Big props to Brian Peek and Clint Rutkas for some great Coding4Fun holiday content!

 


How to create your own Animated Musical Holiday Light Show

Ever wondered how to create those animated musical holiday light shows that you’ve seen on YouTube? Now you can with this step-by-step article that shows how to build a .NET animated musical show and be the envy of your neighbors!

 

Coding4Fun Holiday Gift Guide 2006
Looking for the perfect present for programmers? Look no further than the Coding4Fun Holiday Gift Guide which includes the most comprehensive list of programmable presents on the Web. Here’s a sampling below:

Programmable Hardware and Gadgets

 

StreetDeck Software
StreetDeck software is the ultimate must-have software for pimping out your car. StreetDeck includes, GPS Navigation, internet-enhanced navigation using Google Maps or Microsoft Live Local, Media Sync for your MP3 collection, games, and best of all, there’s an SDK so it’s fully customizable.
Cost
: $199.99
Get it: StreetDeck software on MP3Car.com
Code it: Streetdeck includes a SDK for programming using VB Script, similar to Office VBA, and you can also build a .NET add-in in Visual Basic, C#, or C++ by making it available through COM.

 

eStarling Wi-Fi Email/RSS-Enabled LCD Frame
This frame enables users to either run an email configuration or RSS feed configuration so you can choose to write an application that dynamically sends an email (say from a Webcam periodically), dynamically upload your pictures to Flickr, or create your own RSS feed with pictures.

Cost: $249.99
Get it: eStarling page on ThinkGeek.com
Code it: You can use Sam Judson’s Flickr .NET API to easily programmatically send pictures to Flickr, or use the FlickrWebCam application to have mom get real-time pictures of you from your Webcam or use the SmtpMail Class to email a picture attachment in one line of code.

Programmable Robots

LEGO Mindstorms NXT
Lego Mindstorms NXT is Lego’s newest release of their popular Mindstorms robotics and includes built-in three motor support and multiple sensor support including motion, touch, sound, and light.

Cost: $249.99
Get it: Lego Mindstorms on Amazon.com
Code it: You can use Microsoft Robotics Studio which includes built-in services for Lego Mindstorms NXT programming.

Programmable Games

Neverwinter Nights 2
Neverwinter Nights 2 is a popular Dungeon and Dragons game that enables users to create their own worlds and adventures and includes a large community of users building games and dungeons for you to explore

Cost: ~$34.99
Get it: Neverwinter Nights 2 on Amazon.com
Code it: The Neverwinter Nights game builder is written in C# using the .NET Framework and you can write Game Builder plug-ins using any Visual Studio 2005 language including VB, C#, or C++.

 

Flight Simulator X Deluxe DVD
While Flight Simulator X’s hardware requirements are quite big, the graphics on Windows Vista using DirectX 10 are nothing short of breathtaking.
Cost: $49.99
Get it: Flight Simulator X on Amazon.com
Code it: The Deluxe edition of Flight Simulator X includes a new SDK called SimConnect that you can use to manipulate and control the Flight Simulator world using VB, C#, or C++.

Cool Software Tools

Microsoft Robotic Studio
If you have LEGO Mindstorm RCX or NXT, you actually can control them through Microsoft Robotic Studio. It can control far more than just LEGO too, it is able to control far more and comes full of examples. Instead of having to deal with low level coding to deal with everything on your robots, one can write a wrapper then have the Robotic Studio do all the heavy lifting!
Cost: Free
Get it: Microsoft Robotics Studio

 

Microsoft XNA Game Studio Express
Think you are cut out to build video games? Using Microsoft Game Studio Express you can try out building video games that can be played. If you have an Xbox 360, you can actually transfer the game you created to it too! You can show off to your friends the games you created (Don’t forget to add in a god mode for yourself).

Cost: Free for Windows/$99 year for Xbox porting and content subscription
Get it: XNA Game Studio Express

Top 10 Presents for Developers

Scrolling LED Belt Buckle

Nothing says chick geek like a scrolling LED Belt Buckle.  It can hold up to six messages at a time with each message containing 256 characters.

Cost: $29.99

Get it: Scrolling Belt Buckle

 

Matrox DualHead2Go / TripleHead2Go

Afraid which new video card is right for you or are you on a laptop? The Matrox allows a coder to have up to three monitors with the TripleHead2Go (two with the DualHead2Go) with only one video input. Multiple monitor support is build into Windows. While having that many monitors may seem a tad excessive, they do help boost productivity and help the keep workspace less messy.


Cost
: $169-$299
Get it: Matrox Products

 

Want more? Read the full Holiday Gift Guide Here

Like the Coding4Fun Gift Guide, then Digg it, did we miss something? Email us at code4fun@microsoft.com to get it added!

 

Warning: The Coding4Fun team is not responsible for any side effects resulting from programming this holiday season including but not limited to exhaustion, delight, sleep deprivation, electrocution, hunger, and poor hygiene. Please remember to write code responsibly.

 

Thanks,
The Coding4Fun Team