Thursday, June 02, 2005

Dev Con 2005 and Hell’s Kitchen

Wednesday I attended the Microsoft Developer’s Convention in downtown Minneapolis. Mostly it was chatting us up about the new technologies coming down the pipeline: ASP.NET 2.0, their new team-oriented software, SQL Server 2005, and Indigo and Avalon 2006 (or so). I stuck to the .NET 2.0 information as I fully intend to be back in the web environment around the time it starts to release. While what they’re offering won’t do my team much good as we already built/modified our own .NET 1.1 versions, if you’re a small to medium sized web project, there’s a pretty sizeable array of built-in functionality to embrace: two-way data binding (with almost no code), profile maintenance, membership maintenance, easier localization (I’m looking forward to that one), skins and themes, web parts (i.e. for portals), and master pages. I get the distinct feeling that after you set up your first fairly full-featured website, you can just tweak the master pages and the profile information and redistribute to project after project as long as they fall within rather wide guidelines. If they have their own SQL Server, you can whip together a few Reporting Services reports in thirty minutes and be well on your way to something that would have taken months to develop once upon a time outside of Access (which bites in its own very special way).

However, technical stuff included, the best part of the day was probably breakfast. I caught the train downtown bright and early (before rush hour rates, even) and met Erik at Hell’s Kitchen. Ah, what finer breakfast dining is there to be found in Minneapolis/St. Paul? Sure, you’ve got your classic greasy spoons that aren’t (head towards Rockford and stop when you see a small restaurant near McDonald’s on the right side of the road, or drop into downtown Osseo for the Copper Kettle), and your upscale Edina breakfast eateries, but Hell’s Kitchen outdoes them all in uniqueness. Even with my penchant for sampling anything that hints of breakfast-related foods, I balk at $9.25 pancakes (go read the menu at the link, just for the mouth-watering descriptions). But then I realize, I easily pay $10 for dinner all the time, more if there’s beer, and I don’t eat breakfast nearly as often, nor do I enjoy dinner as much as breakfast. So if fate deals me two deliciously fluffy lemon-ricotta pancakes topped with a pile of fresh strawberries and boysenberries (among other fruits), a side of maple-smoked bacon, and an endless cup of above-average coffee in an extra-wide cup, well, that’s why I work for a living. Besides, a $5 pancake isn’t even top of the line at Hell’s Kitchen. Scrambled eggs with shrimp run a lot higher and, if you picked up this month’s issue of The Rake (worth it solely for Adam Minter’s “Church and State”) you’ll read, as I did while actually sitting at Hell’s Kitchen, how the owner doesn’t even consider that to be the upper limit – the daily special can run you even more. As he truthfully points out, if you’re there for a cheap breakfast, you shouldn’t be there. There are plenty of Perkins in Minnesota. His interview in The Rake is great – he makes no apologies for his waitstaff (tattoos and piercings – what do you care, you’re there for the food) or for the price of his food, nor should he.

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