Analysis (Services and Self)

Koan Bremner's view on life as a database and data warehouse professional / addict and non-genetic woman

Saturday, November 06, 2004

A welcome blast from the past

So, a post in Euan Garden's recently-dormant blog points to his new blog; which includes some gossip about the HP Superdome computer; 64 x 64-bit processors, 1TB RAM, 2,500 x 12.8GB (according to Euan) or 18GB (according to Robert Scoble; why can't techies ever agree? ;-))... I want one. Now! (Not sure I'd want the electricity bill for running the beast though; apparently the air-conditioning system alone ran to a quarter of a million dollars.) Elsewhere in Euan's new blog, though, he mentions Bill Hill, and that brought back some welcome memories of San Diego in 2000...

Back then, I was still spending a significant portion of my time training bods on database design and administration, data warehouse design and distributed application design as a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT). That year, Microsoft held two MCT-specific conferences (Technology Week 2 and 3) in the US; in New Orleans in February, and San Diego in September, and I was able to attend both. (I believe the original Technology Week was in Redmond, during the beta phase for Windows 2000, possibly while it was still known as NT5.) Anyway...

Among the sessions that stand out in my memory from San Diego was Bill Hill's. It was a keynote on the Wednesday or Thursday (i.e. in the main conference hall, before the day's breakout sessions). On strides Bill, in his kilt, hairy legs and knobbly knees, beard flying, and gives a stellar talk about the magic of reading and the human element which ought to underpin tehnology development. Brilliant, entertaining stuff. He mentioned Microsoft Reader, from that day (and still) one of my favourite and most-used applications, and how the design of that application was driven by the need to understand how (and why) humans read, and why the PC screen isn't necessarily the easiest place to read.

The video of that talk was on the inevitable post-conference DVD, which I still have (somewhere); I don't know if it was ever posted on the internet. Either way, for an entertaining and educational interlude, track down any talk given by Bill, and enjoy! (I wish there was a way to list directly all videos by a specific person on Channel 9; maybe there is, and I just haven't found it yet.)

Thinking about outstanding presenters at conferences, another who springs to mind is Wayne Hodgins, who gave a keynote in New Orleans (drop right to the bottom of this page and you can download a zip of the beautiful powerpoint slides he used). Which does nothing to convey he sheer energy this guy projected on stage; but ought to spark a few ideas. Actually, the entire site is packed full of useful insights from someone who sees his role as thinking about technology at least five years before it's ready for mainstream adoption.

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