Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

It's all about community!

March, 2006

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    2-Day VSTS Training available in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane


    Frederique Dennison, the Microsoft Australia Partner Readiness Manager (until next week, that is) sent me a note about some VSTS training being delivered by local expert Anthony Borton (of Ready! tour fame). This is a great way to get up to speed fast with the new features of Team System and Team Foundation Server.

    Visual Studio 2005 Team System – KickStart 2 day workshop This fast-paced two day course provides partners with a solid overview of Visual Studio Team System 2005 and Team Foundation Server. The course combines instructor led sessions with hands-on exercises designed around real-world scenarios to ensure that participants are able to get up and running with VSTS rapidly.


    Register now



    I would like to ensure you are across the 2 day workshop we are currently offering as apart of partner readiness. This subsidised 2 day workshop ($715 inc GST) will be delivered by Anthony Borton and is scheduled in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane over the next few weeks.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Analogy for explaining memory to computer novices


    My wife's in the process of revising a couple of her music theory workbooks at the moment. Her workhorse machine isn't really up to the task of running InDesign, Sibelius, Acrobat, Outlook and Word with its half GB of memory. Her system is paging a bunch of things on and off the HDD. I explained to her that even though she has 50+ GB free on her hard drive, she's run out of RAM. Of course, a glazed look greeted this mumbo-jumbo and I was forced to reassess my approach.

    I told her that the RAM was like her brain, she could only remember so much at any one time. If she wanted to remember other things, she could write them down in a book and put that book on a shelf. In this case, the shelf is the hard drive. To remember that thing, she'd need to go to the shelf and read the book, which takes much longer than just recalling it.

    She was pretty chuffed when I told her that by adding more RAM, we're going to increase the number of things she can remember without having to write them down.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Sun Developers Conference in Sydney - Part I


    I'm spending today and tomorrow at the Sun Developers conference here in Sydney. It's really interesting to see where Sun's going with dev tools and developers. They've made some interesting claims in the keynote (especially around Microsoft not understanding community), but generally it's been pretty balanced (he said from the moral high ground <grin>).

    There were about 150 people in the keynote, and it looks like quite a few more have come for the meat of the sessions.

    The keynote was broken up into a couple of sections. The first, by Bob Brewin, concentrated on where Sun are going with their dev tools and what they see as important. He emphasised community, good tools, alignment of the platform and the runtime and Application Lifecycle Development and Management. No arguments there.

    Next up was Matt Thompson (can't find a blog link for Matt). he talked about Sun's approach to developers and how they see them as a conduit to revenue through infrastructure sales. To this end they have decided to release all of their dev tools for free under various open source licenses. He also made the following points about open source development:

    • Open Source does not mean something's free - the ongoing costs are actually probably higher than other options.
    • Development time for Open Source projects is usually longer than projects that are developed in-house
    • Open Source does not help you find bugs. Having lots of people looking at the code generally means that you find the same (simple) bugs lots of times. Finding deep bugs needs thorough and rigorous architecture, investigation and testing with experienced people and advanced tools.
    • Without community, most Open Source projects will fail.

    My favourite quote from Matt's talk was "Companies that don't understand citizen technologies are like media companies that don't understand citizen media". I agree with this. Where we differ is what we do with that understanding. I feel very strongly that it make a lot of sense to provide the infrastructure in a stable and consistent way on which developers can innovate. Citizen technology is not about the OS or the plumbing layer, it's about the stuff people interact with. The job of the OS or the framework is to do the drudgery, and let the developers solve the new problems, not the old problems over and over again.

    I just attended an interesting presentation from Simon Ritter - one of the Technology Evangelists - on current and future versions of Java SE. Without him saying so in as many words, it looks like some of the upcoming features (especially in "Dolphin" - Java SE 7) are trying to catch up with the new bits in .NET framework 2.0 and Orcas.

    My impression is that all of the speakers are from the US and that the local office is providing logistical support.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Sun Developers Conference in Sydney - Part III


    Day 2 of the conference started with a "keynote" session, which was essentially the draw for a couple of competitions. Numbers looked about the same as the previous day.

    The conference then split into tracks again and I chose Lee Chuk-Munn's "Building Great Games for the Mobile World". I haven't done a lot of thinking about game development in general and I've done even less about game development for mobile devices, so the introductory 30 minutes were really fascinating and applied to game development on phones regardless of the OS. The general thrust was that it's a mistake to just try to recreate/port a game from PC or console to a phone. Phones have distinct characteristics that make the user experience very different.

    On the down side:

    • Screen size and resolution
    • Available space for application and storage
    • Processing power
    • Form Factor
    • Use cases (where will the game be played - what external factors will be in play)
    • Colour and Sound support
    • The thing might ring at any time!

    On the up side:

    • The phone has characteristics that many PCs and consoles don't - Camera, Address Book, SMS/BT/WiFi/GPRS/3G, Location awareness
    • The phone's always with you (one of 4 things you "always carry" - Wallet, Keys, Watch and Phone)

    Other things to take into consideration are:

    • Allow play in short, interruptible chunks. The game doesn't have to be finished in a short time. it just has to be possible to stop pretty much any time and start again from there later
    • Game play should generally be slower than mainstream PS/Console games
    • Games should work both on and off line.
    • Mobile phones are social devices - at a party for example, everyone's likely to have one
    • Game play should be simple (like Sudoku) but not simplistic (like Tic-Tac-Toe)

    The session then started diving into screen shots of code for the second half. I really would have liked this to have been done live, or at least with some demos because staring at Courier New on the PowerPoint slides gets a little boring . There was also no discussion of emulators or of deployment.

    One really interesting idea presented at the end was of different devices connecting to the same game server and providing a different experience for the same game. The example given was an online FPS where a mate of yours needs help in a situation and he contacts you. You're off-line but you've got your phone. You connect to the server via the mobile and you're presented with, perhaps, a scope view only so you can do some sniping. We've been talking about this for some time in enterprise apps, but I, at least, hadn't made the leap to gaming. Very cool.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Security Interchange in Brisbane - the word is YES!


    After kicking off at the Adelaide Oval on Tuesday, we continued the sporting theme last night and had version II of the Security Interchange event at Ballymore in Brisbane.

    We had a great evening - highlights being Steve's famous "How do you know when you're done" question, Jamie's education of the audience (the word is "YES!") and some guy who was accused of being an amazing marketeer just because he was telling folks about the Security eForum website ( - I tell you, that hurt. Note that we'll be posting recording of all of the security Seminar (all day) sessions up on the eForum site after the last event in Auckland.

    These events have proved very popular with attendees - they're a very informal, interactive and a lot of fun. Questions from the audience, short (think 10 minutes) presentations as well as a great opportunity for networking and interaction during the dinner break.

    I promised that I'd post the blog addresses of the speakers (those that have 'em), so here they are:

    Don't forget that we'll be hosting some on-line chats with the Speakers over the next few weeks. Login and ask questions, or just hang out.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Internet Safety for Kids


    Last night I presented to parents at my kids' school on the topic of "Internet Safety for Kids". This follows on from Jeff's great TechEd presentation last year, which in turn derives from the materials on Laura Chappell's great site. We had a great discussion afterwards and as promised, I've posted the presentation deck here.

    Please feel free to use this material (acknowledging Laura's work please) if you have a local group you think would benefit from this presentation.


    Here are the points I raised at the end of the presentation as the
    Bottom Line

    • Talk to your kids
      • Stranger Danger on the web
      • "We’re around and will look after you"
      • Use the online resources
    • Keep internet access in public location
      • Watch out for signs of hiding things
    • Don’t be afraid of the technology
    • Don’t rely on the technology alone

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Managing SQL Server Express


    I showed off integrating SQL Express with VFP at OzFox Lite last weekend, and as part of the presentation (515 KB), everyone got a copy of SQL Express (as well as all of the other Express products). I did mention it at the time, but a couple of people have asked me again. SQL Express doesn't ship with any management tools, so if you don't have a copy of SQL Server Management Studio you need to grab the SQL Server Management Studio Express tool.

    Update: Fixed the link to the PPT - Thanks Franklin
  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    OzFox Lite Rocks the house!


    Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend OzFox Lite, a Code-Camp-like event for VFP developers organised by the indefatigable Craig Bailey. 40 VFP aficionados from as far afield as Adelaide, Perth and even New Zealand descended on the MS HQ in Sydney for 2 days of sessions on VFP and other things. There was a special video keynote from Craig Boyd. Special guest speakers included Adam Cogan and Greg Low, Australia's two Microsoft Regional Directors, plus nearly a dozen other members of the community. Sunny Chandra was especially passionate and popular.

    It wasn't all tech talk of course, 20 of us went out to dinner on Saturday night and some hardy souls came back after that to play on the one X-Box 360 that MS didn't have down in Melbourne for hospitality at the Commonwealth Games.

    Great geek weekend and huge kudos to Craig.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    VFP Sedna March CTP Now Online


    Milind Lee has posted that the March CTP of Sedna, the add-on for VFP, is now available.

    We have released the first CTP (Community Technology Preview) of Sedna. This March 2006 CTP includes the latest build of NET4COM — a library of COM wrappers around a selected subset of the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0. We will release other CTPs periodically. Each CTP will have incrementally increasing functionality and latest builds of Sedna until we release a full public beta later this year.

     This is VERY cool stuff. not just for VFP aficionados (like me), but for anyone who is developing in a non-.NET environment from which you can call COM objects. Apparently there are a few that meet this description, for example, VB6 and VBA (not to stray too far from the stable). This approach is the same one I took when I wrapped the MapPoint Web Service functionality in a COM wrapper to make it easy to call from VFP.

    If you're still doing COM-based development, keep an eye on Sedna. While you're at it, you should also check out the complimentary community project, SednaX

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Team Foundation User Admin Tool now works against the TFS RC

    John Lawrence (of Dogfood Statistics fame) notes that the User Admin Power Tool for TFS has been updated to work against the TFS RC bits. This has been released by the Developer Division Customer Product Lifecycle Experience Team (DDCPX), who also bring you MSBee (which allows you to easliy target FW 1.1 with MS Build)
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