Computer Science Teacher
Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

August, 2007

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Visual Basic Power Pack Now with Shape Controls


    I'm an old Visual Basic guy. Not just in age but in going back to early versions of Visual Basic (I installed version 1.0 but upgraded to version 3 soon after) so its not surprising that I miss some of the features that were "lost" when Visual Basic went to .NET. The VB team has been good about not forgetting about us old guys and have gradually added a lot of those features back in as time and budget permit. Edit and continue is back for example. Thanks VB team.

    A couple of features are really just hard to do right as base features. One of the ones that a lot of people missed (and trust me I bugged the VB team about it on several occasions) was Print Form - having ones code "dump" an image of the form to a printer. A while back the VB team created a PrintForm control and packaged it up as a free download and called it a Visual Basic Power Pack. And a lot of us were happy about that.

    But that still left us missing our old shape controls - lines, rectangles, and ovals. We were faking some of it with picture boxes (for lines and rectangles) or drawing ovals and lines using the graphic functions. But using other controls seemed a bit "heavy" and doing the graphic drawing meant playing with Repaint/Paint and other unfamiliar methods. Well we are not forgotten!

    The Visual Basic team released Visual Basic Power Pack 2.0 last week. The Print Form control has been updated. Better yet we now have a new Line, Rectangle and Oval control. Obviously squares are rectangles with all four sides the same size and circles are ovals with height and width the same. These shapes can be filled, have different border thickness, and have their looks changed in all sorts of ways. Pretty much they are just what you would expect.

    So if you, like me, are missing the shape controls or Print Form capability you'll want to download and install this power pack ASAP.

    PS: Thanks for listening VB team!

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    The Man Behind Photosynth


    Speaking of Dan Waters (who I linked to earlier this week), I should mention that Dan posted an interview with Blaise Aguera y Arcas, The Man Behind Photosynth last week. It is a very interesting article on several levels. One of the things I like about it is that it brings home how people in different fields and with different domain expertise come together to work on projects that involve computers and computer programming.

    It's a good interview and I think people will find it interesting. Go take a look.

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  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    New XNA Book - Sample Chapters Available


    I love Rob Miles blog. If there is a post from Rob in my RSS reader it is likely to be one of the first things I read. Rob is on the faculty of the University of Hull in England and is a real teacher. By that I mean he seems to really enjoy teaching and sharing what he knows with students. That is my kind of teacher.  I also find that the clear and often humorous style he uses in his blog carries over to his more technical writing as well.

    Understand that Rob and I are both of the "bad jokes" school of teaching. That is to say that if we are not having fun we don't really expect that students are having much fun either. And if no one is having fun what's the point anyway?

    So when I heard that Rob was writing a new text book on programming with XNA my first question was "when can I get a copy?"

    Well the book is not done yet but Rob has made a sample chapter (chapter one you'll be surprised to hear) available from his web site. I've skimmed though it and I like where it is going. I imagine that some people will want a dry, boring and stuffy book about game programming. Those people will hate this book. But if you are interested in learning/teaching XNA with some room for fun (fun? with game programming? Imagine that!) this looks like a book to keep an eye out for. [Note: Chapter 2 is up now as well]

    Oh and by the way, Rob Miles was one of the judges for the Imagine Cup finals in Korea recently and his blog has some reports from there that you may find interesting. Some great pictures too!

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