Simon Bisson (sbisson) wrote,
Simon Bisson

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I love LA...

..or at least I love finally arriving there. Two hours on the runway, and 11 hours droning a third of the way around the world in an aging ex-BA 747-200 are not my favourite way of spending a day. Even if we did have business class style seats. At least I did manage to read 2 and a half books (Adam Roberts' On, Stephen Baxter's Coalescent, and Peter David's Knight Life).

Not much to see from the air until we reached the Colorado deserts. However I did get to see the forest fires near Salt Lake City, and then had a dramatic approach into LAX right over the California wildfires. An incredible experience seeing the lines of orange flame snaking over miles of mountain and hillside, and one I hope never to repeat. The smell of smoke filled the plane as we spent minutes flying through the dense smoke.

A forest fire near the Great Salt Lake

The hotel Microsoft is using for the European press is slap bang in the middle of Hollywood, and if you peer round the corner of the window in my room you'll just see the Hollywood sign. Next door is Grauman's Chinese and the Kodak Theatre, while the Hollywood Bowl is just up the road. It's like being in the movies...

LA itself is an island in the fires, ringed by smoke to the north and the south. The midday light is clear and fine, while morning and evening are dark and hazy, with unusual lighting effects as the sun hides itself behind the banks of smoke.

Smoke from the Getty Center
Sunset through smoke
Smoke over the hills

Sunday morning and it was straight into the convention centre for registration. An early start - catching the 8 am bus. Breakfast was laid on in the press room, and the international press briefing sessions began on time. Unfortunately they assumed that we'd hardly heard of Microsoft, and quickly proved to be a wasted morning. We all grabbed lunch, and headed off back to the hotel, skipping the afternoon sessions for a dose of culture at the spectacular Getty Center.

High on the hills over LA, the Getty Center is a wonderful and completely free art museum. Built of Italian stone, and reached by a hovercraft cable car (honestly), it's an oasis of calm, quiet, beauty. A surprising place to find, and a gentle way to spend an afternoon, drifting through the history of European art, and breathing in the still of the gardens. Humming birds darted around the flowers, and water splashed gently in the late afternoon heat. The baked white stone was filled with fossils - leaves and feathers.

The central courtyard of the Getty Center
A fossil leaf
A fossil feather
Sunset from the Getty Center

Monday, and the PDC began in earnest, with a three hour keynote from Bill Gates and Jim Allchin that unveiled Longhorn, the next generation of Windows, and a major change in the way applications willbe delivered and developed. Codenames abounded. Avalon is the long-awaited Universal Canvas, a single way of describing content that will render in browsers and applications. Indigo is transactional web services, and a tool for delivering service-oriented architectures. WinFS is a metadata driven file system, with realtime querying and cataloguing. And finally WinFX is the replacement for the venerable Win32 APIs - but this time, it's all in managed code.

All exciting stuff, I'm sure you'll agree.

Lots more to learn over the next few days, and I'm going to focus on Avalon and Indigo. They're fascinating, and look set to be nothing short of revolutionary.
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