Saturday, 24 February 2007
Man, the hits just keep on coming at Channel 9. This time it's Rico Mariani, nominally on performance but in my opinion really on how to have a successful career. Reminiscing about the University of Waterloo, computer stores in Toronto, the amazing Ontario Science Centre, and a Commodore PET (all things from my past though I didn't work at these places I just visited them) he somehow works into every sentence how being a nice person and wanting to help is a recipe for success. Later he starts talking about creative leaps and eventually about how to make your programs faster.
Want to be seen as an expert? Want to be put in charge of something? Want to make a difference in someone's life? Watch it! It's a huge download - over 800 meg - but so worth it.
Friday, 23 February 2007
Who knew that picking up enough programming knowledge to teach it to talented kids at a summer camp could lead to a career doing some of the geekiest and most detailed work there is in this business - testing the compiler itself to make sure it still works the way it's supposed to? That's just one of the nuggets of information in this latest Channel 9 C++-land interview:
Meet Marina Polishchuk, a software engineer on the VC++ quality control team. Her mission: Outsmart the compiler with clever programs that confuse and or break it. Fun stuff. Here, we learn about what she does, why she does it and how she got here. Enjoy!
Thursday, 22 February 2007
Until now, no woman had won the Turing Award. That surprised me. Frances Allen was recognized for her work in optimization, automatic parallelization, and high performance computing. She must be used to receiving honours. According to the ACM's press release:
In 1989, Allen was the first woman to be named an IBM Fellow. In 2000, IBM created the Frances E. Allen Women in Technology Mentoring Award, naming her as its first recipient. As her Turing Award citation notes, she has been an inspirational mentor to younger researchers and a leader within the computing community. She is an Advisory Council Member of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, whose goal is to increase the participation of women in all aspects of technology. She also received the first Anita Borg Award for Technical Leadership, which was presented at Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in 2004.
She joined IBM fifty years ago. Wow, what she must have seen in those fifty years!
Wednesday, 21 February 2007
I came across this list of "making the most of your time" and it struck a chord with me. I think because it's not just about productivity and crossing a lot off the to-do list, but instead thinks about what you are achieving with the time you spend. Not many productivity lists include "making a difference to the world". Something to think about...
Tuesday, 20 February 2007
The Developer Night in Canada (DNIC) User Group Tour is all set!
Our (East of Toronto) date is April 11th. Register now!
The purpose of this event is to demonstrate how the Microsoft Application Platform provides a robust and secure foundation for building data-driven applications and Web sites. Specifically, this session will examine some of the tools and technologies available for developers including Visual Studio Team System for Database Professionals and examine some of the exciting new features of ADO.NET.
Our session will feature our own alumnus, Jean-Luc David:
See you there!
Monday, 19 February 2007
Channel 9 has discovered C++ land and just doesn't want to leave. This time it's Nikola Dudar's turn and he talks about STLCLR (which has had various other names in the past):
If you write STL code and want take advantage of the BCL while still being able to write STL code, then you're in luck. How so? Well, Nikola Dudar, program manager in the VC++ Libraries Group explains, in detail, the Orcas STLCLR library. We also dig into the evolutionary trajectory of VC++, and discuss some other interesting Orcas C++ libraries. Tune in. Lots of great stuff going on in VC++ World...
Keep 'em coming, Charles!
Sunday, 18 February 2007
I will be in Montreal in May to speak at DevTeach.
It’s Vista time – is your application ready?
Windows Vista provides an extensive set of new APIs that enable improved user experiences and enhanced security, but some of these APIs are exposed through native COM and Win32 programming models. This session highlights strategies and techniques for taking advantage of these native APIs from managed code. Learn what's really involved in making your .NET application "light up on Windows Vista" with User Account Control (UAC) integration, Windows Vista User Experience features like common file dialogs, task dialogs and command links, and integrated desktop search.
DevTeach is a lot easier to get to than some of the bigger conferences, and it has a star-studded speaker list. See you there!
Saturday, 17 February 2007
Imagine that you needed to go somewhere NOW and stay there for a while. Like maybe weeks or months. What would you need to take? It kinda matters why you're leaving, or maybe it doesn't. You could be fleeing a burning house like my neighbours did, or flying to a sick relative, or responding to any number of natural or family disasters. And the last thing you need at a time like that is to be running around wondering about paperwork and documents to take with you.
If you have a laptop, that's a really good start, but think about all the identity-related numbers you sometimes need to look up. For example, what if you needed to write a cheque? It doesn't happen very often these days, but should you take your chequebook with you just in case? Maybe it would be enough to have your account information with you, so you could call your branch and ask them to courier you cheques. Maybe you live in a small enough town (I do) that the bank knows who you are by your name and doesn't need the account number. What about all your credit cards, even the ones you don't use and keep for emergencies? Can you get the balance for all of those online or over the phone -- sure you can. But not all of them tell you your credit limit (why? I have no idea) so perhaps a list of cards and their limits would be handy. And coming back to that burning house, I bet your insurance policy is in it. Do you even know your agent's phone number? Why on earth would you? It's not like most of us chat with whoever sold us that policy all those years ago.
Lifehacker suggests putting this sort of thing on a "getaway drive". List your bank accounts, with the phone numbers and names of the branches and your rep or agent. List where your safety deposit boxes are. Put everyone's SIN, and maybe scan your passports, drivers licenses and so on. Scan your insurance policies, at least the most recent bill with your policy number on it. If you might end up going out the door without your credit cards, having the numbers to call to get new ones (with your account numbers and whatever other information they might ask for to confirm your identity) could save a lot of time. Think about needing to replace cards, ID, and the like. Think about needing to connect to your finances from somewhere else, maybe from someone else's computer -- you know, that doesn't have a file called passwords.txt on the desktop and a Favourites list of links to all the companies you have accounts with? Put what you need on here - a Word file, a bunch of JPGs (scan stuff or just take pictures of it with your digital camera), an HTML file of links. Then encrypt the heck out of it, and put it on a little memory stick / flash drive. [If you've got lots of spare space, take a hundred or so pictures of stuff in your house -- the CD collection in the living room, a slow video pan across each bookshelf, your dishes, your closets, and so on to simplify any future insurance claims. Imagine being able to answer the question "how many books were in the house?" ] Put the drive somewhere that's always with you but not incredibly losable, or that's easy to grab on the way out of the door. Heck, make a copy and snail mail it to the family member who lives furthest from you, and ask them to hold it for you indefinitely. One less thing to worry about.
Friday, 16 February 2007
That Mac ad where the PC is going for "surgery" so he can upgrade to Vista really ticks me off. First, I upgraded a truly ancient Toshiba to Vista just fine. And second, way to make a bug a feature and a feature a bug! Ha ha when I need a new OS I just throw myself in the garbage and someone buys a new machine! That's so much better than replacing one card or switching to a bigger hard drive! Whatever.
That said, I know plenty of geeks are going to use Vista as an excuse for a new laptop. I'm one of those geeks and I'm about ready to get a new machine. One of the things that's held me back is the thought of the time and trouble to get everything set up my way. You know, my wallpaper, my favourites, my files of course, folder settings, there's so much. Applications don't worry me so much because half the stuff I have installed on here should really go, I don't use it any more. Half the rest came from my MSDN disks and I know where to find those. What's left (WinZip, a really old Paint Shop Pro that doesn't try to do anything fancy, miscellaneous games and utilities) I can install from the \install folder on one of my two main file servers.
And now for the settings, here's something that will make it much less painful: Windows Easy Transfer. Put the old and new machines on your network, and:
This wizard is built into Windows Vista and will automatically transfer your personal data from a Windows 2000, Windows XP, or Windows Vista based-PC to a Windows Vista-based PC. It gathers up the data from your old PC and then applies it on your new PC in the right places. It will move user accounts, files and folders, email messages and settings, address book entries, and Windows settings. It does not move programs.
No network? (Helping your family, and they don't have a network onaccounta they only have one machine?) Use a special cable to connect the two machines. There's even an option involving removable hard drives or burning to disk that sounds like it might work if you have only one machine but are repaving. (Sounds a might scary to me, but ok.)
Plus, there's a tool in beta that moves your apps too:
we have been working on a new tool called Easy Transfer Companion, which will transfer programs and program settings from a Windows XP-based PC to a Windows Vista-based PC. When used together with Easy Transfer, you will be able to move everything you need to your new PC running Windows Vista. Easy Transfer Companion has been designed to transfer many of the most popular programs for consumers and small businesses, as well as many others. You can transfer programs with either an Easy Transfer Cable or a network. We've released the tool in Beta so that we can take feedback on the overall functionality and get more information about the experience of transferring specific applications outside of those that we've tested internally.
Now I just have to choose a shiny new laptop...
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