Last week I had the real pleasure of speaking at the Best of Tech-Ed and Convergence in Reykjavik, Iceland. I was absolutely amazed by the size of the developer and IT community in Iceland, and the turnout at this conference. For an island of about 300,000 people, having a turnout close to 1,200 locals at a conference is pretty amazing.
The participants at the conference were all great folks. Attendees asked both hard and easy questions, and were engaged in the presentations, continuing the discussion into the hallways afterwards. It also helped immensely that just about everyone spoke English fluently as my eight years of French wasn’t going to get me anywhere in Iceland :)
The Microsoft Iceland team was also amazing – they had everything all planned out and treated us as honored guests. The supper on the last night there was an unexpected treat, especially since it turned out two of the waiters were actors playing with us all. :)
In addition to wisecracking on the closing panel (hey, no one asked any programming questions :P ), I delivered three regular sessions:
- Silverlight 4 Deep-Dive: The Commodore 64 Emulator
- Lighting up on Windows 7 with WPF4
- Dual Targeting for WPF 4 and Silverlight 4
It’s great to combine so many of my interests into a group of sessions in one event. I got to talk about Windows 7, sensors, gps location, 8-bit computers (yes, I brought my circa-1982 backup computer), hardcore Silverlight, user experience, and upsizing Silverlight applications to WPF. The turnout in the WPF sessions was excellent, with lots of folks interested in continuing to build cutting-edge desktop and web-connected applications.
Folks who attended the sessions and submitted evals will get the slides and demos from Microsoft Iceland once they complete the evals. Some time after that is all done, I’ll post them online as well.
While there, I also got to interview folks building some great applications, as well as talk to a local consulting company who is working on moving their Windows Forms application to WPF. I’ve have those interview videos up on Channel 9 soon.
The country itself is absolutely beautiful. I’d love to visit again and dedicate a couple days to taking a good look around and really taking in the glaciers, waterfalls, geysers and all that Iceland has to offer.
On the last day there, before the late afternoon flight, Tim Heuer and I took a walk around Reykjavik and checked out the sites and shops. Of course, we both tried out the famous Icelandic hotdog that Clinton made even more famous. We also visited the famous Hofthi house where, among other things, Reagan and Gorbichev met to start the end of the cold war.
As you can tell in the photos, it was rainy and cloudy for most of the trip. Amazingly, it was much colder and snowier here at home. Iceland remained around 40F the whole time – shorts weather!
BTW, Coke is everywhere. I’ve never seen so much red and white. Their coke is much better than ours though, using cane sugar and served in glass bottles. I have no idea what the sweetener in Coke Light was, but it tasted much better than Diet Coke. Why do we always send the good stuff overseas?
The trip back on IcelandAir was bumpy but otherwise uneventful. I was able to get an inexpensive upgrade to the “Comfort” section of the Economy class. That gave me a little extra leg and arm room plus a power outlet, so I was able to get a good part of the next chapter in my Silverlight 4 book written.
Unfortunately, when they did that upgrade, IcelandAir exchanged my connecting UsAir ticket from Boston to Washington, DC for …. nothing. I almost ended up having to spend the evening in Boston, but a last minute runner (literally a runner) came over to the ticket counter in Boston with the exchanged ticket and I made it to the shuttle flight just before the doors were closed. Phew!
The in-flight entertainment system (a Thales IFE i4500 touch screen) was nice, but the touch screen was absolutely horrible – on both flights, so this wasn’t a fluke. The instructions said you had to hold your finger on the button for “two seconds, and do not press multiple times”. It was pretty finicky at best. It did its job, but the touch screen – the one real interface with the passenger – just stank considering how recently it was installed.
I did like the cool map, though.
I’d definitely go back to Iceland again, especially if invited to speak. The community is great, the hosts were awesome, and the country is beautiful. Highly recommended.