Mike Swanson

September, 2004

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    Microsoft Physics Illustrator for Tablet PC

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    Okay…I don’t have a Tablet PC to run this on, so I’m not sure if this is the application I saw demonstrated by Microsoft Research awhile back, but if it is, it’s very cool. Here’s the brief description of the Microsoft Physics Illustrator for Tablet PC: “Bring your drawings to life with the Physics Illustrator, a motion simulator for the Tablet PC. Simply draw two-dimensional bodies, connect them in various ways and apply forces, then watch as animation makes the bodies move, collide, and interact.” Just the kind of thing for a geek’s Tablet, and oh-so-satisfying to play around with. Enjoy!

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    Ron Jeffries at the XP West Michigan User Group

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    I apologize for not being able to give you an earlier heads-up on the Ron Jeffries presentation at the XP West Michigan User Group last night. It was well attended (I’d guess that there were approximately 50 people), but it would have been great to see more familiar faces. This was a chance to hear from an important figure in the Agile universe, and those that were able to make it were treated to two excellent presentations.

    For the first hour, Ron presented on delivering software Early and Often. You have to love the hand-drawn charts in his slide deck…they are a perfect fit for his personality. In addition to providing a good Extreme Programming refresher, he had some compelling arguments about delivering value to your customer early and often. With traditional, plan-driven methodologies, the payoff to the customer doesn’t show up until relatively late in the game, whereas the practice of Extreme Programming begins to deliver tangible value within a couple of iterations (weeks).

    As the name implies, an Agile approach is able to quickly respond to shifting and changing requirements much earlier than a more traditional approach (like waterfall). If that weren’t enough, the Agile approach empowers the customer by allowing them to drive for a target date by jettisoning less-critical features or to bite off the remaining features in a predictable extension of the project timeframe. I don’t personally believe that Extreme Programming is a one-size-fits-all methodology, but in my opinion, it does make sense for a majority of the teams I interact with. Unfortunately, the word extreme turns a lot of people off much too quickly.

    In the second presentation, Ron did some pair programming with his associate, Chet Hendrickson. They provided a live version of the classic Bowling Example (with follow-ups here and here). This is a great example for anyone who is not familiar with pair programming, test-driven development, refactoring, or Extreme Programming. Frankly, it’s a good example to work through on your own to appreciate the power of the process. It’s easy to understand, not too difficult to implement, but it also provides enough interesting challenges to illustrate an evolving design. As an intriguing side note (that happens to make a perfect unit test), Ron mentioned that a bowling champion who had attended one of his presentations stated that any game of alternating strikes and spares results in a total score of 200. Cool.

    The meeting was scheduled from 6:00pm to 8:00pm, but many of us ended up keeping Ron and Chet until around 9:30pm. They were both great sports, and we had some invigorating and insightful conversation until they had to start their long drive home. If you missed the presentation or if you think that this is a process that you’d like to implement in your team, Ron and Chet are available for on-site training and/or coaching. I’d recommend them highly.

    Oh…and Ron, in true “only build what you need” style has a much more efficient blog post about the event.

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    Games in Managed Code

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    Brad Abrams points out Arena Wars, a game written using managed code. Based on some of the comments on his site, it sounds like it’s worth taking a look at the downloadable demo. Has anyone else had a chance to investigate this? With most of the heavy lifting being done by high-performance GPUs these days, managed code starts to make a lot of sense.

    Related to my recent post about experimenting with Direct3D and C#, Brandon Furtwangler looks like he’s been busy with his own experimentation. Nice stuff, Brandon!

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    XP West Michigan User Group

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    Imagine my surprise when I learn that there has been an Extreme Programming user group in my own back yard for the past year! One of my contacts at Seimens (thanks, Jim) pointed me to the XP West Michigan User Group. The most exciting news is that Ron Jeffries (Editor of XProgramming.com, among other things) is speaking at tonight’s meeting in Grand Rapids. Ron is one of the original XPers, and this is a rare opportunity to hear directly from him. From their meeting description:

    September 28, 2004 - "Implications of Delivering Software Early and Often" and "Test Driven Development: Demonstration and Discussion" [Priority Health]

    Ron Jeffries, prolific author, industry leader and practitioner in the XP movement, will be our guest speaker at the September XP West Michigan meeting. This is one meeting you won't want to miss

    Ron Jeffries is one of the earliest XP pioneers. He was the on-site coach for the original XP project at Chrysler in 1998 and has been involved in XP ever since. Now an independent consultant, he has presented numerous talks and published several papers on the topic. He and his teams have built operating systems, compilers, relational database systems, and a wide range of applications (although he wonders why he didn't get any of the money for such efforts).

    In addition to his consulting work, Ron Jeffries is author or co-author of several articles and books including Extreme Programming Installed and his most recent book, Extreme Programming Adventures in C# (DV-Microsoft Professional). Ron is editor of the website XProgramming.com and is the most prolific on-line author by far in Extreme Programming and related topics.

    For more information and directions to tonight’s meeting, visit their meetings page. I hope to see you there!

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    Microsoft DevDays 2004 Streaming Sessions and October Webcasts

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    For all of you who missed the DevDays 2004 sessions, or if you simply want to “attend” them again, you can now view them on-line.

    And while I’m on the topic of streaming video, here’s a list of upcoming MSDN webcasts for the month of October.

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