TechEd 2011 Day 1

How appropriate is it that I’m finally finishing this up a week after the fact…

I’m sitting in my space at the TechEd Blogger Hub as I write this rundown of Day 1 (aka Monday) at TechEd. Good chance for me to top off my phone battery and try to get caught up. One disclaimer, I’m writing this on Wednesday, so my recollections may be off a bit.

The day started off like every TechEd Monday, with the Keynote Session. This was the first keynote in many years without Bob Muglia, Senior VP of Server and Tools Business (STB) who is leaving Microsoft this summer. Instead we had Robert Wahbe, VP of STB, for the IT Pro side, and Jason Zander, VP of Visual Studio, for the Dev side. More importantly for me, I was going to see it all from the front row as one of the winners of the TechEd VIP contest.

The view was great, but as keynotes go it wasn’t anything special. It wasn’t bad, just nothing earth-shattering was announced or demoed. I noticed a Kinect sensor on stage so I knew we we going to have some demo that involved it. Wound up being someone interacting with the WorldWide Telescope. Very cool, and more demo-friendly than the more practical solution they showed on video that allowed a surgeon to manipulate charts without having to handle them physically. Why is that a big deal? No contact means no need to rescrub. I think we’re going to see some great things that are enabled because of this “toy” so stay tuned.

Afterwards it was time for a lot of walking. I met up with Jeff Guillet (@expta) to pick up our Springboard party passes (complete with the all-important green wristband for Mark Russinovich’s book Zero Day) and visit our seats in the Blogger Hub. the hub is a place with a dedicated seat, power outlets, and network connectivity for selected Microsoft-focused bloggers. Then it was a quick dash back to the dining hall for lunch with a co-worker, followed by another mad dash to the Expo Hall for the Twitter Army Tweetup coordinated by Rod Trent (aka @rodtrent).

My first session of the day was SIM201 “Wiretapping 101: Catching Evidence on the Network” with Laura Chappell. People had been tweeting about her quite a bit so I wanted to make sure I went to see what all the fuss was about. The hype was justified. I’ve used WireShark quite a bit, but only at a very superficial level. Laura showed how powerful a tool it can be if you know what you’re doing. I missed getting a copy of her toolkit before they ran out, but still feel like I can go back to the office and use WireShark to help identify security and performance issues. (I did manage to get a copy courtesy of @LjTx who found an extra one on the Expo floor.)

Next I headed to EXL326 “What’s New in Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 SP2: Featuring GAL Segmentation” along with Jeff. Unfortunately the room was pack and the air conditioning wasn’t working so the room was like a sauna. Selecting a seat behind one of the projectors didn’t help either as the hot air jetted out the back. We toughed it out though. The main changes are the return of Outlook Mobile Access as OWA Mini, cross-site silent redirection OWA, and GAL Segmentation. I was always a fan of OMA, so glad to see OWA Mini. MS brought it back for markets where browser phones are still popular like Japan. Works great, even on a desktop PC browser, when you’re in a hurry. As far as GAL Segmentation, there are too many caveats to really make it feature for most people. For example, it does not work with Outlook for Mac or Entourage. That’s a showstopper right off the bat for my environment. For more details about SP2, see the Exchange Team blog.

I skipped the next session in order to go back to the hotel and freshen up for the Vendor Reception at the Expo. A quick shower and change into shorts made me feel like a new man.  The Expo Reception was as it usually is.  The food was mediocre so didn’t eat much before setting off on a swag hunt with Jeff.  After the Expo closed it was back to the hotel to drop off the bag and then head over to Der Biergarten for another evening with the Krewe.  Trying to pace myself, I turned in early that night, getting back to the hotel before midnight (although I wound up staying up another hour or so working on the blog).