# Tuesday, 28 September 2010

I love this image:

I know this is true because in my role as friends-and-family help desk, I get people to read the error messages and then I repeat whatever they just told me and then they are like "oh, I get it! Thanks! I'm glad I know someone who understands these darn computers!" This works over the phone when I can't even see the message.

Now why am I mentioning this, besides the fact I love this dialog? Because it comes from a lovely blog entry by Chris Jackson on why app compat problems can't be fixed by talking to the user about them. You slave over a lovely dialog with a button which might as well say CLICK HERE TO GET A VERSION THAT DOESN'T HAVE THIS PROBLEM or a checkbox that might as well say CHECK THIS IF YOU DON'T THINK ITS A PROBLEM AND ARE SICK OF BEING REMINDED but instead the user clicks JUST THIS ONCE I WANT TO USE THE OLD ONE BUT BE SURE TO TELL ME ALL THIS AGAIN NEXT TIME. 

Is there a solution? I don't know. But you need to know people are like this.


Tuesday, 28 September 2010 14:36:19 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Sunday, 26 September 2010
The high levels of the Pluralsight On-Demand! subscriptions let you download the courses to your mobile device - perfect for learning while you're on a commuter train or bus, or other places away from your laptop. Check this video of a prototype of the experience on a Windows 7 phone. Looks great!


Sunday, 26 September 2010 16:32:01 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, 24 September 2010
I've mentioned the Pluralsight library many a time. I have three courses in it: Windows 7 development, Extending Visual Studio 2010 without writing code, and Extending Visual Studio 2010 with code. There are a variety of subscription plans available, each with their own benefits. But of all the possible prices you could pay, I'm betting that "free" is the one you would be happiest paying. Am I right?

Well, if you have an MSDN subscription, you can have a month of the Pluralsight library for free. That should give you a great idea of what the courses are like and what you can learn from them. Try it out!


Friday, 24 September 2010 16:29:08 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 22 September 2010
I came across this blog post of a farewell email from Philip Su, written as he was leaving Microsoft after twelve years. You might expect that someone leaving a company would have some negative things to say about it, but not Philip. He sounds like a very nice person and one who's done pretty well by being nice. I thoroughly approve. It is full of specific and actionable advice as well as philosophy. I liked "Smart people understand why smart people disagree." and his thoughts on how people rank themselves, and what influences their ranking of others.

Well worth a read.


Wednesday, 22 September 2010 16:16:33 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Monday, 20 September 2010
This release actually slipped out at the end of August with little fanfare. But you really should check in to it. First, if you're already a Code Pack user, you'll want the update for the bugfixes and related tweaks. If you're one of the people who looks at the source code to this useful library, for example for an interop reference, you're going to find it much improved. One really obvious thing is that all the samples are now happy to convert to VS 2010 which had been an issue for me with 1.0.1.

As well there are three new capabilities: Shell Object Watcher, Preview Handlers, and Thumbnail Handlers. Shell extensions used to be offlimits from managed code because they run in process with either the shell or whatever process launched them (which could be anybody's app that uses the Common File Dialogs) and you were forbidden (but not prevented) from using managed code in that situation. The issue was that if the launching process was already managed code and it had a different CLR loaded, then weird things would happen when your managed code wanted your own CLR. But now that restriction is lifted, so you can write preview handlers (which are out of process, so you were allowed to write them before) and thumbnail handlers (which are in process and therefore were native code only before) for your own file types. The Code Pack makes that pretty simple, all things considered.

Download it, install it, and if you have issues someone is reading and responding on the discussions tab, so please join the conversation.


Monday, 20 September 2010 13:59:31 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, 18 September 2010
A first glance, a book about social media might seem to be "dancing about architecture." But of course the target audience for the book is people who are not yet fully fluent in social media and it makes perfect sense to talk to such people using a medium in which they are fully fluent. That means book form makes sense.

I was lucky enough to get a preview copy of Working the Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business from Eileen Brown. She and I have been working together and bumping into each other for years, which is why I agreed to read it. But I'm recommending it simply because it's good. It's full of no-nonsense advice and useful anecdotes. Just a few pages in, for example, she says:

If you want to progress in business, don’t wait to be discovered.  Make sure you have a great online profile and a positive brand.  

I'm not saying that no-one has thought of that before. I am saying that clearly stated and useful advice is a good thing, and this book is full of such advice. She clearly tackles this "this is just a fad" crowd, explains about "influencers" (like me) and lays out specific actions steps you can follow to have a good social media experience. This includes how to measure what is happening, which most companies desparately need. She even covers specific sites and tools, guidelines for blogging and Twitter, and how to protect yourself from reputation damage or legal consequences.

It's a good book. If you don't have a social media strategy yet, then reading this one will take you a long way forward. I recommend it to any business wondering about "the twitter". You can pre-order on Amazon now and I suggest you do, though you may want to adjust this link to point to the Amazon nearest you.


Saturday, 18 September 2010 13:36:43 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, 16 September 2010

It took a while for the session catalog to update online, but it's official now:

DEV311 - Modern Programming with C++0x in Microsoft Visual C++ 2010

Session Type: Breakout Session
Track: Developer Tools, Languages & Frameworks
Speaker(s): Kate Gregory
Why wait for the C++ committee to finish the specification when you can enjoy much of the power of C++0x today! C++0x, the next C++ standard, is almost upon us and it contains the most important updates to the language since the mid-90s. It even accepts the existence of multiple threads for the first time in the history of the language. Needless to say, these new features bring more expressiveness and power to the native C++ developer. Visual Studio 2010 has added support for some of these key features in order to enable these modern programming techniques. This session clarifies what features are in Visual C++ 2010 and what is yet to come. It illustrates how new constructs such as lambda expressions enable better use of existing libraries and how your code can be simpler, safer and faster all at the same time. If you are itching to show off how C++ is one of the coolest languages on the planet, this talk is for you!

WCL322 - The Windows API Code Pack: Add Windows 7 Features to Your Application

Session Type: Breakout Session
Track: Windows Client
Speaker(s):Kate Gregory
Accessing new Windows 7 features is a challenge from managed (.NET) code. The level of interoperability required is out of reach for many developers. The Windows API Code Pack for the Microsoft .NET Framework is a sample library you can use in your own projects today that provides access to new user interface features (taskbar jumplists, libraries, sensor platform and more) as well as "behind the scenes" features that make your applications more aware and responsive (restart and recovery, power management and more.) Discover a shortcut to Windows 7 development for Microsoft Visual Basic and Visual C# programmers and get started today.

I've done talks with these titles and abstracts before, but I'm not repeating those this time. I'm rejigging the demos pretty substantially and generally rewriting the talks. Register now, and I hope to see you there!


Thursday, 16 September 2010 11:19:56 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 14 September 2010

I love speaking at DevTeach. It's a must-do conference for a lot of A-list speakers and it's always fun and informative. I've blogged about it a lot already. Now Jean Rene has released the session videos online. So if you didn't get out to see us, you can still watch - how cool is that?

Scroll down the page till you see this:

Click on the title to watch the video, and on the Material link to get the powerpoints. (I recommend you watch these in the reverse order than they are shown - first Lighting Up, then Code Pack. Enjoy!


Tuesday, 14 September 2010 07:25:50 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]