Windows Azure Web Sites - My MVA Recording Experience in Redmond

Today I had the pleasure and privilege of recording a session – 7 modules altogether – covering Windows Azure Web Sites with Tejaswi Redkar. The material was for a course imageprovided by Microsoft Virtual Academy and recorded live in front of a virtual audience of nearly 1,000 folks from 82 countries around the world. MVA has over 1.5 million subscribers worldwide, so this was a big audience!

I had excellent support from Sangeeta who lined up our session, a great time with Tej who co-presented with me, and tons of help and feedback from Danny and Garry who produced the whole event and gave us wonderful feedback throughout the whole day. It was a great time and I learned a ton in the process about the process and can’t wait for another opportunity to do another session.

Virtual Peeps are Awesome

I couldn’t believe the participation from the virtual audience! There were tweets going out almost all day and lots of activity in the chat room. This is a great way to learn, IMO, with other peers asking questions while the session is going on and some great experts on hand to field questions from the viewers while we shelled out the information on WAWS.

Help from the audience came in all kinds of forms. When I asked folks to fill out a survey with me to demonstrate SignalR running in the cloud, we had over 200 responses!


Even when I wasn’t asking for help, the viewers were sharp enough (and paying close enough attention!) to catch URLs that were being used and jump into the demos themselves. #Awesomesauce. Smile


And when things went wrong – we only had one demo that didn’t work! – people were still giving me a hand after the session. I had a Node.js + Mongo DB setup that gave me a 500 when I deployed as one of the last demos of the day, but before I got back to the hotel, someone had found the cure and posted the details – refreshing the page!


The Studio Staff Were a Treat to Work With

If you’ve seen me present live, you know I’m an animated speaker. It was all I could do to stay in my seat for 6 hours of content! Barry and Danny were the producers/recording engineers who executed the live production and, in a tight space with limited budget, did an awesome job of making Tej and I look like we knew what we were doing. They were a great feedback loop, giving advice, helping us make changes as we went through the day and keeping us on schedule.

As presenters we got to use a couple of ginormous multi-touch screens and had to switch back and forth between the presentation and the slide deck, but Barry and Danny made it look good and I think we avoided blinking screens of fail for the whole day.

The Microsoft Campus is Pretty Darn Cool

Best part of the experience was walking around knowing that everyone there was smarter than me. Very humbling to get to mix with the folks that develop the tools upon which I make my bread and butter, so I soaked in as much as I could. Lunch at The Commons (actually, I think it was called The Mixer), a lap around the Visitor Center, a trip to the company store and of course getting into the recording studio in downtown Redmond.


The Commons (or Mixer?) is a collection of shops, services, food courts and lounge areas for people to relax. There was a live jazz band playing at one end of the building which was pretty cool, and a great selection of eats to choose from.

I was really impressed by how serious they seemed to take environmental responsibility and even nutrition. The cafeteria I had breakfast at had “less” and “more” indicators for all the food items to help people make healthy choices, and everything that you used to eat – cups, lids, plates, even the utensils, were all compostable, and even the bags they went into were compostable. Cool stuff. 

And you get a sense about how global and how far reaching the company is. I come from a town of about 40,000 people; the MS Campus has over 40k employees working on the grounds, not counting contractors and visitors. One of the boardrooms that I was in was a designated global security/event response center, where I presume smart people dealing with serious issues might sometimes convene.  People from all kinds of cultures and backgrounds are making cool things happen and including folks like me. Pretty darn cool.


If you’re really into cars, I suppose visiting the factory where yours was built would be pretty epic. That’s pretty much what I experienced here on this trip, and I can’t wait to come back. Plus, it’s so warm here (compared to the –40 weather I came from!).

Once again, thanks to all who participated in the day’s events, helped with the demos online and made the day a success. I hope you all get a chance to bring some awesome back to your team, wherever you work.

If you want to track down the session on the MVA website, check it out here.

Cheers, and happy coding!