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Monday, September 12, 2005

Live from Los Angeles -- It's PDC!

Well, not really live. So far, at least, the wireless network in the convention center has been too flaky to really be useful. I'd say it's my company's crappy, much-abused Acer tablet that's at fault, but colleagues with better hardware are having the same problems. I wish now that I'd brought my iBook afterall. It weighs less than half as much as this beast, has useful battery life (4-5 hours instead of 1-2 hours), and has a far better screen. I still maintain that the iBook's screen is great for three years ago, but this screen is bad even by 2001 standards. Whether that's a tablet thing (it's actually a convertible unit) or due to the aforementioned abuse, I don't know.

Yesterday's pre-conference session on C# and .NET 2.0 was ok in the morning, but it got old in the afternoon. Very little was new to anyone who's paid attention to the articles and press releases coming out of Redmond for the past year. No real surprises. And, honestly, none of the features being introduced to C# are really new concepts to people familiar with Lisp, Smalltalk, or Ruby (or any of those families of languages), which is to say, anyone who has a background in languages or rigorous computer science.

I really like C#, and I understand the performance-related reasons for the distinction between value and reference classes, but it really looks to me like MS is having to jump through increasingly awkward hoops in order to implement features that would be easy if everything were a reference type to begin with. It's a price I'd gladly pay (and do, in Ruby), but then most of the applications I work on are not the types of things that would be seriously affected. For us, the cost of heap-allocated ints pales in comparison to the overhead of our framework classes, but I understand that's not the case for everyone.

It's been kind of interesting so far to see people live-blogging the presentations in real time, although the constant click of keys can be a little distracting. It also seems a little pointless for what I've seen in the presentations so far, but maybe it's just warm up for Gates' keynote tomorrow morning. I wonder if he'll wear a black turtleneck. Hmm...probably not.


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