# Friday, 04 January 2013

Over the last few weeks, I've been accumulating links to appearances of mine, and it seems like a good idea to share these.

  • OReilly webcast: This is a reasonably horrible recording (sound quality and video size) of a webcast I did back in August. It shows why C++ AMP is so cool and why you might care about it. I recorded it to promote the book but I'm not very happy with how it turned out. You'll probably do better with the recording of my Tech Ed talk.
  • Pluralsight interview: This is specifically about my Using Visual Studio 2012 course. You can download the audio or read the transcript as you prefer.  My favourite quote from the conversation:
It’s not just like, oh, I saved five seconds. I can go home five seconds earlier today. It’s that you’re less likely to forget what you were doing because you don’t have to put so much time into the mechanics and you just stay in flow. And to me, that’s a ramping up of two or three times the amount of code I can produce when I use everything the tool has to offer.
  • Dot Net Rocks panel at DevIntersection: Here Scott Allen, Michele Leroux Bustamante, Woody Pewitt, and I discuss whatever we feel like, with occasional leading questions from Carl and Richard, and some Canadian whisky too.

Even though I haven't been blogging much, I have been doing a lot, and I hope these links will help you to discover some of it.

Kate

Friday, 04 January 2013 17:58:45 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 26 June 2012
As I am soon to discover first-hand, Australia is a very long way from North America. So when Adam Cogan makes the trip, he often extends his stay to see more people or places. Last September when we all gathered for //build/, Adam tacked a mini Canada tour onto his North American stay and we got together for a quick chat near my home. Part of it was filmed and (after a long delay to cope with the sound issues) is now available on the SSW TV site.

We talk about C++ and why it has advantages over managed code in some cases, about C++ AMP, and about tablets, leading to this moment:



It's just a 7 minute video, so give it a listen!

Kate
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 02:18:02 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2]
# Monday, 26 March 2012

How's this for a renaissance? People are starting C++ user groups!

  • The Jerusalem .NET/C++ User Group will cover both topics. They've had their first meeting already.
  • The Central Ohio C++ User Group has also had its first meeting and will meet monthly.
  • In Austin Texas they're calling it the C++ Meetup and the description sounds a lot like a user group
  • The Belgian C++ User Group has its first meeting in April

It's so much fun to see this excitement springing up. There seem to be two popular topics for first meetings: either "What's new in C++ 11" or "Writing Windows 8 Apps". I think these two things arriving together - the huge language and library improvements (and the unexpected synergy of the language changes and the library changes) with the chance to write for Windows 8 in C++and XAML - is producing much more interest than there used to be.

And now the fun is spreading to Toronto! No, I'm not founding the group - I'm surely not the only C++ developer in Toronto after all. But I am honoured to be speaking at the first event on April 17th right downtown (pretty much Yonge and Bloor.) I'd love to dive deep into C++ AMP, or show how the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 is easier to code for, but I think I should begin at the beginning, so my talk is titled What happened in C++ 11 and why do I care? and has this abstract:

C++, both the language and the libraries that come with every compiler, is defined by an ISO standard. The latest version of the standard, generally known as C++ 11 after its approval last fall, was optimistically called C++0x throughout the multi-year process that led to its adoption. Many of the language changes (new keywords, new punctuation, new rules) and library changes (genuinely smart pointers, threading, and more) have already been implemented by vendors who were following the standards process closely.
In this session Kate will introduce and demonstrate many of the highlights of C++11 including lambdas, auto, shared_ptr, and unique_ptr. These are all supported in Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2010. You can see how to make your code more readable and expressive, easier to update, more correct (less bugs and memory leaks) and faster, not by trading off among those possible constraints but by adopting modern C++ which gives you improvements in all four areas at once. If you’ve been ignoring the Standard Library, for example, you must see how lambdas make all the difference and open a world of productivity to you.
A sneak peek of the next version of Visual Studio will show you even more C++11 goodness.

If you've looked at my Pluralsight courses, you'll know that my biggest challenge is going to be fitting this into an hour plus Q&A. This will be an overview, an overture if you like, and should whet your appetite for the meetings to come!

Please register as soon as you can, please spread the word, and I hope to see you there!

Kate
Monday, 26 March 2012 08:29:02 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, 22 March 2012
A mentoring client of mine needs someone to take on a specific project that should be about 500 hours of work. That fits nicely into a summer, and the work would be suitable for a student or a junior programmer. Here's the job description we wrote up (the mentor is me by the way):

Must have:
  • Familiarity with one or more programming languages and IDEs
  • Careful attention to detail, especially for visual design (form layouts and alignments, fonts etc)
  • Willingness to learn a large and complex project
  • Time management skills including estimating and reporting effort and time for tasks and projects

Nice to have:

  • .NET programming experience and familiarity with Visual Studio
  • Experience developing a Windows Forms application
  • Background in software testing or user support

The job offers:

  • Work onsite in Peterborough
  • 40 hours a week as soon as the student’s schedule will allow
  • Important work improving a product that is mission-critical to real customers
  • Specific project to be tackled and completed; more will likely follow if this one goes well
  • Training on the tools to be used and the tasks to be done
  • Regular access to a world expert mentor in relevant areas
  • Pleasant working environment with nice coworkers, relaxed dress code, and an open office

It's worth mentioning that there is no C++ involved in this at all. So don't hold back if you don't have it, and don't rush to apply thinking it's a C++ job, because it's not. If you're interested, email me directly (please don't just comment here or tweet me or the like) and I will pass along your resume and contact details. I may have another client looking for someone soon as well, with similar requirements, so let me know if I can hang on to your info and pass it along twice.

Kate

Thursday, 22 March 2012 10:50:17 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, 25 July 2011
So, how cool is this? Guy Smith-Ferrier is going to speak at the East of Toronto .NET User Group meeting in August. Why? Because he's the kind of community-oriented person who takes time out of a transatlantic family vacation to speak at a user group, that's why. And his topic sounds like science fiction, but it's real:

Mind Control Your Computer In C#

No really. This isn’t some clever session title. I’m really talking about controlling your computer with your mind. I’m not making this stuff up. This is real. Today. You put on a headset, you use a C# SDK and you control your computer with your thoughts. Yes, you are reading this right – you mind control your computer. It is a reality and it is possible today. Once you’ve gotten over your disbelief consider the applications. Applications for the physically impaired alone are a whole revolution. Not to mention the possibilities for gaming. Want to be shocked and amazed ? Come and see this session.

The meeting is set for August 24th at the Whitby main library. There's something awry with the website at the moment, and everyone who's talented enough to do anything about it is on vacation, leaving only me, but trust me, we're having a meeting and it's going to be a doozy. Guy is a great speaker - he even wrote and recorded a series of videos on how to be a great presenter. He speaks at TechEd and runs events in the UK. And it's our tremendous luck that he'll be in our neighbourhood this summer so make sure you join us to see this session!

Kate

Monday, 25 July 2011 17:38:38 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, 11 February 2011
If you're a Canadian and you've been thinking of playing around with the Windows Phone Developer Tools, now would be a great time to get started. Microsoft Canada is running something they call the Great Canadian Apportunity, and the grand prize is $10,000. There are plenty of other prizes, too - Xboxen, Kinects, passes to Mesh and more. Joey has some of the details on his blog, and you can check out the main site to get started!




It's on till April 30th. You must be a resident of Canada and over 18 (younger developers need parental permission), not work for Microsoft etc.

Kate
Friday, 11 February 2011 11:57:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 02 January 2011
The sessions have been selected for DevTeach and I was pleased to see one of mine accepted. I'll do my "Advanced Windows 7 Programming" session:

Windows 7 development in managed code can be very simple, especially for those using the Windows API Code Pack. But there's more! Your integration with Windows 7 doesn't have to be limited to simple interactions with the new API. This session goes beyond the simple and into aspects of Windows 7 development that have in the past been left for you to explore on your own. See how to create a jumplist with a task that delivers a command to your application, as Messenger and Outlook do. Explore a simple and powerful recipe for connecting to Restart and Recovery with minimal effort. Discover how Trigger Started Services can reduce your power footprint while giving your users better responsiveness. Explore all that Libraries has to offer beyond "File Open" and why using a library is a better approach than having a user setting for "save directory."

This is all managed code, C# and VB. The conference is after Tech Ed US this year, (Tech Ed is May 16-19, DevTeach is May 30 - June 3) so rather than you seeing a Tech Ed talk before the Tech Ed attendees do (my usual DevTeach offer) you can see a Tech Ed talk after it's been refined a bit by giving it to a Tech Ed audience. Even better!

Montreal in the early summer is a beautiful place and there's a great crop of speakers coming! Many are friends, all are top-notch.
Sign up now for only $899 Canadian for the full 3 days! That's less than half the price of Tech Ed, and you travel only to Montreal. If you're a developer, give this conference serious attention. Of course, if you can do both Tech Ed and DevTeach, you will gain maximum benefit and a chance to learn all that is current in our field. That's my May 2011 plan.

Kate

Sunday, 02 January 2011 11:00:29 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, 03 December 2010
Kenny Kerr is back in Canada and back writing about C++. Like a lot of us these days, he's looking at a stripped-down, more modern way to write Windows applications in C++ - no MFC, no ATL, no WTL. Plenty of STL and new C++0x features. I like it! Here's the first installment - stay tuned for the rest of them!

Kate

Friday, 03 December 2010 11:53:59 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, 05 November 2010

You may have noticed that the fall tour I'm doing features morning talks that go till about 11:30, and evening talks that start at 6pm. I've decided that between those two, I'll spend the afternoon in a coffee shop and host an "on the road coffee and code". As I explain on the Coffee and Code page I keep for this purpose, this is really informal. Just stop by, say hi, we can talk about whatever you like. If you were at the morning session, you might want to just walk with me from the venue to the coffee shop and continue the conversation. Or if you're coming to the evening session, you might want to try to find me during the afternoon to ask something specific, then head to the venue together. Or maybe you have a topic to discuss that has nothing to do with Building Awesome Windows 7 Applications in managed code: a C++ question, or an extending Visual Studio 2010 question, or whatever. That's great, and the Coffee and Code format is just the place for us to have that chat.

Levitating coffee cup from microsoft.ca/office  Ancient laptop from microsoft.ca/office

If you live or work near the venues for the fall tour, I'd appreciate your suggestions (by email or twitter) for where to hold these. Obviously we need wifi, power, and a table we can hog for most of the day. My default choice is Starbucks, but if you know a better one that I can easily walk to, please tell me about it. Once I've chosen the location I can finalize the times.

Looking forward to meeting everyone,

Kate

Friday, 05 November 2010 11:10:46 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 03 November 2010

Right after Tech Ed I will embark on a mini-tour of three Canadian cities, while Richard Campbell does two others, to be called the "Building Awesome Apps for Windows 7 Community Tour". The details are on the Canadian Developers blog. First, the dates, times, and register links:

Date City Time  
Thursday, Nov 18 Montréal 9 AM to 11:30 AM Register
Thursday, Nov 18 Montréal 6 PM to 8:30 PM Register
Wednesday, Nov 24 Mississauga 9 AM to 11:30 AM Register
Wednesday, Nov 24 Mississauga 6 PM to 8:30 PM Register
Thursday, Dec 2 Ottawa 9 AM to 11:30 AM Register
Thursday, Dec 2 Ottawa 6 PM to 8:30 PM Register
Thursday, Dec 2 Calgary 6 PM to 8:30 PM Register
Friday, Dec 3 Calgary 9 AM to 11:30 AM Register
Tuesday, Dec 7 Vancouver 9 AM to 11:30 AM Register
Tuesday, Dec 7 Vancouver 6 PM to 8:30 PM Register

Next, descriptions - what are we going to do? We're going to make you better Windows 7 developers, that's what. We'll do some Code Pack coverage (sure, jumplists, taskbar stuff, but beyond that - some of the material from my Advanced Windows 7 Development at Tech Ed Europe will get its Canadian debut) and then dive into touch development. There are abstracts in John's blog post.

If you can't get to one of those cities on the appropriate day, never fear - there will be a webcast, too. Please spread the word about the webcast throughout North America, everyone's welcome! 

I'm looking forward to this tremendously!

Kate

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 12:10:21 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, 08 October 2010
I've gained a lot of Twitter followers in the last few days, and I'm pretty sure I know why. John Bristowe included me on a list of Canadian Developers that includes a full list of luminaries. I counted 112, and he's included blog links as well as Twitter handles. Most, but not all, are .NET developers. John follows all of them (us), which shows remarkable dedication. Why not take a look and see if there's someone there you'd like to follow too?

Kate

Friday, 08 October 2010 17:43:25 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Saturday, 02 October 2010
As a Canadian RD, MVP, speaker, and general involved-in-the-developer-community-person, I interact a lot with the nice folks at Microsoft Canada. It's not unusual for Canadians to be transferred to Redmond to work at "the mother ship" and I tend to keep an eye on them in their new roles and watch what they're up to. That's even more likely when they go to an area that interests me, as Mark Relph did in the summer of 2009.

He appeared recently on Dot Net Rocks to talk about developing for Windows and I really enjoyed listening to the episode. I'm not the only one keeping an eye out, obviously, since John Bristowe blogged a nice summary of the episode with helpful links. Be sure to read that, then listen to the episode, then come on back for the links.

Kate

Saturday, 02 October 2010 17:20:01 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 12 September 2010
Over six years ago, I helped to found the East of Toronto .NET Users Group, because I didn't want to drive all the way across Toronto to attend user group meetings, and I was pretty sure I was surrounded by others who felt that way. The meeting location has varied over the years but is always in Oshawa or Whitby. That's about a 45 minute drive from my house, and never slows down because of rush hour traffic. I get to as many meetings as I can.

About a year and a half ago, the Markham .NET Users Group kicked off, for much the same reason - wanting to learn more, but not wanting to drive for hours to get to meetings. And now our schedules finally mesh and I can speak there. It's also about 45 minutes from my house and immune from traffic problems.

So, on October 25th I will be speaking in Markham, on Extending Visual Studio 2010. I hope to cover both finding and using extensions and a tiny taste of writing your own. If you live closer to Markham than to downtown, or North York, or Whitby, then please come out and learn how to make Visual Studio your own! I'll be bringing some cool prizes, too - free Pluralsight training, for example. Please register so we know how many to expect.

Kate

Sunday, 12 September 2010 07:17:12 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 15 August 2010
I'm collecting link on Windows Phone 7 topics and now is as good a time as any to blog some of them:
Plenty of material no matter how you prefer to learn. Why not get started?

Kate

Sunday, 15 August 2010 10:01:48 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 11 August 2010

On August 10th, Udi Dahan came from Haifa, Israel, to Whitby, Ontario, to speak at the East of Toronto .NET Users Group meeting. (Well, OK, he was in Toronto to teach a course.) He was talking about high availability and some architectures that let you keep a system up, for example, even while you're upgrading it. I took a few pictures:

Udi did a great job demonstrating that design up front and thinking about architecture doesn't mean you're not agile. Taking the time to architect something so that it's highly available gives you the freedom to be agile.

Watch for the fall schedule of the East of Toronto group in the next few weeks. And if you're visiting the area and would like to speak, let me know!

Kate

Wednesday, 11 August 2010 11:58:19 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, 07 August 2010
I got a call this week from a recruiter who is trying to find senior C++ developers for a firm with a growing need. He has placed people with them in the past and it's worked out well and they want more. They write performance-sensitive applications for the financial industry and need someone who's comfortable with templates, and has experience with applications that process high volumes of data. If you're interested, drop me an email and I'll forward it to him for you. Good luck!

Kate

Saturday, 07 August 2010 12:46:31 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Thursday, 05 August 2010
I'm speaking at TechDays 2010 in Toronto. So are some other very good speakers. (Feel free to click the links on that page to other cities to see the equally good crop across the country.) Would you care to join us?

Seriously, Microsoft has an entire track in each city, ten hour-long talks and two half-hour ones, for Local Flavour. The most important criteria is that you want to talk on something you're passionate about. Seriously, this isn't "Introduction to Visual Studio 2010" or "What's New in C#" - instead it's something that is far more specific and personal. A technology or methodology that you use and care about. A story that will help other developers, or IT pros, or DBAs. Something important that won't be covered in the entire two-day conference unless you step forward now and offer to talk about it.

As John Bristowe puts it:



You need to get cracking on this to meet the submission deadlines. Download the application form from the Canadian Developer's Blog, and submit as many ideas as you have.  You don't have to have prior speaking experience, but if you do, be sure to mention it!

See you in the speaker room,

Kate
Thursday, 05 August 2010 12:30:24 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 04 July 2010

About 6 weeks ago I blogged about the technology behind the amazing Olympics experience I had here in Canada watching CTV, and my American neighbours had watching NBC, as well as the Norwegian and French coverage. Now another case study has been released from that work. This one focuses on the way the broadcasters were able to insert ads (to pay for all that glorious coverage) and build highlights packages. As it says in the case study:

NBC teamed with premier technology vendors, led by Microsoft, to cover 4,485 hours of 2010 Winter Olympics events in HD via Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) Smooth Streaming to a video player based on Microsoft Silverlight. In addition to pleasing sports fans, the programming offered an audience of more than 15.8 million unique visitors to the many advertising partners of NBC. The exceptional capability of IIS Smooth Streaming and Silverlight technologies gave technology vendors the tools they needed to deliver midstream ads while providing an engaging experience for Olympics enthusiasts.

I find it interesting that Canada, with one-tenth the population of the USA, consumed double the hours of video. Not per person mind you, but total. We were lucky enough to have a lot more to choose from. As you can see when you look at the unique visitor counts, it is mostly that we each watched a whole lot of Olympics back in the dark winter months. Definitely worth a read to see how it was done and how it will no doubt continue to be done in the future.

Kate

Sunday, 04 July 2010 15:57:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2]
# Monday, 28 June 2010

With summer finally under way for real it seems like a million years until the fall. But in the world of event organizing, autumn is just around the corner. Session selection for TechDays is in the final stages and I'm looking forward to seeing the completed list. In the meantime, the Early Bird pricing is still in effect.

There will be an event roughly every two weeks from mid September to mid December. In each city (Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax) it will be two days, and while most of the sessions will be the same in every city, a new Local Flavours track will vary from location to location - just as the local tech folk vary! You can register now - go ahead! If you have some questions, Damir has answers for you.

Kate

Monday, 28 June 2010 19:22:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, 24 June 2010

Interested in playing with extensions to Visual Studio 2010? You should be, just for the fun and productivity of it. But in case you need extra incentive, how does this sound:

What will you create with Visual Studio 2010?

Enter the Summer of Extension Competition and let the US and Canadian Developer community know! Show your peers what kind of extension you can build for Visual Studio 2010 for your chance to be featured on the ReadWriteWeb website. Other prizes include a one-year MSDN Embedded subscription license (a $1,199 USD value!), an Xbox Elite prize bundle and a Natural Wireless Ergonomic Desktop 700 Keyboard and Mouse. Prizes will be awarded to winners in both countries.

Just create your extension, upload it to the Visual Studio Gallery, and tag it with rww to enter. (ReadWriteWeb and Microsoft are sponsoring the contest.) More details at ReadWriteWeb, where you'll also find some handy resources and links.

Kate

Thursday, 24 June 2010 15:50:25 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, 15 May 2010

I really enjoyed the Winter Olympics this year. I could basically watch 24 hours a day if I wanted, and on a lot of channels. Typically I had a choice of 4 or 5 different broadcasts on the TV, more if I was willing to watch in French, plus all I could possibly ask for (literally every event that was happening) online. In a lot of cases I would have the online up even while I was watching live, because the online gave you details that you would have to wait for the announcers to happen to say - split times, individual stats, who got the assist and so on - and because you could rewind the online and see it again yourself instead of hoping someone else chose to replay it. And if I didn't have the TV on, people could (and did) IM me or visit my desk telling me "you have to see this shot!" and we would find the stream, find the little highlight marker in the timeline, go to that place and watch the cool thing again together. The online experience from CTV was really a big aspect of my enjoyment of the entire Olympics.

Now a case study has been released that talks about the nuts and bolts that made it all so much fun. The headline starts "CTV Streams 6.2 Petabytes of Winter Olympics To over 3.9 Million Visitors" and that alone is astonishing. It was all built with Microsoft technologies, including Silverlight and IIS Smooth Streaming. I like this quote:

Marcovici initially expected most viewers to be interested in a few minutes of highlights and then to move on. Much to his surprise, the average Canadian viewer spent more than an hour watching Winter Olympics video content online every single day.

That means somebody must have watched just a few minutes, because I was well over the one hour mark every day. I think we were even over the one-hour-per-person-in-the-house mark. I also liked the behind the scenes video from Vancouver. It was a nice reminder of the emotions of those weeks, plus it gives props to Vertigo, who built the player.

There are also case studies about the NBC Olympic experience, the Norwegian Broadcasting Company Olympic experience, and the France Televisions experience with the Olympics and other sports. They are all built on the same base and it goes to show that effort put into place for the Olympics could be used for many other events as well. I would love to see elections dealt with this way, so I could see the press conference for my riding even if something else was happening on the "main screen" or so I could rewind a speech or show someone else an amazing moment.

Aren't these interesting times? Staying connected is gaining a whole different meaning.

Kate  

Update: in July another case study was released. Check that one too.

Saturday, 15 May 2010 11:03:56 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 25 October 2009

It's true, I signed up for a Windows 7 launch party. So did Chris Dufour. But I didn't have people over to sit on the couch and eat cake while I showed them the cool stuff in Windows 7. We just tossed an hour or so of demo at the start of a user group meeting. I had a one-page demo script which I've put as an attachment on this post. I think different default printers for different networks and a "recent/frequent" jumplist on the Windows Explorer in the taskbar were the most popular features. We also had swag! Here's a picture of mine:

Chris had a similar pile, and some books and such as we usually do, so each attendee (and we had a lot more than usual) left with something - mostly with one of those tote bags. I should have held one back to use on my next grocery trip. Aren't they surreal? After my demo (everything in the mini script, though probably not in that order, followed by boot to VHD) Chris took over and led us through CSLA for "real" part of the meeting.

Nice to see the group back in action, and hope to see plenty of folks there next month!

Kate

demo.docx (16.42 KB)
Sunday, 25 October 2009 11:09:07 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, 23 October 2009

Did you like the wallpapers of Canadian scenery I showed the other day, that are already on your Windows 7 machine and just need to be selected? Would you like some more? Go to http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/downloads/personalize?T1=themes and scroll down past the Coke and Ferrari and so on to find more lovely scenery. I copied mine into the folder that was already the source for my desktop wallpaper rotation.

I think the Northern Lights is my favourite at the moment.

Kate

Friday, 23 October 2009 10:18:34 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 11 October 2009

While rehearsing some talks recently I was playing around with my desktop background. I've used a shot from my Bermuda vacation for a long time, because it cheers me up if I am feeling stressed. But I enjoyed having some local "autumn colour" shots on there too. Windows 7 has a "desktop slideshow" feature that changes your background every 30 minutes and I'm going to use that for a while ... though I might add my pink beach image to the rotation.

Thing is, I don't want to rotate through iconic US pictures, lovely though they are. That's why I was pleased to read, on How-To Geek, how simple it is to activate themes for Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Great Britain. The Canadian wallpapers really are lovely:

I think there should really be a prairie one in there too, but I'm not complaining. Give them a try!

Kate

Sunday, 11 October 2009 09:32:07 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 27 September 2009

Funny thing happened when I was reading Steve Clayton's blog. He had a Nike ad embedded - something he does quite often when he finds something funny or well done. And it was good, but about halfway through I realized something... I was recognizing the background. At about the 10 second mark there's some stairs down to SHOPPING CONCOURSE, and then this cluster of newspaper boxes, and then a mailbox, a "blue bin" for recycling,

>

And then after more newspaper boxes, street signs, and street furniture, this unmistakable silhouette reflected in a mirrored building:

It didn't just look familiar because all cities look the same. It looked familiar because it was Toronto. I've played the ad a bunch of times now and am having fun spotting the bike racks, specific stretches of sidewalk and buildings, and so on. The final shots are the the "spare subway station" (Lower Bay) whose only purpose these days is for movie and TV shoots, and the occasional special event.

An enjoyable ad even if you don't live in the GTA, but a rewind-and-pause-a-thon if you do. Thanks Steve!

Kate

Sunday, 27 September 2009 10:21:44 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 05 July 2009

Ian McKenzie has a funny list of 20 ways to tell you're Canadian. My only quibble is that for #4 I would say cottage instead of camp. Other than that, rock on!

Kate

Sunday, 05 July 2009 19:09:17 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 09 June 2009

I finally got around to listening to the last recorded webcast in this spring's Ignite Your Career webcast series from Microsoft Canada. Joey has a handy set of links to all the episodes on the Canadian Developers Blog. This series is very different from most Microsoft webcasts - it's not really about technology. It's about the things you need to learn to advance your career that are not straight technology like picking up a new language or a new development paradigm.

  • Industry Insights and Trends (featuring Joel Semeniuk)
  • Discovering Your Trusted Resources (featuring Richard Campbell)
  • How to Establish and Maintain a Healthy Work/Life Balance
  • How to Become a Great Leader (featuring Barry Gervin)
  • Building, Managing and Strengthening Your Team
  • Women in IT Panel Discussion

All the webcasts have been recorded and are well worth a download and a listen.

Kate

Tuesday, 09 June 2009 21:04:12 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 07 June 2009

I grew up in Southern Ontario (Kitchener Waterloo area) before moving to Toronto and now to my current home between Toronto and Peterborough, which possibly isn't Southern Ontario any more. Imagine my surprise, reading an article in The Economist, to come across this:

Ms Munro comes from southern Ontario, an area of considerable psychic murkiness and oddity. Her stories dwell on her own people and their peculiarities: their repressed emotions, respectable fronts, hidden sexual excesses, outbreaks of violence, lurid crimes and long-held grudges.

Psychic murkiness, eh? If you say so.

Kate

 

Sunday, 07 June 2009 19:03:30 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, 19 January 2009

2008 was a tumultuous year for me so I thought I would start a new tradition of doing a retrospective post.

In January, I started doing something at Trent that I had never done before in ten years of teaching there a course or two a year – teach the same course twice at once, on different nights in different locations. I think the Tuesday night people got a better course since I in effect rehearsed for them each Monday morning :-). The marking load was a little difficult but I managed it. Also in January I had a geekspeak appearance, and the planning started in earnest for Tech Ed.

In February I spoke at my own user group, which is always a treat, and the Toronto Heroes Happen Here event introduced Visual Studio 2008, SQL Server 2008, and Windows 2008 to Toronto.

March kicked off with SD West, where I did two sessions (Vista programming for half a day, and some Practical VSTS tips) and recorded a video interview. I really enjoyed SD West’s sense of difference – the attendees, speakers, and topics all had a little fresh and unusual twist to me compared to the conferences Microsoft runs. My schedule doesn’t often let me get to third party conferences but it’s definitely enjoyable when it does. Also in March, we closed our Peterborough offices after nearly a decade there, and consolidated back to a single office attached to our home. Times have changed since we set up the Peterborough offices – we have high speed Internet at home, couriers are no longer an important delivery mechanism for us, and we haven’t employed a university student for many years – so we decided paying rent and commuting 45 minutes each way every day was a foolish habit. It really has been one of my best decisions of the year.

April’s big fun was the MVP Summit. My schedule was jam-packed and my only regret was that the C++ team didn’t schedule any boring or irrelevant parts of the day that might have let me go visit another team to broaden my horizons.

In May, Chris Dufour and I held our own Heroes Happen Here launches in Peterborough and Whitby. We had a scaled down version of the Toronto event and enjoyed it a great deal. Then DevTeach came to town – my absolute favourite third party conference always. As well it provided an opportunity for the Canadian RDs to get together and that is never a bad thing!

June, of course, meant Tech Ed. A precon, lunch with Bill Gates, three breakouts, two podcasts, assorted booth duty / ask the experts / etc plus dinners, receptions and side meetings made for a whirlwind week. The sort of thing I work all year to get, to be honest ... I loved it!

I started July by recording a .NET Rocks episode. Another thing I don’t get to do enough of. Then I just settled down and worked on projects for a while. Community activity is always a bit slow in the summer. As my project work intensified (nothing I can announce at the moment) I stayed heads down right through to the end of October when the PDC rolled around. We were all full of pent-up PDC demand after so long without one, and it was good, really good.

Just one week home after PDC, and trying to catch up on that project work, and it was off to Barcelona (maybe for the last time?) for Tech Ed Europe. I would have had an amazingly great time even if I hadn’t placed a talk in the top ten, but I was lucky enough to do just that. The food, the scenery, the weather – I am really going to miss Barcelona.

In December I got back on the community stage by visiting three southern cities to tell the story of Vista Bridge. I got caught in a snowstorm in Baton Rouge, the like of which they get once or twice a century, just to add a little spice to the tale. And that brings us around to the end of the year. What's next?

Monday, 19 January 2009 22:00:53 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, 08 November 2008

I think I have this finally all sorted out now. This map is a little inaccurate because it depicts driving, but it gets the point across:

Monday December 8th I will fly to Fort Smith (via Atlanta). Tuesday December 9th I will drive to the Northwest Arkansas meeting. Wednesday Dec 10th I will fly from there to Baton Rouge (via Atlanta) and then Thursday Dec 11th I will fly home (once again, via Atlanta.) The talk will be the same at all three, so there's no need to follow me around :-)

The Windows Vista Bridge: How Managed Code Developers Can Easily Access Exciting New Vista Features

Accessing new Windows Vista features is a challenge from managed (.NET) code. The level of interoperability required is out of reach for many developers. The Vista Bridge is a sample library you can use in your own projects today that provides access to new user interface features as well as “behind the scenes” power features. Discover a shortcut to Windows Vista for Microsoft Visual Basic and Visual C# programmers and how you can get involved.

This talk is freshly updated for Tech Ed Europe where I will deliver it Nov 13th. See you there!

Kate

Saturday, 08 November 2008 10:32:26 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 05 November 2008

Microsoft has announced BizSpark. If you know what DreamSpark is, then you might guess what BizSpark is. I was really surprised myself - essentially unlimited free licenses of developer software and hosting software such as Windows, SQL Server and SharePoint. Yes, free Team Suite for everyone in the company! You must meet three criteria:

  • Be a startup, less than 3 years in business
  • Have not much revenue, less than a million a year (stricter in some markets, mostly in Asia)
  • Be software developers, not consultants or resellers

You prove that you meet these criteria, not to Microsoft, but to a network partner. Ideally your network partner is more than just your gateway to free software, but someone who can advise and help you on the path to success. Since the network partner has to know a bit about you, not many will just email you a key if you email them. You can look through the partners on the BizSpark site and see who would be a good match for you to establish a relationship with. Be sure to get the user guide and read the FAQ as well.

Plenty of coverage of this elsewhere on the web:

etc etc.

So, if you fit the description and want the free software, what should you do? Go to the BizSpark site's Find a Network Partner page. A lot of them are venture capitalists and investment companies. If you were hoping to find such a firm, this is a cool way to know one that is in favour of your using the Microsoft platform and won't try to make you change development tools to get funded. If you weren't planning to work with an investor, scroll through looking for a firm that offers consulting and mentoring. You can send an email and see about working together. If you can't find a firm in your geography that looks as if it could help you, try a nearby geography. For example, I'm only listed under Canada, but Americans could engage with our firm too.

Kate

Wednesday, 05 November 2008 15:32:38 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, 03 November 2008

More PDC goodness.

Steven Sinofsky is the senior vice president for the Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group at Microsoft. He was awesome in the Day 2 keynote. Then he walked down to The Big Room and did a half hour Open Spaces talk with attendees. I recognized fellow RDs Tim Huckaby and David Yack among them. The sound quality varies but the recording is well worth watching to see how comitted he is to the Engineering 7 blog and to communicating with developers.

Then there's Joey deVilla. I've been reading his personal blog for ages and his technical blog once in a while - he was an open source guy so it wasn't always relevant to me. I love his sense of humour and spirit of community. I was delighted to learn that he would replace the departing Jean Luc David (our loss is Redmond's gain.) While at PDC, he interviewed Don Box, Miguel de Icaza, John Lam, Phil Haack and some of the .NET Micro Framework team. Great ways of learning some of what happened at PDC and getting to know Joey a little better.

But he wasn't the only one! John Bristowe was also busy with the camera. He interviewed Joel Semeniuk (another RD) and some people from Windows Home Server. This is a product I am hearing a lot of praise for that I really should install on a spare machine.

I love these videos because they start to capture some of the non-session parts of the conference. If you're wondering why on earth you would go to a conference and not go to sessions, look at these conversations. Also look in the background at the other conversations and interactions. Face time is why we all come to the same place. Sessions are a bonus.

Kate

Monday, 03 November 2008 12:14:32 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Do you recognize this man?

 

Maybe that's too recent a picture... try this one:

Combine these tickets with the PDC location and I have an earworm that should be with me till the end of the month.

Kate, humming

Tuesday, 14 October 2008 08:50:26 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Grrrr. No doubt unexpected demand. Because really, who would want to go to a website and arrange to reduce the telemarketing calls they get?

Why is the URL an IP address? I don't know ... I followed a link to http://www.lnnte-dncl.gc.ca/ and then clicked English. Sigh. If only the government could consistently use technology. Some things (taxes, passports) work great, get your expectations up, and then things like this come along.

Hitting refresh,

Kate

ps: yes, that's just after noon. I wouldn't be giving them a hard time early in the wee hours. I tried at 6am, at 8am, and several times through the morning before getting annoyed.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008 12:23:10 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, 29 September 2008

Let's see ... 50% early bird discount from an already low price (500 for 2 days, 250 for 1, discounted to 250 and 130 for the next two weeks so act fast), a full version of Visual Studio Professional, a full version of Expression Web, the DVD set from Tech Ed 2008, and a coupon for $100 off a DevTeach registration. That's not counting the eval versions of VSTS and Expression Studio. Holy Smoke, this would be a cost effective thing to attend if you didn't even go to any sessions! But the sessions are listed, and they are good ones. Need to know how to build a real application in WPF? Use the ASP.NET AJAX extensions in your web app? Use controls and styles in Silverlight? Lock down your SQL server? This is the conference for you. Local, inexpensive, timely, ... and a bag of goodies.

Plan to be there. And that includes doing a little reading first ... these sessions don't start at "what is this Visual Studio you speak of?" so there's a resource list to get you ready to attend.

Monday, 29 September 2008 12:12:39 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, 25 September 2008

Steve, a former C++ guy and current PCP guy, tells stories very well... just three of the reasons I like him. He blogs very infrequently, but when he has an update it's worth reading. This one is funny and informative. Plus, it features links to videos of presentations about the Parallel Computing Initiative. I've linked in the past to videos in English that are hosted on a page in French, so I know you can all handle it. Consider it Canadian Content even though the videos are from Paris. Go, read, watch, you'll enjoy it.

Kate

Thursday, 25 September 2008 08:47:15 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, 19 September 2008

Microsoft Canada is trying something different this fall and winter. A paid conference featuring material from this year's TechEd USA, delivered by excellent local speakers and coming to a city near you. Some cities have two day events, others a single day.

  • Toronto, October 29th and 30th
  • Montreal, November 6th and 7th
  • Ottawa, November 27th
  • Winnipeg, December 4th
  • Calgary, December 10th and 11th
  • Halifax, December 17th
  • Vancouver, January 21st and 22nd

What will the talks be like? What will it cost? Will there be cool swag? The web site doesn't really say right now, but I've been told the talks will be actual TechEd talks, the speakers will be industry leaders (my friends and colleagues, maybe me if we can make the dates work), and there will be 5 or so tracks, meaning over 30 sessions, so something for everybody. The early bird discounts will be substantial, so watch that web site for updates!

Kate

Friday, 19 September 2008 16:54:42 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 17 September 2008

A recruiter called me looking for an architect. I would be a good fit for the job if I was available - I have tons of Internet programming experience, architect systems all the time, services and desktop among others, and as for quiet confidence and entrepreneurial spirit, those describe me just fine. But I'm not available. It occurred to me that a reader of my blog might be. So if you're interested, please contact the recruiter. Good luck!

A software firm (30 people) in downtown Toronto is looking for a full-time architect to help build its next generation of Email System.

The organization is a divsion of a large U.S. based firm with a CEO with a track record of successful entrepreneurial start-ups and exits.

The firm develops applications within Microsoft Exchange and requires an architect with the following skills:

  • A high-level design capability as well as the willingness to be hands-on within the development cycle
  • Experience building applications within Microsoft Exchange, using MAPI, Active Directory
  • Experience building applications around Microsoft Outlook
  • Service oriented backend infrastructure
  • SMTP expertise
  • Desktop application and integration development experience

The right person should have a passion for coding and building systems, have quiet confidence as well as an entrepreneurial spirit.

If you are interested, or know of someone that might be appropriate, please contact Mike Fox at mfox@brightlightsinc.com or 416-406-1777.

Kate

Wednesday, 17 September 2008 18:05:25 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Take a look at this map from Jeff LaPorte:

I wonder if this shows some sort of era-of-adoption effect, where folks in the US had widespread Internet access so they got started with AIM and never switched, then Canada and Australia picked up Messenger, and other places see a popularity of even more recent clients? Or perhaps it’s an artefact involving what kind of people use a messenging-interop solution? Whatever the mechanism, I’m a typical Canadian I guess since I use Messenger.

Kate

Wednesday, 10 September 2008 10:19:43 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, 28 June 2008

Because I graduated from the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Waterloo, I got an email about their participation in Go Eng Girl!, a province-wide initiative to show girls in Grades 7 through 10 what engineering is all about. If Waterloo isn't the closest university to you, go ahead and see if something nearer is also participating. I suspect, though, that many of us would like our daughters to take engineering at Waterloo if they're to take it anywhere - the reputation is excellent. (Remain calm if you support another institution; I also have a graduate engineering degree from Toronto and have worked alongside excellent engineers from a variety of universities, so let's not go there. And no, I haven't forgotten the weather in Waterloo.)

Looks like you can register online just before school starts again in the fall. Bookmark the site and check it out closer to the date.

Kate

Saturday, 28 June 2008 21:59:19 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 16 December 2007

As I've mentioned before, I don't generally consider snow in December to be newsworthy around these parts. It's normal and in fact, it's nice. But we're in the midst of a storm that's getting a lot of attention. One headline told us "You'll be Telling Your Grandchildren About This Storm" which seemed a little over the top. But this morning's radar capture tells me they weren't kidding:

This makes the capture from three years ago seem positively anemic. Back then I said I'd never seen the whole circle filled in, nor had I seen orange for snow... this one has red! OK, it's not near us, but it's still on the screen.

Since I don't live under a rock, I knew this was coming. I did my errands Saturday and today we're tucked up safe and warm with only housework and coding to do :-)

Kate

Sunday, 16 December 2007 10:32:40 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, 02 August 2007

Another tip from Steve Clayton, this one about Hotmap, which aggregates local.live.com searches and maps, letting you know what places people are asking for maps of - where they want to go. Steve did an England map, but I did Ontario and surrounding areas. The darker red squares have had more map requests:

To a certain extent it just correlates with population, but also with Internet use, how visited a place is, and perhaps a certain Microsoft-vs-Google demographic as well.

Kate

Thursday, 02 August 2007 21:10:39 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 17 July 2007

So you were thinking about entering the Gadget contest, but then you didn't get around to it? Well lucky you, you get another chance. Here's what I heard today: the deadline has been extended a month. You have to get your gadget into the Gallery to enter, and it's a process with a few steps to it:

Process to Enter Competition

 

Developers will need to perform the following actions:

 

1.       Post their Gadget on the Windows Live Gallery (approval process can take a few days)

2.       Return to the Gadget Vs. Gadget site and select ‘Enter Contest’ tab and use their Live ID to login

3.       Complete the entry form to submit their Windows Vista gadget for review

 

Winners will be announced September 4, 2007.

Same cool prizes, same great exposure, so go for it! http://www.microsoft.com/canada/msdn/gadgetvsgadget/default.aspx . Remember, Canadians only!

Kate

Tuesday, 17 July 2007 16:38:39 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Thursday, 12 July 2007

Why, you call 911 of course. I imagine it would be a challenge for the 911 operator not to laugh out loud, but it was true...

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070712.welephants0712/BNStory/National/home

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2007/07/12/elephant-stroll.html

http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/235173

My favourite part is the elephant who didn't particularly notice they'd escaped and went to sleep just outside the pen. She's the one at the far left not being sprayed with the hose.

Update: The National Post provides this delightful picture, and links to the 911 call and dispatcher conversation. "Outstanding elephant" indeed. And what a nice police department to host the mp3s - not all would.

http://www.police.york.on.ca/Press/07-160928%20Comm.mp3

http://www.police.york.on.ca/Press/07-160928%20Dispatch.mp3

Kate

Thursday, 12 July 2007 17:19:57 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2]
# Sunday, 24 June 2007

Can you lose weight by coming to Canada? Yes you can, but not mass, just weight, because apparently gravity in parts of Canada differ from elsewhere in the world. And this is some sort of slow rebound from the retreat of the glaciers...

http://www.livescience.com/environment/070510_odd_gravity.html

Kate

Sunday, 24 June 2007 03:01:44 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, 14 June 2007

Have you tried writing a gadget yet? They're really simple and can have an immediate impact on your productivity. If you're a Canadian adult, you can enter your gadget into Microsoft Canada's contest and win some serious hardware.

The contest site has plenty of links to get you started and give you some inspiration. You have till July 16th, so get creating!

Kate

Thursday, 14 June 2007 09:19:43 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Have you ever heard the career advice that you should consider doing some volunteer work in your field to gain experience? Sounds like a lovely plan, but how does someone without contacts find volunteer opportunities anyway? Or maybe you have the job you want, but you want to put your time and effort to a good cause, if only you could find one. If you're in Canada, MatchIT.com is just the ticket. Sign up, fill out a form, and get matched with needs from nonprofits. There's lots of folks looking to have their websites redone, or a registration system written, or their servers looked after. It's a chance to make a real difference, so please look into it if you have some time to spare.

Kate

Tuesday, 12 June 2007 16:20:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, 08 June 2007

Microsoft Canada is putting on an all-day event Saturday June 16th at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Of course it's free, and you'll see plenty of Microsoft and external speakers in multiple tracks.

I'm doing session #1 in the Developer Track in the afternoon: What's New for Web Developers in ASP.NET and Visual Studio 2008. If you're thinking "Visual Studio 2008???" that's Orcas - the new name was announced at Tech Ed in the keynote. Register while there are still spots!

Kate

Friday, 08 June 2007 16:37:59 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Thursday, 15 March 2007

Recently I ordered a DVD of The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes from the National Film Board of Canada. Now don't get me wrong, the place is a national treasure, and I'm delighted to be able to buy films I fondly remember from my childhood. I also trust them with my credit card number. But this privacy "reassurance" didn't really reassure me:

A quick IM conversation with someone who speaks far better French than me told me that this makes way more sense in French, but serves as a tremendous example of why machine translation can only take you so far. Trust me, my "experiment Internet" is already sedentary enough.

Kate

Thursday, 15 March 2007 10:42:03 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 28 February 2007

My talk will be Thursday morning... you should register. Look who is speaking at this thing! Look what you can come and learn! Montreal is a lovely city, and it's easier to get your boss to send you to Montreal than Barcelona, isn't it?

Kate

Wednesday, 28 February 2007 19:59:49 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, 26 February 2007

Joey deVilla pointed out these cool sites for making origami out of money.

http://members.cox.net/crandall11/money/shirt/
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/300507/make_an_origami_shirt_out_of_a_dollar_bill/

I couldn't help but notice they featured American money... since loonies are really hard to fold, and toonies not much better, I tried a five:

Fun!

Kate

Monday, 26 February 2007 19:27:18 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [2]
# Sunday, 07 January 2007

Let's see, I got dinged (so far) by

If I don't step up and produce my Five Things pretty quickly, there won't be anyone with a blog left for me to tag!

  1. I have a PhD in engineering -- Chemical Engineering to be precise -- from the University of Toronto. My thesis title had way too many "of"s in it and was about modelling the very first steps in blood coagulation at a surface. Simultaneous partial differential equations! Boundary layer! Non-Newtonian fluids! Woo hoo! My undergrad work was also in Chemical Engineering, at Waterloo.
  2. If you don't count co-op jobs while an undergrad, TA-ing while a grad student, part time lecturing, and the like, I have held only two "real" jobs in my entire life, one for two years between graduating from my undergrad and starting my grad work, and the other as partner here at Gregory Consulting ever since.
  3. I am an elder in a martial arts system, one of only six in that system. Don't try to beat me up though... we'll both be sorry.
  4. I never lie. I sometimes say I can't talk about something, or I say something that I know is deceptive but is technically true, but I do not lie. For example, I only say "this demo worked on the plane!" if it really did. But I might say "they haven't announced anything" knowing that you will conclude I don't know, when in fact I do know but can't tell you. Sorry.
  5. I adore my kids, and put them first in just about everything I do. I've turned down conferences because it conflicted with family things, and followed a lower-salary career path so I'd have time to be hugely involved in what they do. I even homeschooled one of them half days for an academic year. I just don't talk about them much in my blog to give them some privacy. As a result many people think I don't have kids! Trust me, when we're together in person and it's not all being archived for some future romantic interest of theirs to read 20 years from now, I'll talk your ear off about these sweet, funny, smart, hardworking, reliable little angels!

There.

Now, my victims. Who on my favourites list is not already playing, but knows me enough to take a tag from me?

Kate

Sunday, 07 January 2007 14:18:56 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [2]
# Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Yes indeed, there will be a code camp in Toronto next year! It will be held Saturday, March 31st and the website is now ready for you to register as an attendee, a volunteer, or a speaker.

The Second Annual Toronto Code Camp, a free .NET community sponsored event, will be held on March 31st, 2007! Last years event was a huge success with over 220 attendees, 4 tracks, 20 speakers, 25+ volunteers and over $17,000 in prizes given away. This year’s event will be even bigger and better! Registration is now open, but remember, space is limited and based on last years response it will fill up fast.

 

Deadline for speakers is Jan 15th, for volunteers Feb 15th, and for attendees there is no deadline, but it will "sell out" -- to the extent a free event can sell out. Trust me, you want to be there. If you don't normally attend Microsoft events or user group meetings, either for scheduling reasons or because you don't want to be "sold to" and you worry that might happen at such events, you should make a point of coming to Code Camp -- it's a grassroots community event and a great opportunity to learn from a wide variety of speakers on a wide variety of technologies. And if you can stand the thought of ever speaking some day, Code Camp is the classic place to start. We'll even help you become a speaker if you're interested.

Kate

Wednesday, 13 December 2006 14:39:52 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [2]
# Monday, 11 December 2006

The Regional Director program truly is worldwide -- about half of the 120 or so of us are located outside the USA. So let's say you want some pictures of Microsoft software in beautiful locations around the world, what better group to ask? The program asked us to send in pictures this fall, and here's the result:


(larger version)

Amazing, aren't we? For my picture, which is nowhere near as spectacular as some, I went and stood among some turning leaves.

Kate

Monday, 11 December 2006 14:01:05 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Friday, 17 November 2006

Microsoft Canada is running a contest. Nominate a developer (or team of developers) who is making software that makes a difference. Subscribe to the MSDN Flash (you should anyway) to make yourself an eligible nominator. Like the nomination form says:

Judges are seeking nominations that present an innovative solution that

  • defines how Microsoft technology (e.g. Visual Studio® development system, Microsoft® SQL Server™ 2005, Windows Vista™ operating system) played a role in making the solution possible;
  • not only helps your business, charity, or community but could help other businesses, charities or communities; and
  • has had a positive impact on a business or within the community.

And when I say "judges", I mean me, Mark Relph and Barnaby Jeans of Microsoft Canada, Stephen Ibaraki and Barry Gervin. Come on, impress us! Nominations are online-only.

And prizes? Of course there are prizes. Like actual cash money for the winning developer, the winning team, and their favourite charities. Not to mention a trip to Toronto (hotel and a plane ticket if you need it) to receive your prize. So what's stopping you? Heck, with a deadline of April 12th, you still have time to write the application and then enter! (Be sure to read the rules about telling the nominees you're nominating them, dealing with applications that use some third party code, and so on.)

Kate

Friday, 17 November 2006 07:27:22 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, 11 November 2006

The abstract promised:

If building games for the Xbox 360 or Windows gets you excited then you have to be at this event. For the first time, Microsoft will take you through the details of our (soon to be released) XNA Studio Express. If you didn’t already know, anyone can now build interactive, high performance games for Windows or Xbox 360. We’ll take you through an introduction to XNA and XNA Studio Express. Then we’ll equip you with the skills to start building games ranging from simple 2-D to stunning interactive 3-D.

And that's what we got!

As you can see, the space was JAMMED and the demographic skewed a little younger than your typical Microsoft event. There are more pictures at Barnaby's Flickr site, which is where I got this one :-)

Here's one I took myself, of a very nice gesture:

Since you probably can't read the letter I'll paraphrase it: "we know it's Remembrance Day, we've made a donation on behalf of the attendees, please take and wear a poppy." Christian Beauclair, who was speaking as 11:00 rolled around, paused us for our minute of silence and the room fell completely still.

A great introduction to both game development and the world of MSDN events for plenty of young people. XNA is really going to make things interesting for developers who want to just play and try things.

Kate

Saturday, 11 November 2006 13:29:18 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 24 October 2006

[backdated with dasBlog]

OK, I know you really come here for C++ stuff and the occasional picture of autumn leaves, but there are some things I want you to do. First of all, if you're the donating type, and you want to make a donation in my Dad's memory, please don't give it to those "cancer is a word, not a sentence" people. Nothing they did helped him. (Research is fine, just all that cheer-up-it's-not-so-bad stuff bothers me.) He died two days short of the one-year anniversary of his diagnosis, which is actually pretty good for esophageal cancer. The heroes in our minds are the VON. Back in August, had my dad stayed one more day in the hospital I believe he would have died there. Going home gave him many more months and gave us all more time with him and more time to come to grips with what was happening. The VON were what made that possible. Sometimes they came every day, sometimes every other, sometimes two and three times a day. They dealt with his abcess, his draining tube, his pain, his weakness, with all the things that would have otherwise had him in the hospital. They were always polite and respectful and supportive. They didn't bustle around like hospital nurses, bossing everyone and controlling their territory. You can donate to your local VON if you have one, or to the ones who helped Dad at VON of Greater Halifax, 7001 Mumford Road, Tower 1, Suite 300, Halifax NS, Canada B3L 4N9.

Second, if you ever have trouble swallowing, have a terrible acid stomach for which you regularly take antacids, or have a family member who died very quickly of "a growth in the throat" or something similar, go and ask your doctor to test you for Barrett's esophagus. That's about the only hope for prevention of this, the fastest-growing cancer in North America.

Third, no matter how old you are, it wouldn't hurt to talk to your family about your end of life wishes. Whether it's dying at home, what songs to play at the ceremony,  or burial-vs-cremation, the decisions are so much easier when you actually know what the person would have wanted.

Kate

Tuesday, 24 October 2006 07:34:35 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Are you ready?

It's time to launch Office, Vista, and Exchange in Canada. Five cities get a large version of the all day event, with business, IT pro and developer tracks, and seven get IT pro and developer talks only. It starts in late November and goes on until January. Registration is free and these things usually full up fast, so register now.

Kate

Tuesday, 10 October 2006 09:05:19 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, 09 October 2006

I've been messing a lot with time zones lately, planning my trips to South Africa, Spain, and Denmark, along with flight connections through other countries, and trying to be sure that I correctly map the local times people tell me with the Eastern times I need to enter in my Outlook calendar. As part of that I found a neat time zone map at http://www.travel.com.hk/region/timezone.htm. Now time zone maps are not exactly hard to come by, but this one gave me some interesting insight.

Until I found this map I believed, in a vague never-bothered-to-check way, that Newfoundland was the only place whose time zones differered by half an hour rather than an hour from the neighbouring zones:

But this map uses that hash pattern to indicate the not-an-hour timezones, and so for the first time I noticed there are other places that do this too:

 

It's all over the place! But I wonder if people on the other side of the world would get the Canadian joke: The World Will End at Midnight! 12:30 in Newfoundland.

Kate

Monday, 09 October 2006 07:35:06 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2]
# Friday, 06 October 2006

Airports, like software, need to be tested before they're released -- or I guess for an airport, you'd say opened. That's why the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which operates Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), is asking for volunteers to come to the airport on the morning of Oct 28th and wander around like they were trying to catch a flight, or arrive from a flight, or whatever. Can you read that sign as you head down the elevator? Is it obvious that you are not at ground level and need to find an elevator to get to ground level? Is this hallway really wide enough when two planes arrive at once and 400 people are walking through it? It's not like there wasn't any thought put into that sort of thing in advance, but before you open the doors, testing is a really good idea.

If you live in the Greater Toronto Area and want to tell your grandchildren you once beta tested an airport (perhaps the fact that you parked and ate at an airport for free will excite them more) then head on over to http://www.gtaa.com/airportvolunteer/ and sign up. Apparently there's some sort of souvenir in it for you, and you'll get to see the new parts of the terminal months before they open. Go for it!

Kate

Friday, 06 October 2006 17:20:01 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 01 October 2006

A client of mine, International Time Recorder, is hiring in Etobicoke. Here's the job description:

Job Title:  Senior Application Developer

Senior developer responsible for contributing to the design, development and implementation of commercial software solutions to a diverse marketplace.

Duties
• Contribute to the analysis and design, while being accountable for the support, development, testing and implementation of solutions and enhancements to software systems.
• Design and develop software components and features.  This includes working with stakeholders in developing Detailed Functional Specifications, designing certain key components of the product and implementing the solutions.
• Support and design of maintenance and test procedures and test cases for the product.
• Participate in schedule development and ensure timely product delivery.
• Assist in the creation and implementation of concrete procedures for tracking and releasing product updates.
• Coach and mentor junior development team members in best practices for support, development, testing and implementation of software solutions conducting code reviews as needed.

Qualifications
Education:  University Degree in Computer Science, or equivalent experience
Experience:  8 – 10 Years

Required Skills:
• Familiarity with the following technologies: C#, ASP.NET, C++,  ADO.NET, ADO, Web Services (SOAP/XML), RPC, all Windows Operating Systems, IIS, COM, Active Reports
• Two years experience in .NET development in commercial software development using C#, ASP.NET, ADO.NET
• Eight years experience in commercial Windows Application Development
• Experience in Scaleable Distributed Application design
• Three years experience in designing SQL Server databases
• Proven experience in developing database-driven Web and Windows applications with demonstrated flair for design and layout
• Two years experience as a project lead

Nice-to-Have Skills:
• Time and attendance industry experience
• Experience with Microsoft Visual Studio Team Systems.
 

The firm is doing active development in both C++ and C#. If you're looking for a place to use both old and new skills (and a chance to get regular mentoring from me :-) ), drop me a line and I will forward your information along.

Kate

Sunday, 01 October 2006 13:28:10 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 20 September 2006

I find it really surprising how much I am enjoying owning this kettle:

It is just what it appears to be, a glass electric kettle. When the water is at a full boil it is actually more dramatic than this picture shows. Like all modern electric kettles, you lift it off its base, leaving the cord and such behind, to pour. It's faster than the stove, won't boil dry, and it's fun to watch. Who knew?

I got mine at Canadian Tire. It wasn't even the most expensive kettle there.

Kate

Wednesday, 20 September 2006 11:47:12 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Friday, 08 September 2006

The code camp concept keeps spreading. October 14th will see Code Camp Montreal: it's free, it's bilingual, it's in downtown Montreal. All you need to do is register! Attending will be a great way to meet other developers and to learn as much as you can cram into your brain in a single Saturday. I wish I could be there, I know it will be great.

Kate

Friday, 08 September 2006 12:37:35 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 06 September 2006

Sasha Krsmanovic has been working for Microsoft for a very long time, but as a v-, a vendor. This summer they finally made it official and hired him as a regular employee. At the same time he moved roles, so now instead of looking after me as an RD and a user group leader, he's looking after me as an MVP. Works for me!

This is me with Sasha back at realDevelopment06.

Kate

Wednesday, 06 September 2006 12:20:24 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 27 June 2006

The seventh monthly DemoCamp in Toronto will be July 4th at No Regrets in Toronto. It's a pretty simple concept: no-powerpoint-allowed demos of working product, time limit 15 minutes, followed by socializing. And they do this every month! There's room for 150 people, and according to the wiki 90 people are signed up already, so there's probably room for you, too. Watch other people demo (so you can learn how to construct your own super cool 10 minute presentation, and believe me, ten minutes is HARD), see what else is going on in your world, tap into some of Toronto's energy... I can't make this one but I will watch for the August one for sure!

Kate

Tuesday, 27 June 2006 14:43:45 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, 03 June 2006

Steve Teixeira has linked to the webcasts from a C++ day held in Paris in May. These were done in English, but if you want to download the WMVs you're going to need a tiny bit of French, or to have gone through the downloading-a-webcast-from-MSDN process often enough that you don't really need the prompts. I qualify on both counts, and since the French for video is video, it's not too terribly difficult. Well actually Herb's talk starts with a French introduction, but having heard myself introduced in French a time or two I can tell you it's OK if you can't follow that bit. (Most of the time you can't tell that Herb and I did our undergrad at the same place, but we did, and occasional sesquilingualism is a clue. The difference is that while Herb remains a little nervous about engineers, I became one.)

 

These are good talks with demos and they cover a lot of ground for C++ programming today and in the future. Go get them.

Kate

Saturday, 03 June 2006 06:53:59 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 31 May 2006

Once upon a time, there was a highway called Highway 35. It ran north from a major east-west highway and got less and less important until it kind of trickled to a stop in the semi-wilderness near Algonquin Park. The southernmost sections of this highway were twinned with Highway 115, with a concrete median, exit and entrance ramps, and a speed limit of 90 km/hr. From what's known as the 35/115 split, it ran north, one lane each way, with gravel roads crossing it and driveways opening on to it, with only a handful of traffic lights to control traffic flow every twenty or thirty miles.

Update: here's a map of the area.

Now there was a bit of a problem with this highway. People get killed on it. The section between the 115 split and Lindsay is hilly, and it gets a lot more traffic than it used to. There are trucks delivering Important Stuff, people dragging trailers and boats up to cottage country, tractors going from one place to another, and Toronto folks in a hurry. From time to time, impatient people pass when they shouldn't, like going up hill, and there's a head on collision and people die. It's not the most dangerous stretch of road in Ontario, but it is bad and there started to be noises made that Something Should Be Done.

Well just about any idiot can see that the head on collisions are caused by dangerous passing, and the survivors can tell you that the passing happened because one vehicle was really slow and another really impatient. So an obvious solution would be passing lanes on the steeper hills. So in 1999 a study was commissioned to decide where to put the passing lanes. They discovered that in one 22 km stretch of highway, about 13 km -- over half -- of the road would be three laned, and parts of that four laned, with passing lanes coming up both sides of a hill and needing four lanes at the top. Now passing lanes do reduce head on collisions from unsafe passing, but they open up the possibilities for accidents wherever people are changing lanes, and without a median these accidents can involve traffic coming in the other direction, so you can't assume that building all these passing lanes would actually reduce the accident rate.

They decided in this 1999 study:

Implementing spot improvements on an as-needed basis represents the low cost solution but is cost-effective only if it conforms to a future plan. In the absence of a plan for the ultimate design of Highway 35, the planning and design process for extensive [passing lanes and truck climbing lanes] becomes difficult. Road improvements proposed as part of the ultimate plan may even eliminate the need for [passing lanes and truck climbing lanes].

So what does that mean? Time for another study, this one on four-laning the whole highway or at least from the split to Lindsay. This one would also deal with the possibility that highway 407 would be extended out to the 35/115 split. This study started in 2000.

Here's the first problem when you four-lane a highway that has cross-roads and gravel roads meeting it. Imagine someone coming out of a cross road or a driveway and wanting to turn left. They are going to need to cross two lanes of traffic, and they'll be turning into the fast lane of the highway. That's not good. And then imagine someone who is on the highway and wants to turn left into their own driveway, but has to stop to let oncoming traffic go by. They are going to be stopped in the fast lane. Over time these two kinds of left turners are going to cause more accidents than the inappropriate passing you were trying to solve in the first place. So you need to implement some sort of controlled access to the highway, as they did on the 115. Typically you let people turn right onto and off of the highway, and you have some overpasses and underpasses so you can go past your target then turn around and come back to make a right turn. You also have a median of some kind so that people cannot turn left or make U turns.

Well, boy oh boy did that need studying. Should the median be a wide grassy strip between the north and southbound sections? That consumes a ton of land and would wipe out dozens of houses currently located along the highway. While that might seem to solve the pesky problem of driveways, it's not really a popular approach. Perhaps it should be a concrete wall? And those exits, should there be one at every corner with a sideroad? If it's only every other corner or so, how do you decide who gets them? And you know the corners tend to have houses on them. Maybe the exits should be between the roads? Study, study, study. Measure the traffic on the road now on a variety of different days over the years. Read the official plans of municipalities in the area to see where growth is planned, and guess what traffic will be some day. Count fatal accidents, which continue to occur.

Meanwhile the rural areas the highway goes through were amalgamated into the City of Kawartha Lakes. Meanwhile the Oak Ridges Moraine was defined and protected in law, which dramatically restricted some construction options. Meanwhile plans for the 407 were batted around that involved bringing it all the way out to the 35/115 split. (Update: the folks doing the 407 study have their web site up to date now.) So they kept having to adjust their study to cope with the world changing around them.

At some point somebody noticed that a big piece of the traffic on 35 was folks who were really on 7A. 7A coming East from Toronto meets 35, goes south a very short distance along 35, and then carries on east again. All those people have to turn left across 35 and that's part of the problem. So the highway study scope expands again, to include rerouting 7A to eliminate the jog. Half the population wants them to reroute it away from the school and arena so as not to worry about traffic for the kids, and half wants to be sure they don't cut the school off so we have to drive further to reach it or the kids have to get on the bus sooner for a longer bus ride. More studying. Roughly 20 different ways you could solve that particular problem.

Along the way they produce a TON of arial photographs all marked up with pink and yellow and white and green. Each suggested approach gets more and more complicated. They hold public information centres where people come and tell them "you can't do that, it will ruin this pond" or "you can't close that, we all use that road to get to the arena" and so they make even more complicated plans.

And now what has it become? You won't believe it unless you see it (and the website isn't up to date, so you could have only seen it by going to the public meeting.) It's going to cost a fortune, several houses will actually have to be bulldozed, and many many people will be losing stripes of their land, not only to the wider highway but to the "access roads" that will be built parallel to the highway so that we locals can drive from a road that doesn't get an exit north or south to some road that does get an exit so we can get on the highway. (These access roads don't particularly connect to each other though, which is probably deliberate to reduce traffic and to let them run the roads wherever happens to be convenient.) Countless roads closed, neighbours cut off from each other, even farmers cut off from their own land and needing a three or four mile detour to go to the other side of the highway.There were some very sad faces at the public information centre all right.

My opinion? This is a good time for someone to step back from the huge pile of coloured pictures and say "what is the problem we were trying to solve again?" It has grown out of control and needs to be made simple once again. My only consolation is that it will probably be 20 years till they build it and I hope to be even further from the big city by the time all that rolls around. Yet each step and decision along the way was logical and grew from the current circumstances. This is how projects spiral into huge and unmanageable monsters that end up not helping anyone. It's as true for software as for anything else.

Kate

Wednesday, 31 May 2006 07:58:42 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, 25 May 2006

I came across a page full of pictures that play with perspective and scale:

The artist's page gives you thumbnails that don't always show the cool part of the picture. This fan page has a whole pile of them all one after another to get you started seeing how they work. There are more at the artist's page though, plus instructions on how you can buy prints, so even if you start at the fan page, you should end up at the artist's page. According to Wikipedia and another article I found recently, he's a Canadian who illustrates children's books and wins awards for it. That explains all the snow, moonlight, and autumn leaves, I guess :-).

Kate

Thursday, 25 May 2006 11:37:17 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 23 May 2006

If you don't subscribe to the Flash, you really should. It's an email notification about upcoming events, training, webcasts, case studies, and other information sources. You can personalize it so you only get information you care about, and you'll always be "in the loop" about upcoming opportunities.

Right now, they're running a pair of contests around the Flash:

  • New subscribers to MSDN Flash who sign up before June 28 2006 are entered into a draw for a $16,800 desktop prize package.

  • Existing subscribers (like me) who personalize their subscription before June 28, 2006 could win a $5,000 Microsoft Training Package.

Not bad, eh? Just the other day someone asked me "how do you find all these webcasts and things?" The Flash is how.

Kate

 

Tuesday, 23 May 2006 10:22:57 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, 20 May 2006

I first saw this idea at http://www.flourish.org/upsidedownmap/:

You can see a whole pile of these "upside down" maps there and learn about some "sideways" ones as well. Of course there's no reason why north has to be at the top all the time (unless you want to use the map to navigate, and even then it's likely you'll rotate the map nine ways to Sunday, the issue is just in which rotation the words are right side up.)

I found a page that sells a variety of maps... I think I want a lot of these ones :-)

Kate

Saturday, 20 May 2006 08:30:56 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 17 May 2006

At the end of next week, May 26th to be precise, we're going to give a free "What is SharePoint" seminar in Peterborough. We'll be focusing on what it can do "out of the box" and demonstrating how much functionality you get for free. So if you know someone who lives northeast of Toronto (or feels like a Friday afternoon headstart to the cottage) please do pass the details along. It's from 2:30 to 4:00, it doesn't cost anything but we would like you to register, and we'd love to see you (or your friend or client) there.

http://www.gregcons.com/seminar2006.htm for details.

Kate

ps: no C++, I promise :-)

Wednesday, 17 May 2006 22:54:17 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, 23 March 2006

It looks like I never added an entry about speaking at Devteach. I just made my travel plans to get there. I love taking the train to Montreal -- I'll end up within walking distance of the conference hotel, save time compared to flying, and travel in comfort the whole way.

Devteach is a delightful conference with a friendly atmosphere. I count 8 RDs among the speakers list, plus a whole pile of MVPs, Julie, and some of my favourite Microsoft people... DEs mostly. There is one track in French and the rest of the talks (about a hundred) are all in English.

My talks are:

  • Moving C++ applications to the CLR
  • The Future is Concurrent

There's plenty for everyone: web, smart client, data, security, patterns and practices, testing, Team Systems, architecture -- if it's a development topic, someone is speaking on it. On top of that the conference hosts the Canadian User Group Leader Summit (and gives user group members a discount on attendance - contact your user group leader for a code) and the Canadian Regional Director Summit. It's a great place to meet the stars of the Canadian developer community, and a number of folks from the American northeast who love to come up to Montreal. See you there!

Kate

Thursday, 23 March 2006 07:25:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, 20 February 2006

Visual Studio Team Systems is a huge product... diagramming tools, code generators, source control, work item tracking, project management, documentation generators, and much more besides. Some people I know have already decided to adopt VSTS because of one set of features, but really don't know how to use some of the other features. Others are still undecided about whether they want it, or which "stack" - tester, architect, developer, or all three in the Suite product - they want.

Why not attend a two-hour session that will help you to see what you can do with this amazing technology?

City Date Link
Mississauga February 22nd Register
Vancouver March 2nd Register
Mississauga March 21st Register
Ottawa Apr 19th Register
Calgary May 17th Register
Toronto June 21st Register

The abstract I received says "This session is intended to provide an introduction to Visual Studio Team System, highlight the new functionality and business value in each offering, and outline the transition steps for existing Visual Studio and MSDN customers. We will also demonstrate Visual Studio Team System in action." Why not check it out while there are still spaces available?

Kate

 

Monday, 20 February 2006 17:47:56 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [2]
# Friday, 03 February 2006

One of the main "deliverables" of a code camp is to attract attendees who don't normally go to conferences, launches, or even user group meetings. Another is to attract first time speakers. I love seeing "that look" on someone's face, when they are fresh off the stage, they gave their talk, the demos worked and they are still alive! Little do they know they're hooked at that point :-).

Here are some blog entries by brand new speakers at the Toronto Code Camp:

  • Paul Scarlett wrote to DotNetRocks about the experience... his link is to Carl reading the letter and then Carl and Richard talking about how terrific we all are :-). If you poke around elsewhere in his blog you will find various other postings describing the speaking experience for Paul.
  • Shaun Hayward blogs about his Code Camp experience... he liked it so much he's the speaker for February's meeting of the East of Toronto .NET User Group. (Register now!)

Congratulations guys, and welcome to the club!

Kate

Friday, 03 February 2006 12:58:47 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [2]
# Thursday, 02 February 2006

Let's say for the sake of argument that you own a small Canadian business and you are about to employ a child of yours to work in that business. You know that you don't deduct Employment Insurance (EI) premiums from yourself, because you own more than 40% of the company. But what about your child? So you search a little and you find two official government websites (.gc.ca means Government of Canada .ca). Here is what they say:

http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/asp/gateway.asp?hr=/en/ei/information/self_employed.shtml&hs=tyt:

Family members in the family enterprise

If you are a family member, i.e. spouse or child, paid as an employee by the family enterprise —business or farm— you are like any other worker and can be paid EI benefits, as long as you meet the requirements for regular or maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits.

http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pub/tg/t4001/t4001-06-e.html#P483_48714:

Employment, benefits and payments not subject to EI premiums

Excluded employment

Even if there is a contract of service, employment is not insurable and is not subject to EI premiums in the following situations:

  • casual employment if it is not for your usual trade or business;
  • employment when you and your employee do not deal with each other at arm's length. There are two main categories of employees who could be affected: related persons and non-related persons.
    • Related persons: These are individuals connected by blood relationship, marriage, common-law relationship, or adoption. In cases where the employer is a corporation, the employee will be related to the corporation when the employee is related to a person who either controls the corporation or is a member of a related group that controls the corporation.

That's right, HRSDC Canada says go ahead and deduct, your kids are just like anyone else and they will be eligible. But CRA-ARC, which is the organization that will punish you if you get this wrong, says don't deduct.

What do you do? You might consider phoning the government. This will be entertaining in a way, what with listening to the hold music, playing voice mail hell, and listening to government employees say "oh gee I didn't know that", but not what you might call educational. But after several such phone calls, you can discover that it is possible to request a written ruling from the tax people. And then you resolve to do whatever the ruling says to do and stop worrying your pretty little head about what makes sense or what is right. And take some satisfaction, if you're that kind of person, in knowing that many of the "I didn't know that" guys have promised to show their boss the contradictory information.

Kate

Thursday, 02 February 2006 17:15:52 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Monday, 16 January 2006

Code Camp was a blast! Some pictures are starting to show up on the web site. I had a jam-packed room, I think word must have got out there was no C++ in my talk :-). But I had some time at the end so I am going to adapt this talk a bit for DevTeach and put some C++ into it :-)

Chris and Jean-Luc did a fantastic job getting volunteers and running the event - and they both spoke, too! It was also fun to reconnect with Val Matison who first got me up in front of an audience doing a technical presentation... more years ago than I care to figure out right now. I couldn't stay all day but the energy was great, the logistics were working well and I think everyone involved deserves a big round of applause!

Kate

Monday, 16 January 2006 09:20:40 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Friday, 13 January 2006

I'm so looking forward to tomorrow's Code Camp! Bright and early on Saturday morning I'll be down at Yonge and Bloor with hundreds of other geeky people. Many will be attending their first ever technical event, and many of the speakers will be on stage for the first time too. It promises to be a real rush.

Seems like as good a place as any to thank the contributors who are making it possible:

    
     
  

I put links around the logos, so if there's a company there you're not familiar with, get familiar! These are the leading lights of developer community effort in the Toronto area.

Kate

Friday, 13 January 2006 12:14:59 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [2]
# Sunday, 08 January 2006

The December lull is past, for sure. Here's where I'm headed in the next month or so:

  • January 11th, CNY .NET Users Group, Syracuse NY, Windows Forms: Deploying Applications with ClickOnce: Advanced Topics
  • January 14th, Toronto Code Camp, Yonge and Bloor, The Future is Concurrent
  • January 17th, Regina .NET Users Group, Regina Saskatchewan, Managing the Software Lifecycle with Visual Studio 2005 Team System
  • January 18th, Saskatoon .NET Users Group, Saskatoon Saskatchewan, Managing the Software Lifecycle with Visual Studio 2005 Team System
  • February 7th, SouthColorado .NET, Colorado Springs CO, TBD but probably the ClickOnce talk
  • February 8th, TRINUG, Cary NC, TBD but probably the ClickOnce talk 

That should keep me from being bored, eh?

Kate

Sunday, 08 January 2006 11:12:37 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, 03 November 2005

I promised my South African friends that I would show them how our autumn compared to their spring. We have our own beauty here and while we're pretty much giraffe-free, there are charms in this northern landscape. These pictures were all taken within minutes of my home on one of the many walks and rambles we do. Gregory Consulting board meetings are quite often held under an arch of golden leaves; it's one of the things I like about living this way.

 

Kate

Thursday, 03 November 2005 08:02:34 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [3]
# Wednesday, 12 October 2005

I just registered for the global launch in San Francisco November 7th:

(Yes, I will be in Las Vegas that whole week to speak at C++ Connections. I'm just going to the launch on Monday and then to Vegas.)

If a flight to SF is out of the question, why not see if you can get into one of the Canadian dates?

November 8 Toronto
November 10 Ottawa
November 15 Edmonton
November 17 Victoria
November 22 Vancouver
November 24 Calgary
November 29 Montreal
December 1 Quebec
December 6 Halifax
December 8 Winnipeg

http://www.microsoft.com/canada/launch2005/default.aspx has all the details and registration links.

Didn't act soon enough? Didn't think a launch event could sell out? Watch for announcements of user group launch events through the fall.

Kate

 

Wednesday, 12 October 2005 14:11:01 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2]
# Monday, 10 October 2005

The Code Camp web site is up and running and ready for you to sign up!

  • Want to speak? Get the speaker registration form and send it in.
  • Want to volunteer behind the scenes! Please do, we need as many of those volunteers as speakers.
  • None of the above, but you're planning to attend? Get registered before the spots all go.

See you there!

Kate

 

Monday, 10 October 2005 13:22:06 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, 01 October 2005

I fly quite a lot. Over the first six months of this year (I pretty much stopped travelling after TechEd USA) i flew 25,000 miles. That's not a lot compared to those who reach Air Canada Super Elite status at 100,000 miles (a handful even fly 300,000 miles a year) but it felt like a lot to me. I'm about to fly another 30,000 in just a few weeks... to South Africa and back, then a week later to Las Vegas and back. But it's nothing compared to what someone I know is up to.

Air Canada is selling an "unlimited" North America travel pass. $7000 gets you all the flights you can stand in October and November. A fellow Flyertalker with two months off has bought one and is trying to get the maximum possible mileage from it. Because he's already Super Elite, he gets a 50% bonus on every mile he flies, and there's a promotion on to get a 25% bonus as well (I earned a 542 mile bonus to and from LA for the PDC). Add in threshold bonuses and he has determined he is going to earn a million Aeroplan miles for just $7,000  ... and two solid months of his time. Most of it will be up front, thanks to the upgrade certificates he's going to earn as he goes, and his status moving him to the front of the line for "op-ups" on full flights. His sleep, what there is of it, will be exclusively on overnight transcontinental flights.

He's blogging his progress... a must read!

Kate

Update: there are now four Flyertalkers doing this, but Marc is the one blogging it. Today he mentioned on FT: "I was home last night, had dinner with family. Leaving at 820 am. Its a job like any other. I am home 4 nights a week. On overnight trips the other three."

Saturday, 01 October 2005 18:38:40 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 11 September 2005

We're having a CODE CAMP in Toronto in January! I'm so excited! A Code Camp is a very different kind of community event, and one that can only happen when you have a strong and vibrant developer community. If you've never heard of it, check the Code Camp Manifesto or just Google for it and find people saying things like this:

"the buzz from Atlanta Code Camp is starting to wear off a bit and let me just say I had a great time."

"I laughed, I cried, I found a bunch of new tools to use."

"When I asked him if it was as good as a commercial conference he said that he thought so.  Perhaps even better.  And that comes from a guy who was just at TechEd 6 weeks ago."

Now the deal with Code Camps is that they ALWAYS:

  • Are free
  • Are held outside business hours (typically a weekend)
  • Feature a great variety of speakers and topics (except no marketing fluff allowed)
  • Provide an opportunity to speak for the first time

Many Code Camp attendees have never been to a daytime or paid-attendance event - we don't all work for companies that make that possible, after all. If you've been to plenty of such events, you might consider speaking at this one: an hour on something you know well because you're doing it at work isn't hard at all, really. This is a great chance to "crossover" to the other side of the microphone. If you haven't been to lots of these events -- you've never been able to get to a DevDays or a VSLive, or heaven forbid something out of town with actual travel expenses -- plan now to set aside a weekend in January to fill your brain with free technical content and get to know the developer community in the Toronto area.

Toronto is a large city, over 3 million people, and the "Greater Toronto Area" supports a LOT of user groups:

And out of all these people, who is spearheading the Code Camp initiative? My two co-executives from the East Of Toronto group, that's who! I'm very proud of that. The GTA is full of good organizers and speakers (and has three Regional Directors on top of that) and I know we will be able to put on an amazing day. Right now Jean-Luc is finding a location and sponsors (or Contributors as Code Camp likes to call them) and shortly he'll be gathering speakers. You should use his blog to get in touch. My firm is sponsoring for sure: a Code Camp is a really low-cost event to put on and reaches a number of developers other events never do.

Kate

ps: I wanted to say that this would be the first Code Camp outside the USA, but once again Derek Hatchard has shown what a star he is: there will be a Code Camp in Atlantic Canada just next month. Go Derek!

Update: They've had them in the UK too (http://www.developerday.co.uk/ddd/default.asp ... Benjamin Mitchell is the RD involved in those) and in Australia (www.codecampoz.com.)

Sunday, 11 September 2005 10:42:25 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, 11 August 2005

This is a cool little service, “Not Endorsed nor Authorized by Google in any way”, that lets readers show me where you are. Go on, zoom and pan and whatever till you find your location, then double-click to add your little face icon to the map.

Inspired, as I so often am, by Scott Hanselman.

Kate

Thursday, 11 August 2005 09:41:05 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, 11 July 2005

The French Canadian version of DotNet Rocks is BlaBla dotNet. Recently Mario Cardinal prowled the halls at DevTeach asking speakers and other well known folks to give ONE good reason for switching to VS 2005. Just one! What a challenge! The answers he collected are in English, so even though the Eric-and-Mario banter around the quotes is in French, you can understand the show even if you're monolingual. In the banter, you can hear people's names, book titles, occasional familiar words, and delightful phrases like “Superstars de monde de développement” or “bloggeuse très prolifique” (that one for Julie Lerman and I just adore bloggeuse and will try to use it whenever I can) and various stuff you probably need at least grade school French for but that I can just follow, and then someone speaks in English about VS 2005 cool features.

When Mario cornered me, he told me a big surprise for him was the lack of duplicates. Mostly we all picked very different features, so by listening to us all you get a real sense of the treats that are waiting for you. You might also spend some time thinking about describing an elephant if you only get to touch one small part of it :-)

Kate

Monday, 11 July 2005 09:57:26 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, 03 June 2005

Twenty RDs, plus Don Box and Jesper Johansson, are doing the charity auction thing again. This time it's restricted to Tech Ed speakers. The gory details are on Stephen Forte's blog. Ebay link real soon now.

Kate

Friday, 03 June 2005 18:09:57 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, 27 May 2005

Yesterday my Ascend day started with a lab, not lecture, so I was pleasantly surprised to arrive half an hour before it started to discover three or four people settled into the room already. I told them I was glad to have a few keeners in the class and got nothing but puzzled looks for my trouble. It seems it's a Canadian slang that hasn't spread very far. Tonight I Googled a little - it's hard, because it's a commonish last name, plus people insist on taking “a keener look” or having “a keener focus” and the like. But the only sites I could find that used it to mean “someone who studies way harder than everyone else, does all their homework, and always puts schoolwork above leisure, socializing or sleep” were Canadian ones.

Who knew?

Was I a keener as an undergrad? Oh yes. But I was in Engineering, rich in keeners depite the hard-partying image. I wasn't the keenest of them all or anything like that. :-) It's served me in good stead, though. You would be amazed what you can do with your brain if you're just determined to do it.

Kate

Friday, 27 May 2005 22:46:24 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 17 May 2005

With the seven-city Smart Client Deep Dive tour done, I thought it would be appropriate to summarize my upcoming speaking and training schedule.

  • May 23-26. Ascend Training (Smart Client Track) Redmond, WA. Teaching Microsoft people and special guests (MVPs, RDs, partners) all about Smart Clients (VSTO, WinForms, and more) in Whidbey.
  • June 3. Ascend Training (one day ultra condensed) Orlando, FL. This is a pre-conference event for Academic Days at Tech Ed.
  • June 6-10. Tech Ed USA,  Orlando FL. Two talks (Monday morning and Tuesday morning - both are C++ talks and who would go to only one of them? See the new syntax, new optimizations, new power for an old friend - search for DEV330 and DEV331), one panel lunch (women in technology), and helping out with the way cool thing the RDs are doing that I can't quite discuss yet.
  • June 18-19. DevTeach, Montreal Quebec. A Canadian User Group Leader get-together, and my two C++ talks glued into one “What's New in C++“ presentation.
  • October 23-26, Tech Ed Africa, Sun City South Africa. OK, I'm not officially accepted as a speaker yet but I'm pretty sure I'll be there, topics TBD.
  • Nov 7-10. C++ Connections, Las Vegas, NV. How real customers are moving to the new C++.

This is just the stuff I'm on stage for. I'm planning to be in the audience at either or both of the PDC and the MVP Summit, both in September.  And oh yeah, I have a company to run and some projects to finish. Gotta dash!

Kate

Tuesday, 17 May 2005 10:39:50 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 15 May 2005

The government of Ontario simplifies procurement by using Vendor of Record lists. If a Ministry or Agency is planning a certain kind of work, they use these lists rather than “the entire world” to locate a vendor. It's pretty fine company to be in: only 78 vendors qualified for our other VOR list, for Electronic Service Delivery.

This list, VOR-1005-04, is for “Task Based IT Consulting Services” and you can see all the vendors at http://www.ppitpb.gov.on.ca/mbs/psb/psb.nsf/english/vorlist-e.html#VOR-1005-04 - 137 in all, and some pretty big names (Microsoft Canada, say, or IBM Canada for that matter) mixed in with ours.

Kate

Sunday, 15 May 2005 20:49:04 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, 09 May 2005

This weekend was a rarity in that I did very little work-work, as in “for the business”. It was, however, action-packed, featuring:

  • Three overnight guests
  • One continental breakfast in bed
  • Two brunches
  • One putting up of the large screened tent that covers my back deck (summer mornings in the screened tent with coffee and a laptop... deleting overnight spam becomes almost pleasant)
  • One pool installation
  • One barbeque-themed dinner (is there anything nicer than hot grilled vegetables?)
  • One two-hour bike ride

Never mind what the calendar says, that was clearly a summer weekend. It was shorts weather, more than hot enough to be messing around getting wet as part of readying the pool, and that two hour ride could fit in after dinner thanks to longer days and warmer afternoons. Very nice. Now, back to work for me!

Kate

Monday, 09 May 2005 07:13:39 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 06 April 2005

So, just how much do you know about the Base Class Libraries? About C# or VB? About moving to .NET from the unmanaged world? Think you know a lot? Wish you knew a lot? Well how about this for a contest: you answer questions about .NET development, and as long as you're getting every question right, you're in the running for TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS. Canadian currency. Oh, and if you don't know that much... the learning modules will take care of it for you. You can learn the stuff as you work through the contest. Even after you've been knocked out of the running for the grand prize, you can still win module prizes. You want to be part of this. I'm not eligible, or I would have entered already. A fun chance to show off, to learn, and to win a book or an XBox or a whole whack of cash money. What's not to like? Go, enter!

Kate

Wednesday, 06 April 2005 15:22:24 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Friday, 18 March 2005

I went over to the MSDN Canada site to get some question of mine answered, and got completely distracted by today's poll. The results as of this morning:

Hmmm....

Kate

Friday, 18 March 2005 11:33:02 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, 17 March 2005

I'm a little late getting this blog posting up... I kind of had to recover from the event. Sam rolled into town in the early afternoon and what a blast! The pre-event agenda was gossip, code names, and assorted gems I will not be sharing. Plus great sushi -- in Whitby, much to my surprise -- and plenty of geek talk. For the event itself we were in a new venue and had to sort out some logistics around projecting and such, but it worked in the end. We had about double our usual attendance. I have never seen so much note-taking! Then when the crowd left, it was time for beer and more discussion, until the dreaded “you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.” Time for Sam to meet a true Canadian institution... Tim Hortons :-). Other blog entries on the evening: Eli, Sam, and Jean-Luc. Though I notice Sam neglected to mention that he actually likes C++/CLI :-).

If you're an INETA speaker and you haven't come to my group yet, you don't know the fun you're missing. Just say the word, and I'll request you. And if you live within an hour or two's drive of Oshawa or Whitby, and haven't been to a meeting yet, resolve right now to come to the next one. It may not feature beer, but you'll be glad you came.

Kate

Thursday, 17 March 2005 14:48:07 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, 14 February 2005

For several months now, I've been plagued by unexpected language changes while I'm typing. I'll type one character, maybe a quote or a question mark, and I'll get a really strange character instead, say a capital E with an accent on it. I came to realize that it was the language settings, and I keep the language bar on my toolbar so I can flip back to English whenever this strange thing happens. But I didn't know why it was happening, and I found stopping what I was doing to mouse over to the bar and click back to the language I wanted very frustrating.

Well, now I know what was going on! ALT-SHIFT rotates through the languages. I'm a huge ALT-TAB user, and I ALT-SHIFT-TAB when I need to cycle backwards through that list. I also use a fair amount of other ALT-things, like ALT-A to bring up the favourites menu in IE, then arrow keys to choose an item. I really prefer the keyboard to the mouse. Well I guess every once in a while an ALT-SHIFT gets through to the language bar and flips my language. So now when I go to type a URL and see ццц I can quickly make it right.

Лфеу (er, Kate)

Monday, 14 February 2005 18:41:55 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [3]
# Thursday, 10 February 2005

OK, I did the blogmap thing:

http://www.csthota.com/blogmap/

This is my Peterborough office, not that I'm there very often...

Kate

Thursday, 10 February 2005 18:08:19 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 01 February 2005

110.00, 107.50, 105.00, 102.50, 101.00, 100.00

What do these numbers have in common? They are losing bids for the consultant auction :-). Time is running out, the auction closes tomorrow morning, 9am Eastern, and now is the time to boost your bid and catapult yourself up the list! Lowest winning bid at the moment is $120... let's drive it up!

Kate

Tuesday, 01 February 2005 18:01:23 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, 31 January 2005

Apparently some people are hesitant about bidding on the auction in case they win. I know the feeling, do I have enough tough questions to justify an hour of Richter or Prosise time, do I have my act together on Web Services and Interop enough to grill Michele on them properly...

Relax. You don't have to think of it that way. Whoever you win, fire us an email with something that's been bugging you. Like “can you really explain this whole destructors in C++ when it's managed code and the object I'm using wasn't even written in C++?” Or like some of the old emails I cleared out this last week: “how can I uninstall a service?” “how do I restrict forms authentication in ASP.NET to only some folders? How can I force a logout when they browse from a secured to an open page?” and “why am I getting this linker error?”. Maybe that uses up 10 or 20 minutes. Fine, next time you have a toughy like that, send it along. By the time you use up your whole hour, you'll probably have become a friend/colleague/former client who can send questions like that once in a while for the rest of your life.

Or, how about this? Take a look at the talks your selected consultant has prepped for upcoming conferences (get us to send you the abstracts we've submitted) and have us deliver a private session of a useful talk to your whole company over LiveMeeting. There's a free LiveMeeting trial going on, and the talks have to be prepped anyway, so your hour would just be the delivery of the talk, to as many of your colleagues as you can get online at once. So it might end up 90 minutes, we don't mind.

You can't lose! Hell, even if you use your hour to take one of us for a drink the next time we're in the same city, what really counts is you gave $100 or $150 or $200 to help people who have NO clothes, NO books, NO walls around them.... this is a FUNDRAISER so come on, let's raise some funds!

Kate

Monday, 31 January 2005 09:40:55 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 26 January 2005

I am learning a lot about how EBay works. In IM with Adam and Julie I think I have figured it out. Let's say you went right now to bid on the auction (good for you!) and you bid $200. Not “$100 now and if I need to then automatically raise me to $200” but just flat out $200. Your bid would still appear as $100. Why? Because there are 30 items available and so far only 27 have been bid for. Once there are more than 30 bids, we will start to see real bids and not just the minimum. So come on, go bid. Believe me you will get more than $100 value no matter who you get, and you'll be helping a good cause.

Kate

Wednesday, 26 January 2005 12:25:02 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 23 January 2005
Sunday, 23 January 2005 13:20:33 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, 22 January 2005

Stephen Forte has posted a voluminous update that includes links to all our blogs and little bios of us all, in case there are one or two you haven't heard of. Check it out.

Kate

Saturday, 22 January 2005 12:43:24 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, 21 January 2005

Here's a blog entry by the surfers I mentioned yesterday explaining some of what they're up to and how desparately it's needed. And Julie has a delightful picture of them, too.

Julie is still getting our ducks in a row with EBay. As you can imagine, you can't just hold an auction and claim it's a fundraiser -- what a fraud opportunity.that would be! There are letters and faxes and suchlike to make sure that everybody is on the up and up. The good news is that because EBay and Paypal are doing this, you can be confident your money (you are going to bid, aren't you?) is going where we say its going. The bad news is I don't have an EBay link yet :-)

Kate

Friday, 21 January 2005 08:46:04 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, 20 January 2005

An absolutely stellar group of people, dubbed by Julie Lerman to be .NET Celebrities, have come together to offer up our tiny little bit of help for those whose lives, homes, loved ones, livelihoods, and dreams were washed away on Boxing Day of last year. The immediate “if we don't get fresh water in there they will all die” crisis is past, but there is so much rebuilding work to be done. The agency we've selected is Aceh Aid at IDEP which is local to Sumatra and has been on the ground since the waves hit. This is a nimble and creative group that, for example, teamed up with the surfing community to get boats into the worst hit places while large outside groups couldn't figure out how to reach them. It's going to be an EBay auction with payment through PayPal directly to a US foundation that supports IDEP -- that way for US-based people it will be tax deductible for sure. I am working on an answer for Canadians on that. Of course if your company spends the money to get the advice, then your company can deduct it as an expense, just the same as if you wrote me a cheque for my time.

There are 25 of us up for auction. Top bidder gets their pick of Jeffrey Richter, John Robbins, Jeff Prosise, Michele Leroux Bustamante, Jonathan Goodyear, Andrew Brust, Richard Campbell, Adam Cogan, Malek Kemmou, Jackie Goldstein, Goskin Bakir, Hector M Obregon, Patrick Hynds, Fernando Guerrero, Kate Gregory, Joel Semeniuk, Scott Hanselman, Barry Gervin, Clemens Vasters, Jorge Oblitas, Stephen Forte, John Lam, Deborah Kurata, Ted Neward and Kathleen Dollard. Wow! (And like I need to link to their blogs -- you know who these people are!) Most are friends of mine already, 18 are RDs, 5 are Canadian, all are top notch .NET stars who know their stuff and are in the habit of solving problems for people.

So what we are auctioning is one hour of mentoring. Phone, IM, email, whatever. (We won't fly out to you.) If you're the top bidder, you get whoever you want from that list. Second bidder chooses from the still stellar list remaining. And so on.

Most of us are consultants so you could theoretically buy our time. But that's in theory. My firm doesn't take one hour jobs. We don't really like to take one day jobs. Our preference for mentoring work is to take a $5000 retainer and let you know when you've used most of it up and need to send more. (We make exceptions for some work that's really technically interesting and fun, but we still need to be confident it will go on for a while.) I expect it's a similar situation for the others. That means we're offering something you otherwise couldn't buy. I want you to keep that in mind, then go bid more (a lot more) than you think an hour of my time is worth. The money goes to those who need it, you get a deduction, and you get some important business problem solved. Can't fail!

I'll post a link to the auction as soon as it's live.

Kate

Thursday, 20 January 2005 10:17:23 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 16 January 2005

I have these friends, a married couple who are both paramedics -- the people who show up in an ambulance while the building is still on fire or the bad guy is still maybe inside with a weapon, and help you when you need it most. One works in the Peterborough area where I live, and the other commutes regularly to Toronto. Well this week, he's not in Toronto, he's in Sri Lanka, to help people who most surely need help. They were going to go on vacation somewhere sunny: instead he's gone to help and she's holding down the fort at home. I am so impressed by people like that.

Here's some news coverage from CTV, interviewing three of the four, but not my friend.

Think geeks like you and me can't help? Think again. Look at what Julie has been up to. The same skills we can sell to clients around the world we can also give to aid organizations. Watch this space for my tiny little bit.

Kate

Sunday, 16 January 2005 21:57:24 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Thursday, 23 December 2004

I live in the Canadian countryside, so it snows in the winter and I generally consider that a feature. But we're in the middle of a 12-inches-in-24-hours blizzard right now, with bits of freezing rain mixed in. Take a look at this radar image from the Environment Canada website:

I've never seen the whole circle filled in, and I've never seen orange for snow before. This is really something!

Now I just have to find a way to get to Peterborough for the Gregcons Christmas lunch and a little last minute shopping.

Kate

Update: here's the view from my front door:

The horizontallish thing in the foreground is a picnic table... the seats are about knee height from the grass.

Thursday, 23 December 2004 08:37:06 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, 25 November 2004

I'll be at the December 2nd meeting of the Canada's Technology Triangle .NET User Group to show everyone Smart Clients, VSTO, and Infopath. I did this session in Winnipeg and saw Derek Hatcher do it in Toronto so I know it has good content. Please register at http://www.cttdnug.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=68 and come out to the meeting. My only worry, based on the many years I spent living in that area, is that I'll have to drive in a blizzard. But we aren't going to let a little snow stop us, are we?

Kate

Thursday, 25 November 2004 07:22:40 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 02 November 2004

 

I'm going to kick off the Smart Client User Group Tour with a talk in Winnipeg. I'm expecting a slight contrast between South Africa in late October and Winnipeg in early November :-). The talk is November 10th, details on the Winnipeg UG site.


 

Kate

Tuesday, 02 November 2004 16:23:13 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Thursday, 30 September 2004

It must be the user group :-)

Apparently the number one city to move to in all of Canada last year was Oshawa. I heard the head of chamber of commerce on the radio tonight and had to laugh when he listed one of the big assets of Oshawa is that it's close the Kawartha Lakes (I live in Kawartha Lakes and honestly I prefer it to Oshawa.) Oshawa is not a grimy industrial town, it's pretty and clean and friendly. And if you want to see what all the fuss is about, come to our next meeting, October 19th, and come a little early so you can look around the town.

http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1096495811790&call_pageid=968332188492&col=968793972154

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2004/09/29/648677-cp.html

Kate

Thursday, 30 September 2004 21:24:46 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Thursday, 23 September 2004

The INETA Speakers bureau, divided into North American, European, and Latin American bureaus, is a wonderful thing. I'm honoured to be part of it, and to speak at user groups across North America. So far, I've spoken at as many Canadian groups through the bureau as at American ones, but that's a little unusual. Some Canadian groups are still looking for speakers, toplevel exciting great speakers, to come to their meetings. So MSDN Canada is setting up a Canadian equivalent. My Canadian group will now get to pull speakers from two pools -- and I will get invitations from two sets of audiences. That sounds like a great plan!

More details, speaker bios, and so on are at http://msdn.microsoft.com/canada/speakers/. For those old enough to remember Bob and Doug MacKenzie, a themed announcement is available. Most speakers are MVPs and RDs. If you're active in .NET in Canada, you should know these people -- it's like a crash course on the .NET Canadians. (And yes, I know a few Americans have snuck in there. But just the ones we like :-). )

Kate

Thursday, 23 September 2004 10:05:41 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 18 August 2004

For a long time now, I've been using mapquest.com for maps of places I am going to. I have no real complaints with it, so I haven't been looking to see what else there is. Sure, it's a little annoying that I have to click Maps when I first get there if I want a Canadian map, and then there's a really annoying refresh when you choose Canada and it changes State to Province, which can wipe out everything you typed if you're on a slow line, but those are pretty minor, really.

Last night Dwayne was talking about Mappoint Location Server, which is an enterprise-focused technology for seeing where your people or deliveries or whatnot are, using a map, but of course he showed a lot of Mappoint maps along the way. And you know what? They're nice-looking. Really nice-looking.

So tonight someone phoned me to ask where a particular building was, and said Mapquest couldn't find the address she gave it. (Turned out she was spelling the street incorrectly so no marks off to Mapquest on that.) I tried Mappoint and -wow! These are beautiful maps that get more beautiful as you drill in.

drills to

It felt a little more dial-up friendly, too. The printable map is especially nice. Mapquest reduces the amount of chrome when you go for a printable map, but not to zero. At least for now the printable Mappoint map is pretty much chrome-free. I tried a few places where the streets are denser (downtown Toronto) and liked that, too.

For now it seems to be North America only, so I'll use MapQuest for my Europe planning. Up to now I've been using a 40 year old atlas for that, which is working fine really since London, Paris, Venice etc tend not to move around and I only need to know things like how far apart they are. Sooner or later I'll want a touch more detail, and Internet maps are perfect for that.

[Update Sept 23rd: Europe is in there. I'm a 100% Mappoint girl now...]

 Kate
Wednesday, 18 August 2004 22:37:24 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 04 August 2004

I get a lot of fake bounce messages these days, either because mail that was spoofed as being from me has bounced or because viruses are pretending to be bounce messages. I also get a fair number of OOF and vacation messages from strangers, for much the same reasons I suppose. I ignore them, and usually delete them unread. But this one I read, because it had no attachment and I didn't know what the subject (Congés) meant. What I found is worthy of mention:

Bonjour,

Je serais de retour de congés le 23 août 2004.

En mon absence, je vous invite à contacter Steve xxxxxxxxx (xxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxx.fr).

Coordonnées du standard : 01 41 97 xx xx

Je me tiens à votre disposition à mon retour.

Cordialement,

didier

(I elided the name and email of the standin, Steve, and the phone number.) Just look at the phrasing! He invites me to contact Steve. He's going to put himself at my disposition on his return. He even signs it Cordially! Is it just that the French language lends itself to that kind of phrasing, or is didier a truly gracious person? I'll never know. But if I ever get a vacation, I think I will be wording my message a little differently now...

Kate

Wednesday, 04 August 2004 10:18:56 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 28 July 2004

Almost two months ago now, Joel Semeniuk blogged about responding to RFPs and how awful it is. The thing is, it's really hard to keep a business larger than one person afloat without ever responding to them. And once in a while, you get the contract, which is fantastic but keeps you from blogging :-).

Gregory Consulting is in the midst of not one but two contracts landed through RFPs right now, and I just can't help myself, I'm responding to another, this to get on a Vendor of Record list for, er, a major provincial government. About two years ago this ministry built a list and the RFP had a due date for responses of December 23rd. The first  Q & A session was full of questions about the deadline, would it be postponed, and the answers were oh no, absolutely not, there's plenty of time for you to make a good response in that time. Every Q & A after that, the same question, the same answer. Until two weeks before the deadline when they announced a four week or so extension. So here we go again in 2004 and the due date was July 29th, and the Q & A literally complained “the government is ruining my vacation” and the answer was “we are ruining our own as well but there will be no extension.” Again and again people asked and were told the deadline was immutable.

I've been busy doing the work I landed but I settled down last night to pull the whole RFP package together so it could be printed and bound today and hand delivered tomorrow. And with a horrible sinking feeling I was realizing I had hours of work writing project profiles and filling out checklists. I got to the bit where you have to list all the addenda you have seen, popped up to merx to get the most recent addenda (I've been busy, remember?) and -- hey! This thing closes August 19th now!

At least I found out before I stayed up all night.

Kate

Wednesday, 28 July 2004 06:42:12 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 21 July 2004

Last night Adam Gallant came (from his sickbed) to speak on game and media development at the East of Toronto .NET User Group. For the summer, we meet in a snazzy new lecture hall at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Adam wanted to draw some diagrams -- with a pen, on paper. That's pretty low tech. But so everyone could see what he was doing, the room has a document camera hooked up to the projector. Fun toys!

You can see in the background there are both whiteboards and blackboards as well. It was never like this when I was a student (my University of Waterloo student number, which I still know, starts 77.)

It will really hurt to give up this room in September when the students come back. Sigh.

Kate

Wednesday, 21 July 2004 09:42:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, 05 July 2004

My Microsoft DE, Adam Gallant, is blogging about DevCan so I guess I can too. I'm co chairing two tracks.

What is it? Well it has tracks, so it must be a conference, right? And it has Can in the name, and a maple leaf in the logo, so it's in Canada. And we're planning it now, so it's not in July but nor is it in the spring of 2006.

Stay tuned...

Kate

Monday, 05 July 2004 11:00:59 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 26 May 2004

Today I did my webcast, sat on the panel for the Women In Technology Luncheon, and have been hanging in the Cabana ever since. The Cabanas are so cool! There are so many smart people here, and attendees come by with a problem and a tremendous concentration of smart people gather and solve the problem. And because of the location, everyone seems to come by. I am seeing old friends and listening to wonderful conversations. It's full of RDs, too.

If you're at TechEd and you haven't spent time in a Cabana yet, you really really have to. Trust me. The breakout sessions will be on the DVD. Come to the Cabana and even if you don't have a question, just listen in! There are presentations too, but sit close if you want to hear them.

(If you're here this afternoon, and wondering whose cell phone is playing O Canada, that would be me. It attracts Canadians remarkably well.)

Kate

Wednesday, 26 May 2004 21:20:37 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 25 May 2004

This year there are two flavours of speaker shirts at TechEd: the darker (more attractive, I think) blue belong to Microsoft people and the lighter ones to third parties -- that would be me. I wore one of mine today and since I have booth duty tomorrow (RD booth -- 49 and 50 in the Microsoft Pavilion in the Exhibit Hall, come on by) I'll be wearing the other one. I'm hoping to get a third shirt tomorrow. I don't know why I packed any of my own clothes, really, folks have been handing me shirts every time I turn around. No-one gives you pants as swag though. Too bad!

As well as the shirt, I have a slightly decorated badge:

I figure I might as well make myself easy to spot. So if you can't recognize me from the picture (upper left corner) on the bingo card, you can recognize my badge :-) Most of the RDs are wearing the Regional Director Program button also, and we tend to know where each other are. So if you still need a Forte or Huckaby signature, if you missed Clemens and Scott in the RD booth tonight, or left before Goksin arrived (oh yes, he did come by later!) then flag down any RD you see and ask us if we've seen the one you're missing.

I think I just about have one piece of badge bling for every category on my blog. I got an INETA card after I took the picture. I forgot to bring my MVP lapel pin, sorry MVP program.

And of course, I can relax and think about badges and shirts and such because I did my talk and it went well. I will try to get my code (and my slides for that matter) on CommNet.

Kate

C++ | Canadian Colour | INETA | Meta | MVP | RD | Speaking
Tuesday, 25 May 2004 02:06:35 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 19 May 2004

Finding your way around the new combined campus of Durham College, which has existed for decades, and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, which is brand new, is most certainly a challenge. As far as I can tell Durham has one giant building on the campus, a fractal called the Willey building and divided into wings and blocks named with letters (A, B, and then surprisingly JW.) The University buildings have stirring poetic names like UA1 (for University Academic) and the signs aren't up yet. Construction is everywhere, you have to use temporary roads, and the security guards don't know where the new buildings are. What fun!

Despite that, about 30 brave people managed to find us in UA1350, a super cool brand new lecture hall, and to hear Ed Musters talk about Garbage Collection. Shortly after I got home I learned we've got our official INETA status. Our name, at least for the moment, is East of Toronto .NET User Group. My next mission, since we have status and I've booked speakers until November, is to increase my swag inventory and to make the web site hum with downloads and information. And one attendee has already agreed to edit the campus maps to include the building we meet in :-)

Kate

Wednesday, 19 May 2004 07:02:54 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, 26 April 2004

The first meeting of the east of Toronto user group filled our room when up against serious competition in the form of a vital hockey game (hey, it is a Canadian user group, after all.) So I'm pleased to say that I have a room for the summer that holds TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY people. I rather doubt we'll fill that. I'll need a new room in September though, so drop me a line if you know of one.

And if you've joined my group (or someone else's) you can come to the special user group event at VSLive  on May 5th -- whether you've registered for VSLive or not! Then afterwards you can come to the VSLive Midnight Madness which actually starts at 8pm, again whether you've registered for VSLive or not. It's like a free peek at what VSLive is like, so you'll know for next year, and a user group event at the same time. We're going to have a round table featuring INETA speakers who are speaking at VSLive: me, Keith Pleas, Richard Hale Shaw,  and whoever else agrees to do it -- I'm not the only one who can line up speakers quickly, and this event is pulling together quickly.

You have to be a member of a user group, so if you plan to head to the Congress Centre in Toronto Wednesday night next week, join the group nearest you now, then register online. See you there!

Monday, 26 April 2004 22:27:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 21 April 2004

Whenever you hold a free event, whether it's a user group meeting, a Microsoft-sponsored event, or a free seminar, you can expect about 50% of those who register to show up. We had 30 people registered for last night's first meeting of my new user group. A lot of people told me “I would love to be there, but I already know “What is .NET?” and I am NOT missing this hockey game.” So we expected about 10.

Instead we got 33, it was standing room only and I didn't even care that my aging laptop, no doubt sensing the imminent arrival of its replacement, currently on a truck headed to me from the States, blue screened on about slide 5! I just talked while it rebooted.

Next month we will be in a bigger room! Go Oshawa! (And thanks Leafs after all: without the game more people would have come than we could have fit in the room.)

Wednesday, 21 April 2004 06:42:19 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Monday, 19 April 2004

And don't the stupid Maple Leafs, who clearly did not check with me before the game, go and lose last night, forcing a Game 7 which will be Tuesday -- my UG meeting!

Come on, east-of-Toronto people, you don't need to watch the game, we'll give you updates at the break or something. Or maybe it will go double-overtime again meaning you can watch the end when you get home.

Monday, 19 April 2004 10:12:19 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 30 March 2004

I read this morning that XP is gaining a free language pack for Inuktitut, one of the official languages in Nunavut. If you've never seen Windows and Office with the menus and toolbars in another language, you'd be surprised how much you notice all that text when it's not in a language you know. (My brother uses Windows in Japanese as often as he does in English.) Inuktitut is the first Canadian aboriginal language to gain a language pack and Nunavut officials say it will help them run their offices and also encourage young people to retain their language skills in both English and Inuktitut rather than drifting to English only as they enter working life. No dates announced, but expect the language pack in about a year.

Tuesday, 30 March 2004 09:02:03 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, 25 March 2004

My trip to  Montreal was tremendous fun. The venue was beautiful - Microsoft is moving offices so we were in a museum - and the people were interested and asked great questions. Remoting may be replaced with Indigo some day but it's a real technique and people are using it now. I enjoyed explaining it.

I took the train to Montreal because it's quicker than flying. It's about a four hour train ride, and a one hour flight, but there's so much other lining up and waiting involved with flying. For the train, I drive into the parking lot, park for free within sight of the tracks, walk a hundred yards or so to the platform, and get on the train. Not a single instance of lining up, ticket showing, name saying, bag unpacking and repacking, form filling or question answering. Then I go sit in first class with laptop power, free food and drink, and now free wireless internet access the whole way. (After a few minutes a person comes by to give me a menu, and later when he collects it back and asks what I want, he asks for my ticket.) I arrived downtown and walked to my hotel without going outside, and was only ten minutes from the venue. And to top it off, first class train travel is cheaper than economy flying. Cheaper, faster, and nicer. Can't go wrong, really.

 

Thursday, 25 March 2004 07:20:22 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]