In this first installment of my PDC 2005 blog, I get ready for the biggest tech conference of the past two years. PDC 2003 was an amazing event, but PDC 2005 will prove to be even bigger, thanks to beta Windows Vista code, the return of the Vista Sidebar, a slew of new Vista features, the Office 12 user interface and feature set revelations, and a bunch of other product announcements and news. Here's what's going on with me in the days leading up to the show.

Saturday, September 10, 2005: Two days to go

12:56 pm. I've been prepping for PDC all week, but I'm behind as usual. This morning, however, I gleefully set aside whatever I was working on to check out some internal Microsoft documentation about the Windows Vista product editions. The resulting WinInfo article, Windows Vista Product Editions Revealed, is now available. I'll be expanding that into a proper showcase for the SuperSite for Windows later today (to be posted Monday; I still don't have direct access to that site).

I'm still trying to figure out exactly what hardware to bring with me to LA. For me, traveling is always an exercise in restraint: I need to have a certain amount of stuff with me to do a show like PDC correctly, but also like to travel light. That won't be possible on this trip. I will probably bring three laptops with me: An HP Pavilion dv1010us (which is widescreen but small and light; with an extra battery), a high-end Dell Latitude D810 (which I adore; also with an extra battery), and my Windows Vista workhorse machine, an IBM ThinkPad T43, on which I plan to install the Vista interim build we'll get at PDC. I'll also bring a digital camera, a DV camcorder, a mini and full-sized tripod, and an external Web cam that functions as a great microphone for OneNote recording. My most recent addition is a Western Digital Passport external hard drive (80 GB), which has greatly simplified my need to bring backups along on trips. Previously, I made multiple DVD backups, but this is time consuming and, frankly, stupid, and the WD lets me take more data more easily. Plus it's really small and fits well in carry-on.

I had intended to leave the HP and Dell laptops as-is, but last night I decided to wipe them both out and start anew. This requires backing up whatever unique data is on each machine, reapplying XP, and then updating XP (through an annoying and repeated series of reboots). Then, I have to reinstall my applications and whatever data I need. My current "gotta have it" application lists includes: Microsoft Office 2003, FrontPage 2003, OneNote 2003, Virtual PC 2004, PowerDVD Deluxe 6, Microsoft Digital Image Suite 10, Diskeeper 9, MSN 9, Adobe PhotoShop Elements 3, Adobe Premiere Elements, Adobe Reader 7.03, Microsoft Command Here PowerToy, Firefox 1.0.6 (with Flash Player 7 and Netcraft toolbar), Google Desktop 2, Google Talk, MSN Messenger 7.5, Apple iPod Updater, Apple iTunes 5.0, Microsoft AntiSpyware Beta, Napster, Nero 6.6, Picasa 2, QuickTime Pro 7, Secure ZIP 8, Microsoft TweakUI PowerToy, Yahoo Music Engine, and Zone Alarm Security Suite. I finished up the Dell last night and are now working on the HP. Should be done in a few hours, plus I'm working on other things as it installs.

More later... Must make some progress. :)


3:12 pm.
You might have noticed that we finally got rid of anonymous posting on the WinInfo Web site. I've been asking for that for a long time, because of all the lame comments from Mac fanatics. So it's been fixed. This will lead to far fewer but more relevant comments. And heck, I might even bother to chime in myself now that it's been cleaned up. Sorry it took so long.

The notebook preparation for PDC continues. My email is set up and running on the Dell, which will be my main writing and communications machine in LA. Meanwhile, the HP, which will be used for note taking and video encoding, is about 50 percent of the way through its software install. I wrote my column for Windows IT Pro UPDATE while that was started--R2 and Longhorn Server Itanium are the topics du jour for the second straight week--and will now get cracking on my Connected Home column. I generally write these articles on Monday, but since I'll be traveling that day, I want to get them completed early. After Connected Home, I have a number of SuperSite updates to finish. That work will likely continue until late tomorrow night. It will be worth it, however, considering how busy I'll be next week.

Incidentally, I'm a loyal Zone Alarm user and I noticed that Zone Labs added anti-spyware features to the Zone Alarm Suite last month, which is just fine with me. But the product has also gotten a lot more aggressive about flagging suspicious behavior lately, and I can't be the only one that's annoyed by this. The product throws up alerts virtually every time I click on anything these days, and it's getting to the point where it's more painful than useful. Just installing Google Desktop required me to OK about 8 security alerts. That's ridiculous.


6:11 pm.
OK, Connected Home is completed, as is my HP notebook install. That's a load off my conscience to be sure, but both took longer than expected. After dinner: Some SuperSite work, and I'll start collecting the hardware I'm bringing to LA to see how much space it takes up.

Interesting Vista tidbit: Microsoft briefly considered naming Windows Vista Professional Edition as Windows Vista Professional Standard Edition, while Enterprise Edition was to have been called Windows Vista Professional Premium Edition. I'm not sure why they changed it, but having two products with Professional in the name would have been confusing.


10:11 pm.
I'm finally done with the SuperSite showcase, Windows Vista Product Editions Preview. This one's the mother load: It has all the information from the WinInfo article linked above, plus a full breakdown of all the features each edition will include and what the processor and RAM support is. Simply amazing stuff. Look for it Monday.

Someone asked about a dedicated RSS feed for this PDC 2005 blog in the feedback. That's a great idea. Unfortunately, I don't have a direct way to do that here, and while I could do it on the SuperSite, it would be horribly slow because I have to submit site updates to someone at the magazine. I'll consider duplicating this content on my personal blog, which does have an RSS feed, or perhaps I could simply create a new Blogger blog just for this purpose. Let me mull over that one for a bit.

OK, I'm ready for some hot tub time. It's been a long day (as you can see) and it's going to be as cool as October here tonight for some reason.

Sunday, September 11, 2005: One more day

11:17 am. I posted two more articles this morning. If you put all three of my pre-PDC exclusives together, wrap them up in a nice table or two, and add some more information about the Microsoft marketing messages for each product edition, you'll get the SuperSite article ("Windows Vista Product Editions Preview") that I'm posting tomorrow. I hate that I can't directly post to the SuperSite. I really want to get this information out there. We've been waiting too long for this stuff.

Back to work. My laptops are ready, and I've switched over my email to the Dell notebook in anticipation of the trip. (Why is this starting to sound like a Shuttle launch?) This morning, I need to run a few errands and collect my stuff for the trip. I've got the camcorder charging now and I'll do a few video recording tests to make sure I've got all the right cables and that everything is working well.

The pile of junk I'm bringing is growing. Tripod and mini-tripod. Camera, extra battery and memory cards. External hard drive. Webcam. Video tapes. Cables of all kinds. Wireless cards. Lenses and mic for the video camera. Assorted bags. USB memory key and SD card reader. Books and magazines. DVDs. Three computers. I'm crazy.

This afternoon, I want to finish up some SuperSite work (OS X vs. Vista Part 2 and an x64 follow-up that's been festering for a while), so I can send it all over to our beleaguered Web team in an orgy of zip files. No doubt I'll make mistakes, since I'll be flying and unable to fix anything until I arrive in LA. The good news: Thanks to the wonders of westward travel, I arrive in LA before 10:30 am PST. And despite the general craziness of the coming week, Monday will be an easy day with just registration and a dinner. So I can't relax, work out at the hotel, and fix any SuperSite issues as needed. Compared to today, it should be easy-going.

And I need to watch football today, of course. The Patriots won handily in their season opener Thursday night, so I can relax and write while I watch a few meaningless (to me) but entertaining games. Maybe autumn isn't so bad after all.

More in a bit.


6:06 pm.
Today has proven to be considerably less productive than yesterday. I'm almost certainly going to have to put off the second part of "OS X Tiger vs. Vista Beta 1" until after PDC, but my XP x64 article should be done soon. That will do it for today. Tomorrow is going to be a big day on the SuperSite for Windows, no matter how you shake it.

Microsoft has posted a preliminary version of its Windows Vista UX Guidelines, which is really just an updated version of the Aero User Experience Guidelines Sampler that it published at PDC 2003, almost two years ago. Unfortunately, this version is assembled into a mini-Web site and not a Word DOC or Adobe PDF. Still, there's some interesting stuff in there if you're really bored.

In completely unrelated news, I did enjoy watching the hapless New York Jets get completely dismantled by Kansas City. Good stuff. Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys are apparently the place where past NFL superstars go to die. Drew Beldsoe, Keyshawn Johnson, and Terry Glenn? It's like those PlayStation games where you can have a team made up of classic players.

We're getting ready for our weekly farm dinner, so I need to wrap this up. I still have to do laundry, pack, and see how many gadgets I can fit in carry on without making it prohibitively heavy. I will forget something. It is my way.

Regarding RSS, I still haven't resolved that, but it seems like the way to go is to start a new Blogger blog and use that. If I do that, I'll duplicate the blog content between WinInfo and there, and link to the RSS in the WinInfo version of the blog. Or something.


10:06 pm. RSS lives
: Try this address.