Preparing for MIX09

I actually am going to blog about work for a change!  I’ve attended quite a few Microsoft conferences, spoken at most of those, and even keynoted a couple.  But I’ve never been to MIX.  Now that I’m working in the mobile developer space, and part of the organization that produces Silverlight, it’s time to connect with the web development and design community.   So it’s off to MIX09 I go.  I’m particularly looking forward to meeting up with anyone who is (or wants to) target mobile devices so I can better understand their requirements.  I’ll be wandering the sessions, and will certainly spend some time hanging around “3rd Place”.  But if anyone wants to pre-arrange some time, just send mail to Hal.Berenson@microsoft.com and we’ll figure something out!

Before returning to Microsoft I spent some time as a web developer.  I’d started a SaaS company (PredictableIT) along with one of my friends to provide small business with a complete outsourcing of their IT.  We hired a contractor to do the bulk of our development, with the two of us providing program management and testing on top of our other roles.  Unfortunately the development didn’t work out as intended and our launch date kept slipping, so we released the contractor and I took over the coding pen.  It was an amazing sprint to rework the system for production before our cash ran out.  That was the point I realized just how amazing ASP.NET was.  Beyond the marketing website we built we also allowed a company’s office manager to perform all ordering, provisioning (of Exchange, Terminal Server and, separate virtual machines for Quickbooks or Dynamics), ongoing management of their own users base as well as billing, automated monthly credit card payments, and then wired it all into our own Quickbooks-based accounting system.  All with, realistically, less than a man-year of effort (despite my having to rewrite about half of it).  From today’s superior tools (Silverlight and Expression Blend) to better surface area coverage in the .NET Framework, to improvements in automation of all the underlying subsystems (e.g., Exchange) we could probably have cut implementation time by at least a third and ended up with a much cooler site to boot!  So I’m looking forward to hearing how you are using various technologies today, and what you think about Microsoft’s latest offerings.

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