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Paul LabergeWeb Platform AdvisorMicrosoft Canada
Yesterday we sent out our newly designed MSDN Developer Newsletter. Many of you have already sent your feedback on the new design. Thank you! As you probably noticed, the newsletter is in Beta format now, so we’ll review all your feedback and continue improving the newsletter design and content.
This is a significant milestone of our journey to provide you a great online experience. We want to help you connect with our Community Evangelism team and Microsoft at large. There are three major challenges we faced when re-designing the newsletter:
Here, let me share with you our rationales for the new design and how we addressed the above challenges.
Structure: in order to design a more usable and useful newsletter for our many subscribers, we analyzed usage data of the old newsletter and conducted informal interviews with our readers.There was an overwhelming amount of information in the old design (6 pages long with content and links), so it was very hard for readers to navigate and find relevant information. In the new design, we limited the length of the newsletter to be 2 pages and presented content in a clear and easy to digest fashion.
Relevance: because the old design lacked a clear structure, it was hard to find relevant content. In the new design, we used peer review to pick out the relevant technical content and focused more on local content such as local event, news, and community activities near our readers.
Integration: from the new design, readers can connect to MSDN portal directly. The header of the newsletter mirrors the look and feel of the MSDN portal as well. In addition, readers can connect to one of the local Microsoft community blogs in the blog section.
Interaction: making the newsletter a two-way dialogue is our goal. In addition to making giving feedback easier, we added an interactive poll in the new design so that both our team and our readers can gain insights about the Canadian developer community on popular topics.
I hope this gives you some insights on why we re-designed the newsletter the way we did. However, we want you to be part of the journey as your experience matters. Feel free to share your feedback by commenting on this post or drop me an email (qixing.zheng at microsoft.com).
Yesterday we successfully conducted the Women in IT Panel Discussion webcast, which is a new addition to the Ignite Your Career webcast series this year. Thanks for everyone’s participation in the webcast! It was great conversation, and all the panelists and I had a lot of fun being part of it. We had about 70 people tuned in live and received many valuable questions from you. I’ve written a summary of the webcast below to share with you. For those of you who couldn’t make the webcast, you can listen to the webcast on-demand here.
Topics discussed in the webcast
Unanswered questions from the webcast
I’ve asked the panelists to address the following questions that we didn’t have time to answer during the webcast.
Elisabeth: Over 24 years in this industry and as a business owner I have seen a big shift in dads taking on the traditional dentist appt. and sick child caregiver role (even if they can’t deliver babies just yet). I don’t see this as a respect issue but more of a logistical one. As we discussed earlier in the webcast this industry is full of options for mobility in the workforce and this applies to both sexes. Employers are far more open to doing so and men as much as women are taking advantage of that. I do believe more women need to actually sit down and openly discuss dividing the responsibilities with their partner. This way both will have the opportunity to take on greater responsibilities and grow in their careers.
Betty: I think the fact that men take more of a role in parenting has blossomed as men are offered paternity leave the same as women are offered maternity leave. Finally the role of both parents is being recognized in a child’s development and this is a wonderful thing. As the parenting roles are more shared, then that leaves room for career goals to be expanded. As more men understand the tremendous amount of work that is involved in parenting, the respect should follow.
Shann: I would suggest starting with the assumption that you have the same level of respect and then you maintain it through consistently delivering quality and innovation in your work. This is different than ‘earning it’ where the assumption is the starting point is 0. I have also see this one changing quite a bit over the years and have had many experiences where men take their share of time for parental leaves and/or sick days to take care of family.
Elisabeth: I’m always on the lookout for new technology and tech trends. Staying ahead successfully means devoting some time to reviewing upcoming products and if it’s something I believe has a potential to become mainstream I get as familiar with it as I can (mastering if necessary). One great opportunity to get a good grounding is by participating in Microsoft or other vendors beta programs.
Betty: I am currently mentoring a former work associate. She used to work for us, she now works for an affiliated group. She is being asked to take on more of the role of IT. Unfortunately, she does not have a lot of formal training but she is a very quick learner. So far I have offered a couple of things. First if she has a problem that she cannot solve, she can call us and ask our opinion. Often we are able to assist. Second, she has been invited to become a member of the Edmonton Microsoft User Group, and she has attended a couple of meetings so far. Third, I have a computer lab set up in my basement, and she is welcome to come over and try out things. Often you need to break things before you learn to do it right. Also I am wanting to set up a Girl Geek Dinner in the Edmonton area. I think I might set up a Facebook group or something similar to gauge interest. Getting a Technet or MSDN membership and getting involved in Beta-testing software is the easiest way to keep up on the latest software technologies.
Shann: Taking another page from the reference to Malcolm Gladwell in his book “The Tipping Point”, find a “maven” – the person who is the guru at spotting the new trends/products/gadgets etc. They love to share and it makes it easy for you to distill the info about the new technology quickly.
Elisabeth: I am still certifying myself in new areas and updating others as we speak because people in the industry know that this process assures some degree of technical expertise having been meant. It also shows that you are taking the time, effort and expense to develop that expertise because you believe your knowledgeable is worth something and clients will look to that as well as prospective employers. You don’t hire an accountant, dentist or lawyer without it and certainly when I get a CV it’s the first thing I scan for.
Betty: I currently hold MCP designation passing my most recent exam in June 2008. I keep learning and trying to keep current. Certification is one of those ways, but nothing beats practical experience.
Also, listen to Mark Relph’s interview with Shane Schick on the Myths & Realities of the IT Skills & Talent landscape in Canada. Part 4 is “Myth 4 – Certifications Aren’t Worth It”.
Elisabeth: Even colleagues with kids may not stay later (or leave earlier), but end up working from home to make up for it (often till the wee hours), so first be careful to make sure that they aren’t actually banking as many (or more) hours as you think. That can bury you in a heartbeat. If in fact they aren’t pulling the same load then talk to your boss about the additional time that you “happily invest in their business” and perhaps taking a day or afternoon once a month so that you can keep up on industry trends or just to reinvigorate. A smart business owner who values their employees will see this as an opportunity to show their appreciation, so long as the employee is truly making that extra effort.
Betty: In this organization this is not really an issue. We end up earning a lot of overtime hours which becomes banked time. Those who have to take time off for their kids can use their banked time. For myself, I can use my banked time for other pursuits, such as shopping. J It can even itself out.
Shann: I know this one from personal experience. I often ended up with the work to do on tight deadlines because I didn’t have kids to get home. The important thing for me was to focus on what I was doing, how much of my time I was willing to offer up to the company and how that aligned to my personal and professional goals. The easiest conversation to have with your boss will come from explaining the extra time and effort you make and the results you drive for the company and not a comparison with how much time your peers spend at the office.
Mentoring was a popular topic at yesterday’s webcast. Shann has kindly provided following suggested questions to prepare you for meeting with a mentor.
What is it about the mentor’s approach, experience, knowledge, etc that you want learn from?
What would you like to achieve through the mentoring meetings? How would you define success of the mentoring relationship?
What are the areas/goals that are most important to you at this time?
Are there any areas that currently concern you/do you have inhibitors identified?
What other areas of help do you want the mentor to assist with?
Let’s keep the conversation going. Feel free to comment on this post or reach out to me directly (email@example.com) if you have further questions for the panelists or feedback to this webcast.
We had several Toronto Silverlight User Group members attended MIX09 last month in Vegas. In the next meeting, they are going to share with us what they heard, learnt, and experienced. Check out the agenda below.
It’s at 222 Bay St. 12th floor, and don’t forget to register at: http://www.torontosilverlight.com/
Given the amount of time the platform has now been available, we’re starting to see some incredible creativity and very focused, user-centric applications being built for Silverlight. I’m very excited about many of these applications and solutions for both business and consumer scenarios and I want to share some of these great experiences with you. This first post will be about business-oriented Silverlight applications and a subsequent post will highlight some consumer-oriented applications.
It used to be that most rich experiences on the web were focused on public-facing or consumer-based applications. It makes sense; we often see user-centric innovation outside the firewall before we see it inside due to the cost of re-vamping existing line of business applications as well as focusing investment on activities that directly impact customers positively. While that is certainly still true, we are seeing business from all sorts of industries adopting user-centric software platforms for internal applications as well as customer-facing business applications. Below are examples of how you could implement some business-oriented experiences in Silverlight:
These are just a few of the LOB-focused applications we are seeing built in Silverlight. If you have an LOB application built in Silverlight that you would like to share, please let me know by commenting!
During EnergizeIT Student Connection events, I’ve been talking about various ways students can demonstrate their technical and career skills. Joining technology competition is a great way to prove your skills and raise the visibility of your work. Imagine Cup is the largest student competition we run every year, which attracts students from more than 100 countries participating in the competition. Although most of the competition deadlines are closed now, last week we announced a new competition - Worldwide Finals Website Design.
We are searching for a brand new look for our Imagine Cup Worldwide Final website -something new, fun and exciting! The winner's design will be used to exclusively promote the Worldwide Finals in Cairo, Egypt. The winning design will also be featured on the Imagine Cup site beginning at the end of May and through July 9, 2009! This competition is open to all Imagine Cup registered students! You do not need to be signed up for an Imagine Cup competition or award to participate.
Deadline: All entries must be submitted between April 1, 2009 and April 30, 2009. This could be your chance to demonstrate your design skills to the world. :-)
We are in Calgary this week for EnergizeIT. The post below was published by my colleague Rodney Buike last night on stage when showing the rich blogging features of Window Live Writer – killing two birds with one stone. :)
Today John Bristowe, Qixing Zheng and myself are at the lovely Hotel Arts in Calgary for EnergizeIT. It has been a busy few days so far that started with a visit with some students at SAIT on Tuesday afternoon. It was great to talk to the students and faculty about some of the new technologies such as Windows 7 and Azure as well as the ICT job landscape in Canada and tools and programs available to help them be successful when they graduate.
We followed this up with a stop at the Calgary IT Pro Community last night for a user group session covering Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. There was a lot of great discussion around IPv6, Branch Cache and general excitement over Windows 7.
Today Qixing and I hoped in a cab and camped out at the Hotel Arts, which is aptly named with its collection of art pieces prominently displayed throughout the premises including this incredible blown glass display hanging from the ceiling.
We were a little embarrassed at taking a cab when we found out it was only 5 blocks from our hotel!
During the afternoon Craig Gibson and John Bristowe delivered the Architecting Flexibility portion of Energize IT and they did a great job!
Once they were done it was time for us to setup for the evening session “From the Client to the Cloud” where we covered a broad range of topics related to S+S, or Software + Services, which is Microsoft’s approach to cloud computing.
View Full Album
Qixing wowed people with some great demos on Windows 7 and right now I am posting this blog entry live from EnergizeIT Calgary as an example of a consumer S+S solution, Windows Live Writer and Community Server (the platform for blogs.technet.com) after editing the photos I took in Windows Live Photo Gallery!
You’ll see the rest of the photos from the day in the EnergizeIT pool on Flickr! and get the informational PowerPoint here.
If you haven’t seen the video below, you have to check it out! It’s one of the coolest Surface demos I’ve seen. Adding physics engine to virtual objects really blurs the line between physical and virtual objects. It’s quite magical that you can draw a simple circle and turn it into a magnetic field where both physical and virtual objects can react to it. I wonder how this could be use to teach intro Physics class and I also wonder how we can create a Surface Jenga game where we have both physical and virtual blocks. :)
DaVinci (Microsoft Surface Physics Illustrator) from Razorfish - Emerging Experiences on Vimeo.
Functioning Form is one of my favorite design blogs, last Friday author Luke Wroblewski summarized Design Principles from three Microsoft products: Windows 7, Office 2007, and Surface, which I reposted below. I’ve also included the MIX sessions that talk about the design thinking behind each of these products in detail.
While Microsoft itself admits to design challenges in some of their products, the places where I saw design principles in use produced some pretty interesting product designs. In particular: Windows 7 Desktop, Office 2007, and Microsoft Surface. For the Windows 7 desktop design, Stephan Hoefnagel showed the following principles in action:
This week Rod, Joey and I kicked off the EnergizeIT tour on the west coast. Joey showed you the Road Warrior Office we had in London. Here, let me show you some pictures from our User Group, Student Connection, and EnergizeIT events.
Below Left - Rod is getting ready to start the Future of the Platform user group connection in Kitchener.
Below right – user group members are sitting around the collaboration tables listening to Rod’s talk.
Below Left - Rod and Barnaby are answering user group audience questions on IPv6.
Below right – We saw Ruth at the Kitchener event. She is now a proud mom of twin boys and we are looking forward to having her back on our team in the summer.
Below Left – I’m demoing the new Window 7 user experience at the EnergizeIT main event: From the Client to Cloud in London last night.
Below right – We had a full house at London EnergizeIT event. They are listening to Joey’s demo on Windows Azure attentively.
Below Left and right – We are at Fanshawe College talking to students about new technology trends from Microsoft and career in IT.
We are taking a break now before heading over to Fanshawe college again for the London user group event tonight.
Next week, Rod, John Bristowe and I are going to be in Calgary for EnergizeIT Calgary. Looking forward to see all of you in Calgary!
From now through the end of the MIX09 conference in Las Vegas, Rob Burke will be providing his insights from the conference on a daily basis.
Robert Burke is a Toronto-based IT Consultant who’s attending his fourth MIX event this year. By day he’s knee-deep in Microsoft User Experience technologies, including Silverlight and the Windows Presentation Foundation, but his background includes stuff like artificial intelligence, interactive installations, graphics and biometrics. He attended the first two MIXes as a member of Microsoft’s Developer and Platform Group, and the second two as Principal Consultant of Carrington Technologies. His website is at http://robburke.net and his shiny new Twitter account is @rob_burke.
The original post by Rob can be found here.
In the hope they may also inspire you, here are four other sources of inspiration I found at MIX09,
1. Bill Buxton at MIX09 Third Place
1. Bill Buxton’s visit to “The Third Place.” He cites Henry Dreyfuss’s “Designing for People” as the next must-read book after his (preferably 1st Ed.). Render in the correct fidelity. Don’t rely on a “muse.” Consider minimally five alternatives. Persona and “Place-ona.” “Design is Choice.”
2. Johnny Lee and HCI wonders
2. Johnny Lee’s HCI talk. @shanselman a fanboi too. Know Johnny? Watch his MIX talk. Don’t know him yet? Check his TED talk first, which was worthy of a standing ovation. Johnny on the future of HCI: Dive off today’s local maxima. Want more HCI? Follow UIST, SigGraph, SigCHI, UBICOMP.
3. Joe Fletcher Surface Session - online!
3. Joseph Fletcher delivered a mightily polished Touch Computing presentation yesterday, and the session video is already online! Surface UX is “Hyper-real,” and Surface is Social, Seamless, Spatial.
4. Purdy & Sells delivered an energetic talk on their RESTful DSL MUrl. Interested in languages, human and machine? “Oslo” and “M” are sexy. Probably this a good place to start. Their MIX09 Session is here.
Bill Buxton during the second MIX09 keynote
To sum it up, there are four things I carried away from MIX09:
This reaction in our community is consistent with the global sense of a need for something new. Put simply, the status quo isn’t good enough any more.
This message was embodied by Deborah Adler. There’s a reason why Microsoft so boldly chose to focus half a keynote on Ms. Adler’s contribution — it’s time for us to stop thinking like techies, and start thinking about the people using our creations, and the contexts in which they’ll be using them.
To get there, we were all encouraged to use unconventional tools, and reminded that big ideas can come from going back to basics: a sheet of paper and a decent pen.
I’m sure I’ll see more techies at the local cafe, rubbing elbows with thinkers who have always used these basic methods to achieve greatness.
As I type, the sessions are coming online at the VisitMIX site. Through a fog of tweets and jetlag this morning in Toronto, I was struck hard that MIX has made me want to return to doing the stuff that brought me here in the first place, whatever that means for me in 2009.
I want to extend my thanks to the organizers of MIX for so much inspiration, and to the Microsoft Canada team for letting me share MIX09 with you.
MIX09 boldly declared that “The Next Web” is a place where design matters. We were taught to seek returns on user experiences, and think first about how our creations influence lives. This is a future I want to help invent.
Looking forward to continuing the discussion. You can always find me at robburke.net.
I watched three inspiring keynotes this week: two from MIX and Robert Fabricant's Interations’09 keynote. Our guest blogger Robert Burke did a very good job of highlight the MIX keynotes, I want to capture the key things I learned from these keynotes to share with you. Both Deborah Adler and Robert Fabricant’s talks focused on changing people’s behavior through design, which in my opinion is the most impactful Return on Experience (ROE) coined by Bill Buxton. Here’s how I see how the keynote messages come together.
Return on Experience
1. What is Experience? It’s not just an object you are designing or producing, it’s the experience of using the object including movement and timing.For example, when you are designing a website, focusing on how do your users get one page from another, how do they enter or leave the site, how do you want them to feel when browsing through the site. Don’t just focus on functionality and list of things users can do on the site.
2. What are the returns can Experience Design bring? There are direct and exciting outcomes by focusing on experience such as increase revenue and brand recognition. Especially, in this tough economy, it’s proven that companies who focused on Experience Design will thrive. Buxton gave multiple success stories from the dawn of Industrial Design age. Adler shared her example of leading the ClearRx team to successfully redesigned prescription bottles and labels for pharmacies at Target (see below left). Because of this redesign and focus on experience, Target experienced significant revenue increase and their brand of putting customers first was enhanced. Fabricant talked about the difference between outcome and impact. Return on Experience can also lead to long-term behavior change. For example, people form the right behavior to save energy (see below right the energy efficient meter mentioned in Fabricant’s talk), recycle, and taking prescription drugs through salient design. The impact is improving people’s lives.
3. How to achieve Return on Experience? First, as Alder mentioned you need to have a love affair with your users and really digging into your customer’s needs. Ask the right questions which can lead to the right solutions. Second, you need the right techniques to do design. Buxton talked about creating multiple solutions in the ideation stage and using sketches as a cheap and fast way to test these ideas. At the same time, focus on transitions/process of these ideas rather than the end-stages. Fabricant gave the tip on giving your product a character or personality can help users emotionally connect with your products when using them. Third, creating a unified experience is important so that users can have the same rich and consistent experience across web, client, and devices. It doesn’t matter which platform a user is using, the experience is seamless and connected. Designers and developers need to use the right set of tools to create this unified experience from ideation to production. (Check out SketchFlow in Blend 3, below is a screenshot of it)
Deborah Alder at MIX09 Keynote
Bill Buxton, the Spirit of MIX09 (who, incidentally, now has a typeface named after him), was very welcome back for this morning’s keynote to introduce Deborah Adler, whose work as principal designer for Target’s ClearRx medicine bottles provided the focus for our discussion about design and its impact on user experience.
ClearRx Case Study
Deborah’s research identified and addressed many serious problems with traditional medicine bottles. Her prototype was refined by Target into the ClearRx products, and the resulting “return on experience” includes brand awareness for Target — and, much more importantly, the potential to change behavior and save human lives.
Her advice to us was twofold - to have a love affair with our customers, and to bring our design skills to bear both humanly and humanely.
There is more information about Deborah’s work at the Target:Health site.
[Update: I just saw Robby Ingebretsen's post and agree with him - these two keynotes together (and particularly, Deborah and Bill's contributions) made for the best and most inspiring MIX keynotes yet.]
Clear Rx (link goes to Target ClearRx site)
IE8: In other keynote news, Dean Hachamovitch announced that Internet Explorer 8 was released today.
For more info: You can now watch streaming video of the keynotes (for both days) here, and Tim Sneath’s thorough Play-by-Play is here and here.
So I expected today’s keynote was going to be about the Cloud. I was totally wrong. But it’s all good.
My Mind Map, with Day 2 on the bottom, now makes more sense: the “Return on Experience” discussion provides the roots for everything we’ve discussed at MIX09 this week.
MIX09 Keynote Mind Map - Days 1 and 2 - with Return on Experience at the root
p.s. More Misc MIX notes on the rest of Day 2 in a future post — I am shattered tonight. Johnny Lee’s HCI talk was particularly memorable (link goes to his killer TED talk).
There are lots of exciting announcements coming out of MIX in Vegas this week. Today we shipped Internet Explorer 8. However, there’s also plenty to celebrate back home around Silverlight and IE8. Check them out!
Watching your favorite TV shows online in HD with Silverlight
CTV Globemedia (Canada’s largest online media company) announced the immediate availability of The CTV HD Player (Beta). The HD Player is a beta experience that delivers 3 of CTV’s top viewed shows (all episodes). The experience is delivered through Microsoft Silverlight on the front end, supported with Akamai’s AdaptiveEdge for Microsoft Silverlight and delivered through Windows Server Media Services. Users are able to experience full HD to their desktop and will experience the ability of jumping to any part of the HD video without buffering. They’ll also benefit from adaptive streaming technology which adjusts the quality of the video based on the bandwidth availability.
Making you everyday browsing experience easier and faster with IE8
Workopolis.com (One of Canada’s Top Traffic Sites)
Workopolis has launched their IE8 WebSlice. This is something very useful when you are job searching. Perform a job search and hover your cursor over the results and click on the green icon. Once you saved the WebSlice, you just need to check back for new postings that match your requirements. No more filling out the search form again and again!
The Weather Network (One of Canada’s Top Traffic Sites)
The Weather Network has also launched their IE8 WebSlice. No need to say keeping up with the weather is important. Go to your favorite city and hover over the weather results and click on the green icon to add the WebSlice.
Canada.com (One of Canada’s Top Traffic Sites)
Keep up with the news you care about in Canada.com. You can add WebSlices such as Photos, Headlines, Sports news, etc. The figure on the right shows their available list of WebSlides.
One thing I do worry about is the manageability of these slices. You don’t want to get WebSlices overflow. Perhaps there should be a better visualization for looking at all the WebSlices you have – something like the “Quick Tabs” overview in IE8 (bottom left figure).
Today’s MIX09 Day 1 Keynote and Sessions put the ‘Software’ into Microsoft’s ‘Software plus Services’ vision.
It was the “feet on [presentation layer] ground” bit, made memorable by the energetic call to action delivered by Bill Buxton to get things started. His job was to deliver the “what”, and the Blend team is helping provide the “how.”
Tim Sneath has a thorough and thoughtfully hotlinked play-by-play of the keynote in two parts - here and here. And fellow Canadian Jean-Luc David took over 500 keynote photos which I am sure he will filter before he uploads them here on Flickr, because apparently the man does not need sleep!
In the spirit of Bill’s Sketching User Experiences, I drew a mindmap, even though I have all the artistic ability of a slug (see below).
Blend 3 and SketchFlow
The most important words on my entire mind map the morning were “THEY HAVE CHANNELLED BUXTON”.
SketchFlow in Blend 3 looks superb. SketchFlow and its player will, unquestionably, change the way I flesh out user experiences to clients and get their feedback. It will be very interesting to see how this tool actually gets used in practice, and evolves as designers and developers embrace it. It’s not SketchFlow’s intent to replace all other forms of sketching, but rather to augment them with something innovative and useful. I hope it will also improve developer/designer communication, by providing a tool and talking point that both can use.
MIX09 Keynote: ScottGu sporting red
Although nothing surprised me per se during the Silverlight 3 announcements, that was a good thing. There are significant improvement in v3, and answers to some (but not all) hopes.
The very promising: Updates like offline capabilities, server data push (caching on client), VisualStateManager invalid states and validation, Merged ResourceDictionaries, etc., that will address important shortcomings and challenges for people building Silverlight line-of-business apps. Things like SaveFileDialog.
The important: Better text (desperately needed), library caching (for reducing download time - how many of my SL2 apps bundle whittled-down bits of the SL Toolkit?), sample data.
The cool: GPU support (opt-in @ plug-in and control levels). Multitouch support. Perspective 3D, which will be much more approachable than the 3D support in WPF, and address most of the scenarios where 3D adds UX value. Pixel Shader effects - which aren’t hardware accelerated, but look good. Pixel and Bitmap APIs which open up new scenarios.
The awesome postscript.: Siverlight 3.0 runtime is actually 30k smaller than Silverlight 2! Madness!
The things I hoped for but didn’t find in v3: Commanding, Printing (unless you count Nikhil’s “make an ASP.NET page and print that” solution), FlowDocument.
The change in messaging that I didn’t expect: I attended BradA and NikhilK’s Silverlight presentations in the afternoon for more information about building business apps in Silverlight 3, and feel like I need a little more time for all of it to settle in. The core message seems to have shifted a bit: from “you can run Silverlight on any web server”" to “you can run Silverlight anywhere, but it’s better together with ASP.NET, and you can use ASP.NET to obtain some things you’re looking for in Silverlight, like SEO and Printing.” I’m also a little foggy on how some of the this ‘prescriptive framework’ all fits into where my mind was going with Prism and MVVM for Silverlight, as proposed by the Patterns and Practices group.
IIS Media Services: As someone who’s more Dev than IT Pro, I’m not best qualified to comment on this… but adaptive, on-demand and live streaming sounds and looks pretty amazing.
The New Microsoft-ism: It’s the verb “to party,” which I heard in contexts such as these:
“now we can party over this data we got back”, and
“you can go ahead and party on this query now” or in summary
“I’m super-jazzed that we can go ahead and party over this data we’ve got back from the DataSource.”
I expect tomorrow we will party over the cloud. (The cloud and Azure, although mentioned, were not today’s focus by any stretch).
And that’s why this MIX09 Keynote half-sketch is really upside down, isn’t it? I should have left the top side of the page to deal with the part that’s “in the clouds!”
MIX09 Day 1 Keynote Mindmap (would make a nice deep zoom)
Today at the MIX ‘09 conference, we rolled out the beta for Silverlight 3, the next iteration of our rich internet application platform. Version 3 adds a lot of new features including:
Also available is the preview version of Expression Blend 3, the “designer/developer workflow tool” for building interfaces for Silverlight and WPF projects. As with Silverlight 3, Expression Blend 3 adds a lot of new features including:
Do not install Silverlight 3 development tools on a machine that you’re using to build Silverlight 2 apps! Visual Studio doesn’t support targeting multiple versions of Silverlight; if you install Silverlight 3 tools, you won’t be able to build Silverlight 2 apps anymore!
My recommendation is:
You can find out more about both on the Silverlight 3 Beta page.
Both are available at the Silverlight 3 Beta download page. You can also follow the links below:
MIX09 Swag Bag
This year’s Swag Bag Contents:
MIX09 Mystery Sticker
For reference, here’s what was in the MIX07 Swag.
MIX07 Welcome Swag
I’m most grateful for another copy of Buxton’s insightful book!
I wonder if we’ll have any software to play with tomorrow, or if we’ll be downloading lab content ourselves. I always come armed with extra storage to events like these in case I need to truck home some VPCs.
One of the features I really enjoy using on Windows 7 is Search Connectors. It’s a great example of how we blurred the line between computers and the web. Without starting a browser, I can search on Flickr, YouTube, Live Search, Wikipedia, Twitter, etc. just like I search a folder or drive on my computer. For example, MIX09 starts tomorrow, and I was checking out what’s happening in Vegas on Twitter. Below is what I got. It’s very convenient and allows me to get to my destination faster. I can also compare search results from two search engines by placing two result windows side by side. However, I would like to see an improvement in the current design is the ability to search multiple search engines and my computer at the same time. A good visualization needs to be applied to the search results so that it can help me identify repeated results from different search engines and the relevancy of search results.
You can get these search connectors here and create your own following this blog post. Happy Searching!
What can we expect at this week’s intersection of design and technology in Las Vegas?
Before a week for looking forward, a brief pause and a quick look back for context.
MIX06: “The Next Web Now.”
3 years ago, Microsoft launched this hip series of conferences, inviting a cross-platform audience of business decision makers, developers and designers (…wait… designers?!).
The inaugural keynote explored the opportunities that would emerge as the internet “evolves… and ‘web’ and ‘application’ concepts merge.”
It was the only MIX keynote to star Bill Gates as Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect, and featured a fireside chat between Bill and Tim O’Reilly, and Bill’s mea culpa about the state of IE6.
MIX07: “A 72-Hour Conversation”
The conference’s sophomore year was billed as a “72-hour conversation” at a time when the rampant success of social networking was all the buzz.
Ray Ozzie took the helm, WPF/E got its new look and name, and so we saw .NET boldly go cross-browser, cross-platform - at least, in CTP form.
Loosely, the following year’s theme was (loosely) connected things: their impact on the individual, their impact on the organization. “Small pieces, loosely joined” was I believe how Ray put it.
And then there were Rich Internet Applications. Silverlight 2.0, the highly anticipated enabler, went Beta. Designers (I thought) were finally somewhat understood, even if their Microsoft toolset was still fermenting.
There was an explicit expectation set by Ray, Steve and Company that MIX08 represented but one of several steps on the road to something big at the PDC coming in the autumn.
Then, months later, Silverlight 2.0 was unleashed on the wild, with 3.0 already on the horizon. But wait… were we even talking about the presentation layer any more, or, with Silverlight’s eventual impact firmly impressed upon us, had we moved on to discuss awesome sky-plumbing instead?
We’re talkin’ Azure, Live Services too numerous to mention, data and enterprise service buses and meshes in the sky, a bookstore that got there first, Models and Domain-Specific Languages (see Don Box’s characterization of this dreadfully wond’rous craic), and so much more, all available streamed online now for your viewing pleasure.
So we begin MIX09 with feet tentatively on the presentation layer, but eyes on this intriguing Cloud on the horizon.
The MIX09 Session List alone would suggest an emphasis (by session number) on:
Bill Gates at MIX06
Ray Ozzie and ScottGu at MIX07
SteveB and GuyK at MIX08
I mentioned previously that I visit MIX for the buzz. This week I’m there again to meet, to chat, and to think — and specifically, to ask what should we do with all this stuff? What could I do for my clients? For their organizations? For my own projects?
Even if you’re not able to attend, the keynote will be streamed live, and you’ll have a chance to ask ScottGu some questions online 30 minutes after it’s over.
We’re three years into this MIX journey to The Next Web. This week, we expect to gain insight into Microsoft’s perspective on the road ahead. I’m going to try to write here daily, and figure out how to use this Twitter thing as well. Inspired by keynote speaker Bill Buxton, I may even try my hand at a little sketching, and change up my technology choices as an audience member for the keynote and sessions. (hint: thinking of leaving the laptop behind).
Right - that’s enough context - I’m off to Vegas to Mix things up a little!
This blog post was originally posted at http://robburke.net/2009/03/16/a-brief-history-of-mix-feet-on-ground-eyes-on-cloud/.
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 2009 is Dandan Huang! Congratulations!! Let's hear from Dandan.
I am a recent graduate Master student in the Department of Computer Science, at University of Victoria. My supervisor is Dr. Melanie Tory who is a super smart and nice lady. It is her who opened the door for me to the world of interaction design and information visualization. In the era of overwhelming information, I believe intuitive graphical representations of data and user-centered design can make life easier for people, working efficiently and entertaining with fun.
What cool stuff is Dandan doing?
I worked on several projects in terms of information visualization, cscw, and user-centered design.
In one of the research project, we compared the visualization techniques ( Sunburst and Matrix-based visualization) of access right, e.g. the access of personal information online. The two novel methods used to visualize complex and mass relationship are compared, regarding data accessibility, data structure, size and density of data.
Jennifer Wong and I worked on the graphic-based interface design of a Collaborative Dive Computer. Current dive computers in the market are text-based and strictly designed to be used by single users. We developed it to design a collaborative dive computer integrated with one messaging system, the ability to view multiple divers’ status and the divers’ position, and an enhanced safety alert system.
In my project, working with Melanie, we present two novel visualization techniques to support the comparison of Gantt charts. First, we encode two Gantt charts in one view by overlapping them to show differences. Second, we designed a novel interactive visual technique, the “TbarView”, that allows users to compare multiple schedules within one single view. We evaluated the overlap and TbarView techniques via a user study.
What are Dandan’s plans after graduation?
I am working in HSBC currently, focusing on the improvement of the business system. After finish my master degree, I’d like to find a job in interaction design or information architecture. I believe the user-centered representation of data can significantly improve people’s productivity.
Want to learn more about Dandan?
More information about our lab in University of Victoria http://visid.cs.uvic.ca/.
As I was searching around earlier this week for a good way of explaining “Software + Service,” the following video comes to the perfect rescue. This video is a great example of using simple drawing to tell an interesting story and explaining a hard concept. It not only explains what is S+S but also talks about the advantage of S+S over software only or internet services (i.e. SaaS) only solutions. It got me think about the power of simple sketches in complex story telling. The drawings in the video are very engaging and provides audience the confidence that it’s something they’ll be able to understand. Check it out and maybe test it on your non-IT friends. :)
Video: Software + Services: Microsoft Customer Video
Microsoft Canada has a great offer for any Canadian web solution provider that isn’t already a Registered Microsoft Partner.
For a limited time, we are offering a free copy of Expression Web 2, our premier web design tool for building compelling web sites.
All you need to do is go to this site, register as Microsoft Partner on the site (which is completely free) and enter your Partner ID to get your free copy of Expression Web 2.
There are many other benefits with this offer as well. We are offering access to free training on Microsoft web platform technologies, great hosting offers and other benefits as well.
In addition to all that, by registering as a Microsoft Partner, you get other offers for training, deeply discounted software to help you start your business as well as support from Microsoft to help you grow your business.
If you haven’t registered as a Microsoft Partner yet, this may be a great time to do it!
A common complaint that I hear from people who build web solutions is that when they try to start building web solutions on the Microsoft Platform, they hit a wall because of 2 things:
The fact of the matter is, the people I talk to are right! We literally have gigabytes of very useful and relevant information for anyone that wants to build great web solutions with our tools and platform technologies but there are so many places where you need to go to get that information it becomes frustrating and turns people away.
Well, we’ve heard these complaints and to help you get the resources you need, we have provided a Canadian-focused portal for building web solutions on the Microsoft platform. This portal is intended to provide a launch pad for finding the information you need about our web platform. This includes:
If you are building web solutions on the Microsoft platform or if you are thinking about it, I strongly encourage you to visit the site. If you have feedback on the site, please let me know by submitting a comment to this post!
Last year during Explore Design conference, our friends at Infusion showcased the various Surface apps they worked on to hundreds of young minds who were interested to design. As Natural User Interface is becoming a hot topic in the Interaction Design field and many businesses are looking to have innovations in touch space to differentiate themselves, more people are interested in how a Surface application was designed and developed. Infusion is one of the early adopters of Surface computing and they are sharing their “life on the Surface” in their new blog. There are interesting demos and useful tutorials in the blog. Check it out!
Back in January, I talked about IgniteIT award and encouraged you to submit your projects. IgniteIT is an award that recognizes and rewards the efforts of people working in the Canadian IT field who are doing great work. Now the voting for the IgniteIT award is open! You can vote till Mar. 31. Make sure you vote for your favorite submissions including your own project and let your friends know about it. According to the voting rule:
You can vote for as many as you like—or you can just click “Vote for all your favourites”—but you can’t vote for the same submission twice in one day. Rankings could change every day until voting ends on March 31, so bookmark this page and return often to help us recognize the top Canadian IT Professional and Developer. You could win a Microsoft Zune. Our judges will pick the final winners from the five IT Pros and 5 Developers with the most votes, so be sure to come back in May to see who won.
I’m going to cast my vote now. :-)
The past two days, our team came together and did the EnergizeIT dryrun. After a month of hard work, it was very exciting to see all the presentations and demos came to live. As I was preparing for the Student Connection presentation, I collected a list of programs that you as students can benefit from to start preparing your skills, connecting with the technical community, and share your passions online. Here are some examples you may not know. The bottom two are for everyone. My colleague John Bristowe has a comprehensive Microsoft academic program list here.
Do you want to start a tech club? We have a service called “Student Tech club” that can help you set up your club website. There are out of box features like blog, calendar, and forum you can use to start up a club in no time.
Do you want to join an open source project to prove your skills? CodePlex is our open source projects hosting web site, where you can start a new project, join an existing project, and try out the software created by community. For example there are tons of .NET development projects that you can join to prove your skills as a developer.
Why not start a blog to share your passion for design, development, or a particular technology? Windows Live writer is easy to link to your Live Space or other blog hosts. You can create rich blog posts by linking photo albums, videos, maps,…and it’s what we use for writing all the blog posts.