# Monday, 03 March 2008

I just got a new tablet PC and am loading it up for my upcoming trips to MIX, and TechDays in Lisbon, Portugal. When you load up a new computer you realize what you really need. So I figured that I would list them here, besides the common denominator of Windows, Office, Visual Studio, and SQL Server, here are the five pieces of software that I can't live without, software that I use on a daily basis:

1. Skype. I use Skype daily to drive the evil telcos out of business. For example I just loaded up Skype on my new computer today and had two conversations with people overseas for over an hour all for free. I pay for SkypeIn and SkypeOut and SkypePro, very valuable tools when I travel.

2. Netvibes. I use Netvibes to create a custom home page as my start page. It aggregates all of my RSS feeds as well as the typical sports, news, stocks, and weather.

3. Trillian. I use Trillian to have 1 IM client for all of my accounts: MSN, Yahoo, AOL, etc.

4. Snagit. Great for screen captures, great for telling developers what is wrong with their pages.

5. SQL Data Compare and SQL Compare. These tools from Red Gate software keep your SQL Server databases in sync. Invaluable!

posted on Monday, 03 March 2008 15:12:06 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Saturday, 01 March 2008

Venue

Albany Marriott Hotel

189 Wolf Road

Albany, NY 12205  

Date & Time

March 12, 2008 9:00AM – 4:00 PM EST 

Registration Information: Click here

 

About the Conference

We invite you to join us for a day of developer-oriented technical sessions, featuring Application Lifecycle Management, Microsoft Silver Light 2.0, Building mobile applications with Visual Studio 2008, Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) and Windows Communication Foundation. These exciting technologies enable entirely new types of applications to be built in record time. With interoperability now available in today’s software development tools and platforms, understanding how to weave the various products and processes into a manageable and cost effective platform can be challenging. The session on Application Lifecycle management will tackle the licensing and process-centric questions that often arise in considering Visual Studio Team System 2008 for the first time, or integrating it into an existing Java or multi-platform environment. This session will also provide some best practices around developer desktop inventory management, integrating .NET and non-Microsoft toolsets; demystifying the decision-making process of Visual Studio Team System 2008. The session on building mobile applications with Visual Studio 2008 will explore the productive integration offered by VS2008 to enable product development and testing of mobile applications as well as exploring new additions to the mobile development platform. You will learn to create and integrate workflows into everyday applications using Windows Workflow Foundation. Discover the ability to create rich, visually stunning, interactive content and applications that run on multiple browsers and operating systems with Microsoft Silverlight 2.0. You will also learn about the benefits of Microsoft Silverlight from a developer perspective and get an introduction to building Microsoft Silverlight applications using JavaScript and C# using Microsoft developer and designer tools.

These sessions will target Developers, Architects and Web Designers be very much demonstration oriented, and will be delivered by seasoned developers with experience in Government and Public Sector. Seize this opportunity to immerse yourself amidst these exciting new technologies!

Who Should Attend

Developers, Architects and technical managers who wish to get an early look at the next advancement in Software Development. 

The Agenda

 

Time

Topic

08:30-09:00

Registration

09:00-10:15

Demystifying the Microsoft Application Lifecycle Management Platform

10:15-10:30

Break

10:30-12:00

Building Rich Internet Applications Using Microsoft Silverlight 2.0

12:00-13:00

Lunch

13:00-14:30

Building Mobile Applications with Visual Studio 2008

14:30–16:00

What's New in Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and Windows Workflow (WF) in Visual Studio 2008 & the .NET Framework 3.5

posted on Saturday, 01 March 2008 15:00:07 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, 29 February 2008

Yesterday we discussed the changes to XQuery by allowing LET statements. Today the last XML enhancement is an "enhancement" to XML DML.

XML Data Manipulation Language (DML) is specific to MS SQL Server 2005 and 2008. It is a very useful feature that allows you to insert nodes to an existing XML instance, delete an element, or replace the value of (sort of an edit.) It works like this:

First let's create a table with an XML data type and insert a piece of XML into it:

Create table XMLTest1
    (
    Speaker_ID int primary key,
    SpeakerXML xml not null
    )

GO

Insert into XMLTest1
Values
(
    1,
    '
    <classes>
        <class name="Writing Secure Code for ASP .NET " />
        <class name="Using XQuery in SQL Server 2008" />
        <class name="SQL Server and Oracle Working Together" />
    </classes>
    '
    )

Now to insert an element into this table it is pretty easy, just use the XML modify method of the XML data type. Since our XML instance is in a SQL Server table we have to use the standard SQL UPDATE and SET syntax with a WHERE clause to get to the piece of XML in our table we are concerned with. You can see how easy it is to add an element to the table here:

Update XMLTest1
Set SpeakerXML.modify(
'insert
<class name="Using Linq to SQL" />
into /classes[1]'
)
Where Speaker_ID=1

If we select * from XMLTest1 WHERE Speaker_ID=1 the XML column looks like this now:

<classes>
  <class name="Writing Secure Code for ASP .NET " />
  <class name="Using XQuery in SQL Server 2008" />
  <class name="SQL Server and Oracle Working Together" />
  <class name="Using Linq to SQL" />
</classes>

SQL Server 2008 has an enhancement to this. You can substitute the XML element with a variable. For example let's create a variable here:

DECLARE @newElement xml
Set @newElement='<class name="ASP.NET Scalability"/>'

Now let's do the same insert as before, however, we will use the @newElement variable. This will enable you to select XML from other areas and stick it into a variable and then insert it into another XML instance. Here is the final piece:

Update XMLTest1
Set SpeakerXML.modify(
'insert
sql:variable("@newElement") 
into /classes[1]'
)
Where Speaker_ID=1

If we select * from XMLTest1 WHERE Speaker_ID=1 the XML column looks like this now:

<classes>
  <class name="Writing Secure Code for ASP .NET " />
  <class name="Using XQuery in SQL Server 2008" />
  <class name="SQL Server and Oracle Working Together" />
  <class name="Using Linq to SQL" />
  <class name="ASP.NET Scalability" />
</classes>

Not the greatest of new features, but a handy dandy feature to say the least.

posted on Friday, 29 February 2008 12:00:54 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Thursday, 28 February 2008

Continuing our discussion of XML in SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2005 alowed us to use XQuery to query XML data in an XML data type.  You can use the FLWOR statements of for, where, order by, and retun, but not LET. SQL Server 2008 now has support for LET, which is used to assign values to variables in an XQuery expression. For example we are going to take the XML below and count the number of sessions per speaker using the count XQuery expression and assign it to a variable via LET.

declare @xml xml
set @xml=
'
<Speakers>
    <Speaker name="Stephen Forte">
        <classes>
            <class name="Writing Secure Code for ASP .NET "/>
            <class name="Using XQuery in SQL Server 2008"/>
            <class name="SQL Server and Oracle Working Together"/>
        </classes>
    </Speaker>
    <Speaker name="Richard Campbell">
        <classes>
            <class name="SQL Server Profiler"/>
            <class name="Advanced SQL Querying Techniques"/>
            <class name="SQL Server and Oracle Working Together"/>
            <class name="From 1 Server to 2"/>
        </classes>
    </Speaker>
</Speakers>
'
SELECT @xml.query(
'<Speakers>
{
for $Speaker in /Speakers/Speaker
let $count :=count($Speaker/classes/class)
order by $count descending
return
<Speaker>
{$Speaker/@name}
{$Speaker/count}
<SessionCount>{$count}</SessionCount>
</Speaker>
}
</Speakers>')

The result is shown here, notice that Richard sorts on top since we used the descending order to our order by and ordered by the expression we created via the LET statement. This is very helpful if you are manipulating simple XML and need to do a mini-transform via XQuery. I used to use the RETURN statement all the time to make slight manipulations to my XML, so I was waiting for LET. While this is the only addition to XQuery, it is a much needed and welcome one.

<Speakers>
  <Speaker name="Richard Campbell">
    <SessionCount>4</SessionCount>
  </Speaker>
  <Speaker name="Stephen Forte">
    <SessionCount>3</SessionCount>
  </Speaker>
</Speakers>

posted on Thursday, 28 February 2008 12:00:35 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Continuing our discussion from yesterday on SQL Server 2008 XML Enhancements, let's take a look at the XSD enhancement of Union and List types. In SQL Server 2005 you could define a simple type of xsd:list with an enumeration to require items in a list for any element that inherits that type. For example our XSD below will allow FedEx, DHL, and UPS for a shipping.

create XML SCHEMA COLLECTION dbo.order_xsd
AS
'<xsd:schema xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema">
   <xsd:simpleType name="orderAmt" >
     <xsd:restriction base="xsd:int" >
       <xsd:maxInclusive value="5000" />
       <xsd:minExclusive value="1" />
     </xsd:restriction>
   </xsd:simpleType>
   <xsd:simpleType name="shiptypeList">
    <xsd:list>
        <xsd:simpleType>
          <xsd:restriction base="xsd:string">
            <xsd:enumeration value="FexEx"/>
            <xsd:enumeration value="DHL"/>
            <xsd:enumeration value="UPS"/>
          </xsd:restriction>
        </xsd:simpleType>
    </xsd:list>
    </xsd:simpleType>
   <xsd:element name="Order">
    <xsd:complexType>
      <xsd:sequence>
        <xsd:element name="CustomerName" type="xsd:string" />
        <xsd:element name="OrderDate" type="xsd:dateTime"/>
        <xsd:element name="OrderAmt" type="orderAmt"/>
        <xsd:element name="ShipType" type="shiptypeList"/>   
      </xsd:sequence>
    </xsd:complexType>
   </xsd:element> 
</xsd:schema>'
GO

DECLARE @xml XML(dbo.order_xsd)
SET @xml =
'<Order>  
    <CustomerName>Bill Gates</CustomerName>
    <OrderDate>2008-10-10T14:22:27.25-05:00</OrderDate>
    <OrderAmt>100</OrderAmt>
    <ShipType>DHL</ShipType>
</Order>'
GO

So this is cool, gives you some database lookup functionality, kind of third normal form Clemens Vasters style. With the new support for union of lists in SQL Server 2008 with xsd:union, you can combine multiple lists to one simple type. For example in our XSD below we allow the same strings as FedEx, etc, but also numerical values.

My example below is pretty basic, but this is useful if you have more than one way to describe something and need two lists to do so. One thing that comes to mind is units of measurement, metric and English measurements, so shoe sizes, US and Italian, etc.  This is very useful when you need to restrict items and are writing them from a database, etc.

Take a look at the demo for SQL 2008 below, notice that I changed the data to 1 from FedEx:

create XML SCHEMA COLLECTION dbo.order_xsd
AS
'<xsd:schema xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema">
   <xsd:simpleType name="orderAmt" >
     <xsd:restriction base="xsd:int" >
       <xsd:maxInclusive value="5000" />
       <xsd:minExclusive value="1" />
     </xsd:restriction>
   </xsd:simpleType>
    <xsd:simpleType name="shiptypeList">
        <xsd:union>
            <xsd:simpleType>
              <xsd:list>
                <xsd:simpleType>
                  <xsd:restriction base="xsd:integer">
                    <xsd:enumeration value="1"/>
                    <xsd:enumeration value="2"/>
                    <xsd:enumeration value="3"/>
                  </xsd:restriction>
                </xsd:simpleType>
              </xsd:list>
            </xsd:simpleType>
            <xsd:simpleType>
              <xsd:list>
                <xsd:simpleType>
                  <xsd:restriction base="xsd:string">
                    <xsd:enumeration value="FedEx"/>
                    <xsd:enumeration value="DHL"/>
                    <xsd:enumeration value="UPS"/>
                  </xsd:restriction>
                </xsd:simpleType>
              </xsd:list>
            </xsd:simpleType>
        </xsd:union>
    </xsd:simpleType>

   <xsd:element name="Order">
    <xsd:complexType>
      <xsd:sequence>
        <xsd:element name="CustomerName" type="xsd:string" />
        <xsd:element name="OrderDate" type="xsd:dateTime"/>
        <xsd:element name="OrderAmt" type="orderAmt"/>   
        <xsd:element name="ShipType" type="shiptypeList"/>
        <xsd:any namespace="##other" processContents="lax"/>   
      </xsd:sequence>
    </xsd:complexType>
   </xsd:element> 
</xsd:schema>'
GO

DECLARE @xml XML(dbo.order_xsd)
SET @xml =
'<Order>  
    <CustomerName>Bill Gates</CustomerName>
    <OrderDate>2008-10-10T14:22:27.25-05:00</OrderDate>
    <OrderAmt>100</OrderAmt>
    <ShipType>1</ShipType>
    <Notes xmlns="sf">Steve Test 1</Notes>
</Order>'
GO

posted on Wednesday, 27 February 2008 12:00:16 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, 26 February 2008

The SQL Server 2008 February CTP is now installed. I did it on my daily machine to force me to use it in a more realistic environment. It installed a-ok with my default SQL 2005 instance. As you can see below you can use the SQL 2008 IDE to manage and work with both SQL Server instances on your computer at the same time.

image

I am playing with the new XML features of SQL Server. For those of you that know my old company, Corzen, used the XML data type to do some really cool stuff. I'm now investigating the XML features for the update to the Programming SQL Server 2008 book from MS Press.

I guess that XLINQ is pretty cool and well accepted Microsoft did not change all that much in the XML world in SQL Server 2008. The new XML features of SQL Server 2008 are:

  • Lax validation support in XSD-giving you some more flexibility with your required areas of the XSD
  • Full support of the XSD: xs:dateTime, basically the preservation of time zones
  • Union and List types in XSDs (I have not played with this yet so can't speak to how useful it will be yet, give me a day)
  • Support of the LET FLOWR expression in XQuery (yay!)
  • XML DML "enhancements." I put that in quotes for two reasons, there is only one true enhancement, allowing you to insert data from a SQL column or a SQL variable as part of your insert. This is a very minor enhancement, I was hoping for a new syntax for specifying position, etc. Also XML DML is SQL Server specific, so it is hard to get very excited about this feature.

Now let's take a look at some of the XSD enhancements. SQL Server 2005 added the ability put XML data into an intrinsic XML data type. This was a vast improvement over SQL Server 2000 where we had to put data in text fields. In addition, SQL Server 2005 allowed us to restrict this column with an XSD. Consider this XSD:

<xsd:schema xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema">
   <xsd:simpleType name="orderAmt" >
     <xsd:restriction base="xsd:int" >
       <xsd:maxInclusive value="5000" />
       <xsd:minExclusive value="1" />
     </xsd:restriction>
   </xsd:simpleType>
   <xsd:element name="Order">
    <xsd:complexType>
      <xsd:sequence>
        <xsd:element name="CustomerName" type="xsd:string" />
        <xsd:element name="OrderDate" type="xsd:dateTime"/>
        <xsd:element name="OrderAmt" type="orderAmt"/>
      </xsd:sequence>
    </xsd:complexType>
   </xsd:element> 
</xsd:schema>

We have defined a few elements, given them a sequence and data types. We also say that you can only have an order amount between 1 and 5000 (work with me, I like simple demos) since the OrderAmt element inherits the simple type orderAmt. This works well, for example if we create an XSD and a table with an XML column bound to that XSD in SQL 2005:

--Valid SQL Server 2005 Schema
CREATE XML SCHEMA COLLECTION dbo.order_xsd
AS
'<xsd:schema xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema">
   <xsd:simpleType name="orderAmt" >
     <xsd:restriction base="xsd:int" >
       <xsd:maxInclusive value="5000" />
       <xsd:minExclusive value="1" />
     </xsd:restriction>
   </xsd:simpleType>
   <xsd:element name="Order">
    <xsd:complexType>
      <xsd:sequence>
        <xsd:element name="CustomerName" type="xsd:string" />
        <xsd:element name="OrderDate" type="xsd:dateTime"/>
        <xsd:element name="OrderAmt" type="orderAmt"/>
      </xsd:sequence>
    </xsd:complexType>
   </xsd:element> 
</xsd:schema>'
GO

CREATE TABLE xml_schematest (
   Order_ID int primary key,
   Order_XML XML(order_xsd) --XML Schema Name
)

Now let's insert some XML in there, the XML will be like this:

Insert into xml_schematest
VALUES
(1,
'<Order>  
    <CustomerName>Bill Gates</CustomerName>
    <OrderDate>2008-10-10T14:22:27.25-05:00</OrderDate>
    <OrderAmt>100</OrderAmt>
</Order>
')

Here is the result, notice the Z for UTC as well as the new time (more on that below):

<Order>
  <CustomerName>Bill Gates</CustomerName>
  <OrderDate>2008-10-10T19:22:27.250Z</OrderDate>
  <OrderAmt>100</OrderAmt>
</Order>

This XML will fail since it has an order over 5000.

Insert into xml_schematest
VALUES
(2,
'<Order>  
    <CustomerName>Bill Gates</CustomerName>
    <OrderDate>2008-10-10T14:22:27.25-05:00</OrderDate>
    <OrderAmt>10000</OrderAmt>
</Order>
')

So life is good. We have a nice XSD and it restricts our content. SQL Server 2008 has added two new features of an XSD that we will look at today. The first is something called Lax validation. Let's say that you wanted to add an additional element after <OrderAmt> that is not part of the same schema. In SQL Server 2005, schemas can use processContents values of skip and strict for any and anyAttribute declarations as a wildcard. If it was set to skip, SQL will skip completely the validation of the additional element, if it is set to strict, SQL will require that it has an element or namespace defined in the current schema. SQL Server 2008 adds support for an additional validation option: lax. By setting the processContents attribute for this wildcard section to lax, you can enforce validation for any elements that have a schema associated with them, but ignore any elements that are not defined in the schema. Pretty cool, no?

Also the xsd:dateTime XML data type is now timezone aware. SQL Server 2005 you had to provide a time zone for dateTime, time and date data (did you really ever do that? If you needed the flexibility, trust me, this was a pain). What was not cool was that SQL Server 2005 did not preserve the time zone information for your data for dateTime or time,  it normalizes it to UTC (so for example 2008-10-10T08:00:00:000-5:00 is normalized to 2008-10-10T13:00:00:000Z. Notice the Z for UTC. Quite annoying.) In SQL Server 2008, this has been removed! Take a look at this code:

CREATE XML SCHEMA COLLECTION dbo.order_xsd
AS
'<xsd:schema xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema">
   <xsd:simpleType name="orderAmt" >
     <xsd:restriction base="xsd:int" >
       <xsd:maxInclusive value="5000" />
       <xsd:minExclusive value="1" />
     </xsd:restriction>
   </xsd:simpleType>
   <xsd:element name="Order">
    <xsd:complexType>
      <xsd:sequence>
        <xsd:element name="CustomerName" type="xsd:string" />
        <xsd:element name="OrderDate" type="xsd:dateTime"/>
        <xsd:element name="OrderAmt" type="orderAmt"/>   
        <xsd:any namespace="##other" processContents="lax"/>   
      </xsd:sequence>
    </xsd:complexType>
   </xsd:element> 
</xsd:schema>'
GO
CREATE TABLE xml_schematest (
   Order_ID int primary key,
   Order_XML XML(order_xsd) --XML Schema Name
)
GO

Now this will work and even preserve the time zone of -5 (New York) and notice the random <Notes> element due to lax validation. Here is how to insert the XML:

Insert into xml_schematest
VALUES
(1,
'<Order>  
    <CustomerName>Bill Gates</CustomerName>
    <OrderDate>2008-10-10T14:22:27.25-05:00</OrderDate>
    <OrderAmt>100</OrderAmt>
    <Notes xmlns="sf">Steve Test 1</Notes>
</Order>
')

Here are the results in the database with the original time zone:

<Order>
  <CustomerName>Bill Gates</CustomerName>
  <OrderDate>2008-10-10T14:22:27.25-05:00</OrderDate>
  <OrderAmt>100</OrderAmt>
  <Notes xmlns="sf">Steve Test 1</Notes>
</Order>

Tomorrow I will look at Union and List types.

posted on Tuesday, 26 February 2008 12:00:36 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, 25 February 2008

Google's co-founder Sergey Brin said on Sunday that Microsoft's proposed takeover of Yahoo! is an "unnerving" maneuver that threatens innovation on the Internet. Brin stated:

"The Internet has evolved from open standards, having a diversity of companies... And when you start to have companies that control the operating system, control the browsers, they really tie up the top Web sites, and can be used to manipulate stuff in various ways. I think that's unnerving."

Get a grip Sergey. This sort of scare tactic could have worked 10 years ago before Web 2.0 and before there was a serious threat to Microsoft on the Internet called Google. Google is a huge company that has an over 70% market share. Microsoft has a tiny market share, even with the combined Yahoo, Microsoft-Yahoo will still be very far behind Google.

Microsoft's hold on the desktop and browser for the last 10 years has not made it any more powerful in the 2008 Web 2.0 world. They are distant third place in search and losing ground. They are no longer the evil empire.

Google is the new evil empire. They are big, they control a ton of eyeballs and many people in the valley are now saying that Google is very difficult to deal with. Microsoft is just another player in the Internet space, Google is bringing up old battle cry's from yesteryear. Sergey better watch out, the Department of Justice may just come after him in a few years. Don't think so? Bill Gates never thought so.

posted on Monday, 25 February 2008 10:32:11 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, 22 February 2008

It was my birthday on Wednesday and we decided to go to the Pyramids with all of the investors of DashSoft as well as the entire team of local Egyptians. There is nothing like going to the Pyramids with locals. But the adventure started before we even got there.

Riding a taxi in Cairo is always an adventure. The adventure starts before you get into the taxi, when you have to negotiate the fair. Vassil was the butt of our jokes since he paid LE 90 (about $17) to get from the hotel to the office on Monday when we paid about LE 15 ($2.75). Vassil is not the best negotiator but desperately wanted to make amends. We got the inside scoop from the locals that it should cost no more than LE 35 from our hotel to the Pyramids. I warned Vassil that the taxi driver may start at LE 200 and he will have to knock him down. Vassil asked the first taxi for a price and the taxi started at LE 50 and Vassil immediately said 40, not something like 5! Oh well....

As we rode through Cairo, we were due to meet Remon at the Pyramids. He was traveling with the whole team of developers and testers from the office. All of the developers have been to the Pyramids just once in their lives and it was on a school trip. Remon rented a bus, a bus we were not on.

Back in the taxis, Vassil was filming me practicing my Arabic with the drivers of other cars since we were stuck in traffic. After we got to the highway we lost the third taxi in our caravan, holding Richard Campbell and his wife and friend Mike. Our taxi driver phones Richard's taxi and we pull over to the slow lane  of the highway and stop and wait for them. I decide to get out and have some fun. I tell my taxi drivers I want to buy my taxi. They start to compete saying who's taxi is better. The fun got even better when a random third taxi appeared and thought we were broken down (I was taking photos of the taxis) and when I explained to him that I was attempting to buy a taxi, he offered his. I had him down to about $700.  My driver then shooed him away. Finally Richard's taxi drove by and the look on their faces was priceless, I was walking around on the highway taking photos and they did not expect to see me. Oddly enough, Remon's van passed us by and Reem noticed me on the side of the road taking photos and joking with the taxi drivers. So they pulled over and picked us up. We paid our taxi drivers and took their photos and left for the Pyramids.

IMG_0809a

Entering the Pyramids you learn that it costs LE 100 ($20) for a foreigner to enter the Pyramids and LE 4 (< $1) for an Egyptian! I pose for a photo with my Egyptian wife Lamees and try to pass myself off as an Egyptian to no avail. I did show my student photo from my MBA program and pay the LE 50 student rate.

IMG_0817a

We enter the grounds and go inside the Great Pyramid. Unfortunately no cameras are allowed inside and we climb up to the room where the king's body and gold was stored. After climbing up for 15 minutes in the heat and no oxygen, we finally get there. It is an empty room. But a 4,000 year old empty room. Very cool.

We get down and then start having more fun. We take tons of silly photos. The Egyptians were just as excited as us foreigners.

IMG_0834a

Next we move on to the camels. Yes camels. What kind of trip to the Pyramids would be complete without camels?!?! I have been to the Pyramids about 7 or 8 times so I do not ride a camel but take tons of photos.

IMG_0854a

We then move to the Sun-Boat museum where the Pharaoh's boat is stored.  The admission fee is LE 40 and I once again try to pass myself off as Egyptian. The best I can do is say I am the professor of all of the locals with me, Lamees gives the man her Student ID card and we buy 10 local student passes (LE 20) and one foreigner student pass (LE 20) and go inside. One foreigner costs the same as 10 locals! We meet up with Richard who I instruct to call me Professor.

IMG_0892a

Next we drive in the bus to the paranoiac view point of all three main Giza Pyramids. We take a team photo.

IMG_0896a

The locals want to ride horses down to the Sphinx. Most of us get on a horse but some are afraid or want to ride a camel. Some are just plain old boring and take the bus down. (Richard and his crew.) The camel/horse guy double crosses Michael (the local who negotiated the deal) and we are taken down to the Sphinx and then back to where we started. So we take the bus down to the Sphinx to meet Richard and crew.

IMG_0932a

By now we have been at the Pyramids for about 5 hours and are hungry for lunch. There is a Pizza Hut right across from the Sphinx. I say "let go in there!" and our only dissenter is Remi who says "I can get Pizza Hut in the Netherlands but not Falafel." The locals really want American fast food, who can blame them! I tell Remi that I can get falafel in New York, but not Pizza Hut. (True) So we split up and get some Pizza Hut. The view of the Sphinx inside of Pizza Hut is awe inspiring and my photos are better then outside due to the height of the second floor.

IMG_0943a

After hanging out and shooting the breeze we take the bus back to the hotel, which contains the largest shopping mall in the Middle East and shop. I decide to hang out in Starbucks and wait for the girls.

We then depart for the Nile where Remon has arranged a boat ride, dinner, and birthday cake as well as Arabic music and dancing. It is a full moon and we cruse along the Nile for a few hours, eating, dancing and having a blast. Several happy birthday chants were sung in both English and Arabic. 

We head back to the hotel, have a drink and pass out. It sure has been an interesting 36 years so far.

PS: flickr photos are here.

posted on Friday, 22 February 2008 10:21:09 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback