NxtGenUG’s FEST07

I managed to gatecrash NxtGenUG‘s FEST07 developer-oriented conference today. It was a single day event held at Microsoft’s Thames Valley Park campus. Despite my best efforts, I arrived just in time for the first full session of the day (I managed to miss the such things as the Registration, Welcome and Notices, Community and Keynote, bit of a shame really, but when you’re relying on trains and free buses getting you from Edinburgh to Crewe to Reading to TVP, some loss has to be expected).

Anyway, it was a super event, well-organised, good speakers, good food and a good mix of information-hungry attendees. For me, it was nice to be at TVP and to be able to sit back, relax and enjoy the conference – usually I’m on the other side of the organising fence and find myself checking agendas, chasing speakers, etc.

First up on the agenda was Rafal Lukawiecki – he’s some guy: top TechEd speaker, need I say more? He kicked off with a session about Vista Security, covering the following major topics: Foundational Protection, Networking, User Account Control (UAC), Authentication & Authorization, BitLocker and Data Protection. As you might expect, UAC was the audience’s primary pain-point: Rafal did a quick poll to see just which flavour of the UAC prompt the audience were enduring – you see, there are actually two prompts that you might receive depending upon who you are logged in as. Most of the audience log in as administrators, so they received the Consent Prompting (default for administrators) prompt. Only a handful of attendees logged in as standard users thus receiving the Credentials Prompting (default for standard users) dialog. Interesting, Rafal was pro-UAC, citing that we should strive to make our applications better citizens such that the UAC prompts only ever appear if they really need to. Further reading can be found here.

Microsoft DPEs Daniel “The Greek One” Moth and Mike Taulty took the stage for the next session, originally planned to be about Orcas, but now a dive into the world of C# and LINQ. Now, usually these two guys are part of MSDN events, roadshows, etc. rarely do we see them “out in community” without them staying roughly within the corporate lines laid down by Microsoft. Today, any corporate ties they had were gone, they were, if you could use the comparison, what happens to DPEs when they go bad! As a double act, they rocked: the comedy was flowing.

After lunch (pizzas and coke) Rafal was back for a session about Software Development Paradigms. This session was well-delivered and provided considerable food for thought. Interestingly, Rafal closed the session with the statement that the programming paradigm is likely to return to the lambda-calculus domain and that we should be learning Prolog and LISP once again!

Oliver Sturm moved in to talk about Dynamic Languages. Attendee feedback from this session was rather good, with many stating that “this Ruby thing, it never goes away, it just keeps bouncing back”.

Finally, Lorna Brown gave a 45-minute session about what’s going on at Microsoft Research. I’m always impressed with what I see coming out of MSR – today, we saw gesture controlled devices tied into a text messaging service. Whilst Microsoft won’t appreciate the comparison, what MSR have effectively done is put the Wii-style controller into a mobile device, such that you can use gestures instead of words…very useful if you want to ask if somebody wants to go for beer, make a pouring gesture and a sound of a beer being poured can be heard at the recipient’s end.

FEST07 – meet the sponsors:

Download the FEST07 slides’n’code from here. And, until the midnight on the 4th of June, provide your feedback here – attendees only please!

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