# Sunday, 28 March 2010
I've mentioned before how Windows 7 Boot-to-VHD makes working with betas so much better for me. In fact just last week I built a new VHD image to do something new with the RC of Visual Studio 2010. It took a few hours off and on, while I was puttering around the house, to install Windows, install Visual Studio, install Office, install the zips of code that someone had sent me to test, install Camtasia, and so on. I didn't begrudge the time, but I was trying to set up something very specific for a test. If you'd just like to play around a bit and see what all the fuss is about, I bet you would like it if someone made a VHD for you and you could just download it and use it.

Well Presto! Brian Keller has done just that. And he hasn't just installed Visual Studio on it, but a whole pile of hands on labs, the sample data and configuration that the labs need, and so on. In fact it's three VHDs depending on your virtualization tool - Hyper-V, Virtual PC 2007, or Windows 7 Virtual PC.

If you're getting excited about the run-up to launch and starting to ask "oh, is there good stuff in this version of Visual Studio?" then this is a really simple way to get yourself closer to seeing for yourself just how much good stuff there is. Have fun!


Sunday, 28 March 2010 06:34:03 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, 26 March 2010
One of the things I did during my break from blogging was to start creating content for Pluralsight. Is there anyone who hasn't heard of Pluralsight? An amazing group of people who want to help everyone learn how to develop on Microsoft platforms. They offer in-classroom training and also a rapidly growing online collection of videos and tutorials called Pluralsight On-Demand! that lets you learn what you want on the spot. Rather than just "here's a one hour video on topic X" it's all set up with searches and indexes to take you straight to the piece you want when you're in a searchy mood. It's really nicely done.

Pluralsight is a very MVP-positive group (and RD-positive too, though we're rarer) and has more than a few MVPs on the technical and management team. During the MVP Summit they announced that all MVPs and RDs get a free standard subscription to the entire Pluralsight On-Demand! training library. That's a heck of a deal and if you're eligible, you should sign up now.

I have one how-to reference video published at the moment, on taskbar overlays (icons and progress bars) in Windows 7 with Code Pack. There will be more :-)


Friday, 26 March 2010 09:10:51 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 24 March 2010
Today is Ada Lovelace Day, a day to celebrate the women of software. I've blogged about it before, and it seems like a good springboard to get started again. There's a nice post over on Toronto Girl Geek Dinners, too. I have been trying to go to an event there for at least 6 months, maybe a year - seems it's always on a day I'm out of town or otherwise unavailable. April 5th might work out - I hope it does.

What have I been doing for the last almost-4-months? Working hard. Speaking, mostly on Windows 7 things. Planning future speaking gigs. Writing code - real code - in VB, C#, and yes, C++. Some using STL and some using MFC as it happens. Project managing, which can be many times more satisfying than coding but also many times more frustrating. Tweeting (yes, I did - and I tweet personal stuff as much as technical stuff so if you don't care for that you don't need to feel obliged to follow me.) Publishing videos. All of these things will get blog posts of their own over the next little while.

Stay tuned!


Wednesday, 24 March 2010 20:46:38 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, 28 November 2009

I've wanted one of these since I saw it on Steve Clayton's blog (twice). And now I have one - lucky me.

One of the reasons I'll use a big mouse (compared to the gosh-that's-tiny notebook style) is the magnify button on the side. Just as I usually don't want to get off the keyboard to use the mouse to, say, save my document, I don't want to get off the mouse and use the keyboard to zoom and stop zooming when I'm presenting. I had a nice Microsoft mouse a few years back but the magnify button wouldn't work with the beta of Vista I was using and I ended up letting someone else use that mouse. So I'm super happy that the magnify button on this mouse works just beautifully with Windows 7.


Happy presenter.


Saturday, 28 November 2009 21:41:35 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Thursday, 26 November 2009

I teach a course at Trent University on Object Oriented Analysis and Design with UML, and have done since the last century. I teach my students how to make decisions about the systems they will some day build, and how to draw diagrams that communicate those decisions to others. We find as often as not that the act of trying to make the diagram leads us through the thought processes that are needed to make good decisions. That brings huge value even if you never show the diagram to anyone else and never update it.

I've never been a big fan of "technical documentation" in the form of a giant binder that some poor person has to keep up to date any time the code changes. If you want to know all the methods of the Employee class, why not use Intellisense or the Object Browser or the like? But that doesn't mean I don't like making those diagrams at the beginning, when they help me to do my thinking. I also make them when I have something to explain, including when I bring a new person onto a project. So how much do I love this quote?

the UML ... was to be a language for visualizing, specifying, constructing, and documenting the artifacts of a software-intensive system—in short, a graphical language to help reason about the design of a system as it unfolds. Most diagrams should be thrown away, but there are a few that should be preserved, and in all, one should only use a graphical notation for those things that cannot easily be reasoned about in code.

It's in an interview I already linked to, but it took Patrick Smacchia to point our those sentences to me. As I wind up the last few weeks of the course, it's nice to know that my position on the point of the diagrams and deliverables is aligned with one of my heroes.


Thursday, 26 November 2009 20:38:10 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Pete Brown has a terrific two part series on sensor programming in Windows 7. Part 1 has a link for where to get the board, and fills you in on the new architecture. Lots of helpful links and screenshots here, including one to Pietro Bambrati that includes some changes to the racing game sample to make the accelerometer work and one to his video showing you how to install and test it.

Part 2 starts with this nice summary of your options as a developer:

There are three different ways you can use the accelerometer API. You can, of course, go directly against the COM API and generate your own wrappers and pinvokes. You can use the managed wrappers provided in the SDK, or you can use the Windows API Code Pack which includes support for the sensor API and a number of other Windows 7-specific enhancements. In this case, I decided to use the code pack in concert with WPF 4.

Hard to argue with that! Pete has written an AccelerometerJoystick you can use in any "controller" situation - and be sure to think beyond just games!

Definitely read and watch, and let Pete and Pietro save you some time!


Tuesday, 24 November 2009 20:12:13 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 22 November 2009

I saw this on Scott Hanselman's blog:

It's three little meters - memory, CPU, and Disk IO. Each has a jump list with the obvious tasks - starting Task Manager, for example. It's really simple to do (read the code yourself) thanks to Code Pack.

What will you do over a weekend with it?


Sunday, 22 November 2009 19:46:36 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, 20 November 2009

It's time for another release of the Windows® API Code Pack for Microsoft® .NET Framework. Yay! This is a pretty small release (which is why the version just went from 1.0 to 1.0.1) with some bug fixes, performance improvements, and more documentation and samples. It's getting a little attention :-)

  • Yochay gives the excellent advice to "consider this library as if you wrote it yourself, as if it is your own code" and reminds you that while it's "the closest thing to an “official” managed API for Windows", it is not a supported product you can call somebody for help with.
  • Mahmoud, who's actually running a Code Pack blog (though I think both Yochay and I have more Code Pack posts).
  • Sasha, like me a friend of the Code Pack, also has a summary of Yochay's PDC talk - you should download and watch it.
  • Kevin Griffin wrote a nice Code Pack article a day before the new version was announced, but all his praise is still valid :-)

If you're already a Code Pack fan, just go get the latest version. If you're not, you should be - it means just a line or two of code to make your application look and behave like a real Windows 7 app.

And are you wondering what's next for Code Pack?

See why I said to download and watch Yochay's talk?


Friday, 20 November 2009 15:11:58 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]