Hans VB's WebLog - For FREE!!!

About me (Hans Verbeeck). About my work (Partner Evangelist for Microsoft Belgium). Think big, start smal
Der deutsche Education Blog

September, 2007

  • Hans VB's WebLog - For FREE!!!

    Halo 3 or Gears of War?


    I'm huge fan of Gears of War and I never played Halo 1 or 2 on my own console. Now I've been playing Halo 3 at home for a couple of hours and I feel I can take a first stab at comparing these games.

    Graphics: When I was playing multiplayer Halo 2 at my friend's place, I wasn't overly impressed with the graphics. Especially when I compared them to GoW. So I was a bit afraid that my pre-ordered Halo 3 would disappoint me on this aspect. I was wrong. The graphics in Halo 3 are excellent (I'm watching on an HD TV). Everything is very sharp, there's a lot of detail and some really cool effects (like the explosions).

    Still, the game is less realistic than Gears of War. This is because of the more cartoon-like characters and the usage of brighter colors like purple and green for vehicles and weapons. In Gears, everything is more gray. This doesn't make the Halo graphics worse, just less realistic. A designer's choice.

    Sound: The sound is just great and I'm just listening to my TV's built in sound system. I can imagine a surround system really makes the game come to live.

    Also the supporting music helps create a mood supportive of the mother of all fights. At times the music even brings some rock 'n roll into game especially when most of the fighting is done from atop an armed vehicle.

    Story: Human race faces eradication by an Alien power and all hope is on one individual (Master Chief/Marcus Fenix )without whom the allied forces are doomed.

    halo - GOW

    That said, it's clear that the GoW story still needs to develop in future episodes which will need to explain why human race can't understand yet why the locust can't back down.

    The Halo 3 story on the other hand is clearly coming together in this episode when at some points an explanation is given for some events in Halo 2.

    I'm not sure the Gears of War team cares as much about the story as the Halo team. In GoW, the dialogs need to support the mission at hand. In Halo 3, the dialogs and clips often paint the bigger picture about why there's this fight.

    How does it play? This is a tough one. Gears of War is definitely the more linear type of game with narrower play fields and a more limited set of options. For instance in those phases where you need to be in a vehicle, the game will put you in a vehicle. In Halo there's a lot more freedom and flexibility.

    The fighting is also vastly different. While you really can storm ahead in Halo 3 and shoot and melee your enemies, GoW invites you to take cover, snipe, sneak up… Also in Gears of War it seems you have finer control over your aiming. I love Gears for that.

    The weaponry in Gears is way more limited than Halo's but feels more real and each weapon clearly has a different style and feel. You get some of that with Halo but, to me, the difference is not as clear.

    Now don't get me wrong, I truly enjoy playing Halo and the options I have sometimes truly surprise me and keep me learning things even while I'm already further in the game.

    Also fundamental is whether you prefer a third person shooter or a first person shooter. Is it that hard to let the player choose? When offered the choice, I would certainly opt for 3rd person but I must say it bothers me less than I expected.

    My conclusion: Everybody is raving about the game and I'm one of the fans. The game really pulls you in and you want to fight until the end. Only more story and more flexibility will allow Gears of War 2 detrone Halo 3.

    I wonder how long it will take me to finish the game. Only after I finished the game on Heroic I think I'll dare to go play multiplayer online.

  • Hans VB's WebLog - For FREE!!!

    WinFS lives on (in SQL Server 2008), .NET My Services not so much


    Years ago, I toured Europe and talked to about 10.000 people about the wonders of WINFS that was going to be released with Longhorn. As we know, WInFS got axed and it felt like I wasted around 750.000 man-minutes (it was a 75 minute talk).

    Today I was in a meeting to review the content for Tech Ed Developers and it really made me smile when we were discussing the data track and reviewed these sessions:

    • DAT306 Optimizing Online, Enabling Offline with SQL Server Compact Edition and Sync Services for ADO.NET [Ranked 252]  
      Steve Lasker
    • Tired of having to create a sproc, view, web method and proxy for every “question” you’d like to ask the database? By caching reference data, such as the product catalog locally, you can dramatically reduce the workload on your server, and reduce the complexity of your application. One challenge is how do you synchronize that data? We’ll discuss the power of having a compact, yet capable embedded database within your application. We’ll demo how you can offload workloads from the server, free the developer to empower their users, and still keep that product catalog in synch with the server. We’ll demo a shifted pattern to data access and demo the new Sync Services for ADO.NET coming in .NET Framework 3.5 with SQL Server Compact Edition 3.5. Take advantage of the client, make your applications faster, cache data locally and make your users happy customers.

    • DAT200 Entity Framework Introduction [Ranked 289]  
      Carl Perry
    • Most .NET database applications out there use ADO.NET to access and manipulate data, and most of them have a data-access layer built on top of ADO.NET to abstract out many of the details related to data-access that can get in the way of business logic. In this session we’ll introduce the ADO.NET Entity Framework, a high-level data library that pushes up the level of abstraction application developers need to work at when dealing with data in databases. We’ll discuss how the system supports conceptual modeling, the use of the object services layer to do object-relational mapping, and how great integration with LINQ (Language Integrated Query) brings new levels of productivity to the data-access development space.

    • A session on the FileStream data type in SQL Server 2008

    These sessions are the living proof that many of the ideas that made the WINFS live on and are (as announced) being implemented in SQL Server. So not all goodness was lost.

    Yes, I admit, the WinFS still sounds like a great idea to me just like the .NET My Services API still looks way more consistent than any set of API's I've been seeing lately from many different web platforms. Would Mark Lucovsky agree? If so, he can still order the book .NET My Services Specification at Amazon and give it to some developers at Google. I'm not giving my copy away. It's a classic!


    For a good paper on the new features in SQL Server 2008, you can check out his whitepaper: http://www.microsoft.com/sql/techinfo/whitepapers/sql2008Overview.mspx

    BTW, if you're going to Tech Ed, you can join this Tech Ed Developers Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2713709966 See you there?

  • Hans VB's WebLog - For FREE!!!

    Are people still getting Microsoft Certifications?


    You bet. I didn't know we published these numbers but we do:


    SOme interesting points. More .NET developers certify on Web applications than on Windows Applications. There haven been more Visual Studio 6.0 MCSD's than there are Microsoft .NET MCSD's. But it's clear that the latter will catch up. Also I see a very low number of certifications on VSTS. Probably because the certifications are recent.

    Not sure how the situation is around the globe but in Belgium, there's definately a shortage of .NET developers. So if you're a .NET developer with a certification, you're going to be in a great position to negotiate.

    Update: Just got a message from Tom Mertens about a deal that's running until January 2008. Apparently if you take an exam in that timeframe and fail, you get a free retrial (second shot information). For me (and other lazy people :-)) this would mean I first try to pass the exam without studying and then curse and study like hell for the retrial.


    Microsoft credential Certification Worldwide achievers

    Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS)

    .NET Framework 2.0: Distributed Applications

    .NET Framework 2.0: Web Applications

    .NET Framework 2.0: Windows Applications

    SQL Server 2005: Business Intelligence Development

    SQL Server 2005

    BizTalk Server 2006: Custom Applications

    Business Desktop Deployment Solution Accelerator 2.0

    Business Desktop Deployment with the BDD

    Microsoft Exchange Server 2007: Configuration

    Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005

    Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007: Application Development

    Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007: Configuration

    Microsoft Team Foundation Server: Configuration and Development

    Windows Mobile 5.0: Application Development

    Windows Mobile 5.0: Configuration

    Windows SharePoint Services 3.0: Application Development

    Windows SharePoint Services 3.0: Configuration

    Windows Vista: Configuration



















    Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD)



    Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD)

    Microsoft .NET

    Visual Studio 6.0



  • Hans VB's WebLog - For FREE!!!

    Vista tools


    OMG, what a list this is! http://www.hanselman.com/blog/ScottHanselmans2007UltimateDeveloperAndPowerUsersToolListForWindows.aspx

    How do you compile such a thing? It's beautiful madness!


    This one I love a lot!

    Vista Codecs:



    And this one wasn't on the list but is worth trying too.

    Vista Battery Saver


  • Hans VB's WebLog - For FREE!!!

    How flash developers work


    This is funny. It comes from a flash designer/developer's blog. Imagine having to write a single line of code like that!

    In his last posts, he also writes a good story about how he as a Flash designer sees Silverlight. Very interesting read.

  • Hans VB's WebLog - For FREE!!!

    Halo 3 HD clips op msn...


    Halo 3 is about to be released and Silverlight was released today. What a great combination :-)

    These Halo clips are so great. If that were real gameplay?! I guess we'll have to wait a couple of years before the visuals will be that advanced.


  • Hans VB's WebLog - For FREE!!!

    Get a sneak peek of Astoria at the SOuthampton launch event of the nextgenug


    If you can't wait for Tech Ed Developers Barcelona to hear about Astoria the you are lucky when you live in Southampton UK.

    On the 18th of October the NextGenUG is having there opening event over there and Guy Smith Ferrier is delivering a preview on this barnd piece of technology:

    Guy Smith-Ferrier
    Microsoft Codename "Astoria"

    The emergence of Web 2.0 technologies has brought new opportunities and caused us to solve old problems in new ways. AJAX and Silverlight applications need read/write access to data and business objects without performing full page refreshes and without dumbing down the data so much we are just left with primitives. Microsoft's answer to this problem is Microsoft Codename "Astoria". In short "Astoria" is a data access layer for client-size technologies such as AJAX and Silverlight. This session shows how it works, how you can write "Astoria" data servers and how you can customize "Astoria" to your applications requirements.

    You find out a little bit more about the technology if you check out the abstracts for the Tech Ed Developer sessions:

    WEB313 Project Astoria: Data Services for the Web [Ranked 289]  

    Pablo Castro

    The new wave of Web applications are built on technologies such as AJAX and Microsoft Silverlight, which enable developers to build better, richer user experiences. These technologies bring a shift in how applications are organized, including a stronger separation of presentation from data. The goal of Microsoft code name "Astoria" is to enable applications to expose data as a data service that can be consumed by Web clients within a corporate network and across the Internet. The data service is reachable over HTTP, and URIs are used to identify the various pieces of information available through the service. Interactions with the data service happens in terms of HTTP verbs, such as GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE, and the data exchanged in those interactions is represented in simple formats, such as XML and JavaScript Object Notation (JSON).

    Wed Nov 7 10:45 - 12:00 TBC

    The Tech Ed site has been revamped and I like the result a lot. I'm a bit sad I will miss my first Tech Ed Europe in 6 years especially since there's going to be quite a lot of new stuff while some sucesses like Speaker Idol will be repeated.

    Speaker Idol
    Speaker Idol

    A great opportunity to demonstrate your potential as a speaker. Deliver a short presentation and you can win a Speaker ticket to TechEd Developers 2008. Deadline is Friday 05 October.  



    Mind you, the last winner of speaker idol has been hired by Microsoft since and will shortly move to Redmond. Are you up for it?

  • Hans VB's WebLog - For FREE!!!

    Tech Ed Developers: 3 more days for Early Bird Discount


    Nice promotional clip for Tech Ed Europe (Tech Ed Developer and Tech Ed IT Forum).

    How are those type of constructions called again?

    Video: TechEd Europe 2007 promotional video

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