Mike Swanson

September, 2004

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    West Michigan .NET User Group Presentation Next Week


    For anyone interested, I'm giving the presentation for the West Michigan .NET User Group meeting this coming Tuesday, September 21st at 6:00pm. The meeting is at Sagestone Consulting in Grand Rapids, Michigan (map). We'll be drawing for software, including a couple of Xbox games. From the description:

    In this presentation, Michael Swanson, a Senior Microsoft Consultant, talks about many of the tools and techniques that can help make a software project successful. Mike touches on software estimation techniques, the benefits of unit testing, automated continuous integration, the importance of code reviews, how to monitor and leverage code metrics, and interaction with an offshore team. He relates many of these topics to past projects, including the recent NxOpinion application he's been involved with for the past year-and-a-half. Come prepared for an open discussion, a lot of Q&A, and some good tool demos.

    Michael Swanson is a Senior Consultant for Microsoft Corporation, specializing in software development. He has been creating computer software for over 25 years, and most recently has worked on the NxOpinion project for the Robertson Research Institute. He has written games, data compression libraries, device drivers, firmware, bulletin board systems, commercial software, enterprise applications, and just about everything in between. He was responsible for the creation of the first “uninstaller” application for Windows and launched the first nationwide movie showtime web site. Over the past few years, Mike has focused much of his time on software development practices, including Agile Development, unit testing, project estimation, and design patterns. He’s written code in a lot of different languages but currently prefers C#.

    I hope to see you all there!

    Update: The user group presentation went very well, and about 20 people stayed and talked until around 10:00pm (two extra hours). Also, a copy of my presentation has been posted on the West Michigan .NET User Group site. I'm not sure how much sense it makes without verbal context, but I know that many of you wanted a copy.

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    New SourceMonitor 2.0 Code Metrics Tool


    If you've read my article on Code Review and Complexity, you'll know that I recommend using metrics to help monitor the relative quality of source code. I really like the simplicity and speed of Campwood Software's SourceMonitor, a freeware tool written by Jim Wanner. I just noticed that he's released SourceMonitor 2.0 for download, and I'd highly recommend taking a look at it...especially if you've never looked at or captured code metrics. Some of the improvements that I'm looking forward to include:

    • The ability to selectively include subdirectories in a project
    • Support for C# 2.0 language constructs
    • The Kiviat diagram...a lot of useful information at a quick glance

    The Kiviat diagram below is from some sample code I generated awhile back. I can quickly tell from this diagram that I should check to see if I've commented my code properly and take a look to see which method(s) are driving my complexity and depth outside typical limits (which are configurable). Fortunately, SourceMonitor makes it very easy to find and review the complex code.

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    Macro Wallpaper 2


    Response to my first set of macro images was positive, and more than a few people have asked for more. So, here are five new images at 1280 x 1024...each around 230KB in size. I've picked photos with a flower theme this time, and I hope you enjoy them.

    A couple of people have asked about the camera I use to take these photos. I'm currently using a Nikon Coolpix 5700, a 5.0 megapixel camera with excellent macro support.

    As always, feedback is encouraged.

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    DVD Review: Once Upon Atari


    I was browsing ThinkGeek a few weeks back to see if they had added anything new that I would consider a mandatory geek purchase, and I ran across a DVD called Once Upon Atari. It sounded interesting enough, and like many of you, I grew up saving my money for, begging my parents for, and playing Atari video games. And anything that purports to increase my knowledge and understanding of my formative gaming years is certainly worth $29.95. Since I owned over 100 Atari 2600 cartridges back in the day, I ordered it.

    The DVD was created by Howard Scott Warshaw (Yar's Revenge) and consists of about two hours of interviews with many original Atari 2600 game developers. You'll hear from people like Larry Kaplan (Kaboom!), Rob Fulop (Missile Command), Tod Frye (Pac-Man), and Atari co-founder, Nolan Bushnell. The four video segments are mostly "talking head" interviews interspersed with short game clips and the occasional nostalgic photo. If you're interested in learning about the Atari culture and how it turned out video games, you'll likely be extremely satisfied.

    You'll learn about the hot tub, the sprinkler lobotomy, the flying frog, the recreational drug use, walking on walls, and a whole lot more. It's obvious that these individuals were given a lot of freedom and responsibility at a relatively young age, and it's interesting to hear them reminisce about their experiences at the company. Although I've only been with Microsoft for about 4 1/2 years now, a lot of the passion, the creative energy, and the thinking-outside-the-box mentality reminds me of our corporate culture. Too often we're obsessed by how "the other guys" are doing things, but we quickly forget that the other guys are obsessing about how we do things. We didn't get where we are by being like the other guys, and this DVD reminded me of that.

    If you grew up on Atari 2600 games, you'll enjoy this video. And while I'm at it, check out the JAKKS TV Games for an inexpensive way to relive those fond, old memories.

  • Mike Swanson's Blog

    Create a Bootable Windows XP CD That Includes Service Pack 2

    I had planned to post my own article about slipstreaming the recently released Service Pack 2 with your original Windows XP CD media, but it looks like Tom's Hardware beat me to it. By following the instructions in the article, you can create a single bootable CD that installs Windows XP along with Service Pack 2. If you're like me and you like to refresh and reinstall your system every six months or so, having a CD like this is very handy. Here's another article with similar instructions. And no, you're not experiencing déjà vu...I've posted on this topic before.
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