Thursday, April 30, 2009

Surviving ATL

This week, I found myself in Atlanta to work with a new client. As this was my first time flying into ATL, I guess I didn't get the memo about how to navigate smoothly through the airport and rental car process. While I sit here waiting for my plane to board, let me offer a few tidbits of wisdom, so that other travelers may avoid some frustrations. If nothing else, read my blurb on airport security…

Take the train

The terminals are connected by light-rail train. If you’re on an airline such as AirTran (which I’m on), you’re likely to end up in Gate C or D (the last one being E). I’m guessing it’s close to a mile to walk to baggage claim and ground transportation. Yes, there are people-mover ramps, but if you’re not up for the walk, do yourself a favor and hop on board for a quick ride.

Rental car – bypass the lines

Ah, the luxury of Avis Preferred. I finally made it to the main area of ATL and saw the Avis counter. I figured I could finagle my way into a car upgrade. Not a chance… I think the saying “Have a slow day…” applies here. Dozens on line, and the agents had no sense of urgency at all. Take my advice: If you’re Avis Preferred (or Insert-your-favorite-rental-company Insert-your-favorite-Special-Program), head straight for the bus. From what I can tell, the bus only comes by every 10-15 minutes, so no dilly-dallying.

Enjoy Atlanta

I can’t suggest much, but I highly recommend Pappadeaux Seafood Restaurant.

Car rental return

If you’re returning a rental car, be sure your on-file credit card on your rental account is the one you plan on using. This makes the return process painless – they scan the car, inspect the car, print a receipt – DONE. I, on the other hand, needed to switch cards. BIG mistake, as now I had to head to the little Avis office and wait on line. Only 6 people in front of me, but it took about 30 minutes. When it was finally my turn, I stared in utter amazement as the agent started typing, one slow key at a time, my entire rental itinerary. I was going to comment about missing my flight, but I was too afraid I’d cause her to fat-finger a key and have to start over.

Airport security

Ok, this one is a true gem (thanks to my co-worker Michael Sparks for tipping me off to this). Assuming you’re already checked in,  head straight to the North Terminal. Go to the far-left side of the terminal and follow the signs for the security checkpoint. There, tucked away to the left, is a set of check-in lanes that typically has no crowd (or at least much less than the other gates). The airport was very crowded when I arrived, but I was through security in just a few minutes.

Safe travels!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cloud Computing user group

In case any of you have free time tonight in the NoVa area - the Cloud Computing user group is meeting at the Microsoft office in Reston, VA. Info and registration here.

Heading over there now...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Intro to Composite App Frameworks with Prism

On May 23, I'll be speaking at the NoVa Code Camp. I'll be giving a talk on composite application frameworks, using Microsoft's Composite Application Guidance for WPF and Silverlight (previously known as Prism).

Registration is now open. The schedule is up as well.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Microsoft Developer Network on Facebook

Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) now has a Silverlight 2 application that aggregates blogs, news, and videos for the east coast. The app, "MSDN East Coast News," is here.

Details about the app and its development are on Pete Brown's blog. Pete talks about some of the challenges integrating an app into Facebook's environment, with its moving-target API.