Brian Keller

Director of ALM Evangelism for Microsoft

Posts
  • Brian Keller

    Instant J#

    • 1 Comments

    I just found out about a code converter called Instant J#. This looks like a great product which helps generate J# code from Visual Basic code. Where might this be handy, you ask? Well, Visual Basic has the luxury of having a really well-established community of millions of users cranking out lots and lots of source code examples. Snippets, sample applications, starter kits, you name it and chances are somebody in the Visual Basic community has built it and posted it to the Web. Since J# is much newer than Visual Basic, and the market for J# is a bit more niche (Java developers porting their code to the .NET Framework) there are naturally fewer such samples available. So by using Instant J# it looks like the J# developer can work with not only Java and J# sample code, but leverage the plethora of Visual Basic sample code resources as well!

    The #1 question people will probably ask is how good the conversion is. This sounds like a pretty powerful statement off of their Web site:

  • Accurate - typically over 99% of lines require no post-conversion adjustment (99.95% on Microsoft's "101 Visual Basic Code Samples").  This percentage will be reduced for code not having Option Strict set or code heavily dependent on late-binding or COM interop.
  • The 101 Code Samples span a wide range of application types, so I think this is a strong testament to the tool. Check it out and let me know what you think.

  • Brian Keller

    JavaOne, TechEd Europe

    • 1 Comments

    It's been a really busy two weeks! I just got back from a two week road trip; first to JavaOne in San Francisco. We had a really great time down there talking to Java customers about interoperating with .NET Framework-based applications. While it may be a bit shocking that Microsoft had a presence at JavaOne, customers were really happy - several of them came up and thanked us profusely for finally coming to JavaOne. I must admit - I was even a bit skeptical of the reception, but once we got there everybody was really nice and had lots of great questions about Java and .NET interoperability. I also got to go with a really great crew of Microsofties - people like Simon Guest, Doug Purdy, Kevin Wittkopf, Dino Chiesa, Jas Sandhu, Ashwin Karuhatty... these are all people who spend a lot of time talking to both Java and .NET customers alike. While I was there I did an interview with Syscon-TV - it turned out pretty well, here's a link: http://tv.sys-con.com/read/108560.htm. One of the best parts for me was getting to meet James Gosling, Mark Fleury, Rick Ross, and several of the other Java big wigs. They are smart, nice people and I look forward to going back next year. Even Scott McNealy came by our booth for a few minutes!

    Then this past week I was at TechEd Amsterdam where I had the opportunity to do a keynote demo with Andy Lees, the Corporate VP of Server and Tools at Microsoft. I did basically the same demo that I did at TechEd Orlando since we were able to replicate the RFID infrastructure in Europe. I wish we had that luxury at all conferences, since it's a lot of fun to show the RFID data bubbling up through SQL Server 2005 and into the application we created with Visual Studio 2005. But right now we're limited to the really big conferences.

    Now I'm focused on launch planning... our Visual Studio 2005 launch date - Nov. 7, 2005 - has been announced which means there's a lot to do over the next 4 months to get ready! It should be a fun and busy time and I'm looking forward to every minute of it.

  • Brian Keller

    How Bungie built Bungie.net

    • 0 Comments

    This is a great article detailing how Bungie built Bungie.net using the .NET Framework. Bungie.net is your one-stop shop to find out all the latest Halo 2 news, and of course to check your stats! Check it out: Bungie.net Technical Case Study

  • Brian Keller

    Old video game ads

    • 0 Comments

    These are classic! Thanks to Major Nelson for the post. I can still remember getting my first copy of Nintendo Power. Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, A, B, Select, Start!

    Anyway - check out the ads here.

  • Brian Keller

    Video podcasting has changed the way I get information

    • 2 Comments

    I'm hooked on video podcasting. I must admit that when I heard of audio podcasting for the first time it seemed cool, but it's not something which caused me to change my lifestyle. But last week at TechEd when the Podcast crew was running around filming various TechEd happenings I decided to give it a try. I was even more motivated when they started filming me for videos; now I was my own test subject. <g> (see my last blog entry for links to my videos - scroll to the bottom)

    Based on some recommendations, I installed iPodder and added the TechEd Podcast RSS feed. (If you want to do this yourself, see the instructions here). iPodder is a good aggregator and will go out and fetch all of these videos and download them for you in the background. You can then launch the videos straight from iPodder, or use the WMP playlist that gets auto-generated for you. iPodder still leaves a bit to be desired, though, and I hope it will be updated soon (or if I ever find spare time I'll end up writing my own aggregator customized for my workstyle). Here is my iPodder wish list:

    • Allow me to sort by clicking on the grid column headers. I'll go so far as to say that this is "expected behavior" nowadays since so many applications support it. It would be nice to sort based on video release date, size (to figure out which videos you want to clean out quickly), and other columns.
    • Either integrate more tightly with Windows Media Player, or bring media playing capabilities right into iPodder. Here's why: If you start subscribing to video podcasts you'll quickly find the need to clean up videos when you're done watching them unless you have some insanely huge hard drive (the Channel9.msdn.com feed I'm subscribed to has TONS of great content and quickly filled up with about 3.5GB of videos!). Currently the cleanup is a two-step process; you watch a video in Windows Media Player, then you go to iPodder's "Cleanup" tab and select the videos you want to delete. This is "ok", but it would be nicer to have a UI within Windows Media Player that allowed me to delete videos as I watched them, keep track of which videos I've watched and which ones I haven't, etc.
    • Integrate with Windows Media Encoder to allow me to automatically convert videos I receive into a lower fidelity to save disk space. It would be even better if I could specify this on a stream-by-stream basis; in the future I can imagine having a sports reel podcast feed which should be in hi-fidelity, but for my technical interview feeds I can live with a lower quality most of the time.

    I have some other new features I'd love to see but those are the big ones for now. Now I've got to get back to watching my 3.5GB of Channel9 videos... :-)

  • Brian Keller

    TechEd 2005: Paul Flessner Day 2 Keynote Demo (Visual Studio 2005)

    • 3 Comments

    I had the pleasure of giving a Visual Studio 2005 demo for Paul Flessner's Day 2 Keynote here at TechEd this week. This was my first time giving a keynote demo, and it's hard to imagine the amount of work which goes into an exec-level keynote before you do one. But now that it's over it was an extremely fun and exciting 10 minutes for me to be in front of ~8000 people! In case you couldn't make it, here's a recap.

    I started by showing a Windows Forms application I built with Visual Studio 2005 to do some rich analysis of the RFID data we're collecting at TechEd. At TechEd this year we have RFID readers at various spots around the convention center, and attendees receive an RFID tag at registration. Don't worry, these tags are completely anonymous and are randomly distributed during the registration process, but just by walking around TechEd this technology can help us gather aggregate data to improve TechEd and other events in the future. For example, I showed a graph with the number of attendees vs. proctors in the Hands-on Labs area, and in the future we will be able to do things like send alerts to staffers in other parts of the convention center to let them know when we need extra help in certain areas. We also performed what I believe is the world's first "RFID-based raffle" by raffling off 5 Creative Portable Media Centers to people with tags we detected in the keynote hall that morning. I should point out that the RFID platform we're using at TechEd is actually based on an early version of the technology we're building to help Microsoft .NET developers seamlessly integrate RFID intelligence right into their applications.

    I then informed Paul that a critical piece of hardware we need for his demo wasn't there yet, but we had an RFID tag on it and RFID readers back stage - SQL Server 2005 would be aware of the hardware arriving once the RFID readers picked it up, but we wanted a real-time alert in our applications. So we added that on the fly by using SQL Server 2005's new Service Broker (which gives us an asynchronous programming model right in the database). Once the Service Broker processes our message, it activates a Stored Procedure which sends the alert back to our client application. This Stored Procedure was written entirely in Visual Basic, which shows how SQL Server 2005 can host the Common Language Runtime and give me full access to the .NET Framework and a language I already know - in this case, Visual Basic - for writing my database logic. (That's great for me, since my T-SQL is a little shaky <g>)

    The critical piece of hardware we were waiting on was none other than The Finalizer! Weighing in at about 120 lbs, The Finalizer is a BattleBot which runs on the .NET Compact Framework and packs a punch with a spinning saw blade and razor-sharp axe. It was a lot of fun working with The Finalizer, although you should see the rider he required for his dressing rooms - something about a bowl full of green M&M's and a half-dozen bottles of WD-40. Quite the prima donna... <g>

    An assorted list of other features I showed includes:
    - Some of the new Windows Forms controls, such as MenuStrip and DataGridView, we are shipping with Visual Studio 2005. I showed how these help you build applications which resemble Microsoft Office, Microsoft Money, and other applications your users are already likely to be familiar with.
    Smart Tags - which are a new feature in Visual Studio 2005 that gives you quick access to common tasks you might want to perform on a UI element.
    - Code Snippets - which give you hundreds of pre-written blocks of code for performing all sorts of tasks. Your Code Snippets library can also be easily extended with your own code, and you can share this with your team to help enforce best practices.
    - Visual Basic's new AutoCorrect feature - which brings Microsoft Word's "spell check" paradigm right into your code editor. It not only tells you that you have an error, but it will even try to suggest a fix. Very cool!

    The other great thing about the keynote was getting to meet Samantha Bee, from the Daily Show. She's very nice and cool to work with; and unlike the BattleBot, she didn't have a monstrous ego. :-)

    While you're here, check out some of the cool Podcasts of TechEd 2005. Here are a few related to this keynote:

    Enjoy the rest of TechEd 2005!

  • Brian Keller

    Heroic Adventure: Really cool RPG written in Visual Basic!

    • 3 Comments

    *3:49pm Edit to fix broken link.

    Chris Williams wrote an article talking about how he manages character inventory for his Visual Basic .NET-based RPG, Heroic Adventure. Check out the article here: http://geekswithblogs.net/cwilliams/articles/40854.aspx

    Heroic Adventure looks really cool - I was a huge NetHack fan back in the day, and Heroic Adventure is bringing back a lot of great memories. I'm at TechEd this week, so I won't have much time to play, but this will give me something fun to do on the plane.

  • Brian Keller

    Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2 Now Available!!!!

    • 0 Comments

    Yes: The long-awaited Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2 is now available! It's alive, and available for download!

    Before getting started:
    Please be sure to read all of the readme's and look for specific instructions near the download links for these products. Especially if you have installed any editions of Express or Visual Studio 2005 prior to beta 2, there are very explicit uninstallation steps which need to be followed in order or else you'll be unhappy with your experience (installation failures, other random stuff breaking, etc.). I don't mean to scare anybody by this disclaimer - as long as you follow the uninstallation order, you should be in great shape. The instructions aren't hard to follow as long as you take a few moments to read them. But it is important, since several of us in marketing encountered these issues this week on our own test machines. Lots of late nights and long days this week trying to figure out where we went wrong... so learn from our mistakes and look for those disclaimers! For Visual Studio uninstallation steps, click here. For Express uninstallation steps, click here.

    Places to get started:
    http://msdn.microsoft.com/Express: Download Beta 2 of the Express products! If you haven't yet kicked the tires of Express, I think you're going to love them. The Express products are streamlined, easy to use, easy to learn editions of their Visual Studio big brothers, designed for students, hobbyists, and novice developers. But even professional developers should check out Express if they want to "kick the tires" of the 2005 line of Visual Studio product. Full descriptions of each Express product, along with download links, are available here.

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/Coding4Fun: We just launched this new developer center which is all about coding for fun. So kick back and relax this weekend, and play with some of the really cool projects highlighted in the article series. We have a lot of really great new content coming online over the next few weeks as well - so keep checking back often! Email code4fun@microsoft.com with any feedback or ideas you have for new content!

    "Go Live!" - Beta 2 is a high-quality release. Normally, you can't run pre-release betas in production. But with the Go Live license you are permitted to deploy and distribute applications based on Beta 2! Visit the Go Live page for full details.

    MSDN Forums: These new forums are intended to eventually replace the newsgroups - I love the new forum format and I think you will, too! If you're having trouble with Beta 2, or if you want to respond to some posts to help your fellow coders, spend some time checking out the forums. I'll be there several times this week as will many of us from the Developer Division.

    MSDN Subscriptions Server: Subscribers can log in and download Visual Studio Team System 2005 Beta 2 and more.

    Ship. Shower. Shave. I'm literally headed off to do the latter two after hitting "Post"... It's been a long week. After that, I'm coming back to install Express and have some fun Coding4Fun. Happy Coding! Enjoy Beta 2.

  • Brian Keller

    Free Microsoft .NET training for Java Developers

    • 0 Comments

    We just put the finishing touches on a free, online, self-paced training course designed to help Java developers become better acquainted with Microsoft .NET development. This training is designed to help familiarize Java developers with Microsoft .NET development concepts using their Java development skill set as a frame of reference. Some types of questions this course answers include:

    - "I know how to use Swing/AWT/SWT/JSP, but what are my options for developing my Web or smart client presentation layer with Microsoft .NET?"
    - "I know how to use RMI with Java – but how does .NET Remoting work?"
    - "I have a piece of Java source code – how can I migrate this to run on the .NET Framework?"
    - "How does application deployment and updating work with the Microsoft .NET applications?
    - Much, much more…

    This training includes video presentations, downloadable student notes, video demonstrations, as well as hands-on labs you can complete from your desk.
    To access this training, please visit:
    http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/java/migrate/workshop

    If you have any problems accessing the materials, you can email java-net@microsoft.com. For other resources for Java developers, such as Interop guidance, visit http://msdn.microsoft.com/java.

    - Brian

  • Brian Keller

    Free training for Visual Studio 2005 and ASP.NET 2.0

    • 5 Comments

    **UPDATE 2:26PM THIS EVENT IS FULL NOW**

    Sorry for the late notice - but I just found out there's a Visual Studio 2005 training course being offered online which has extra capacity. If you're interested in the sessions below, please sign up by March 25th. 

    Session 1:         

    Date:

    Event Code: 

    Registration: 

    Other Information:

    What's New in Microsoft Visual Studio ® 2005 and ASP .NET 2.0

    March 28th, March 29th and March 31st from 4PM-8PM EST

    303373 – Use this Event ID when registering

    www.hp-microsoft.net/netdeveloper/

    You can only register for 1 event.  Limited space is available. 

    Deadline is Mar 25th

    Session 2:         

    Date:

    Event Code: 

    Registration: 

    Other Information:

    What's New in Microsoft Visual Studio ® 2005 and ASP .NET 2.0

    March 30th, March 31st and April 1st from 11AM-3PM EST

    303372– Use this Event ID when registering

    www.hp-microsoft.net/netdeveloper/

    You can only register for 1 event.  Limited space is available. 

    Deadline is Mar 25th 

    In the future I'll try to post these notices earlier!

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