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January 2008 Archives

January 21, 2008

IIS7 visits Spain

Welcome to 2008! It's a new year, which presents a prime opportunity to make a resolution to blog more often. I'd like to aim for at least one entry per month, but old habits die hard... it's taken me 21 days to write the first entry, and it's an entry that should have been written over a month ago to begin with...

Our team sends people to quite a few conferences around the globe, especially with the release of Windows Server 2008 coming up. As a tester who refuses to give talks, there aren't super high odds for me being sent anywhere interesting, but when they started taking names of people who were interested in TechEd Europe, I decided... why not? I don't have kids, I don't need a visa to go to Europe, and I already have a passport. Prime candidate! I was fortunate enough to be selected to attend TechEd Europe ITForum (for IT professionals) in Barcelona.

Working booth duty is actually pretty tiring stuff. It's generally about two people per shift, so you have to use the bathroom or shove lunch in your stomach quickly, just in case a big rush of people comes in to overwhelm your partner. Lots of time on your feet, lots of time talking to people... not my strongest point. But it's cool to listen to all of the questions and realize what customers focus on when the product leaves our hands and goes to them, and it definitely boosts morale to hear that people actually like what we're doing. It's easy to get too focused on the feature areas I work on when I'm isolated in product-team-world, and opportunities like this help me see a bigger picture. Hopefully I'll be able to do this again sometime soon!

After the week in Barcelona, Mike and I took off to southern Spain to visit some cities in Andalucia. I'll probably make a separate post about that later, but for now... a geeky tradition, making IIS7 visit places around the world. You can click on the images to enlarge.

(left to right, then top to bottom: Alcazaba, Malaga; Alhambra, Granada; Alhambra, Granada; Bullring, Ronda)

January 22, 2008

Nina visits Spain

This is repeat of the post I've been sending to the travel communities that provided me with good tips. My co-workers and I tried to squeeze in time to explore Barcelona in between work shifts during TechEd, and then Mike and I took the next week off to explore Andalucia on our own, opting for a Thanksgiving meal of oxtail and chorizo instead of the standard turkey fare. There are definitely advantages and disadvantages to off-season travel, which is what I end up doing most of the time because of the main advantage: price. It's also less crowded, but that also means touristy things have shorter hours and some services stop running altogether. Weather is also tricky in Europe during the winter. We were fortunate enough to get quite a few sunny days, but it was hard to find motivation to wander around during the two days of pouring rain we experienced.

La Sagrada Familia Casa Mila - Roof
Mercat Boqueria Barri Gotic
Many people have told me that Barcelona was their favorite city in Europe, and while I'm not ready to make that call for myself, I can definitely understand where they're coming from. Tons to do, great food, beautiful architecture... what more could you ask for? Even if Gaudi isn't your cup of tea, there are plenty of Modernist and art nouveau buildings that aren't as, well, odd.

Malaga is definitely a harder city to love. It's pretty industrial-looking as you head from the airport into the tourist center, and the touristy part of town is nice, but then there's that nagging feeling that you aren't seeing the real face of the city. The Picasso Museum was nice (but overpriced), and the Alcazaba was fun to walk through. Things were pretty lively at night, complete with a pro-anarchy protest, which is always fun. The bus ride leaving Malaga passed through a section of the Costa del Sol, which led to a quick conclusion that I never want to visit there.

Parador and the Puente Nuevo View of the countryside
White buildings Plaza de Toros
Ronda must be one of the most beautifully situated towns in the world. We spent so much time staring at the spectacular views in town that we didn't bother with any of the tourist sites except the bull ring, which was definitely worth it. Unlike the one in Seville, they allow you to walk almost everywhere and visit at your own pace. The Parador there is great, and there's a deal that if you're between 20 and 30, you get a rate of 48 euros per person in your room (doesn't matter how old they are), including breakfast.

Torro del Oro Alcazar - Horseshoe arches
Plaza de Toros Giralda Tower and the Cathedral
Traveling in November doesn't come without the risk of bad weather, and here is where we hit the first day of rain. Fortunately, it was just one, so we had some time to walk around without getting wet. People say there's a lot to do in Seville, but for some reason (maybe it was just me being tired of tourist crowds), I wasn't as interested in the tourist attractions here, so we were able to see a select few sites at a leisurely pace. The Cathedral was pretty cool -- supposedly the largest in the world -- and I enjoyed the Alcazar as well, but I'm glad I saw it before visiting Granada instead of the other way around. Both of these sites are supposed to be better visited in the late afternoon when there aren't as many tour groups around, but we ended up having to see them both in the morning, which still wasn't too bad due to it being off season. We saw a flamenco show, which was really touristy, but who cares... it was good dancing.

Mezquita Guadalquivir River
Another day of rain here, so I didn't get to explore the less touristy part of the city as much as I wanted. The Mezquita is by far the most popular attraction here, and it's pretty cool. It's such a crazy contrast between the original Islamic architecture and the Christian modifications to turn it into a "Cathedral." I think Cordoba would also be much prettier in the spring or summer when the flowerpots had more blooms. I managed to squeeze in visits to the Julio Romero de Torres museum and Alcazar on Friday, when both were free.

Alhambra - Nasrid Palaces View of Granada from the Alhambra
Granada was a fun place to visit. I really liked the "free tapas with purchase of a drink" thing, and the fact that it was a university town made it a younger and more hip place. By this point in our trip, we were way too tired for much nightlife, but the music scene definitely looked interesting. The Alhambra was just amazing, definitely one of the best attractions we saw during the entire trip. Great views of the city from the Alcazaba, and I couldn't believe the intricate detail in the Nasrid Palaces that survived all these years. Pretty cold, though, especially in comparison to Cordoba.

IMG_6850 Sausage and beans at Cal Pep
Paella Pescado Frito
Oh my goodness... food is so good in Spain, and I was eating ALL the time. I think the best dining experience definitely goes to Cal Pep in Barcelona. You sit at the bar and they make most of the food in front of you. No menu, barely any English spoken... who cares, the food is amazing, and they'll tell you what to get if you don't know. Ate a lot of tapas, and we hit almost every one of Rough Guide's suggested "top 10 tapas bars in Andalucia" that were in cities we visited. Quite a few experiences where no one really spoke English and we had to order by randomly picking things we couldn't translate, but everything turned out ok. Vegetables could be hard to find, though.

General Comments
Siesta hours often apply. Things are often closed on Sundays. And Mondays. Seriously, the Spanish people know how to live life. Great place to visit, and I definitely want to go again. A few more pictures on my Flickr site. I may eventually get around to putting up more pics on a site later, but there are a LOT to go through.

January 25, 2008

laissez la fat Nina rouler

What's this I see... a king cake?!

Alice came to visit me in Seattle a few weekends ago (will post on that later once I get all the pics up), and as an awesome gift to the hostess, she sent me a king cake from Louisiana! Blueberry cream cheese, too! For those that don't know, king cakes are a Mardi Gras tradition in Louisiana. There's a plastic baby (yes, baby) that's hidden in one of the pieces, and whoever gets the baby has to bring the next king cake. I definitely remember eating a lot of king cake in elementary school. As I got older, a new tradition started... having a king cake be my birthday cake. It worked out well, since my birthday is close to Mardi Gras, and I preferred king cakes to the sugary sweet grocery store birthday cakes.

Here's the cake with the baby outside. They don't put the baby in the cake anymore (you have to do it) because it's not the safest thing in the world. =)

For some reason, the slices with the purple sugar always tasted best to me.

January 30, 2008

Alice visits Seattle

Pictures and a better summary of the visit are here.

Release of Microsoft Web Deployment Tool tech preview

After many months of hard work from all disciplines, we've released the first public tech preview of the Microsoft Web Deployment Tool, so I can finally blog about what has been keeping me so busy. The tool provides functionality for the migration scenario, which is something that customers have been asking about for awhile. So far, the responses have been good... over 10,000 downloads within the first few days, and not too many issues reported.

Check it out for yourself... my team's blog is here and the x86 download site is here.

About January 2008

This page contains all entries posted to adventures of a tired coder in January 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2007 is the previous archive.

February 2008 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.