# Friday, March 28, 2008

This week has been a nice vacation in Thailand in between a week of work in Penang, Malaysia and two weeks starting next week in China for a school trip with my MBA class for our international study program.

Last week in Penang, I meet up with the academic staff at the computer science department at USM (University Sains Malaysia) in Penang. We had a great time talking about how to bridge the gap between the research the students are doing and commercial applications. (I suggested that they work more closely with their alumnus to come back and teach classes on this very topic.) I walked the faculty and students through the technology used at my old company, Corzen-mostly the statistical models (cluster analysis), data mining algorithms, and grid/distributed computing. The student's eyes lit up.

IMG_1020

The whole reason why I was there was due to my friend Jihad Hammad, he invited me. Jihad was born and raised in Palestine and is taking his masters at USM. (This is his first time out of Palestine.) He is the founder of the Palestinian Information Technology Center (PIT), a non-profit to help people in Palestine learn about technology and PalDev, a Microsoft .Net User Group in Palestine-with 100+ active members at each meeting, a user group that sometimes has no place to meet so they meet at a refugee camp.

Jihad and I met online five years ago and collaborated to build the PIT and PalDev; we have been partners and friends for 5 years.I helped get the PIT center funding from various sources in the USA and helped get Microsoft recognition for the center (plus free software) as well as INETA membership for PalDev. While Jihad did all the hard work, I was able to lend him a helping hand over the years by making the right introductions to the right people.

This was the first time we met in person.

This is the power of the web, it brings people together and helps them do wonderful things. Two people who never met before can easily build trust, a friendship, and make a difference by using technology in a war zone to give people hope (and hopefully one day play a very small role in ending the violence.) This would not have been possible 10 or so years ago. That is the power of the WideOpen Web. Anything is possible, even peace in the Middle East via .NET. :)

Ok back to the mixed drinks by the beach...

posted on Friday, March 28, 2008 11:48:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

WPF Meets the iPhone User Interface

You must register at https://www.clicktoattend.com/invitation.aspx?code=126266 in order to be admitted to the building and attend.


The iPhone is one of the most compelling and exciting user interfaces to appear in recent memory, with many innovations that make it a pleasure to use. How can you deliver a similar experience with your .NET WPF applications? In this session you will see how to implement these features in.NET as you watch the iPhone interface recreated (and running on a Windows laptop) using Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) technology with both Visual Studio 2008 and Microsoft’s Expression Blend. You will also learn when it’s best to use VS 2008 or Expression Blend for different WPF tasks.

Speaker: 
Kevin McNeish, President and Chief Software Architect, Oak Leaf Enterprises, Inc
Kevin McNeish is a Microsoft .NET MVP, a well-know INETA speaker and trainer throughout North America and Europe including VSLive!, DevTeach, SDC Netherlands, and Advisor DevCon. He is co-author of the book "Professional UML with Visual Studio .NET", author of the book ".NET for Visual FoxPro Developers", authors articles for CoDe magazine and has been interviewed on the .NET Rocks! Internet Radio Show. He is the Chief Software Architect of the MM .NET Framework and spends about half his time on the road training and mentoring companies to build well-designed, high-performance .NET applications.

Date: 
Thursday, March 20, 2008

Time: 
Reception 6:00 PM , Program 6:15 PM

Location:  
Microsoft , 1290 Avenue of the Americas (the AXA building - bet. 51st/52nd Sts.) , 6th floor

Directions:
B/D/F/V to 47th-50th Sts./Rockefeller Ctr
1 to 50th St./Bway
N/R/W to 49th St./7th Ave.

posted on Tuesday, March 18, 2008 10:17:39 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, March 14, 2008

All of the mainstream press is done talking about Mix last week. So I wanted to give my impression as a long time Microsoft watcher and developer.

First I have sat through hundreds if not thousands of keynotes over the last 15 years at Microsoft events. (Most recently I sat through one in Portuguese on Wednesday in Lisbon.  2700 developers, what a turn out!) Microsoft is really focused on the developer. They have a developer culture (that gets them in trouble with the mainstream press a lot) and treat developers like gold.

For all the great treatment, they will still turn up the PR engine at these keynotes, because while TechEd, PDC, and Mix maybe developer events, the press is still there. I noticed something different about Microsoft at Mix: honestly.

Case in point. In all of my years at keynotes, MS has never admitted to a mistake. They have come close by saying "Version 3.0 was slow, sorry. Version 4.0 out in XX months will be 10x faster! We rock! Cheer for us!"

They have touched some third rails like during the IE monopoly trial in the USA they brought a new computer out on stage and said "where is IE" in the middle of the demo. It was loaded with Netscape. That kind of poking fun at themselves was nice, but still not what I was looking for.

No at Mix they showed the maturity of an industry leader. They showed IE 7.0 not implementing CSS 2.1 standards. They then showed FireFox and Opera implementing it correctly. Then they said that they will fix it in IE 8 and showed us a demo to the point.

Wow.

Some of you may not think that this is a big deal. It is. It is Microsoft growing up knowing that they are not the only player out there, realizing that people depend on their stuff and they are willing to take responsibility. This is the first step in losing their arrogance.

Speaking of arrogance. That is my opinion of Apple at the moment. As a developer, the iPhone SDK is 1. late to the party, 2. not that compelling (I had similar tools for RIM 7 years ago and Palm and MS SmartPhone 5+ years ago) and 3. arrogant. I have to develop according to the Apple UI and deployment standards. Sorry Steve Jobs look in the mirror. You will see Bill Gates of 10 years ago. The person you hate is the person you just became.

A torch has been passed. Who will replace Microsoft as the arrogant one in the software space? It will take a few years for Microsoft to completely change and a few more years for that change to be accepted. I think buying Yahoo! and working in a mature manner with Yahoo! is the first step. Who will replace Microsoft? The likely candidates: Google or Apple.

posted on Friday, March 14, 2008 9:27:01 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Sunday, March 09, 2008

The .NET community lost one of its great leaders last night, Stephen R. Goodwin. He was 60 years old and lost his bout with cancer, a bout he almost defeated last year.Steve worked tirelessly as a User Group leader in New York City (Enterprise Windows User Group) and set up many great events and organized low cost training for user group members-the first such program of its kind. Steve was also an MVP and represented NY to Culminis.

His firm, Cartwright & Goodwin, was a Microsoft Certified Partner-but Cartwright did not exist, he made it up to sound more "white and Jewish" since he started this firm in the 1970s when the market did not look as kindly on black entrepreneurs as it does today.

I use to call Steve "Mayor Bloomberg" since he had a great photo of him and the mayor that he use to carry around. I was luckier than most, Steve only lived 1 block away and we would often ride the subway home from the user group meetings and grab a dinner at the local Japanese place where he would tell me crazy stories about his trips to Japan back in his Wall Street trader days.

You also may not know but you can catch a glimpse of him in Eddy Murphy's "Trading Places" in the gold pit of the NY Commodities Exchange-back when he was a commodity trader.

Stephen’s obituary is here.

posted on Sunday, March 09, 2008 4:41:23 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, March 07, 2008

Next week I will be in Lisbon, Portugal speaking at Techdays 2008.All my stuff is listed in Portuguese, I hope they realize I don’t speak Portuguese. :)

Will be doing three sessions:

posted on Friday, March 07, 2008 5:43:57 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Thursday, March 06, 2008

I am on .NET Rocks today talking about distributed teams. Enjoy.

posted on Thursday, March 06, 2008 9:44:58 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I have been working with web technology since the earliest days of the commercial web. I remember back about 15 years ago learning HTML and basically making a fool of myself with my personal home page and talking myself into a job at Fidelity Investments in 1994 saying I knew this thing called HTML. I remember about 13 years ago using raw ODBC via CGI scripts to make data from a database appear on a web page. Then came OLE ISAPI and life got a little easier-but you had to code the page yourself (like do all the response.* stuff that ASPx does automatically for you today).

What I remember for most of my time as a developer is how hard the web was to code for. Around 1995 I tried to tell customers (I was construing then) that the web was a passing fad to avoid building web apps. (they did not believe me.) The tools were immature (Visual Notepad 1.0) the IDEs just sucked (remember HotDog?) and all the APIs were out of process. Then along came a beta for IIS 1.0 sometime I think 12 years ago. I still remember where I was when I first saw it. I was in Chicago at a developer conference. Things started to get easier.

Back around 1996 programming for the web was better but still quite a challenge. At the same time, Java was threatening Microsoft. Netscape was the darling of Wall Street and the geeks. Microsoft's back was against the wall. There was an anti-trust lawsuit. People said that they were big and mean (and they were mean at times!) and could not adapt to the Internet. The Internet would make Microsoft unimportant.

Microsoft responded. Code named Denali, Active Server Pages and ActiveX Data Objects gave us an in-process way to code pages with a framework on top of ISAPI, gone were the days of having to write the pluming. Tools started to come along, Visual InterDev was a good first attempt and then the evolution of Visual Studio. The Java folkes were jealous of the MS IDEs. Coding for the web just got way easier.

This helped fuel the .COM boom. IIS was so innovative (the only web server at the time to be out of process), the IDEs were so much easier, and scaling to a web farm was so cost efficient, Microsoft set a new standard in web development. Microsoft technology lead the way during the boom, others were big players but by 2001 people were actually starting to play catch up to Microsoft when they put .NET to beta. How about that for not being unimportant?

Well fast forward 7 or 8 years.  I was at the New York Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008, and SQL Server 2008 launch today and headed to Mix 2008 tomorrow. I look at the way we code web pages today and it is 10 times easier than the .com era! Maybe more!

The likes of Google and open source-ers have claimed that Microsoft is again unimportant. Goolge is the darling of Wall Street and the geeks. Linux and open source have their religious zeal. Microsoft faces anti-trust in Europe. Sure Google owns the online ad space. Great, they can have it. Wall Street and the lay press have stated that Microsoft is behind Google because it is in third place for Ads on the Web. They say that Microsoft was asleep behind the wheel. I beg to differ. Let's take a look at some of the technology that the boys and girls from Redmond have produced in recent months:

  • The .NET Framework and the 3.5 extensions (WF, WCF, ASP Ajax, and ASP.NET MVC Framework)
  • Visual Studio 2008, the slickest IDE out there
  • SharePoint
  • Silverlight

Not to mention all of the back end stuff like Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 all with supporting technology like LINQ and XLINQ.

Holy cow is developing for the web easy! Not only easier, but developers have more unprecedented power. When you compare the Java and Open Source offerings of .NET, Visual Studio, SharePoint, Windows, SQL Server, and Silverlight, there is no stack that even comes close in power and productivity. Not bad for the "unimportant" Microsoft.

Case in point. I started a new business in December. Something very speculative and it needed a large data driven user interactive transactional web site. Back 10 years ago, I would have had to make up some PowerPoint slides and beg angel investors for a few hundred thousand dollars to build out a proof of concept. It would then take six months to get to an alpha since debugging would consist of CTRL+G and counting down to the response.write("strSQL"). The UI was painful for users and very static.

Now due to infrastructure reasons like cheap bandwidth, outsourcing, and tools like Skype and IM, you can do this much cheaper. But Microsoft has made the development light years ahead of the .com era.

Remember my new startup? We have an Ajax enabled Microsoft .NET 3.5 ASPx site up and in customer ready beta today, in only two months. One architect, one developer, and one tester. That is 200% faster than my last startup Corzen which was built on top of the .NET 1.0 stack 6 years ago and 500% faster than a comparable web site build in the .com era for Zagat on the last ASP stack. All that and no begging any Angel investors, it was so cheap we paid for it ourselves!

Google may own Sillicon Valley and Wall Street, but Microsoft owns the majority of developers hearts and minds. They own it because they make our life so damn easy. Microsoft has thrown the web wide open to everyone. If you can get a new business started in 2 months on the Microsoft stack, think about all the great things that people will do!

Looking forward to the next stack in a few years from Microsoft and looking back at this current stack as slow and out of date like I do the .NET 1.0 stack. Maybe it will only take me 1 month to start a new business. :)

posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2008 1:01:06 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, March 03, 2008

I just got a new tablet PC and am loading it up for my upcoming trips to MIX, and TechDays in Lisbon, Portugal. When you load up a new computer you realize what you really need. So I figured that I would list them here, besides the common denominator of Windows, Office, Visual Studio, and SQL Server, here are the five pieces of software that I can't live without, software that I use on a daily basis:

1. Skype. I use Skype daily to drive the evil telcos out of business. For example I just loaded up Skype on my new computer today and had two conversations with people overseas for over an hour all for free. I pay for SkypeIn and SkypeOut and SkypePro, very valuable tools when I travel.

2. Netvibes. I use Netvibes to create a custom home page as my start page. It aggregates all of my RSS feeds as well as the typical sports, news, stocks, and weather.

3. Trillian. I use Trillian to have 1 IM client for all of my accounts: MSN, Yahoo, AOL, etc.

4. Snagit. Great for screen captures, great for telling developers what is wrong with their pages.

5. SQL Data Compare and SQL Compare. These tools from Red Gate software keep your SQL Server databases in sync. Invaluable!

posted on Monday, March 03, 2008 3:12:06 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Saturday, March 01, 2008

Venue

Albany Marriott Hotel

189 Wolf Road

Albany, NY 12205  

Date & Time

March 12, 2008 9:00AM – 4:00 PM EST 

Registration Information: Click here

 

About the Conference

We invite you to join us for a day of developer-oriented technical sessions, featuring Application Lifecycle Management, Microsoft Silver Light 2.0, Building mobile applications with Visual Studio 2008, Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) and Windows Communication Foundation. These exciting technologies enable entirely new types of applications to be built in record time. With interoperability now available in today’s software development tools and platforms, understanding how to weave the various products and processes into a manageable and cost effective platform can be challenging. The session on Application Lifecycle management will tackle the licensing and process-centric questions that often arise in considering Visual Studio Team System 2008 for the first time, or integrating it into an existing Java or multi-platform environment. This session will also provide some best practices around developer desktop inventory management, integrating .NET and non-Microsoft toolsets; demystifying the decision-making process of Visual Studio Team System 2008. The session on building mobile applications with Visual Studio 2008 will explore the productive integration offered by VS2008 to enable product development and testing of mobile applications as well as exploring new additions to the mobile development platform. You will learn to create and integrate workflows into everyday applications using Windows Workflow Foundation. Discover the ability to create rich, visually stunning, interactive content and applications that run on multiple browsers and operating systems with Microsoft Silverlight 2.0. You will also learn about the benefits of Microsoft Silverlight from a developer perspective and get an introduction to building Microsoft Silverlight applications using JavaScript and C# using Microsoft developer and designer tools.

These sessions will target Developers, Architects and Web Designers be very much demonstration oriented, and will be delivered by seasoned developers with experience in Government and Public Sector. Seize this opportunity to immerse yourself amidst these exciting new technologies!

Who Should Attend

Developers, Architects and technical managers who wish to get an early look at the next advancement in Software Development. 

The Agenda

 

Time

Topic

08:30-09:00

Registration

09:00-10:15

Demystifying the Microsoft Application Lifecycle Management Platform

10:15-10:30

Break

10:30-12:00

Building Rich Internet Applications Using Microsoft Silverlight 2.0

12:00-13:00

Lunch

13:00-14:30

Building Mobile Applications with Visual Studio 2008

14:30–16:00

What's New in Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and Windows Workflow (WF) in Visual Studio 2008 & the .NET Framework 3.5

posted on Saturday, March 01, 2008 3:00:07 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback