Friday, 12 March 2010

Some Notes for Those on their Way to MIX10

Irascian at Mix, 12th March 2010

It's around 8am local time here in Las Vegas, and I'm about to head off for a day's shopping/being a tourist. But with so many folks about to head out to MIX10 from the UK thought I'd post a few quick points in answers to various tweets I've received.

The weather in Vegas at the moment is clear blue skies and sunny, but quite cool in the evenings. It's definitely long sleeve shirt, pullover or jacket weather in the evenings, and when I arrived at the airport last night around 5pm a lot of the arrivals in t-shirts were complaining at how cold it was (:-O) Apparently the last week has been untypical weather (I'm told it rained on Wednesday) with grey cloudy skies all week. Not so today with a warm sun and clear blue skies. The forecast throughout MIX is good. I'm probably going to venture out today in shorts and sandals :-)

The Mandalay Hotel (at least on arrival last night) has a very different vibe from The Venetian, home of previous MIX conferences. The hotel looks the same internally (except that scantily clad go-go dancers near the poker tables, presumably to distract those playing, now seem de rigeur in the gambling halls) but the Mandalay seems to attract a much younger crowd (I'm told the pool area aka "the meat market" is the main reason!) If my arrival last night was typical, expect to bump into a lot of loud, drunken (but happy!) youths in late teens/early twenties throughout the hotel which is something I never experienced at The Venetian. Some of the elevators even seemed to be hosting their own frat-house style parties! Try and wangle yourself an invite if you can ;-). The rooms themselves are big, clean and modern by UK standards, but definitely nowhere near the 'over the top' luxury status of The Venetian (at least if my experience is typical).

The wireless internet in the hotel is USD15 for 24 hours, but is excellent - the best I've ever experienced and I'm in a room at one extreme end of the hotel (as far away as possible from the noise and the elevators).

If you're flying Virgin Atlantic from Gatwick beware the £30 'more leg room' offer you may be given at Baggage Check-in. These seats are around rows 49 to 51 (9 each side) which unfortunately is next to the dispensing area for the 'free booze' dished out during the flight until it runs out (which thankfully it finally did around 5 hours into the flight). If my trip yesterday is typical you'll have a bunch of stag party crowds on board who treat this area much like the kitchen area at a very busy, rowdy, drunken party. Great if you're getting drunk and want to freeload, a nightmare if you want to arrive sober, snooze or try and get work done! Personally I don't understand why Virgin Atlantic encourage the sort of behavior that means they inevitably create a problem for themselves (well, duh! Drunken passengers assaulting female cabin crew - who saw that coming?!). If the airline charged for the booze it would make the flights much cheaper for the rest of us, and avoid the nightmare of their staff having to deal with drunken passengers.

Anyway, to everyone on their way out here: Have a great flight, a great MIX and hope to meet you in person (DM me on Twitter id @irascian if you need my room contact number or US mobile phone number).

View from my hotel room, taken at 7am, Friday 12th March 2010
View from my hotel room at 7am this morning

Updated to add link to my Flickr Stream of Photo's from the Hotel Pool area

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Heading for Microsoft's MIX10 Conference

Irascian at MIX10 - 11th March 2010

Today, I'm finally heading off to Microsoft's MIX10 conference in Las Vegas, where developers and designers get to "mix" it up. The pre-conference buzz this year has been even higher than usual, and not just because people have been getting carried away drinking the Microsoft Kool-Aid.

Early leaks about Windows Phone 7 Series (FINALLY, something to compete with the Apple iPhone), Silverlight 4, Internet Explorer 9 and a whole host of announcements around the upcoming Visual Studio 2010/.NET 4 release mean that anticipation is high, especially amongst those of us who earn our daily crust from Silverlight Development. It looks like our early gamble that this was a technology that was going to prove to be crucial to writing state-of-the-art applications is now finally starting to pay off.

And then there's the Microsoft Courier device, which makes the forthcoming Apple iPad look extremely sub-standard, ASSUMING IT'S REAL! Hopefully we'll find out how real the device is over the next few days, even if the rumours suggest it isn't planned for launch until 2011.

I'm still undecided as to which sessions I'll be attending - every time I think I've narrowed my choices down, new sessions get announced. Talks on Real World MVVM, Silverlight Testing, a new Microsoft Silverlight Analytics Framework, MEF, WCF RIA Services and, of course, Windows Phone 7 Series are all at the top of my wish lists, but frequently clash. With video of each session being made available online within 24 hours of being delivered, final decisions aren't that important and will likely come down to which rooms have seats left in them, and other logistical issues.

What I can state with certainty is that I'll be attending the Silverlight 4 bootcamp and ASP.NET MVC Bootcamp pre-conference workshops on Sunday, 14th March.

However the sessions and workshops are not the reasons for my attending MIX10 (I still think you get a better experience of these by being a 'virtual' attendee, and with The Channel 9 Live From MIX Show streaming continuously every day of the conference I think that's even more true. What I'm most looking forward to, and the real reason I'm flying over 5000 miles to attend, is meeting many of the Silverlight developers I've 'spoken to' via Twitter, as well as those I already know from having attended MIX in previous years, or through the London community scene.

Party-wise, I know I'll be attending the EMC Consulting Oasis and MIX Tweetup on the Sunday night, as well as the Brits Booze-up and Main MIX Party on the Tuesday night. I hope to meet some of you there!

I will have the loan of a mobile phone during my stay, so if you want to make a specific arrangement to meet up send me a message on Twitter (@irascian) and I'll be happy to send you my number.

I'm hoping to blog each day from the conference (and pre-conference, although pre-conference blog entries are more likely to be appearing on my personal blog rather than this work-related one).

All the early indications are that this is going to be one of the best, if not THE best, MIX conferences held to date. I can hardly wait!