Microsoft 2014 Build Conference – Day 2

Today (Thursday, April 3, 2014) was the second day of the 2014 Microsoft Build Conference. Build is Microsoft’s conference for software developers. There are a total of about 8,000 people here (which includes attendees, speakers, vendors, press, and so on).

Today started with a three-hour long mega-keynote, consisting of several 30 to 45 minute talks, just like yesterday. Today I am certain I don’t like sitting through three hours of people talking. I don’t care how interesting the information is, three hours is just too long. The good information in a set of talks that last three hours is simply diluted too much. Interestingly, everyone I spoke to (mostly other attendees and speakers) felt pretty much the same way — three hours is just too long.

Aside from the technical session talks, there are two things I especially like about the Build conference. First, there are a set of about 12 Microsoft kiosks in one of the common areas. Each kiosk is manned by a Microsoft subject matter expert and each kiosk has a sign that reads, “Ask Me About xxxx” where xxxx is some technology or service. I chatted up the TypeScript expert and came to really understand the motivation for creating TypeScript in the first place (but I’m still skeptical). I also talked to a WinRT expert. Here’s a photo of the kiosk area:


A second thing I really like about the Build conference is the live streaming of interviews with experts and thought leaders. These interviews are recorded by the Channel 9 service and are very cool indeed. Here’s a photo of the Chanel 9 interview area:


Today I listened to four technical session talks:

1:00 – 2:00 “The Present and Future of .NET in a World of Devices and Services”
2:30 – 3:30 “Thinking for Programmers”
4:00 – 5:00 “Go Mobile with C# and Xamarin”
5:30 – 6:30 “The Next Generation of .NET for Building Applications”

I’d describe all four of these talks as more high level and strategic rather than low level, nuts and bolts tactical. I thought all four were pretty good but none of them wowed me. I’d give them an average score of about 7.5 on a scale of 1 to 10.

My talk on neural networks is tomorrow morning. Even though I’ve given hundreds of talks before, I still get nervous before a big talk where I’ll be speaking to hundreds of people — thousands if you include online viewers — so I know I won’t sleep at all tonight. All in all, I’m really enjoying Build 2014. I think the main value for me is recharging my psychic batteries. I can hardly wait to get back to work in Redmond and build software.

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