March, 2012

  • Canadian Solution Developers' Blog

    Developers just wanna have fun! Kinect for Windows


    KinectforWindows-Sensor angled_h_cL.jpegKinect for Windows and it’s SDK gives us a chance to break away from the ordinary and get creative!

    I have spent many hours writing validation code for forms, code that read or updated databases, or code that looped through collections. Sure I got creative from time to time with how I wrote my code, but coding for Kinect lets me unleash my creativity in a whole new way!

    I had the pleasure of hearing Bill Buxton speak a few months ago. Bill Buxton is the guru of User Experience. User Experience goes beyond just User Interface Design. He challenges us to not just think about making screens that are pretty and easy to use, but to think about the overall user experience. He described some of the ways user experience has evolved:

    When you go to the washroom you wave your hand to get a paper towel. That was Kinect 1.0

    When you leave the grocery store, the door opens automatically as you push your cart through the doorway. That was Kinect 2.0

    So why are doors and paper towel dispensers smarter than our laptops?

    It’s an interesting challenge to us as developers to find new ways to interact with our users. The Kinect opens up so many possibilities. Nissan has created a virtual experience using Kinect which shows how you could use Kinect to create a virtual showroom. Then there’s the Kinect virtual fitting room. Kinect provides us with a whole new set of choices when it comes to user experience and lets be honest, it is also just plain fun! Check out the Nerf Gun and Kinect skeletal tracking to protect your office (you can get the code here) or maybe you’d enjoy using Kinect to control Robosapien. Robosapien is a remote control robot that was a big hit with my kids for a few years, without Kinect you controlled it by pressing commands on the remote, using hand gestures and voice commands through Kinect instead of a remote is pretty cool.

    So get your geek on with Kinect for Windows. You’ll need the SDK which you can download here and you can keep up to date on the latest news and updates for Kinect for windows keep an eye on their blog. Happy coding!

  • Canadian Solution Developers' Blog

    What’s going on across Canada? Lots! Check it out!


    There are so many great events coming up in Canada, I wanted to list some of them here, so you don’t miss out!

    TechDays isn’t your only opportunity to get out and learn about the latest technologies from experts. We hold a number of smaller events throughout the year, and we also sponsor and present at other great events organized by experts across Canada. There is a lot happening in April and May, I am probably missing a few events so if you know of something I missed please comment on this blog post and share!

    Victoria ,BC

    DevTeach Community Event

    Two fantastic presenters bring you some great content. Richard Campbell, MVP and host of DotNetRocks shares Ten Web Performance Tuning Tricks. Medhat Elmasry, BCIT instructor and president of .netBC user group helps you learn how to use Microsoft OData.

    When: Thursday April 5th, 2012, two choices of time slot 3PM or 6PM

    Cost: FREE

    Vancouver, BC

    Windows 8 Camp 

    A Windows 8 Camp is a free, two-day event where developers and designers will discover HANDS-ON how to build their first Metro Style App for Windows 8. At these camps, we’ll also share the next steps on how to get Windows 8 apps out there!

    When: April 3 & 4, 2012

    Cost: Free

    TechFest 2012 

    If you are a developer, the fact Scott Gu is doing the keynote may be enough to get you here alone. But above and beyond that there is lots of great content too! Windows Phone, Windows Azure, .NET Debugging tools, DotNetNuke, Joomla, Windows Server 8, database and design content as well! Several members of the Canada’s Evangelism team will be there: Jonathan Rozenblit, Thomas Lewis, and Paul Laberge. Check it out!

    When: April 28th, 2012

    Cost: $50, $25 for students

    DevTeach, MobileTeach, RubyTeach, SQLTeach

    What’s do you want to learn? mobile development? ALM in Visual Studio 11, database content like T-SQL with guru Itzik Ben-Gan, SharePoint development? The combined experience and knowledge of the speakers at this event ensure everyone will have the opportunity to learn something new to take back and apply. Say hi to Thomas Lewis from our Canadian Evangelism team when you go.

    When: May 28th – June 1st, 2012 (including pre and post conference workshops)

    Ottawa, ON

    Ottawa IT Camp

    With 5 tracks including a track dedicated to Windows 8, there is content here for any geek: SQL Server 2012, SCCM 2012, ASP .NET MVC 4, SharePoint coding, C# ASync. Presenters include Hockey Geek Girl (aka Susan Ibach) from the Microsoft Evangelist team, Arnold Gagnon and Mohamed Sharaf, Premier Field Engineers for Microsoft Canada, Microsoft MVPs Colin Melia, Colin Smith, Jean-Rene Roy, Joel Hebert, and Islam Gomaa

    When: Saturday April 14th, 2012 9 AM

    Cost: $25

    Toronto, ON

    Windows 8 Camp 

    A Windows 8 Camp is a free, two-day event where developers and designers will discover HANDS-ON how to build their first Metro Style App for Windows 8. At these camps, we’ll also share the next steps on how to get Windows 8 apps out there!

    April 16 & 17, 2012

    Cost: Free

    The Lord of TFS – At the movies event

    ObjectSharp presents an At the Movies event where you can learn about the new Microsoft developer tools for 2012. Visual Studio 11,  Metro on Windows 8 and Windows Phone, TFS and Test Manager. Last year’s event sold out, so register soon! Good you get me one of those posters if you go? I need one of those!

    When: May 1, 2012 9AM –Noon


    Montreal, QU

    Windows 8 Camp 

    A Windows 8 Camp is a free, two-day event where developers and designers will discover HANDS-ON how to build their first Metro Style App for Windows 8. At these camps, we’ll also share the next steps on how to get Windows 8 apps out there!

    April 10 & 11, 2012

    Cost: Free

  • Canadian Solution Developers' Blog

    Take Your Cloud Like Your Coffee–Half and Half


    What is it that you do with your cup of coffee that makes it taste exactly the way you like it? Aside from the selection of the coffee itself, it is probably how much sugar, milk, and/or cream you add. But what happens if you want the texture of cream, but want a lower butterfat content? You go for half and half!

    (Thinking of the Tim Horton’s coffee that I had this morning… thinking I might need another one…)

    When it comes to evaluating your applications and their suitability for the Cloud, the decision usually comes down to whether you put your applications in the Cloud or whether you keep them on-premises in your own datacenter. But wait - why does it have to be one or the other? Why can’t you take “your” Cloud the way you take your coffee – customizing it to what works for you?

    You can, and you should.

    The way I see it, taking your Cloud like your coffee breaks down as follows:

    • Your selection of coffee provider/flavour (Tim Horton’s, Second Cup, etc) is analogous to your selection of hosting platform as it is the basis to your experience.
    • Your selection of milk, cream, or half and half is analogous to the architecture you choose to go with – either all in, not in, or half and half (hybrid).
    • The amount of sugar you add to your coffee is the final determination of your drinking experience, analogous to the platform’s (of your choosing) ability to deliver on the deployment experience to your expectation.

    Let’s zero in on the milk, cream, or half and half.

    For me, the selection of milk, cream, or half and half is dependent on the coffee I choose. Some coffees go better with milk, and others with the cream. Having said that, it’s no different when looking at the platform that host your applications. Some platforms require you to be all on-premises. Other platforms required you to be all in the Cloud. But where the magic happens – like half and half that gives you the texture of cream, but lower butterfat content – is when you can have the best of both worlds and work with a platform that enables you to run some things on-premises and others in the cloud, taking advantage of the benefits of each.

    When would you need a platform that can do half and half, or better known as hybrid solutions? Here are just a few:

    • Applications that require single-sign on authentication with an existing identity provider, like Active Directory.
    • Applications that work with and/or store sensitive information
    • Applications that store information deemed by regulations as not allowed to leave the country
    • Applications that work with on-premises applications (applications behind a firewall, not exposed to the Internet)
    • Applications that need network access to resources (file shares, applications, internal IPs, etc)

    Without a hybrid option, these types of applications would be constrained to live their entire lifecycle in an on-premises world. With a hybrid capable Cloud platform, like Windows Azure for example, you can remove that constraint.

    Best of Both Worlds

    Hybrid solutions allow you to take advantage of the best of both worlds:


    • Use existing systems/applications that you have today, without having to duplicate them to the Cloud
    • Use existing operations and monitoring mechanisms to ensure compliance with rules and regulations
    • Use existing identity provider (i.e. Active Directory) to perform authentication and authorization
    • Completely control security and privacy of data
    • Comply with legal, security, and privacy regulations


    • Provision infrastructure only when you need it to make deploying applications faster
    • Deploy applications all over the world to ensure an optimal experience for users regardless of where they are located
    • Scale all or parts of an application as demand dictates
    • Pay for the infrastructure only when you use it, rather than upfront in case you’ll use it

    All of this while not having to make too many changes, if at all, to your existing on-premises applications to support a Cloud component.

    Taking your Cloud like you take your coffee

    So now you can see – taking your Cloud like you take your coffee is, in fact, possible. You just need to ensure that the Cloud platform of your choosing supports it.

    As I close off this post, it seems appropriate to end with a coffee/Cloud order!

      Coffee Cloud
    Coffee Taste Tim Horton’s Original (my preference) Windows Azure
    Milk/Cream/Half and Half Half and Half Hybrid Solution (on-premises and public cloud)
    Sugar 1 2 (One for each. On-premises + public cloud = a sweet solution for applications)

    But this is just a recipe. What’s yours?

    Original photo by Will Keightley

  • Canadian Solution Developers' Blog

    Most frequently requested Visual Studio resources


    In this post, I share some of my favourite and most requested links for Visual Studio resources.

    I taught developer courses for a number of years, and there were certain questions and requests that came up on a regular basis. In this post, I’ve compiled some of the most common requests I received from my students and listed the resources I shared. When you are trying to find the syntax for a specific method, or a code example for a particular API, searching the internet works great! But sometimes more generic information can be harder to find in a sea of websites, blogs, and articles. I hope these resources will help both new and experienced users of Visual Studio to help you get started or get more out of the tool you already have.

    What edition should I buy?

    I always have trouble finding this when I want it so here is the Visual Studio 2010 Comparison

    What can I get for free?

    How can Visual Studio help with testing or aspects other than coding?

    We often think of Visual Studio as just a tool to help us code, but it can help with the whole application lifecycle. There are some good intros to using Visual Studio as an ALM tool here.

    Microsoft Test Manager was added to Visual Studio and helps track test plans, test cases and more on your project. Learn more about how to get started with Test Manager here.

    I’ve been working with Visual Studio for a while, how do I find those “hidden” features?

    Are there labs somewhere I can launch to try out the tool and features?

    • We have some Visual Studio 2010 labs you can launch online at Techdays Canada
    • The Visual Studio team has also made a Virtual Machine and a series of Visual Studio 11 labs you can download and try.

    Where can I learn C#? VB .NET? F#?

    I want to get certified on Web? Windows? Where do I start?

    Check out this blog series that covers how to figure out what certification to take, the exams required, and some tips on how to prepare for the exam itself.

    Looking for anything else, I suggest you check out...

    MSDN Learning Visual Studio – helpful resources to help beginners and seasoned professionals build their skills.

    Microsoft Learning Training Catalog – helps you find both online and in person training resources

    Do you have any great resources or tips to share? Join us on the Canadian Developer Connection on LinkedIn and share it with the Canadian developer community!

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