October, 2007

  • DaveDev

    Happy 30th Atari 2600!



    Debuting in 1977 at $199 it brought gaming into the family household in a big way.  I remember getting a used Atari 2600 from an ad my parents found in the paper (200 Bucks was a lot to spend on electronics back then!).  I think it came with a couple cartridges - Missile Command (still my favorite 2600 game of which I still play now on Xbox Live), Dragracing, and Shootout.

    My parents felt they were buying us a new and exciting piece of technology - something to get their boys away from all that television and be a little more interactive.  My brother and I thought we had found a wondrous cauldron of infinite possibility, and it still didn't get us away from that TV.  The hours we spent playing those games got both of us interested in technology, and ultimately the computers that were to come after.  Perhaps our parents were smarter than we thought.  =)

    Here's to you Mr. 2600!  You can still bring a smile to my face after all these years.

    Engadget is running a story here and a little bit of history can be found here.  


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  • DaveDev

    User Experience in the Enterprise, and why it matters!


    IT Departments in today’s enterprise are consistently being asked to do more with less. But how do you accomplish such a feat? One of the often overlooked areas is that of user experience. Bad user experience can cause employee frustration and it costs money in ways not initially thought of. Lost employee productivity hours, increased helpdesk calls, cost of mistakes in financials. Microsoft’s platform today offers both designers and developers a chance to speak the same language. The result is increased end user satisfaction, loyalty, and cost savings to IT.

    Over the past several years, I lived the life of an Enterprise Developer.  The technologies changed, the people I worked with changed, even the industries were different, but one thing remained the same.  IT was always asked to do more with less.

    There are numerous ideas floating around that were created to address this.  A lot of them target the process of project management, and indirectly the process of software creation.  Some look more towards consolidation: data centers, websites, and redundant applications.  Others look to leverage resources outside of their own domain; whether this is the physical hardware (Servers, Network Storage) or the services these applications consume (Web Services, RSS Feeds).   As an Enterprise Developer I was often involved with a lot of these. My projects involved moving business logic into tiers that could be hosted on servers outside our own walls.  I would automate complex systems, reducing redundant computer processes or help link systems together via Web Services to better consolidate. 

    But there was always one area I felt was overlooked: User Experience, or UX.  Looking back now it seems so obvious of a solution why did no one see it? One of the biggest costs for IT is usually the ongoing support of their applications.  Whether this is the administration of such applications or the end user support of a word document the end result is the same: people.  At the end of the day people are the ones who run our systems, and people are the ones who use it.  But people are often overlooked when it comes to planning a project.   It was a rare occasion for me to be on a project where the User Experience actually had requirements in the project. 

    "My belief is that one of the most significant reasons for the failure of organizations to develop new software products in-house is the absence of anything that a design professional would recognize as an explicit design process," from Bill Buxton’s book, Sketching User Experience.

    Good User Experience can be an area of great cost savings and it has other benefits as well which we will discuss

    FinancialDevelopers.com is hosting my full Article here.  Check it out!

    More to come, stay tuned!

  • DaveDev

    Important - VS2008 Beta 2 VPC expires on Nov 1st!


    Looks like the Base OS image that the VPC uses is expiring early.  I know a lot of you have been using the VPC to play with Orcas, myself included. 


    Here is the scoop...

    We recently discovered that the VPCs we distributed as part of the VS2008 Beta2 release will expire on Thursday, November 1, 2007, much earlier than we had originally expected.  Since the timeout is at the OS level, we cannot automatically extend the timeout period.  As such we are currently in the process of reissuing the VPCs and expect to make them available early next week.


    In the meantime, for anyone that has stored information in TFS that they need to access moving forward, we recommend that you immediately backup the TFS databases in preparation to move them to the updated VPCs.  For information to complete these steps, please refer to the documentation on Moving Team Foundation Server.

    So make sure you back up your data, if you have any inside the VPC.  Best way to do this would be to make a shared folder and just copy over everything.  In fact, I find this the best way to work inside the VPC so that I can access all my projects on my local machine.

    Jeff Beehler has an update on his blog and some steps you can take.  Check it out here.

    If you are using a Visual Studio 2008 Beta2 VPC that was downloaded before October 29th you will be affected by this.  

    Updated VPC images are posted and can be downloaded right here! 

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  • DaveDev

    Microsoft releasing Source Code for the .NET Libraries?


    You bet!  With the release of Visual Studio 2008 Microsoft will be making viewable the Source Code for a lot of the libraries in .NET 3.5.  There will be two methods of viewing the source: a downloadable browsing format, or integrated into Visual Studio.  When integrated developers will be able to actually step through the source to the .NET classes themselves, while debugging.

    How cool would it be to take a look inside the System.Threading class?!?


    This includes the Base Class Libraries (BCL), System.Data, Windows Forms, WPF, and ASP.NET. Great stuff!

    Get the full scoop here off ScottGu's blog.  There is also a Channel 9 video where Shawn Burke discusses the announcement here.

    One of the major reasons I came to Microsoft was the companies shift in thinking.  Transparency towards its customer base and developers, starting with things like Channel 9 and most recently with things like this.  Change is good, and I hope you feel excited about drilling into some of this code as I am.  =)

    If you haven't already checked out Visual Studio 2008 Beta 2, it is free download, comes with a go-live license, and is available as both a download and a vpc.  More info and download links can be found here.

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