On Projects and the Latest Summer EVER

The past two weeks have been absolutely gorgeous, the nicest stretch of the summer by far. Today was sort of dreary but the rest of the week promises sun and mid-twenty-degree temperatures.

Work-wise, we launched the Handi-Transit confirmation service in early September, almost exactly one year after the latest Telebus launched on the same IVR platform. Other than a few minor hiccups, things went very smoothly.

My next project is a SMS interface for Telebus which we’ve affectionately dubbed Textabus. I am very concerned about the viability of this project because of the large operational costs of SMS messaging, but I have a few ideas which might help us avoid these costs.

Conferences

I’ve always wanted to go to a big tech conference in Las Vegas or Phoenix. Heck, anywhere warm would fit the bill. The chance to fly and stay somewhere courtesy of my company PLUS learn some valuable new skillz would be awesome. So imagine my surprise today when I receive notice of not one but TWO conferences that are a perfect fit. Both are equally appealing but in different ways.

The first is Microsoft DevConnections in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay resort in November. This would be fantastic if not for the rather large US$1600 entry fee. I have no doubt that it would be worth every penny and a whole lot more, but that’s a fairly big chunk of change, plus I’d be giving up a week’s revenue, making it even more painful. Still the sheer number of sessions and the interesting topics is very tempting.

The second is much closer to home and in the dead of winter, but is only two days and much less expensive. It’s the Winnipeg leg of the Tech Days Canada 2009 tour, which naturally falls in mid-December. At only $300, it would be a fraction of the price, but it will feature something of a “best-of” list of sessions from various TechEd-like conferences put on by local talent. And as an added bonus, attendees get access to a disc and site containing all conference sessions, plus a one-year subscription to TechNet Plus, including several training sessions.

I will most definitely be attending the latter, and will save a week off work for some place warmer in January or February.

Being Windows Live

Just watched Being John Malkovich the other day, one of my personal faves. Definitely one of the stranger flicks out there. Another big fave is Shadow of the Vampire, also starring JM.

But we digress. I have seen much about Windows Live but read an article today about how its Windows Live Writer is a great blog editor, so I decided to give it a go. So far it seems good. I think I’ll try Windows Live Mail and see how well it works with my Google Apps account.

Yes, there are definitely a lot of italics in this post!

My Microsoft Action Pack Subscription was activated late last week. I created a VMware VM containing Windows Server 2008 R2 64-bit and Office SharePoint Server 2007 for a project I am working on. I’ve been out of the Windows world for a while now, and while using FOSS tools like Ubuntu, Apache, Ruby on Rails, etc is a lot of fun and often a technical challenge, I forgot how nice it is to double-click an installer and be walked through a series of options. For the most part, it just works, easy peasy.