamic languages, erlang

all in all, my experience with no fluff just stuff was 'okay' -- i did feel like it was detracting a bit from the mantra and could serve the community of software developers better if they broaden their technology beyond java...even bring in more open source.

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my day at no fluff just stuff continued with some ajax sessions.

i say in on justin gehtland's talk on javascript programming.  justin is from relevance, the same guys bringing streamlined out to the market this past week (and as he tells me a new build on monday).

justin said his favorite languages in order are: javascript, ruby, java, c#, and everything else.  yeah! c# made the list ;-).  he's a brave man with his first two being duck-type languages.  it was a good overall discussion on javascript, but nothing i didn't already know -- i think a lot of others got value out of it though as there was good interaction.

i'm sitting in on david geary's talk on ajaxian faces -- implementing ajax on the jsf platform.  it's funny to me knowing that asp.net has had these so beloved features of jsf in the framework for about 6 years now.  the talk really isn't that much on jsf, but more on using the prototype library as the framework for ajax requests and how to leverage with a rendered java server faces component.

i attended one other session for the day and had to call it quits for the afternoon, unfortunately not able to attend the birds of a feather sessions that evening.

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well, on to the next conference!  after oscon, i traveled back home, saw a movie with my wife, woke up and headed out to the no fluff just stuff conference in phoenix this weekend.  because of oscon, i missed the first day of no fluff...

so the no fluff day 2 started for me by going to see a session on testing with selenium by .  selenium is a web testing framework mainly designed for user testing (i.e., user acceptance, use cases, etc.) -- *not* for unit testing.  is a completely javascript application, which means it executes on the client and no interaction with server process.  it implements iframes, etc. to display a testing control panel and viewing your application, etc.

selenium was originated like some other things lately (rails, etc.) where it was extracted from an application use -- meaning it wasn't developed expressly for the purpose of being developed.  the name came from an interesting jab at mercury (selenium is an element known to help mercury poisoning).

i was very impressed with what i saw -- very cool stuff and well thought out testing.  the downsides are client-based only, but that is the purpose of the tool.  because it does things on the client, there is no auto log shipping to any shared file.  however, there is an option to provide a url to post all completed results which will help for that logging. 

i would definitely look at this platform for future projects.  there are some benefits that visual studio team test has, but selenium also is superior in other ways such as ajax testing.  i'd love to see some selenium test on as it is able to handle async postback testing, etc.  neal did a demo using google maps that was able to read the elements, etc. very easily.  there is also a firefox plugin to record a selenium test and save as the normal html test cases or as java, python, perl, c#, or ruby.  very cool.

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the second day of the normal conference proceeded along the same path.  keynotes that are 20 minute vignettes again.  i'm not sure why it bugs me so much, but it does.  i think because of this i'm pre-disposed not to get much value out of them...and i didn't.

the next session i went to was the history of copyright and what it means to open source by karl fogel.  karl was formerly with collabnet, and is now with google.  i have to say, karl immediately lost credibility with me on his approach.  to me he committed the cardinal sin of telling the audience he wasn't going to take questions -- what was worse was that he said he'd acknowledge the hands being raised, but wasn't convinced he'd have enough time.  ouch.  even if you aren't going to take questions for whatever reason -- please don't announce that -- you might as well say "my information is going to be way more important than any point you are going to ask or make, so don't bother."

anyhow, karl took an interesting video (too long btw, ate up 10 minutes -- only a few minutes were necessary) on a park survey of what the lay person thinks/perceives copyright to be.  it wasn't a surprise to me i don't think -- people generally don't know the details or history.  the common thread was that the perception is protecting the credit of the author.  in reality, (as karl is pointing out), the copyrights are there to protect publishers.  it's philosophical of course and there are a bunch of legal footnotes to the argument for sure.  it was an interesting talk, but he never really got to the point of the second half of the title: '...and what it means to open source.'  it made me wonder what his credentials were to talk about this -- he didn't announce any legal education or anything.  it was an okay session overall -- i learned something, which is good.

the next session i went to was one on ajax using atlas and asp.net.  yeah, i know, i already know this stuff.  but i wanted to see who else was interested.  plus i think christian is great and always enjoy his talks.  as usually, he was great and injected good humor into his discussions.  he was able to demonstrate what atlas had to offer and answer some good questions on the use of atlas in non-microsoft environments.

after lunch was a session from google entitled 'a google service for the open source community' which we now know was a commercial for google code project hosting.  it was packed.  the project hosting is essentially sourceforge with google-esque user interface.  no ads on the project hosting page (yet).  one thing that i heard after the session was how people thought google did a little dog/pony show.  if you look at their session, up until the actual session the description was "TBD" and not on any update sheets throughout the event.  given their announcement, it really should have been a part of the 'products and services' track (which was segmented out to ensure the attendees know it was related to a product/services offered by a commercial group), but they were able to evade that by keeping the description TBD -- good tip.  google...more evil maybe? ;-)

another session i went to was titled 'roadmap to free .net developer tools' by lee fisher.  sorry lee, but this was the worst presentation of the show.  i got the impression lee was a smart guy (he indicated he used to work on the NT server team), but he went about the approach the wrong way.  his 'presentation' was a super-fast rambling of 11 pages of links to developer tools (not all of which were free by the way as the title suggested).  when people asked questions about certain tools he told them to click on the link and learn about it.  when people asked if certain ones were free (or pointed out they weren't) he responded by saying they'd know it wasn't free when their credit card was charged.  it was just horrible how the topic was approached.  the worst part was that the talk gave the impression that .net development was an overly complicated process.  lee was talking about kernle debugger tools and device driver debug kits.  that's crazy talk.  yes, if you are doing that type of stuff, then great, but it made .net development look like rocket science and jet propulsion combined with explosive diffusing techniques.  i think if someone went in to that session looking to dabble in .net and wanted free tools, they walked out of there probably thinking that it was going to be too hard.  session score: F-- -- sadly this is one of the only sessions i went out of my way to evaluate to put these comments in.  again, i don't mean to belittle lee, but he missed the mark.  by a continent.

i stopped by one last time and it was pretty bare at that point nearing the end of the day and the end of the conferences.  one of the participants in our oscamp session was there and reiterated his appreciation for microsoft being there.  he said we took our punches well and he really did appreciate that microsoft was even at oscon and talking and interacting with people...he really felt we were listening.

after the sessions we (microsoft) hosted a group for dinner.  there was about 40 of us total.  it was great to sit around and chat and we talked about tech stuff, social issues, etc. -- you know, normal people stuff.  there was no hostility and it was a lot of fun.  i heard through several people that google had a large crowd at a 'gentleman's club' the night before and had brought some people with them...i thought that was interesting.

a couple of the guys went to the six apart party that anil invited us to, but i opted to go back and crash (that's sleep by the way, not windows ;-)).

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update: i just read this comment:

The reliability of Google’s uptime seems to be a primary selling point. (source: http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/07/27/google-challe...)

well, here was my first experience:

google just announced their project hosting platform code.google.com/hosting -- so i checked it out...here's my first experience: