A View from Elsewhere

John Montgomery's Weblog

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  • Blog Post: Maker Faire and Popfly Results

    Well, we saw a lot of people at Maker Faire, but the biggest thing we did was the ducks. Sure we gave a lot of demos, but for every demo we gave we had four kids painting ducks. Here are some of the ducks that the kids painted, Popfly-style.
  • Blog Post: Twitter + Virtual Earth in Popfly

  • Blog Post: Popfly Humor

    Drew Bollman has posted his mashup wish list . He had me at #1.
  • Blog Post: Maker Faire: Meet the Popfly Team

    Tonight a lot of my team and I head down to San Mateo, CA for O'Reilly's Maker Faire . I've never been and am pretty excited to see what people are up to -- things like the Fab@Home look neat. We'll be in the Microsoft Coding4Fun booth giving demos of Popfly and painting rubber ducks .
  • Blog Post: Welcome to Popfly

    Today (that'd be Friday) we're announcing Microsoft Popfly(tm) , which is the project my team has been working on. It's a simple, web-based tool that makes it easy to create mashups, web pages, and so on. We also have a Visual Studio 2005 package that enables you to connect VS to Popfly. This is a...
  • Blog Post: Do People Want to Tweak?

    I believe that people want the ability to control their digital experiences – not just setting backgrounds or uploading photos, but the ability to completely change any aspect of any product or website they use and reconfigure them at will. In other words, I believe that people fundamentally want to...
  • Blog Post: Sir Ken Robinson on Education

    My boss sent this my way a couple of days ago. I put off looking at it since it seemed like it would be work-related and we all know that in the weeks preceding and following Christmas It Is Forbidden to Do Work . In any event I watched it today and finally characterized it as a 30-minute standup routine...
  • Blog Post: RTB Finished

    One of the meetings that our division inflicts regularly schedules is called "running the business" (formerly they were called "rhythm of the business" but I think someone noticed that we don't got rhythm). Our team had its RTB meeting today. It went well, with Adam Nathan delivering a stellar demo and...
  • Blog Post: Power Outage

    This morning, building 41 lost power. Steven Wilssens (one of the PMs on my team) and I were just settling into some deep conversation when everything went black and the fire alarm started whooping and periodically saying, "Lobby, lobby, lobby" in an awful mechanical voice. So we all adjourned to the...
  • Blog Post: Calculating Operational Costs

    One of my tasks over the weekend was to calculate how much it would cost to operate a service. I can't tell you what the service is, of course, since actually providing useful context is far beyond the scope of this blog. ;-) However, I had a good sit-down with Excel 12 on Saturday morning and began...
  • Blog Post: US Imagine Cup: Not Just Algorithms

    One of the largest challenges facing CS students is the transition from being a CS student to writing production code in a work environment for a living. Historically programming challenges have focused more on CS-student-oriented work, but this year the Imagine Cup in the US is broadening out. Students...
  • Blog Post: Doing the Happy Dance

    After a review with SomaSe last week in which we demoed what I'll just call "our stuff" (though the credit belongs to Adam Nathan , who really needs to update his blog), we went yesterday to present to Bob Muglia. The last time I presented to Bob in any way, shape, or form, I was a director of marketing...
  • Blog Post: Safari's Development Playground

    As part of my team's work we bought a Mac for testing. Setting aside how cute that little box is and how interesting it's been to get it to work on the Microsoft network (bone up on your IPSEC, please), we've been trying to get Safari to work and have found that, unlike Firefox and IE, Safari often behaves...
  • Blog Post: Job Descriptions

    I’ve found that writing job descriptions is harder than I thought. In particular, it’s harder because I’m writing for so many audiences: for the internal developers and PMs who might be interested, the external folks, for other managers, and so on. Here’s one. What would make it better? Software...
  • Blog Post: Amaze Me 2

    I was riding the bus into work the other day when I realized that bus route calculations are kind of like the maze problem, only harder. Imagine that you live in a city (e.g. Seattle) and that you use buses to get everywhere and you want to be able to calculate the most efficient routes from any address...
  • Blog Post: NPT Team Charter

    After about four months of working through some hard problems, I’ve begun to center our team on a few core work areas. Based a lot on the feedback you gave me through this blog, I narrowed it to three work areas: We’re going to start by building on the momentum of the current Visual Studio Express...
  • Blog Post: Amaze Me

    This came up in the context of the development experience we’re working on. One of the objects we supply to work with is a maze – you can create a new maze, take a step in the maze, check to see if the direction you’re facing is a valid move, turn, and so on. Anyway, Adam and I were standing in his...
  • Blog Post: Non-Pro Tools Team PUM

    We have a PUM. Paramesh Vaidyanathan who ran the India Developer Center for Developer Division – a team of something like 100 people – has decided he wants to come back to the US to run the Non-Professional Tools Team (NPT – our team). I’m incredibly excited. I’ve worked with Paramesh before as his...
  • Blog Post: What We’re Doing: Cool Tools

    While I’ve been running around creating PPTs and sending email, Adam has been working on a prototype development experience that’s designed to take someone with no knowledge of code through to creating simple Web sites with HTML and Javascript or VBscript, teaching them along the way about things like...
  • Blog Post: Adam Nathan Joins Non-Pro Tools Team

    We have our first developer. Adam Nathan has joined us. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the soul behind Pinvoke.net , a community site dedicated to getting good coverage of .NET’s Pinvoke functionality (which he largely wrote). I knew Adam was the right guy when, on the weekend between...
  • Blog Post: We Have a Name: NPT

    We still need a name for the team. Since none of the ideas we came up with previously seemed to pass the internal sniff test (go figure), I decided that I’d opt for naming it descriptively: the Non-Professional Tools Team, or NPT for short. We’re still working on tools for hobbyists and novices and...
  • Blog Post: After HTML and Javascript, C++

    Surprising factoid: after HTML and Javascript, C++ is the language most used by non-professional developers (including students, hobbyists, etc.). This based on some of our internal research over the past 4 years (statistically significant sample, but US-only). I would have expected VB or maybe a dynamic...
  • Blog Post: An Express Web Page Editor?

    Do we need a complement to Visual Web Developer Express (i.e. a free, simplified Web page editor) that is aimed at the HTML jockey? If so, what features should it have? The big question for me on this one is where a sitebuilder (the Web-based configuration utilities most hosters give you to select...
  • Blog Post: Multitargeting and Express

    When Visual Studio "Orcas" ships, we have a question we need to answer: which version(s) of the .NET Framework/WinFX should it target? Having a single tool that can target various runtimes has been something I've been a strong advocate of for years, but my experience with the Express products has softened...
  • Blog Post: Express "Orcas" Principles

    Building on my Principles for First-Use Tools , I'm thinking about Principles for Express. Express is a tougher job because its customer base spans so many people -- from professionals coding after hours to students to people who aren't developers using it to learn or to accomplish some task at work...
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