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PDC 2005 Blog: Day 0 (Monday)

On Day 0, Paul flies to Los Angles, checks in, and looks for a new rolling laptop bag. Some kind of high-tech convention is in town; he might check that out, too.

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11:13 A.M. Pacific time: I'm in Los Angeles after a wonderful flight on Delta's Song Airlines. I've never flown Song before, but the experience was great, and I finally got to see Delta's new Terminal A at Boston's Logan Airport. Nonstop flights rule.

I got only 3 hours of sleep last night, so I didn't even try to work on the plane. Instead, I watched the TV shows I downloaded from my Media Center PC late last night--the season premieres of "The Simpsons," "Family Guy," and "American Dad," all of which were funny but not spectacular. I dozed off a few times, read the latest Bob Woodward book, and generally relaxed. Finally.

And then ... Los Angeles. What a wonderful place. I've been here several times, and it's always great. The weather is perfect, the people are perfect, and there's a lot to do (flipside: $40 for a cab from the airport is excessive). My rolling laptop bag broke in Boston, so I'll need to find a replacement today. That's next on my list, then Microsoft Professional Developer Conference (PDC) 2005 registration.

12:38 P.M.: Things are proceeding slowly. I had to wait until noon to get online (because the hotel charges $9.99 for 24 hours of Internet access, which begins at noon each day) and get through my email. One of the articles that went out in WinInfo Daily UPDATE yesterday had a glaring error; the long and the short of it is that Windows Vista Home Basic Edition won't include the Aero UI. Sorry about the confusion.

I see that Microsoft is indeed giving out Vista build 5219 at the show, as I reported more than 2 weeks ago. The build is also 2 weeks old, as you might expect, but that's what happens when you fork the code tree to make special versions. I'll have to grab my goodie bag and register soon.

I had some time to kill, so I ordered lunch and watched CNBC over some food--a California Cobb salad--that you just can't get in New England. I see that eBay has purchased Skype, which is interesting. Apparently, Google was also interested in the company. And Steve Ballmer claims he has never thrown a chair in his life. I'm not sure whether I've ever thrown one. I wonder what I'd say about that under oath.

My SuperSite for Windows showcase, "Windows Vista Product Editions Preview," is posted. It includes a table that spells out which features are included in which Vista editions. Check it out.

Time to shower and head out in search of a new rolling laptop bag and PDC 2005 registration. Not much is going on today, as you can see, but that's just fine with me. Tomorrow, Microsoft unleashes hell.

8:23 P.M.: It turns out it was an interesting day after all. Where to start?

First, Los Angeles suffered from a sudden and unexpected citywide power failure, which I found out about because I was in the hotel elevator at the time. After waiting for a few minutes after the power stopped, taking the elevator's mobility with it, I picked up the elevator phone and called the front desk. "I'm stuck in your elevator" is an almost exact quote of what I said. I was told that the hotel had suffered a small power failure (no one yet realized the failure was citywide) and that the backup system would kick in and the elevator would work again. Sure enough, about a minute later the lights came on, and the elevator started moving again. There was just one problem. It was going up, not down, and it was going fast. Really fast. Frantically hitting random floor buttons, I was unable to stop the elevator's progress, but then I realized I was hitting buttons for floors I had already passed, so I hit one of the top floor buttons, and the elevator stopped there with a shudder. I got out, waited a bit, then hit the down button, hoping I'd summon a different elevator. No such luck. Figuring the chances were good that the hotel elevators were designed to handle power failures, I got in, punched the ground floor button, and headed down as if nothing had happened. On the ground floor, waiting for me, were three security guards, armed with walkie-talkies and looking pretty concerned. "Are you OK?" one of them asked. "Yeah, I just went for a little ride," I said and walked away. Actually, I'm pretty sure I soiled myself.

After I got to the Los Angeles Convention Center, I heard that the power failure wasn't isolated and thus wasn't surprised to discover that I couldn't register and pick up my name badge because PDC does registration by computer, which requires electricity. So I took a mini-tour of the convention center, reminding myself of the events of 2 years ago and bumping into a few familiar faces along the way. I spent the next couple of hours with an old friend from Microsoft, and as the power returned, I finally got my name badge and goodies (sans Vista build 5219, which Microsoft will provide tomorrow after the keynote address).

Finally, I headed back to downtown Los Angeles, went for a short walk, and picked up my replacement rolling laptop bag (at 50 percent of the original cost, no less). Then it was back to the convention center, this time to meet up with some friends from Hardware Geeks
( We got some information about build 5219, which includes several previously undisclosed or little-known features, including a new ALT+TAB function that provides live application thumbnails, a new thumbnail application preview that you access when you move your mouse over taskbar buttons, new taskbar translucency, a general cleaning up of the Aero UI with less "muddy" translucencies and cleaner window borders, and applications such as Ad-Hoc Meetings, Windows Collaboration, Microsoft Command Shell, Windows Photo Library (based on the Microsoft Digital Image Suite Library), Phone Book Service, Windows Calendar, Microsoft Expression, and Microsoft Max (a photo-blogging service).

I had dinner with my buddy Karen Forster, editorial and strategy director for Windows IT Pro, who convinced me to try sushi for the first time in more than 7 years and--shocker--I liked it. And here I've been denying myself this whole time. Fool.

Now I can look forward to tomorrow, which starts at 8:30 A.M. with Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates' keynote address and ends about 9:00 P.M., if I'm lucky. And let's face it: I'm rarely lucky.

Time for sleep.

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