I missed the first session because of lack of sleep and the fact that I hadn’t finished my slides for the day’s second talk. I came in at the end of Bret Stateham’s talk on Getting Started on Azure. I didn’t expect anyone to show up for my talk on Azure Tricks and Tips because of the advanced nature of the talk and that not many people are doing Azure yet. I was pleasantly surprised to find 10-15 people there, which was a great number for that kind of talk. The talk was well received and there were lots of good questions. I have uploaded the slides for the talk.

Afterwards I went to lunch with the DM gang. After I came back I was going to check out David Pallmann’s talk but I was about five minutes late, and it was in the same room as mine, so it was hot stuffy and crowded. Instead I ventured over to John Bowen’s talk on the Future of XAML for XAML Developers, which was in a much nicer room. I wanted to be in the same room for the talk after the next one, and Llewellyn assured me that it was going to be crowded, so instead of heading over to several other talks I just hung out in the same room and suffered through Fundamentals of Metro Style Applications. Then it was time for my favorite talk of the day – Michael Palermo’s HTML5 for the Real World. The crazy thing was that it was my favorite talk despite knowing all the material! His dynamic and engaging style was simply fun to listen to. After that was over I headed over to a fairly good talk by Paul Mendoza on Writing Maintainable JavaScript.

The Geek dinner was great – Lllewellyn was congratulated on the schedule, and I met a few people and had some interesting conversations on the CAP theorem and light particles as well as digitizing old film.

I was undecided as to which topic to attend first the next morning. On a whim I decided to attend the Hacking Your Memory session. Much to my surprise that became my favorite session of the entire camp – It Was Awesome! The speaker (Gary Hoffman) did a great job, the slides were well prepared, the topic was interesting and the audience was really engaged. Check out the site if you are interested.

Next I was trying to decide between WordPress Ninja!, and .NET TDD Kickstart. by Barry Stahl whom I had met two nights previously. I made the wrong choice and attended the WordPress Ninja! talk, which should have been renamed WordPress Beginnner!. During lunch Llewellyn talked me into doing the afternoon sessions that was supposed to be with Woody Zuill, but due to family emergencies Woody had to cancel. I begged out of the first one to attend a Node.js talk. I then trekked back over and helped give the talk on Testing EF, ASP.NET and ASP.NET MVC. I stayed in the room to attend the final talk User Driven Development which had some interesting discussion.

Great conference as always. Kudos to Woody Pewitt, Bret Stateham, Llewellyn Falco, and the rest of the volunteers for their efforts.

This was my fourth year presenting at the San Diego Code Camp (and the 5th year attending).

On Saturday I went to see Dustin Davis speak on Aspect Oriented Programming with PostSharp because we had been e-mailing back and forth about combining our possible AOP talks. I then stopped by to see Mark Rotenburg speak about NetDuino which I hadn’t really played with but after that talk I really wanted to.

After lunch I tried to get in to see Jon Galloway speak about MVC 3, but the place was so packed I went next door to see Brad Cunningham speak about “Becoming a better ninja”.

Ike Ellis and I spoke next about Sql Azure vs. Amazon RDS. This was probably the easiest talk I have ever given with no preparation. Ike and I interact with one another quite a lot and it was really no different in front of an audience as it was front of a group of company developers.

Unfortunately I was peppered with questions after the talk, so I missed the final session.

On Sunday I was the first talk on Aspecting EF And WCF. I was glad to see that I was given a bigger room this year. Jim Houghton and Mark Taparauskas from DevelopMentor were also there. I was nervous because of the large amount of material I had to cover, but I think the talk went well considering how advanced the topic was. In the hour talk I managed to go over the WCF extensibility model, write an IOperationInvoker, discuss the EF provider model, plug in a custom provider, discuss how lambdas can be used to call services in a type safe manner, describe the decorator pattern, talk about how to bundle up reusable calling logic, and switch the calling model of my existing client. There were three demos, on aspecting WCF on the service side, EF on the client side, and WCF on the client side.

After my talk I headed over to see Alex Shah talk about PhoneGap. Having done a little phone development myself I found the topic interesting, although the talk could have used a little polish.

I went to lunch with Mark, and when I got back Llewellyn was waiting to prepare our talk on Reactive Extensions. My original talk had ben introducing some concepts and then building a couple of nifty demos. When Llewellyn joined he wanted to show the Koans for each particular set of functions. So we wrote up the demo slides that followed every slide of what I wanted to cover with the name of a method two from the Koans. We finished early but unfortunately not in time to catch the talk before ours, so we just hung out until the end and gave the final talk.

During the talk Bart texted to say that Run was now called ForEach? Not sure if I agree with that rename, but there it is. The final demos were on Drag and drop with Silverlight, and throttling text event to issue web service calls. We had one question at the end around Throttle which I will post when I get a chance.

A nerve racking morning

Today I woke up ready to start preparing for my GeekSpeak talk. You could argue that I severely procrastinated in waiting until today, and you would be right. I hadn’t done this particular demo before, but I had played with both the Diagnostics APIs and the Service Management APIs pretty extensively, so I was fairly confident. Even though I was starting at 7:30, I felt sure I would have a polished demo by 11:30. Let’s just say I now have an even healthier respect for good backup strategies.

Early on I made a couple of glitches that set me back, like pasting code from the 1.2 version of the Azure SDK that used the “DiagnosticsConnectionString”, because the new 1.3 version uses “Microsoft.WindowsAzure.Plugins.Diagnostics.ConnectionString”. I was getting this completely unhelpful error message like: “Error on startup”. I managed to get though that, and I got the custom performance counter created.

Collecting was a bit tricky, because I was trying to demonstrate a product that I hadn’t used in a while called Cerebrata Azure Diagnostics Manager. I kept starting it up and trying to connect before the WADPerformanceCounterTable had been created. Once I learned patience, I was able to get it running successfully.

At this point it was about 9:30, and I was ready to start on the Service Management piece. I opened up a project I had used on numerous occasions on the past to eliminate all of the running instances on a list of subscription IDs. I had one little heart attack because I realized that out of all the APIs that I utilized, I hadn’t pulled out the configuration info, and I hadn’t called the Change Deployment Configuration. I managed to get the configuration extracted and base-64 decoded, fairly quickly. I used some X-Linq to modify the configuration XML and now its time to POST. And… It doesn’t work… WHAT! What do you mean can’t read the configuration information, I have a demo in 45 minutes! After a little searching I found that you have to prepend the XML preprocessing instruction

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>

Even though the instruction was there when I extracted it somehow gets removed during the transformation. With that – Voila! – it works. And I still have 15 minutes to spare. Whew! Not too bad for a mornings work.

And here was where the “benevolent being” thought, “Man this guy is cocky. I will teach him a lesson.” What happened next I still don’t clearly understand. I had done all of the work around extracting configuration information and updating it inside the CleanUpAzureDeployments solution. I wanted to move it over to the AutoScaling solution that I had done all of the performance work in. Three simple actions and I lost almost two hours worth of work.
1) I used Ctrl – X to remove the GetDeploymentConfiguration, AddAnotherInstanceToConfiguration, UpdateConfigurationInformation functions (about 100 lines of code)
2) Seeing that the code was removed successfully I assumed I had it in my buffer, so I closed that solution.
3) I used Ctrl-V to paste the information into the new project.

And nothing appeared…

I pressed it again, maybe I didn’t press it hard enough. Then at least a minute passes while I sit looking at the computer screen in a state of slowing growing terror. After the initial shock, I start cursing Visual Studio in the vilest sort of language for not supporting automatic backups like Eclipse does.

At this point it is time for the call, but I just lost my most important demo that it took me almost two hours to get working. I place the call to Glen explain the situation and start frantically trying to recreate the demo before everyone joins the call. Thank goodness for a weird form of the 80/20 rule which states that you can redo all of the work that you have recently done in about 20 percent of the time. During the sound checks and introductions I was coding away trying to recreate the 100 lines that I had lost, and I managed to finish them before the curtain came up.

I think the stress probably took a month of off my life expectancy. I am not sure that my nerves had time to recover by the time I finished the call.

The talk itself

The talk itself might have gone well. It was tough to tell from my perspective because I was so freaked out that I couldn’t think straight. Anyway thanks to everyone that was on the call. Here are the newly recreated auto scaling demos.

Also I had some questions:
1) What was the name of an easy Auto-Scaling product?
I should have remembered the name because it is similar to the name of the Amazon solution Azure Watch
2) Can we get a list of what built-in performance counters are available on Azure?
This one is a little tricky to answer, because any performance counter you can use on premises you can use in Azure. A better question might be: “Which performance counters can’t I use in Azure?” The short answer is none, but of course you can only use counters from software that is installed, so basically all the core Windows counters.
3) Can Azure monitor the security channel from the windows event log?
I understand that it is possible, although I have not done it myself. To read an event log that strongly ACLed though I am pretty sure you will need to include:

<Runtime executionContext="elevated"/>

in the ServiceDefinition.csdef file.
4) Can I get a full list of what’s in the DiagnosticMonitor namespace?
The best overall picture of what’s going on is found here, about midway down.
5) Where is the information on the Rest API for changing configuration settings, how the cert works, etc?
That can all be found in the normal MSDN documentation here.

Thanks again!

I wasn’t feeling all that great, but I let Ike Ellis drive me to Cloud Camp in San Diego. I had been to the one in San Jose with Michael Kennedy, and this one had a very similar format. The most amusing aspect was when the presenter almost got into a fight with one of the audience members over the definition of the cloud. I let Brian Loesgen talk me into holding an impromptu talk on Microsoft Azure, and I felt to be fair I should also hold one on Amazon AWS. The Microsoft Azure talk was pretty well attended and I did my best organizing and answering everybody’s questions. The AWS talk was up against some talks that I would have rather attended, but I didn’t think I should abandon my own talk – so the turnout for that one was a little bit lower.

Yesterday we had the second day of Azure in San Diego. All of the usual suspects were there including Brian Loesgen, Lynn Langit, Ike Ellis, and yours truly. I was tasked with demoing my way through a ton of different features to give everyone some hands on experience in what it is like to develop applications from scratch using Azure. The title was “Azure by Demo – From 0 to 60”, and as you can see from the slide deck, the talk consisted of 8 fairly major demos one after the other. The problem was that due to all the questions (which I love) I ran out of time. I didn’t get to finish the queue demo, and I didn’t have time to go into deployment, although I did mention the two biggest caveats.

Here are the demos after I removed my secret keys, and switched back to development storage.

I spoke tonight at the San Diego .NET User group Architecture SIG. Brian had asked me to give a talk for the upcoming Day of Azure (Deep Dive). The topic wasn’t even decided until the 4th, but as I teach Azure anyway, it was no big deal. The final topic chosen was around the storage aspects of Azure. I tried to cover a brief introduction to both the relational and non-relational (No-SQL) aspects of storage in the cloud complete with demos. I chose to talk about SQL Azure first to give them something they could relate to (haha, sorry, couldn’t resist) before I lead them into a technology that most of them didn’t have any exposure to. Thanks everyone, for coming out.
Here are the demos.

This was in the works for a long time, but today I gave a GeekSpeak talk on WCF Extensibility. The hosts were very nice. I have known Lynn for a while now, but it was great to finally meet Glen. Despite the fact that I was extremely nervous I only screwed up once :)

Here are the demos.

Another year, another San Diego Code Camp :) I signed up for this talk way in advance, and forgot to check up on it. There were a couple of presenters giving similar talks. What I tried to do was demo my way through WCF REST support, WCF Data Services, and WCF RIA Services, explaining what each one was and how it differed from the others. I had a *TON* of questions and so the talk ran a little long, and I didn’t get to do any of my RIA demos. I think I stopped after slide 15. However, I did have a couple people come up to me afterwords and say that my talk was there favorite talk of the whole code camp, so in that respect – mission accomplished! The room was jam packed standing room only, so thanks to everyone who came out.

Here are the Slides and Demos

I gave a webinar for DevelopMentor today on Amazon AWS in .NET. The first half of the talk was on Amazon and some of the services it offers, and the second part of the talk was on using the APIs. I decided that although it might be more convenient for the attendees, giving a webinar is kindof a pain in the ass for the presenter. One problem is that you don’t get any feedback. I am used to being able to look around the room and decide if I need to pick up the pace, or slow down, or make a joke or change the medium to wake people up. This was just me talking to my computer screen for one and a half hours. Not an incredibly enjoyable experience. I really appreciated the few people who actually asked questions.

Here are the Slides and Demos

I spoke tonight at the San Diego .NET User Group Connected Systems SIG on Amazon vs. Azure. I reused some of the slides I presented at the Fullerton Code camp. I really enjoyed the talk and all of the great questions I received as well.