I'll be attending the PDC 2008 in Los Angeles. This will be the fourth time I'll go to the PDC, after 2001, 2003 and 2005.
I'll stay at the Figueroa Hotel, just like the previous 2 times.
Memories and drama from previous PDC's.
My first attendance in 2001 was the most memorable one, just a few weeks after 9/11. The US was still in shock, and security was very tight. I remember I had to pass a metal detector when entering the Staples Center for the attendee party. During the PDC week, CNN broadcasted practically nothing but news updates about anthrax that was allegedly found in mail letters and whether the mail system was contaminated with anthrax or not. The hotel I stayed in (the Los Angeles Athletic Club, again one of the PDC hotels this year) provided a newspaper in front of my hotel room door every day, and I seriously asked myself if it was safe to touch that newspaper.
Don Box presented an awesome preconference, focused on explaining .NET to COM developers. He made a fantastic link to the movie 'The Matrix' (which I hadn't seen yet at that time), and compared the choice between a managed world view and an unmanaged world view to the scene where Neo has to choose between taking the blue pill or the red pill. He also sang a song about .NET, using the tune of 'Let it be', with the title 'Let it leak'. Don Box will be back at the PDC 2008 in a couple of 'Oslo' sessions.
The PDC 2001 keynote started with a solemn minute to remember the victims of 9/11.
I also fondly remember the keynote of Rick Rashid, who was demonstrating Microsoft Research's natural language processing technology. In that particular demo, he had a system where you could submit queries to a search engine, and the natural language processing software extracted an answer from the resulting web pages. One of the questions was 'When did aliens land on earth', and the answer was 'the 4th of July'. Presumably, the resulting pages contained a lot of references to the movie 'Independence day', and of course the software couldn't make a distinction between fact and fiction. Another question was 'Where is Osama Bin Laden' and the answer was something like 'In the mountains in Afghanistan'. That was one of the most impressive demo's I've ever seen. Rick Rashid will be back at the PDC 2008 and I'm looking forward to his keynote.
In 2005 there was a complete blackout in LA during the preconference. I was attending Keith Brown's preconference on security. People made jokes that the blackout was caused by all the people plugging in their gear at the PDC.
There were giant fires in LA in 2005 (or was it 2003?) during the PDC, now there's been earthquake.
Beware: some of the showcased technology is never released as a product.
"No plan survives contact with the enemy" --Erwin Rommel--
The PDC is all about future technologies, and some of the technologies showcased in the PDC never get released, although they often appear in a different way in later products.
In 2001, one of the major items at the PDC was '.NET My Services', aka 'Hailstorm'. Microsoft always (no guarantee this time it'll be the same) has a bag with a book and some software as a present for the conference attendees. In 2001, the book was 'Microsoft .NET My Services Specification'. Apart from qualifying as the dullest book ever written, it was also useless because Hailstorm was canceled. Hailstorm was about Internet scale web services, mail, calendars, contacts, all the stuff we take for granted nowadays from live.com or from Google. Hailstorm was Mark Lucovsky's project, who is now working for ... Google.
ObjectSpaces: Because I was working on an ORM mapper for one of the largest Belgian ISV's, I was naturally interested in the 2003 PDC session about ObjectSpaces, Microsoft's ORM mapper. ObjectSpaces was never released as a product, but later on the technology was released as part of Linq.
WinFS: A major part of the original Longhorn vision, but was cut from the release of Vista. Maybe we'll see more about such a technology in the Windows 7 content on the PDC.
What is it that brings Microsoft to LA?
The PDC used to be in different locations every year, but ever since I started attending the PDC it has been in organized in LA. I was planning on going to TechEd next year, to go to a conference in a different place of the world for once, but TechEd 2009 will apparently also be in LA next year. And WinHec 2009, Microsoft's Hardware conference is also in LA, just 1 week after the PDC.
Pictures from the past.
While writing this article I searched for a couple of nice pictures to illustrate this post in my pictures from past PDC's. Unfortunately, I only had my camera with me during the 2003 PDC, and seeing how they bring up all those nice memories I find it very pity that I didn't take any pictures during the other PDC's that I attended.
So, here are my best pictures from the 2003 PDC.
Here's the Los Angeles Conference Center, the day before the opening of the PDC.
Skyscrapers in Los Angeles. No such things back home in Zulte.
The Figeroa hotel has some very large paintings on the outside walls.
A close up of the paintings.
A worker is painting new wall paintings on a building in the neighborhood.
The Figueroa bar and pool. A very nice place to relax and have a drink. And now recommended on the official PDC blog.
One more picture to illustrate the special character of the Figueroa hotel.
Apparently the Walt Disney Concert Hall was just opened, and there were preparations going on for an opening reception..
Close up of the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Bill Gates at the PDC 2003 keynote.
The audience reacted astonished when this slide was presented. Someone was way too optimistic in projecting typical hardware 3 years in the future. We still don't have 4 GHz CPU's, let's not even talk about 6 GHz.
AMD was promoting it's new x64 processors back in 2003. The 32-bit to 64-bit transition is most likely the last transition happening during my lifetime. I experienced the 8 to 16-bit transition and the 16 to 32-bit transition!
Even the logistics at the PDC are impressive. Imagine feeding 7000 people in an hour.
Panel discussion on the future of .NET. Nowhere else can you listen to such an all-star panel but at the PDC. On left, Anders Hejlsberg, inventor of C#. With the beard, Jim Miller, architect of the CLR . With the black t-shirt, Chris Brumme, famous for his extremely long and highly technical blog articles. To the right, Brad Abrams.
Attendee party at Universal Studios. This year it will be my third attendee party there.
Last supper in LA, with other Belgian attendees. The cook in the sushi bar heard us talking about Longhorn this, Longhorn that and asked what it was all about. For the rest of the evening he kept responding with 'Ooooooooh, Longhorn!'.