It's been a pretty busy weekend. I went up to Wembley to watch the NFL and stayed overnight so that I could get to Reading early on Monday morning to visit the Microsoft campus for the UK leg of the Technet Springboard Tour. This event was the only one in this country; the others are in major cities across Europe.
The Springboard tour is about promoting the latest technology and providing opportunities for people to see the products in use. They also covered some of the reasons for migrating to the latest versions and highlighted tools and resources that can be used to make the process a lot easier.
I really like visiting the Microsoft Campus; there is always an energy and a buzz about the place that just makes you feel that it is great to work in technology. I believe that all too often, those of us at the sharp end get very isolated and develop a silo mentality to the work we do. It's important to take the chance to get out to see other people and understand that we are all part of a much larger community, that there are others that have exactly the same kind of problems and that there is more than one way of tackling the issues that we face.
The presentations were introduced by Stephen Rose - and I have a link to a video that he made a while ago. He says that he had drunk about 2 gallons of coffee before the filming and I can believe it!
During the presentations, they made really good use of the demos to show just how you might improve the rollout and migration process. The tools provided are all available through the Technet site and many are improved versions of things that are already in use. There was someone with a video camera filming the event, so some of these may be added to the main site (link above) in addition to the preprepared videos.
Unfortunately, the sessions slightly overran - and there were a number of people that had to leave early, missing the final demo. This was of the Diagnostic and Recovery Toolset (DART). I'd very briefly heard of this before, but hadn't really had the chance to work with it. It looks like a really valuable asset for anyone providing any level of support to end users, and in particular anyone providing support for fatal errors. We will definitely be downloading it to give it a try in the next few weeks.
There was a bonus for those that attended; a free copy of Office 2010! There were also a few other little giveaways and prizes just to say thanks for being there. If you missed it, then you would have to go to one of the events on the continent, as there won't be another one in the UK. However, the presentations and information on the resources are on the Springboard site and I would recommend that you take the time to check it out.
As you may gather, I found the whole day a very good use of my time and really enjoyed the chance to talk to the various people. I am sure that I will be making really good use of the information that I picked up there in my daily work over the next few weeks.