On Thursday was the Microsoft's launch event for Visual Studio 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008. If you don't know what those three things are you might as well stop reading now :).
The event was held at the downtown Marriott, right off of public square in Cleveland. If you haven't been to Public Square for a while, it was a big pile of snow and construction. Mud, no working stop lights, half of the sidewalks not even shoveled. Was a great impression for Cleveland overall. Yes, that was sarcasm, get used to it, you will be seeing it again. Once inside (the correct building) though it was fine. The meeting room for the developer track was fairly large, someone said 750 seats, and it was full at the beginning. Chairs were a little too close together for my taste but oh well, it worked.
Supposedly there were four sessions but really it was more like three as there was no real delineation between the first two. Jeff Blankenburg and Brian G. (Developer Evangelist from Chicago) tag-teamed the first two sessions with Brian covering the marketing slides and Jeff doing the demos. It worked pretty well and they are both very engaging speakers, not people to just read from a static script. Jeff's demos might have been easier for him if his mouse was a little closer to the same level as his laptop. The podium was cramped so there was probably a 18" drop to the mouse. I'll bet that was comfortable. The demos went well with only minor glitches that were easily resolved. We all got a chuckle, well, outright laugh really, when we learned that apparently the AJAX password strength checker at it's default settings thinks that "password" is a strong password. :)
The second half of the developer track was done by Bill Steele. Bill didn't let us down with his usual blend of humor and presentation skills. My favorite, and the crowd's, was when he showed us how to use a semi-colon at the end of a VB line. It's simple really. You have to prepend it with a ' (for those that don't know, that is a remark char in VB). =)
I know I haven't covered the content but you can get all of that online at the Heroes Happen Here virtual launch event. What I will say about them is that if you don't know anything about VS 2008 yet then you need to go watch the presentations to get a feel for the new features as they are very nice. It was worth my time to go and miss most of a day's pay, even before the free software, which is nice btw.
Before the event I spent probably 30 minutes talking with Brian Prince about organizing community driven events. He gave me quite a bit of good advice which I have passed on to some key people already. If any of you don't know we are planning an event which will be officially announced later this week so check back in a couple of days for a cool announcement.