Mike Swanson

May, 2005

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    Shutting Down Outlook


    This is one of those things that I thought only happened to me. For years, I've been running multiple Outlook profiles: one for my personal e-mail, and one for my Microsoft e-mail. It's quite common for me to exit Outlook and fire it up again so I can check a different e-mail account. As a matter of fact, I do this many times each day. Unfortunately, a quick re-start of Outlook doesn't always work, because the OUTLOOK.EXE process usually hangs around for awhile before it terminates. I'm not afraid to admit that I'm quite used to popping up Task Manager to see if the process is closed, and if I get too impatient, I close it myself. Come on...admit it...you've done it too (dad...if you're reading this, I'll explain what Task Manager is later). :-)

    Like I said, I thought it was a problem that was unique to me. However, I received an e-mail today that not only confirmed that I wasn't alone, but it actually contained a suggestion for eliminating this problem altogether! If this information is to be believed, closing Outlook by clicking on the X doesn't always shutdown the OUTLOOK.EXE and WINWORD.EXE processes right away; but, if you use File/Exit, both processes shut down immediately. Of course, I've been trying to test this tonight, but Outlook is closing immediately in all cases...kind of like the car that doesn't squeak when you drive it to the dealership.

    While searching the internet for similar cases, and I've found a few other solutions:

    • KnockOut - a tool that sits in your system tray and lets you know if the Outlook or Word processes are currently running
    • Shutdown Addin - a tool that helps Outlook shut down more quickly, and if it doesn't after a period of time, the addin forcefully terminates the process
    • A list of software that may cause problems

    If you can confirm that File/Exit does the trick, please post feedback!

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    XAML By Hand!?


    Adam Nathan responds to Mike at Median Group (an awesome designer that I had the pleasure to work with for two years on the NxOpinion project) about tools to help create XAML. In addition to the three tools that Adam mentions, I'd also add Mobiform's Aurora product which currently runs on the March CTP.

    On a related note, what other design tools should export to XAML? Do we have any designers in the audience who can provide feedback?

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    Introducing the Xbox 360 (and a Cool Video)


    Tonight, MTV presented Xbox: The Next Generation Revealed and gave everyone a sneak peak at the next version of our console, called the Xbox 360. Although the system looks very sleek and cool, I personally thought the show was a bit light on details; frankly, I had hoped for more. I'm sure we'll learn a lot at next week's E3 in Los Angeles, but who can wait that long!? To be fair, MTV does have a page with some awesome system specifications. Excuse me while I drool!

    So, in the meantime, visit the mysterious Our Colony site and download a much more informative and entertaining 6-minute video. Or, if you don't want to wait, Engadget has provided a pointer to the high-quality version of the video for your immediate viewing pleasure.

    Two thoughts come to mind:

    • Will the light-colored components start looking dirty after hours of intense use? Especially the controllers? We have a lot of smart people, and I'm sure we're putting the hardware through its paces, so I'm guessing we have this covered.
    • Wireless controllers rock! But, for public installations, is there any way for me to lock them down? Or connect them to a secure cable? I didn't see anything like this on the controller, but it seems like it'd be easy to add.

    Minor concerns aside, this looks like an amazing package: customizable faceplates, three screaming processor cores, a 500MHz ATI graphics processor, streaming media features, WiFi support, hi-definition output, 256 audio channels, and Xbox Marketplace!? Un-freakin-believable!

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    Component Vendors on Channel 9


    I organized and ran my first developer lab at our Platform Adoption Center (otherwise known as building 20) in early March. We had quite a few component vendors in attendance. Our work was focused on helping the vendors ensure that their components are compatible with Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2, and we had a number of product team members there to help. The guys from Channel 9 were kind enough to visit, and they shot some short video segments:

    • Daniel Jebarat, Vice President of Syncfusion (authors of the fantastic Windows Forms FAQ) shows off some of their controls in a 12-minute video, including their Essential Grid, Essential Chart, Essential Diagram, and a fully managed C# HTML rendering engine called Essential HTMLUI.
    • Michael J. Baldwin, President of Dart Communications, is interviewed in a 16-minute video where he talks about the technology behind their PowerWEB Live Controls for ASP.NET. If you're familiar with AJAX, this technology achieves the same results.
    • Stephen Dadoly and Tony Lombardo of Infragistics talk about how their WebGrid uses asynchronous callbacks to load and display only the data you need in their 10-minute video. They also talk about some of the new features of Visual Studio 2005, including editable regions in the designer and the ability to embed JavaScript and image resouces in their controls.
    • There's also a 9-minute video with Raghavendra Prabhu where he talks about the Windows Forms designer. Interesting stuff.

    Developer labs are great resources for not only our customers and partners, but also for us. Because lab attendees work side-by-side with the people building our products, we get extremely valuable feedback that can be incorporated into our products. This is just one of the many ways we validate that our technology can be used in very real-world scenarios.

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    Five Years at Microsoft


    It’s hard to believe, but five years ago yesterday, I started my career with Microsoft as a consultant in the Great Lakes District. My first job was to help a large Midwest retailer move their rich-client functionality to a web-based intranet for all of their stores. I worked a lot on an automated printing solution, and from what I hear, it's still being used today. After some cool .NET early-adopter work (that provided my first exposure to Evangelism at Microsoft), my next large project was leading a development team to build a web-based e-commerce solution to serve over 14 million registered users. This project involved some cross-platform web services work where we implemented real-time replication of database information between .NET/SQL Server and Java/Oracle. After that, I spent almost two full years helping the Robertson Research Institute architect and build NxOpinion, a cutting-edge medical diagnostic package that will be available for free to rural and developing countries to help prevent death from misdiagnosis. I learned a lot about Bayesian Inference by working with David Heckerman (of Microsoft Research) during development. NxOpinion was extremely rewarding, and I’m very proud that Microsoft was so intimately involved.

    Now, I find myself in Redmond living in building 18 with an amazing group of technical evangelists. The enthusiasm and creativity of my new group is infectious, and I’m privileged to work with such a passionate bunch of people. The past five years have been extremely rewarding, but there are definitely some great things ahead for our company, and five years is really just enough time to get warmed up.

    As is tradition at Microsoft, I brought in five pounds of M&Ms today (one pound for each year). If you think that's a lot of M&Ms, Robert Hess (of The .NET Show fame) recently celebrated 17 years. That was a lot of M&Ms! In Michigan, I'm convinced that all five pounds would have been gone by the end of the day. However, in the health-conscious Seattle area, I expect that it'll take over a week to eat all of them.

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