Scenes from Seattle, Part 1

Sorry about the recent silence on this blog! I’ve been bogged down with all sorts of things, including travel.

Seattle night skyline

As I write this, I’m in a Starbucks near Union Square in Seattle and many of my teammates – Damir Bersinic, Rick Claus, John Bristowe, Frederic Harper, Paul Laberge, Ruth Morton and John Oxley – are arriving here later tonight. We’ll be here for the remainder of this week and all next week to attend TechReady, a regular Microsoft-employees-only conference where we get briefed on the latest tools and technologies. Microsofties from all over the world fly in for TechReady, and it’s a chance for us to connect with our counterparts from the US as well as places farther afield. Some of us from the Canadian team will be doing presentations at TechReady: Paul and I are jointly doing one, as is Rick. Not to be outdone – and he will write lines of code – John Bristowe’s doing two.

Since TechReady’s an internal conference, there’s a sort of Fight Club rule when it comes to session content: the first rule of TechReady content is that you don’t talk about TechReady content. However, since TechReady is also a chance for us to meet with various teams from both Redmond and around the world, I’ll be able to share what I consider to be some of the most valuable info you get at conferences – those “hallways conversations” with other geeks that take place between sessions and at apres-conference gatherings.

I spent a good chunk of yesterday literally above the clouds rather than “in the cloud”, but I kept running into our cloud message everywhere. Here’s a photo I snapped yesterday afternoon in Pearson Airport’s Terminal 1:

Ad for Microsoft cloud solutions along walkway in Pearson Airport: "When demand says jump, you're at the perfect height. That's cloud power."

It’s very rare when I get to check into an airport around noon on a Wednesday, but it’s a great time to do so. There’s almost no line either at the ticket counter or at the Tim Hortons.

Here’s a photo I took from my seat, getting as much geek mileage as I can: that’s The Social Network playing on the in-flight entertainment system (until yesterday, I still hadn’t seen it), and below that is me getting screenshots for an upcoming Windows Phone 7 development article on my Dell Latitude XT2, my phone- and touch-development demo machine. If you caught Kate Gregory’s webcast on developing touch apps for Windows 7, you’ve seen this machine: I loaned it to her for her demo.

"The Social Network" playing on in-flight entertainment system while I work on my laptop, with Visual Studio Express for Phone onscreen

I couldn’t get a decent rate on a direct Toronto-Seattle flight (but somehow got one for a direct flight back), so I debarked in Vancouver. Here’s another Microsoft cloud ad, located on the long schlep from YVR’s domestic terminal to the international/US one:

Ad in Vancouver Airport: "The most comprehensive solutions for cloud. On earth."

In fact, there were many of these ads in YVR:

Billboard in Vancouver Airport: "When demand says jump, I'm at the perfect height. That's cloud power."

The Azure ads weren’t just static billboards; they were also running TV ads between news segments on the TVs in the departure lounges. It’s good to see that we’re working on getting the message out there, talking about the cloud and spelling it out as more than Azure, but Windows Live, Office Live, Office 365 and a whole other host of applications and services that are accessible anytime, anywhere, as long as you can get online. I hope that this promotional push isn’t just good for us, but also good for you and helps your customers “get” what our vision of the cloud is all about, and call on you to build cloud-based stuff for them. After all, we don’t succeed if you don’t succeed.

While going through security to board the “puddle-jumper” that would take me from Vancouver to Sea-Tac, the security people asked me to prove that my accordion was indeed a musical instrument. I played the refrain from Black Eyed Peas’ I Gotta Feeling as proof and got a “standing O” at the end.

Joey deVilla's accordion, with an "I [heart] Windows Phone" sticker on it.

Here’s a photo I took from my hotel room early this morning. It’s actually sunny in Seattle! Better still, it’s balmy in comparison: 6 degrees C here, versus –10 back home. I’m going to enjoy the next ten days here!

The sun rising over the Seattle skyline

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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