Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Are you interested in developing for Windows 7? I bet you are. I know I am. So perhaps you would like (OK, I'm quite sure you would like) the Windows Summit. It's a virtual event hosted at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-summit/ and it claims of itself:
Windows Summit 2010 is designed for people who engineer and test Windows 7
PCs, devices, and software. Three technical tracks are offered to show how to
best use Windows 7 and Internet Explorer, helping you build great solutions and
gain a competitive edge.
It's free (you just have to register) and features about a dozen talks in each of three tracks. The Software track will release June 16th, so you can mark your calendars for then and amuse yourself in the meantime with the Device and System tracks. The Software talks will cover multi touch, ribbon, IE9, Windows Error Reporting, sensors and location, power awareness, background activities (that's services and scheduled tasks) and performance. All good stuff.
I'll report back in mid June when I can actually play the sessions and look at the downloads, but it seems to me it's going to be a very good resource.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
I found myself with some free time and decided to go on a city tour here in New Orleans with a fellow RD and a fellow MVP, both from the Greater Toronto Area like me. It was eye opening. This is a city of contrasts, and I'm sure it was so even before Katrina, but the unfixed damage and signs of what once was make that even more dramatic.
Here is your classic "wrought iron balconies" picture at the start of the tour.
And then in no time, we get to wrecked buildings that haven't been rebuilt yet. All while the guide is talking about how deep the water was and how long people were kept away from their houses to try to rescue things and minimize mould damage.
I found this very poignant. A lovely allee of trees. The houses though, are gone - these two rows of trees are in front of vacant lots.
Some new building is underway; this one is in a project sponsored by Brad Pitt.
This house seems ok but the "graffiti" on the front porch is rescue worker tags explaining how many bodies were found etc. I saw dozens of houses that still had the notation - plus the big X with numbers in the quadrants - even GAS OFF in giant orange letters and not yet repainted.
The cemeteries here are really something else. I didn't think I was going to care about this part of the tour but it was actually really interesting.
Then to the Garden district and more beautiful homes, lovely trees, a man walking his dog while sipping a glass of rose, etc.
Lovely balconies and fence.
I am so glad I was driven around to see all this. What a lovely city.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Hey, this was such fun at the launch and they're doing it again for Tech Ed!
This time my topic is Women in Technology. I'm with Karen Forster, Lisa Feigenbaum and Jennifer Ritzinger and it's sure to be a very fun half hour. PLEASE tweet us questions to @c9live! I'm on at 4 pm Central on Monday the 7th. Talk to you then!
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
I posted a quick hit on MFC and Windows 7
back in April, mentioning the ribbon and showing you how simple icon overlays and jump lists are. Now Marian Luparu has a nice long article
in Visual Studio Magazine. He covers tabbed thumbnails, the ribbon, multi-touch, jump lists, and shell integration for your own thumbnails, preview, and search integration. Then he manages to mention graphics and animation APIs and parallelization. Can't argue with his conclusion:
Overall, Windows 7 is an exciting release for developers. With thousands of
new Windows APIs made available to native coders, Windows 7 provides an enhanced
experience for desktop applications.Visual Studio 2010 is the IDE of choice to take advantage of the Windows 7
platform. With enhancements in MFC and the ATL and the addition of new IDE
Designers and Wizards, Visual C++ 2010 gives you the opportunity to be on the
cutting edge in terms of leveraging OS functionality.
Check it out!
Monday, May 31, 2010
John Bristowe has posted a nice list of tips to get ready for any big conference. I'll let you read the details there, but here's a summary.
- Have a plan
- Bring a good backpack (I'll just add, don't use the conference bag during the conference - thousands of people have the identical bag and it's confusing)
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Bring lots of business cards (yes! You are here to meet people and people are here to meet you! Make it stick)
- be able to get by on crummy or no wireless
Give yourself time before, during, and after the event. You need to plan and make goals in advance. While you're there, go to talks, be open to serendipity (conversations, extra talks, booth visits) and don't forget to go to dinners and parties for vital face time and relationship building. Then you need to have time to follow up when it's over. This happens once or twice a year for most people. Putting an extra ten or twenty hours into it will make a HUGE difference.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
It's no secret that I'm not in my twenties. After all, I'm in my fourth decade of being paid to program. (To be fair, you enter that decade as you pass the doing-it-for-30-years mark.) I have gained a lot of experience in all that time, and not all of it is programming experience. I am slowly gaining wisdom and judgment in general. But am I losing things? Am I perhaps closed off to new experiences, or stuck in the mud? Is there anything you can in general conclude about a person because of their age?
I have two problems with that line of thinking. The first is that differences between any two individuals in a group are always larger than the differences between groups. I can easily find two 20-somethings who differ from each other more than either differs from a 30-something or even an 80-something. Women in general may be shorter than men in general, but I'm sure we all know a man who is shorter than most women or a woman who is taller than most men. What you know about the group doesn't necessarily apply to the individual. My second problem is specific to age - some age related effects are actually related to "you went to university in the 70s" or "you learned to code in the age of GUIs" more than to how old you are, others are actually about your life experience, still others your work experience. Two 60-somethings may not have gone to university at the same time as each other or learned to code at the same time as each other. That makes it even harder to generalize based on a single piece of information - when you were born.
A few months back, 'Dave' posted a series of myths about older developers and then debunked them. Do you find yourself believing any of these?
- Older software developers are more expensive
- Older software developers are less flexible and less capable of learning new
- Older software developers are less able to perform the arduous tasks of
software development (read: work long, painful hours)
- Older software developers are less mentally agile
- Older software developers are more jaded and cynical
My only issue with this list of myths is that it doesn't contain positive ones. It's also a myth that older developers are wiser, more tuned to business issues, better at talking to others, and so on. Some are -- I strongly believe I am -- and it takes a while to get there, but time passing isn't the only thing that brings about that change in a person.
I have to work with people a lot younger than me every day. Perhaps some of them think less of me because of my age at first. I'm pretty confident that doesn't last. If you're not an "older programmer" yet, I hope you aspire to be one someday.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Update: fixed the link. Thanks, Hanako Izumi.
C++0x is finally becoming real to me. I started demoing some C++0x features over a year ago; but now here is Visual C++ 2010 and it's just packed full of goodness. Does it have everything? No. Does any compiler? Good question.
Here is a handy table from the C++ team about what Visual C++ 2010 supports. The MSDN blog redesign seems to have borked the table a little, but the colours should probably be all you need if you know that the last column is VC10. Use View Source if you must know more. Scott Meyers keeps a spreadsheet, and is nice enough to export it out to the public web, covering gcc and VC, with handy links to more details on the features or a substitute (usually something from Boost) you can use if it's not there. He has plenty of helpful links on the cover page, too. There's also a wiki with less detail, but covering more compilers.
If you're wondering about the state of the standard, and whether x is going to end up being A, B, or C, your best bet is to read Herb Sutter's blog. He posted when the Final Committee Draft (FCD) was text-complete, and a pointer to how anyone can comment on it if they wish to.
If you haven't been paying attention, now's the time to catch up!
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
When I started out in this industry (and I'm in my fourth decade of being paid to program) there was a definite culture of rudeness within it. Smart people weren't just allowed to be rude to not-so-smart people, it was expected. Being rude to others was how you proved you were smart, whether it was with a cutting insult thought up on your feet, or with a cruel proof of just where they had gone wrong. As a group we were especially fond of insulting those who weren't developers with brilliantly disguised insults they couldn't understand, or so the theory went. Who hasn't heard someone refer to "error codes" like PEBCAK or ID-ten-T?
But over the last generation or so I've noticed a switch. I hear the chair, keyboard thing still, but only self-referentially. That is after someone has asked for help, perhaps with a starting position of "I have found a bug in Windows", and then sorted it all out and realized they were doing something wrong, they may say "well it turns out the problem was between the chair and the keyboard after all, eh?". When I interview developers for a job at my firm, I ask about working with non developers (testers, technical writers, users, project managers) and I need to see (not just be told about) respect and interest for those people and those jobs.
Now not everyone feels that way. Meredith Levinson
asks if there is a still a place for the "I'm smart, I don't need soft skills" geek pride of old. Commenters point out that speaking truth to power is important, and those who won't be rude sometimes don't do it. David Starr
talks about how to tell someone that a thoughtless habit, like always coming late to meetings, is bothering you. I would skip the praise sandwich
, but I support the idea of pointing out the consequences of something another person may have thought had none. Interestingly, Susanne Biro
points out how people who are actively interested in learning soft or social skills can still be blundering about doing very rude things, apparently unaware.
I think in the end it's not that our industry has changed much. It's that people who are just starting out in it are often a bit rude. OK, sometimes they're very rude. But as they gain technical skill, many of them also gain the ability to take others into account and to work in teams. Those people get promoted. So now, hanging out with decision makers, with people who are allowed to represent their companies in public, with people who get paid to help other people get better, I mostly meet polite and interesting geeks. The rude ones probably still exist -- I just don't run into them very often. Which group would you rather be in?
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