# 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]
# Saturday, 23 July 2011
So, you're a C++ programmer? You've written a Windows app or two in your time? Let me propose a little challenge to you. Write one. Only start with File, New and don't let Visual Studio generate any code for you. Write each line of it. Then explain it. No MFC, No ATL. That's what was asked of me a while back, and the result is a six-paper series that has finally arrived on MSDN.

I have to say I really enjoyed the simplicity of the smallest Windows program possible. I also enjoyed making it better, which included making it more of a C++ program and less of a C one. I also covered a little Direct2D, a little COM, and a little "here's some other stuff you're going to want to read." If it's been ages since you wrote a Windows program in C++, or wrote one that wasn't all covered in barnacles from frameworks and libraries you might not want to rely on for simple things, I really suggest you give this series a read - it won't take long and you can use Visual C++ Express if you like - the first chapter includes links and instructions for getting all the tools you need. Better still, if you've never written a Windows in C++, why not give it a try and let me know what you think?

Kate

ps: Never blog that you're not blogging. Never blog about why you're not blogging, no-one cares. Just blog. Right?

Saturday, 23 July 2011 00:39:47 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [4]
# Saturday, 02 April 2011

Here's yet another C++ team member on Channel 9. Boris starts out reviewing some "old days" things including the Intellisense background I pointed to recently. He explains in more detail why it's so hard to be the C++ team, needing to build an IDE for a language they can't control and that is used by such widely different people. I love that Boris appears to have framed and hung on his office wall someone's comment on a blog post. If you ever wondered whether what you type can make a difference, there's your answer.

With the history and reminiscing out of the way, Boris warms to a topic I haven't heard on Channel 9 before (though I have been hearing it in person) and that's the importance of C++ and specifically the Microsoft toolset, Visual C++, to the games industry. He also talks about how the games industry can be important to all the other developers as well, which I find intriguing. Definitely worth watching and not a rehash of the other C++ videos you may have seen lately.

Kate

Saturday, 02 April 2011 11:07:01 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [2]
# Thursday, 31 March 2011
You go to Tech Ed to learn about technology - developer tools, sysadmin tools, platforms like SharePoint or Windows Phone. But there's more to your work than the nuts and bolts of how to solve a technical problem. Do you use social media effectively? What would an effective use of Twitter or Facebook look like, anyway? Are jobs shifting because of technology? How important is cross-platform development? How important are new platforms? How do you react to big changes in your technical world and direct your own career?

Well, there's a Tech Ed precon Sunday evening that covers that exact topic. And look who's involved: Stephen Rose (Windows Community Manager), Zeus Kerravala (Distinguished Research Fellow and Senior VP, Yankee Group), Richard Campbell (Co-founder of Strangeloop Networks, co-host of .NET Rocks!, host of RunAsRadio, Microsoft MVP, Microsoft Regional Director), Michael Otey (Senior Technical Director for Penton Media’s IT & developer publications, author of SQL Server Developer’s Guide series from Osborne-McGraw-Hill), Tim Huckaby (Microsoft Regional Director, Founder of InterKnowlogy), Michele Leroux Bustamante (Chief Architect with iDesign, Microsoft Regional Director, Microsoft MVP, author of Learning WCF (O’Reilly)), Jennifer Marsman (Principal Developer Evangelist for Microsoft, Central Region), Tara Walker (Microsoft Academic Developer Evangelist), Sean Deuby (Technical Director, Penton Media’s Windows IT Pro Magazine, Microsoft MVP), Paul Thurrott (Senior Industry Analyst, Penton Media’s Windows IT Pro and Supersite for Windows; author of Windows Phone Secrets), John Willis (VP of Training & Services, Opscode), Laura Hunter (Principal Technology Architect for Microsoft IT’s Identity & Access Management team), Yung Chou (Microsoft Senior IT Pro Evangelist, East Region) and Barbara Yamauchi (Microsoft IT program manager for developer tools and IT lifecycle management). Wow! And this is an interactive panel discussion, so you can help to shape the conversation.

There is a small fee ($99) and you have to arrive Sunday afternoon so you'll be able to attend. But it looks like a heck of an evening! Glad to see so many RDs and MVPs on that list.

Kate

Thursday, 31 March 2011 07:50:40 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 29 March 2011
The fourth of my Windows 7 development screencasts - Trigger Started Services - has been published. It uses the recipe (also recently published on Code Gallery) to simplify writing a service in managed code that starts only when it is notified by the operating system of a particular trigger. In my screencast I use the example of a USB device being plugged in. There are plenty of other triggers you could use. Adopting a trigger-started approach makes your service:
  • easier to write and install. No sleeping, looping, having a config file to say how long to sleep for, etc.
  • use less CPU when there's nothing to do
  • respond more quickly when there's something to do. It's not in the middle of sleeping for 10 minutes or 2 hours -- it is started the moment the trigger happens.
It's a win all around and if you have a service you should take a look at the available triggers and see if you can convert yours.

Kate

Tuesday, 29 March 2011 07:31:10 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Sunday, 27 March 2011
The screencasts for restart and recovery in native and managed code went live before the associated recipe was published. Now the recipe is on Code Gallery ready for you to use. As it says there:

This recipe provides guidance and an easy way to start using these great features in your application, removing any complication of how and where to store your application data.

What’s in the box?

This Restart and Recovery recipe includes:

  • Complete source code of the recipe and its samples
  • Managed .NET assembly
  • C++ header and class files to be included in your C++ application.
  • C#, and C++ test applications
  • Documentation
Give it a try, please!

Kate

Sunday, 27 March 2011 07:21:53 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, 25 March 2011
Charles was busy during MVP summit! In addition to interviewing me, he sat a number of MVPs down to talk about C++, being an MVP, and the like. They're from all over the world and they have widely different jobs, but you can see how much they love this stuff. And please notice -- they span a wide age range, too. The stereotype of C++ as the language for the grey haired developers is just a myth. If you wonder why anyone still uses C++, and why it's going to be very good for this industry that there are still C++ experts around, watching these videos will be an eyeopener.

By the way, Alon is also an RD.

Kate

Friday, 25 March 2011 07:15:03 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 23 March 2011
As you may have noticed the C++ team is really stepping up the communication lately. There have been hours of Channel 9 videos (I pointed you to some good ones) and Diego has been blogging a lot. Recently he did a long post (with references!) on Intellisense in C++/CLI - why it wasn't in Visual Studio 2010, why it didn't sneak in with SP1, and so on. Here's a level of transparency you just don't see these days:

...we simply underestimated the amount of work it would take to implement C++/CLI in this codebase, and we couldn’t change our plans by the time we realized it. ... In the end it was one of those hard cuts you have to make when dealing with the real world resource and schedule constraints. It turned out that the work was also too much work to fit into SP1. As soon as we wrapped up VS 2010, we started work on C++/CLI IntelliSense, but it wasn’t ready in time for SP1. We realize this wasn’t what you wanted to happen and an explanation doesn’t help you get your work done if you are affected by this, but we want you to know the truth.

Wow. Makes perfect sense and is actually a nicer reason than "we think you don't matter". Yet so few teams will hold their hands up and say this. It happens. It happens to every one of us pretty darn regularly. Kudos to the C++ team for not pretending it was all part of a plan from the beginning to leave it out. And do read the blog to understand just how much they were taking on.

Kate


Wednesday, 23 March 2011 07:04:54 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]