I’m delighted to say that I’m here in Boston at TechEd 2006. Today is Sunday, the pre-conference day. The highlight for me was seeing a demo of Raven
, a third party add-on for Visual Studio Team System. 5 years in development, Raven reads specs and requirements in English text and writes activity diagrams from them. This is clever in its own right but it maintains a link between the text that it reads and the constructs which it creates from the text so you can click on a part of an activity diagram and the paragraph that it was formed from is highlighted. One of the particularly clever tricks is that it performs analysis on the text and finds mistakes in the spec - missing end points of conditionals, changes in terminology etc..
The "If You’re Ever Going To Strike Me Down With Your Holy Wrath, Lord, Then Now Would Be A Good Time" award has to go to Mary Lynn Rajskub (alias Chloe O’Brien of "24" fame). You’ve got to feel sorry for her. The keynote this evening was a series of demos of Microsoft’s latest releases held together with a filmed spoof on "24" which was renamed "4" where the time span of each of the 4 episodes was 4 minutes instead of 24 episodes of 1 hour. Chloe O’Brien came on after the first 4 minute clip and did a comedy duet with Bob Muglia. Poor Chloe. It didn’t work. The silences during the pauses after the jokes were populated only by the sound of some far away coyote (or maybe it was her bank manager howling with glee). Her other appearances throughout the keynote were better received but it really didn’t help that she was noticeably reading from the auto-cue hanging down just above the centre of the audience. I don’t think Chloe will be putting TechEd 2006 on her resume.
Chloe doing much better when she went solo
The bizarrest moment of the day occurred on the bus back from the conference centre to the hotel. The bus driver was from Hartford and didn’t know Boston and got lost because Boston isn’t based on the grid system. The idea that someone would get lost on a journey of 1.5 miles because they were confused because the roads weren’t straight seemed quite funny to me. The best bit was when the driver took one speculative turn too many and went down a road with a complete U turn. The bus couldn’t do the U turn and couldn’t reverse back up. After asking one driver to move their parked car the driver resorted to asking people walking down the street if they knew who owned the parked cars and would they mind moving them. I bailed. The last I saw of The Bus From Route 4 and its helpless captives was when it was trapped between a bollard and a parked car. Maybe they’re still there now. Perhaps I should call someone. Thank you, Bus Driver From Hartford, I smiled all the way back to my hotel. I even laughed out loud.