March, 2008

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Silverlight 2 Resource


    SilverlightLogo.jpg It has been three weeks since we annouced Silverlight 2 at MIX08. Many of you are excited to getting started with Silverlight 2, so I've done some research around and created the following list. I want to give special credits to Adam Kinney, Tim Sneath, Laurence Moroney, and Joshua Allen for creating great tutorials and resource lists for Silverlight 2.

    Tools for Building Silverlight 2 Applications

    • Silverlight 2 Beta 1 Runtime: Windows, Mac
    • Expression Studio 2 Beta: the second release of Expression Studio adds a wealth of new features including support for Microsoft’s new Silverlight technology across all the tools. Enhanced designer developer workflow makes the process of building great user experience even better! You can also just download the individual components here.
    • Expression Blend 2.5 Preview: use Expression Blend 2.5 to create and modify managed Silverlight 2-based applications. Expression Blend 2.5 for Silverlight 2 includes all of the features in Expression Blend 2 but has not reached the quality level of Expression Blend 2 for WPF or Silverlight 1 development. Note: here is a clear table view to help you choose which Blend version to use for your project.
    • Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition (Standard or above version will do)
    • Silverlight Tools Beta 1 for Visual Studio 2008: this package is an add-on to the RTM release of Visual Studio 2008 to provide tooling for Microsoft Silverlight 2 Beta 1. It provides a Silverlight project system for developing Silverlight applications using C# or Visual Basic.  The components included are:
      • Visual Basic and C# Project templates
      • Intellisense and code generators for XAML
      • Debugging of Silverlight applications
      • Web reference support
      • Integration with Expression Blend

        Note: this will also install Silverlight 2 Beta 1, Silverlight 2 SDK Beta 1, KB949325 for Visual Studio 2008.


    Other resources


    Silverlight Controls

    Hot Topics in Silverlight 2

    Please refer to Adam's blog post for more developer related topics.

    Silverlight on Mobile

    Deep Zoom

    Accessibility in Silverlight 2

    Accessibility has been something of a weak spot in Silverlight 1.0; with only very basic support for alt tags and default actions.  It hasn't been all bad, since this led developers to use Silverlight with "Plain Old Semantic HTML" in a progressive enhancement pattern -- which will continue to be useful in some scenarios going forward.  But the range of options for accessible development increases substantially with Silverlight 2.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Design Student of the Month - Tyler Egeto


    There are a lot of creative students in Canada who are doing innovative work to improve people's life through interactive, visual, informational, and other aspects of User Experience Design. I invited them to introduce who they are and share their work with you. To nominate a Design Student of the Month, email us. The Design Student of the Month for March 2008 is Tyler Egeto! Congratulations!! Let's hear from Tyler.


    Who’s Tyler?

    My name is Tyler Egeto and I am currently a student attending the Digital Design program at Vancouver Film School. My focus is on user interaction, specifically the exploration of alternative forms, and how these can improve user experience. This is a really exciting area to be in, and I want to push the boundaries of what is considered typical user experience in areas such as the web.

    What cool stuff is Tyler doing?

    I have had the opportunity to explore a lot of exciting technologies, such as multi-touch systems, 3D web technologies, and applying real world data to computer technologies. A project I am currently working on, titled the Organic Web, is an application of an information visualization system being developed for displaying information on the web. This project takes a look at the internet an questions the effectiveness of how information is displayed on it. It attempts to present the web as an organic system, where information ages and changes based on user interaction, or a lack of it. This system is called an Organic Information Visualization System.

    The goal of this system is to empower users to search through large amounts of digital data based on several dimension of information, rather than just text. This video gives a brief overview of a demo application of this system.

    What are Tyler’s plans after graduation?

    With my time at VFS coming to an end, I will be looking to work in a place that shares a similar focus and approach to design as me, one where user experience is a driving force. I want to be in a position where I can continue to explore, grow, and push boundaries as the technologies we use grow and evolve. I feel we are on the brink of some major advancements in what is still a very young field, and I want to be apart of those changes.

    Want to learn more about Tyler?

    If anyone is interested they can see more of my work at my website, or contact me directly through email at

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Silverlight Momentum Video


    Over the past year, we have gained quite a bit of momentum around Silverlight. Check out the following video, which was showed during MIX keynote, contains a montage of major early adopters of Silverlight.

    I used Expression Encoder 2 to encode the video and uploaded it onto Silverlight streaming. There's a significant workflow improvement in Encoder 2 by using the "Edit in Expression Blend" feature. It makes creating your own player experience very easy. I remember in Encoder 1, I created a video about how to create your own video play experience. Because there was no easy workflow support in Encoder to edit template in Blend, there were some "hack" like steps involved. Now with the new feature, you can choose to Edit the template directly in Blend or Edit a copy of the template then save it as your own template. The new templates are saved directly in Encoder so that you can see your templates in the "Output Template" drop-down box right away. In the example above, I modified the "Clean" player template and placed a Silverlight logo on the top right of the player.

    For the full list of new features in Expression Encoder, you can check out the newly launched Encoder Team Blog.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    MIX08 Experience from Sean Diamond


    Thanks to MIX, I had the opportunity to met with Sean, who is a recent grad at Queens University but already has his own company, UTours. UTours is a resource website that help students to choose the right post-secondary school by listening to the advice given by current and recent grads from a particular university. UTours features 20 of Canada’s largest universities through highly informative video tours. Sean is one of the founders of his company whose role it is to continually grow their web presence, further the amount and reach of their content as well as engage partners to create and activate new programs both online and offline. Here`s what Sean has to say about his MIX experience:

    What did you want to get out of MIX (or your expectations of MIX) before attending?

    • To learn more about the future of the web and the place for RIA’s within the larger web environment
    • Network with people within the technology space
    • Determine how I can use emerging web technologies like Silverlight to continue to accelerate the growth of my company.

    There are many announcements about Silverlight , Expression Studio, and IE8 during the Keynote on first day. Any announcement or demo really resonated with you and got you excited?

    I found the new features within IE8 extremely exciting, specifically the advent of things like web slices and the ability for back buttons to work with AJAX- and for IE8 to be intelligent and know when you have lost connectivity. I was also extremely excited about the new applications that have been developed with Silverlight and the potential that Silverlight brings to the web. I was blown away by what NBC is planning for and how Hard Rock has redefined the way we will  browse through, and experience high quality images online.

    I know UTours, and our partners (obviously those that are not as tech savvy) can learn to use a lot of these technologies to improve its web, and interactive experiences online. However, I will need to spend more time learning how to use them effectively.

    What are some most interesting sessions you attended during MIX08? Why?

    I would say that there were two types of very interesting sessions that I attended at MIX08. The first were the series focused around Web 2.0, how to make money from it and the direction that we are heading. It was very interesting to hear the insight of those who are on the forefront of this new web media, how they are building their communities and what they are doing to monetize. The second was centered around SEO and web advertising. I found the sessions from Nathan Buggia, Erynn Petersen and Eric Picard extremely informative, helpful and directly relevant to help us organically increase our web traffic and understand the options for monetization of our content both in the present and the future.

    What sorts of content you wish to see at next year’s MIX? Any comment on how can we make MIX better? 

    Next year I would hope to learn more about how advertising is growing on the web. Ray Ozzie mentioned that the total amount of advertising dollars spent on the web is forecasted to grow 3x in the next three years. What are the types of experiences advertisers are hoping to achieve? What are the metrics and what web technologies are helping advertisers distinguish between spends that are strictly brand builds and spends that are direct ROI based? How can we measure the user experience beyond where and how often they click and what technologies/support systems are available to facilitate the changing vehicle of high-value content from cable and television to the Internet.

    The only real comment I have about improving MIX was that I spent 72 hours straight in the Venetian hotel. Although I loved the establishment and the facilities, 72 hours is a long time to spend in one place. If it is at all possible to vary some of the event locations like the delegate reception, I think I might leave Vegas with a little more of my sanity (and money ;)

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  • Canadian UX Blog

    MIX08 Experience from Kerri McKenna


    kerri_sf (2)

    Kerri and I got to know each other when I first joined Microsoft last year. I remember during my first meeting at imason, she opened my eyes with elegant Sharepoint portal design projects she was working on. Kerri is part of imason’s User Experience team, and wears a lot of different hats when it comes to supporting our development team. On any given project she might be working with clients to design the user experience for an application by creating wireframes or writing requirements, making recommendations on an Information Architecture, designing and facilitating usability tests, coming up with the graphic design, or writing HTML and CSS for our developers. Here`s what Kerri has to say about her MIX experience:


    What did you want to get out of MIX (or your expectations of MIX) before attending?

    I looked forward to MIX because I’m interested in Microsoft’s messages for the design community. Designers and UX professionals aren’t part of their traditional target audience, so I attended my first MIX conference in 2006 with a lot skepticism. At MIX06, they publically declared their commitment to supporting the design community, but more importantly their actions in the past two years have demonstrated how serious they are about including UX professionals in their target audience. I was excited to return this year and learn about their progress and plans on the UX front, and wasn’t disappointed.

    There are many announcements about Silverlight , Expression Studio, and IE8 during the Keynote on first day. Any announcement or demo really resonated with you and got you excited?

    The new features in IE8 caught my attention, but what really got me excited was the idea of using Silverlight to create adaptive user interfaces (as demonstrated during the “Crossing the Usability Chasm” breakout session).

    What are some most interesting sessions you attended during MIX08? Why?

    I really appreciated the Adaptive Path hands-on workshops in the UX track. It’s always great to learn new tips and tricks for evolving the processes that UX professionals use to help our clients get to the essence of what it is their own end-users need.

    What sorts of content you wish to see at next year’s MIX? Any comment on how can we make MIX better?

    I would love to see more of what the international community is doing with Microsoft’s new technologies. Both conferences I’ve attended so far (MIX06 and MIX08) have been quite U.S.-centric.

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  • Canadian UX Blog

    MIX08 Experience from Caterina Sanders


    Last week, I asked some Canadian attendees to talk about their experience at MIX. I`ll share their experience in the following series of posts.

    photo of 'Caterina Sanders'

    Caterina and I had couple of email exchanges before MIX. I was very excited to finally meet her in-person at the conference. She is the Director, User Experience at Habanero, a Vancouver and Calgary-based IT consulting services company. She manages their User Experience team which includes user interface designers, information architects and user experience developers (Flash, Flex, Silverlight, AJAX, etc.). Here`s what Caterina has to say about her experience:



    What did you want to get out of MIX (or your expectations of MIX) before attending?

    To meet other UX professionals that work closely with Microsoft, learn about UX-related Microsoft offerings, hear Ballmer speak (and hope for a show – which we got!)

    There are many announcements about Silverlight , Expression Studio, and IE8 during the Keynote on first day. Any announcement or demo really resonated with you and got you excited?

    The direction the Internet Explorer team at Microsoft has taken with IE8 is really exciting. They’re finally listening to what the design/UX/standards community has been saying for such a long time. We spend a lot of time trying to get our work to behave in all of the popular browsers, and IE always seemed to be throwing us curve balls. That IE 8 is going to render HTML in a standards compliant fashion is really a big deal.

    The Silverlight demos were very impressive and showed off some exciting functionality. I think Microsoft still has a way to go before the Expression Suite will be accepted by the design community as designers are fiercely loyal to their tools. If Silverlight downloads start to become significant it is a platform that our team will certainly be considering. I’m especially intrigued to see if we can utilize the technology for prototyping solution concepts for usability and other types of testing.

    What are some most interesting sessions you attended during MIX08? Why?

    The keynotes were really good because they provided a comprehensive picture of Microsoft’s web strategy. Steve Ballmer impressed me with his candour.I also enjoyed a few of the more general UX technique related sessions – the Usability Chasm and the Communicating with Pictures stand out in my memory.

    What sorts of content you wish to see at next year’s MIX? Any comment on how can we make MIX better?

    • It’s a great conference for networking and it would be great to have that be part of the actual days’ structures. At some of the Microsoft Partner conferences, for instance it’s possible to schedule sort speed-dating style networking opportunities during the conference (and not worry about missing sessions). Something like that would be great.
    • More general UX sessions but of a more advanced nature – the ones offered this year were sort of introductory.
    • Less panels!
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  • Canadian UX Blog

    [Guest Blogger] Meeting with Bill Gates


    A few professors from University of  Waterloo had the rare chance to meet with Bill Gates later last month during his last university tour as the Chief Software Architect at Microsoft. I asked Professor David Goodwin, the only representative from the Arts Faulty, to share his experience of meeting with Bill Gates. Enjoy!

    First, can you tell us who you are and what you  do at UW?

    Dave Goodwin photo I'm the Director of the Digital Arts Communication program, housed within Arts and Business, at the University of Waterloo. I am also a senior researcher at the Canadian Centre of Arts and Technology (UW), and have worked on prototyping, interaction design, and multimedia design initiatives for RIM, TorStar, StatsCan, and now Christie Digital Systems, Canada.

    How many faculties were invited to the faculty roundtable? What was it like to have such an exclusive session with him? What was your impression of Bill Gates in person?

    The round table breakfast session consisted of 12 academics. Most were from Math and Computer Science, some from Engineering. I was the sole representative from the Arts Faculty. Meeting Bill Gates is always a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but especially so this time, since it was his last scheduled tour of universities as Head Architect of Software at Microsoft. So really, we were watching history in the making. For those of us who marveled at 64K computers, DOS, and WYSIWYG, and then saw the development of personal computing, the Web, and quad core processing, his visit -- and announced change of role at Microsoft -- marked the end of an era. It was a milestone event.

    As a person, BG is an incredible simultaneous synthesizer and analyzer of information. He pulls things together as you speak. Then he breaks them out into components. Then he recombines them to offer new ways of connecting the dots. His ability to move from physics to hardware, and from databases to geopolitics, is very impressive, if not daunting, to say the least.

    What are some topics discussed during the roundtable? Anything particularly interesting to you? What’s his vision for future computing? What do you think about his vision?

    The topics reflected the research interests of people at the table. I was especially interested in his concept of the natural interface -- literally taking computing out of the box and integrating it into our everyday hand movements. No more mice and keyboards, for example. He really wants the tools to be extensions of us and our world, not high-bar-to-entry tools.

    During the roundtable, did you have an opportunity to talk to him directly? If so, what did you talk about?

    For my part, I was interested in BG's ideas about how to link design and development. Over time, as technologies mature, they become more about benefits, less about features; more about design, less about development, So I wanted to know beyond Expression -- which is a great first step to bridging between the two cultures. He agreed about the trend, and said that Microsoft was including more designers in the early stages of conceptualizing products and applications, not just to help MS design better, but to build tools that were more designer friendly.

    What are some memorable moments during Bill Gates visit?

    Without a doubt the most memorable moment was when a female student stood up in the audience and asked if she could add an extra question to the end of the session.  To Tom Coleman's (the Dean of Math's) credit, he allowed her to ask the question: "how did you (BG) find the courage at 17 to start what was to become the world's biggest company?"  The question showed real courage and wasn't pre-selected. The answer showed real humanity and clearly was from the heart. BG said the following (I paraphrase):

    At 17 I didn't have much to lose. I promised my parents that I would go back to university if things didn't pan out. But I did worry about all those people who had spouses and children. They depended on the business succeeding. That's what worried me at night. So I made sure that I had enough money in the bank to pay everyone's salary for a year if none of my customers came through. That's how I got through it. Eventually there came a time, though, when we needed to hire 30 people, and that was a real crisis. I really didn't want to expand without a financial safety net in place.  Ultimately, I compromised and said yes, go ahead and hire. But I want to know immediately when the increased revenues offset the costs of paying everyone a year's salary ...  that way I could sleep again.

    Conscience is a rare quality. In large companies, it's even rarer. I think Bill Gates' strategic sense, coupled with his conscience, makes him an exceptional leader. I look forward to hearing more about his contributions to world health and poverty.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    MIX08: A Conference Summary


    MIX08 came and went and I've had a chance to reflect on its impact over the weekend.  I have to say that the content really impressed me.  Some of the exciting news for me:

    • IE8 is going to surprise a lot of people.  I'm looking forward to digging deep into the experience the browser gives me and to really test out the standards-based browsing that it has introduced into the product line. 
    • The work on Silverlight 2 is really, really strong and the DeepZoom technology is excellent. 
    • I was also happy to see the great progress that the Expression Team is making on getting the product ready for Silverlight 2 as well. 
    • Mesh Computing:  Ray Ozzie alluded to it very slighly, but I think we're finally starting to see where his focus has been.  He's been rather silent over the past 2 years working on some cloud-based services computing work and I think he just let the cat out of the bag at MIX08 as to where a great deal of Microsoft's efforts in Software + Services strategy is heading.  And I like what I heard.

    I personally would have liked to see more information on Windows Live, which I still say is one of Microsoft's best kept secrets.  Most people are only aware of Live Search in the services offering (if at all!) but there is so much goodness in the Live Services suite that people can leverage to build great experiences for users on the web or on the desktop.  I thought MIX08 would be a bit of a "coming of age party" for Live, but that wasn't the case.  I'm hoping to see MIX09 as the "Live MIX"; it could be a very interesting MIX if it is.

    Conference highlights were a-plenty.  The keynotes and sessions were great with a lot of very useful and exciting information.  Some of my personal highlights included:

    • The Steve Ballmer Keynote:  People have a pretty stereotypical impression of SteveB and I think he did an excellent job in dispelling some of those stereotypes.  Overall, and amazing keynote and I hope he is back for MIX09.
    • The Ray Ozzie, Scott Guthrie and Dean Hachamovitch Keynote:  Some absolutely amazing content here.  Silverlight 2, DeepZoom, IE8, Expression (particularly encoder)
    • Sessions
      • BCT03 - Understanding Microsoft Partner Programs for Designers, Developers and Agencies:  This session provided some great information for designers, developers and web agencies to take advantage of a partnership with Microsoft to help them build their web business.
      • CT01, CT02 - Building Rich Internet Applications with Silverlight 2, Parts 1 and 2:  If you want to know how to build Silverlight 2 applications, these 2 sessions will definitely help you along the way.
      • C04 - Microsoft Expression Web: From Comp, to CSS, to Code!  If you build websites with Expression Web or you are looking to move from FrontPage (which has been deprecated), this is an excellent session to view as it gives a detailed view of the features in Expression Web 2 (including PHP support!).
      • T09 - Overview of Expression Encoder 2:  This was a fantastic session on the new features found in v2 of Expression Encoder (formerly known as Expression Media Encoder).  If you want to know what new functionality the Expression Team has added to the software, you should view this session.

    Just a reminder, all the sessions can be found at, including the keynotes.

    Many of the new, highlighted technologies can be downloaded.  A good summary of these downloadable technologies can be found on a blog post by Tim Sneath here.

    Oh, and just to get you all ready, MIX09 will be held March 18-20, 2009. See you there!


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  • Canadian UX Blog

    MIX08 Photo Stack


    MIX08 has ended but there's a lot of great memories. I created a photo stack in Popfly to capture some Canadian MIXers moments.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    MIX08 - March 6 Summary


    Another great day here in Las Vegas.  Some great sessions on a variety of topics today as well as some very good discussions on the state of technology and the web today.

    Above:  Tyler Simpson (left) and Nishant Kothary (right) presenting the session Microsoft Expression Web: From Comp, to CSS, to Code!

    Above:  Danny Riddell from Metalliq presenting the session The Business of Microsoft Silverlight

    The highlight of the day for me was the Steve Ballmer / Guy Kawasaki keynote.  I wasn't sure what to expect but it was certainly interesting and very enjoyable to watch.  It gave the audience a bit of everything; a few tough questions from Guy, some good-natured ribbing, a Macbook Air having a near-death experience and some really interesting questions from the audience.  The topics ranged from Yahoo! to competitors (like Apple, Google and Adobe) as well as some discussion on recent Microsoft acquisitions including aQuantive and the rarely discussed (but IMHO, very significant) acquisition of FAST, an enterprise search vendor based out of Norway.

    Above:  Guy Kawasaki interviewing Steve Ballmer in the Wednesday Keynote

    In addition to the day's events, Microsoft Canada held its party for Canadian MIX08 attendees at the V-Bar in the Venetian.  It was a great event with a lot of fantastic discussion on the future of the web and the role web designers and web developers will play in guiding the trends.  Unfortunately, the batteries in my camera died so I wasn't able to take any photos.


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  • Canadian UX Blog

    Summary of the Partner Program Session at MIX08


    This post is in reference to the session on March 5 entitled Understanding Microsoft Partner Programs for Designers, Developers and Agencies.  While many of you who read this blog may be familiar with the Microsoft Partner Program (MSPP) or might even be a Microsoft Partner, some of you may find this session interesting as it will give you some insight as to how the MSPP can help you grow your business.  If you wish to view the session, you can find it here.

    Above:  Bill Vlandis (left) and Hakan Soderbom (right) presenting the Partner Program session at MIX08 on March 5

    Summary of the session:

    There are a number of programs in place from Microsoft that you can take advantage of to grow your business.  These programs are put in place to help you get the competencies you need to successfully grow your business by building web solutions on the Microsoft platform, whether you are a designer, agency, web developer or systems integrator.  Below is a list of relevant programs that you might be interested in looking into, along with there benefits.

    • Microsoft Partner Program (MSPP)
      • This is the all-up program for all Microsoft Partners
      • Registration as a partner is free and the sign-up process takes less than 20 minutes
      • There are three levels of Partners:  Registered, Certified and Gold Certified, each with different benefits
      • Microsoft Action Packs (MAPS)
        • Available to all Microsoft Partners
        • Costs CAD $399, but in the MAPS kit is over $20,000 worth of software that you can use to build your web solutions (i.e.:  the software is for you to build web solutions, not for resale)
        • There is a Web Add-On kit that is also available that provides you with Expression Studio and other technologies.  The Web Add-On kit is free to MAPS subscribers but you are required to pass a test (which really doesn't take that long to complete, nor is it particularly difficult to pass)
      • To register yourself/company as a Microsoft Partner, go to
    • Mercury Program
      • For web solutions providers (web design agencies and web development studios)
      • Meant to provide support for web design / web development partners since the MSPP doesn't have a specific web design competency integrated into the program yet.
      • Benefits of Mercury
        • Exposure to Expression Studio and other creative web technologies from Microsoft (such as Silverlight and AJAX)
        • Provides workshop and training opportunities
        • Access to demos and how-to content
        • Free design and web development support
        • More information can be found at
    • Silverlight Partner Initiative
      • Meant for partners that wish to build compelling web solutions using Silverlight
      • There are three levels in the program:  Standard, Alliance and Premier, each with increasing support from Microsoft
      • Anyone can join this program
      • Benefits include technical help and content to help you get up to speed with Silverlight as well as marketing support from Microsoft to help grow your Silverlight business
      • More information can be found at
      • Have a question about the Silverlight Partner Initiative?  Send an email to
    • Artists in Residence
      • By invitation only
      • Very intense, 10-day deep dive with Expression Studio and Silverlight
      • Includes 2 full days of deep dive training, and then 7-8 days of your team building a cutting edge web solution with Silverlight
        • By the end of the 10 days, you will have created a solid Silverlight solution that you can use to market your abilities to create best-of-breed web applications in SIlverlight to your customers
      • Your organisation must send 1 developer and 1 designer to this training
      • For more information, use the email tool on this blog and we will provide you with information on the program
    • Microsoft Hosting Community
      • Launching in mid-April this year
      • Provides marketing and technical resources to hosters and partners wishing to explore hosting as a way to grow their business
      • More information is at
    • Visual Studio Industry Program (VSIP)
      • Meant for partners that are building add-ons and plug-ins to Visual Studio 2008
      • Program provides technical and marketing support for your solution
    • InnovateOn
      • Microsoft's engine to provide self-service support to partners
      • Provides technical and business content to help you understand how Microsoft can help you grow your business and get the skills you need
      • A web-specific subsite will be launching soon
      • Website:


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  • Canadian UX Blog

    Zoomable UI with Silverlight Deep Zoom Technology


    One of the most impressive demos during the MIX keynote yesterday was the Hard Rock Memorabilia Site. Users can browse through thousands of pieces of Rock-n-Roll memorabilia in the Hard Rock collection! The zoomable UI technology is called "Deep Zoom," which allow you to zoom in seamlessly and see incredible detail like fingerprints and photographer's reflections on the pieces in the collection. In the demo, we literally started from looking at thousands of guitar and finally zoom into looking at the details at the end of one string on a guitar. The interaction feels very natural. Now you can experience it on their live site. I bet this will inspires the information visualization designers and researchers out there.

    MIX Online has a video interview with the crew who built the experience. Since Silverlight 2 comes with Deep Zoom technology, it quite easy to add the experience to your web application. Mike Harsh, a senior program manager on Silverlight team, has a nice package with demo and presentations on how to do that.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    MIX08 - March 5 Summary


    The first day of MIX08 has come and gone with a lot of interesting news.  The keynote was this morning and then a series of breakout sessions, followed by the Attendee Party at TAO.

    For information on the keynote this morning, please refer to the detailed report provided by Qixing.  If you wish to view the keynote, you can find it here at (as of the publishing of this blog post, it is not yet available but it should be found here in the morning at some point).


    Above:  Ray Ozzie speaking about Software + Services in the keynote.

    There were some great sessions I saw as well:


    Above:  Lou Carbone on Getting Clued In To Experience Management


    Above:  Bill Vlandis (left) and Hakan Soderbom (right) on Understanding Microsoft Partner Programs for Designers, Developers and Agencies


    Above:  Mike Harsh on  Building Rich Internet Applications with Silverlight 2, Part 2

    Yesterday, I promised you a picture of the Rock Band setup at MIX08 as well, so here it is:


    Finally, here are some pictures from the Attendee Party at TAO (which was a fantastic networking event):


    Above:  Ben (left) from Habaneros and Rini (right) from Microsoft Canada


    Above (Left to right):  Morten from Pink & Yellow Media, Paul from Microsoft Canada, Bryce from Navantis and Mark from Habaneros

    My "Only in Vegas" Story:  At the end of the TAO party, a number of us decided to head out to the Palazzo to check out the casino there.  On the way in, we saw a man walk past us in only his underwear (no pictures of that, thankfully).  He was followed by some security guards who were after him; when he saw them, he started running and nearly got run over by a taxi cab!

    Look for further updates tomorrow.  Also, I will give a summary of the Understanding Microsoft Partner Programs for Designers, Developers and Agencies session because if you are a small business looking to grow your competencies as a web solutions specialist, there is a lot of valuable information from this session that may be worth your while to listen to.


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  • Canadian UX Blog

    MIX08 Keynote Technology Downloads


    Tim Sneath has a great summary of links the technologies we announced at the MIX08 keynote this morning.  If you're interested in playing with these technologies (including IE8, Silverlight 2, Expression 2 and ASP.NET MVC), you'll want to see his post.


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  • Canadian UX Blog

    MIX08 Announcements



    Keynote with Ray Ozzie, Dean Hachamovitch, and Scott Guthrie has just finished. Wow!! There's so much excitement around connected devices, entertainment, productivity and business and lots of great announcements to digest. I list them below and we'll go in-depth for each major announcement in a future post.  This is simply to give you an overview.

    Introducing... Silverlight 2 Beta 1

    Microsoft Silverlight is a cross-browser, cross-platform, and cross-device plug-in for delivering the next generation of .NET based media experiences and rich interactive applications for the Web.

    Deliver Compelling Cross-Platform Experiences: Custom branded experiences using 2D vector graphics, animation, styling, and skinningimage

    • Highly sophisticated RIA’s across major browsers on Mac, Windows, Linux, and devices
    • HD video and advanced streaming techniques for world-class media experiences
    • Unparalleled interactivity with high resolution content through Deep Zoom technology

    Reach Out to New Markets: Multi-channel deployment of web applications to the desktop and devices through .NET

    • Monetization of media assets via protected content and advertising-enabled scenarios
    • Cost effective media delivery via Windows Server
    • Thriving ecosystem of .NET and Windows Media partners, developers, and applications

    Increase Team Productivity and Collaboration

    • Rapid development through XML-based declarative markup and a full set of controls
    • Role-specific productivity tools to enhance designer--developer collaboration, with Expression Studio, Visual Studio, and Visual Studio Team System
    • Flexible programming model that supports JScript, C#, VB.NET, AJAX, IronPython, and IronRuby
    • Easy to add richness to AJAX applications and reduce cross-browser issues

    in addition, we announced the partnership with Nokia. Silverlight will be available for S60 on Symbian OS, Series 40 and Nokia Internet tablets.

    Tryout...Expression Studio 2 Beta

    image Expression Studio 2 now supports Silverlight as a whole.

    Blend 2
    • Silverlight 1.0 Support with JavaScipt Editor, split screen
    • Close integration with Visual Studio 2008
    • Enhanced UI for better design workflow
    • Clip Path editing and animation
    Web 2
    • Standards support such as PHP, PSD
    • Users can create and work with interactive pages such as inserting Silverlight component and preview DirectX on design surface
    Media 2
    • Silverlight web gallery
    • Virtual Earth: See or record right where the picture was taken!
    • Multi-Monitor support for Light Table
    Design 2
    with more advanced publishing features such as Image and XAML slicing, export selected objects
    Encoder 2
    • XAML and video Overlays with Alpha Channel
    • Improved Silverlight players, e.g. Gallery players

    To enable designers to begin exploring the power of Silverlight 2, today we also released Expression Blend 2.5 March 2008 Preview, a pre-release of the next version of Blend (post Expression Studio 2) that will eventually ship alongside Silverlight 2. As Silverlight and other platform technologies continue to advance, we will regularly release refreshes of our developer and designer tooling.

    Another very exciting news along with the release of Studio 2 beta is the Expression Community Site. From videos to starter kits, you will find training on how to use each product. See what other designers are creating and share your own work in the Expression Gallery.

    And, we have the Expression Professional Subscription now for designers including Expression Studio, Visual Studio Standard, Office Standard, Office Visio Professional, Windows Vista Business Edition, Virtual PC, Parallels Desktop for Mac and more.

    First Public Beta of Internet Explorer 8

    Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 delivers significantly improved standards-support and developer platform investments with enhanced user experiences. New features in IE8 such as Activities and WebSlices will put the power of online services in the hands of users and allow developers to reach beyond the page and keep a persistent connection with their users.  IE8’s Activities and WebSlices make it possible for web sites to link directly into the web browser’s chrome or within web pages using web standards, without requiring custom toolbars or C++ code.

    Sneak Preview of Microsoft SQL Server Data Services (SSDS): SSDS is a building block service designed for developers and businesses that need scalable, easily programmable, and cost-effective data storage with robust database query capabilities. This is an invite-only Beta right now.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    MIX Keynote and Updates


    MIX08 starts today!  There will be a lot of activity at the Venetian this morning as people get prepared to hear the MIX08 keynote with Ray Ozzie, Scott Guthrie and Dean Hachamovitch. 

    I'll be blogging about it but I will also try to Twitter the important parts.  If you use Twitter, feel free to follow my feed by adding plaberge as someone you wish to follow in Twitter. 

     Also, you can watch the feed live starting at 9AM PT (12PM ET) by going to


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  • Canadian UX Blog

    MIX08: The Day Before


    Having arrived in Las Vegas for MIX08 on March 4, I found out a lot was going on already.  There was a pre-conference in swing and the playground for MIX was already set up. 


    First off, there were 2 Microsoft Surface tables set up for attendees to play with.  I've seen these things in action already in Redmond, Washington and I know they will be a hit at MIX.  It shows how you can bring user experience to a common object like a coffee table and make it something very dynamic.


    In addition, there is something called the Open Space.  Open Space is a community-driven discussion on topics picked by the MIX community.  I saw a version of this last year and I think it will be a great success this year as well. Even though the board was only opened for sessions today, there are a number of great discussions that are available already, including:

    • Silverglobe
    • Silverlight Mobile Applications Demonstrations
    • Medium and Internet Explorer 8:  Making the Web Social
    • Silverlight Slideshow
    • Software + Services Blueprints
    • Business Value of SQL Data Services
    • Medium:  Secret Stuff We Can't Announce
    • SilverReader
    • Sync to the Web (Enable offline access to web data to any data store)
    • Developers' View of SQL Data Services
    • Wii and WPF
    • Silverlight Game Engine
    • Securing Web Applications Using Healthcare Standards
    • Good News, Bad News:  WPF in the Real World
    • Family.Show vNext
    • SQL Data Services
    • Ruby Ruby Ruby
    • Mono:  Cross-Platform .NET
    • Q&A on Visual Studio 2008 WPF (and Silverlight) Tools

    Below is a picture of the board where any and every MIXer can add their own discussion:



    I saw an interesting concept called MIXSandbox.  Basically, anybody registered for the conference can sign up to get their very own hosted sandbox to try out building web applications complete with SQL Server back ends for 4 months for free.  If you're at the conference and interested, all you have to do is sign up at

    There was also an evening event where there was a showing of the movie King of Kong that describes how the current record holder for points in a game of Donkey Kong was challenged by a new challenger just recently.  I wasn't able to stay for the full showing as I went to dinner with a number of Canadian MIXers, but the premise and movie looked quite interesting - I'll be watching it in the future.

    I also saw some talented (and not so talented) people take a stab at Rock Band.  They've set it up quite nicely with a stage and the like, so I'll get a picture of that soon.

    Well, that's it for March 4 at MIX08; I'll be posting information from the keynote at MIX, so stay tuned!


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  • Canadian UX Blog

    MIX08 - Canada Represents!


    Well, the days have given way to hours with respect to the countdown to this year's edition of MIX, which kicks off on March 5 in Las Vegas.  If you're not familiar with the MIX conference, it's an annual event that Microsoft has hosted to celebrate web development, design and user experience as well as to host discussions on the strategy and direction the web is taking with noted visionaries and world-renowned speakers.  If you haven't already, I invite you to take a look at the main MIX site and the MIX08 subsite for more information.

    There's going to be a lot going on at MIX this year.  There will be some big announcements (some of which we haven't even been privy to!), awesome sessions on a myriad of topics ranging from design to development to the business of user experience and a great opportunity to network with others around the world who will be attending.

    So, what is Microsoft's Canadian contingent doing?  Well there are "a few things" planned.  :)  First, we'll be blogging.  Check out this blog and other blogs (listed below); we'll be giving you updates on the conference from there - everything from announcements to interesting news and interviews with attendees.  Second, if you're Canadian and you've registered for MIX (which, by the way, sold out early last month), you should have gotten an email with an invitation to a Canadian Registrant party hosted by Microsoft Canada.  Meet us there - we'd love to talk to you!  Finally, we'll be onsite and spending time with Canadians that are participating in the event.  If you see us, say hi; we'd love to chat and talk!

    All of the keynotes and sessions will be available online at the MIX site.  The Keynote on March 5 (with Ray Ozzie, Scott Guthrie and Dean Hachamovitch) and March 6 (with Steve Ballmer and Guy Kawasaki) will both be broadcast live on the site, while the breakout sessions will be available 24 hours after they happen.  Take a look at the session agenda as there is a tonne of great content that will be waiting for you throughout the week.

    So, with that said, here are a few handy resources for those of you interested in following the MIX conference, either in person as someone attending or watching the event from the web at home or work:

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  • Canadian UX Blog

    The Worldwide Telescope - Have a Dialog with the Universe!


    Imagine you are not just gazing up the night sky, but can tour the whole universe and see what a Hubble Space Telescope can see...

    Imagine you are accompanied by astronomers and people want to share their enthusiasm about the universe with you...

    Imagine you can explore the universe the way you want to and share your tours with your friends...

    Sounds good? As someone who has been always interested in astronomy and fantasizing about exploring the universe, this is like a dream come true for me! We introduced WorldWide Telescope (WWT) on February 27 at the TED Conference in Monterey. "

    WWT is a rich visualization environment that functions as a virtual telescope, bringing together imagery from the best ground and space telescopes in the world for a seamless, guided exploration of the universe.

    I included the TED presentation (7mins) video below. I love this quote in the video "Our gaze fills up the universe. Thanks to the creators of Worldwise Telescope, we can now start to have a dialog with the universe. I think the Worldwise Telescope will convince you that we maybe tiny [compared to the universe] but we are truly wonderfully significant!" Enjoy!

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