September 2005 - Posts
The Coding4Fun columns are a nice reminder that software development can be fun, and not just saving and display data from a database ;).
Some feedback that we are interesting in gathering from the second DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper Day is whether people would like more participant involved sessions, whether a LoadFest (where people install and play with the latest beta bits) or play the XP planning plan or Coding Challenge competition - would people give up two hours of tutorial sessions to join in?
It would be great to see what teams could produce using some robotic gadgets and some C# code.
Could they build a fully dancing robot transformer?
Simon would be too modest to blog this himself, UK Consultant Simon Thorneycroft shares his experiences starting out with Visual Studio 2005 column in the latest MSDN UK Visual Studio 2005 beta newsletter.
Don't forget you can now register for the Visual Studio 2005 Launch events, where rumour has it all attendees will get a free, unrestricted version of Visual Studio 2005 Professional and Sql Server 2005 Standard.
As mentioned by Robert Scoble, Orb is a software solution for viewing your photos, music and video on another PC. I remember wanting to try this a while ago but it subscription service and you had to be in the US, that has now be lifted and it is free to use.
You install a client piece on your home computer and then you can login from another Internet connected PC and select your content to view/stream.
I had a little play, just sharing my music collection and listening to it during the day from the offic; it just works and sound quality was great. However I wasn't so keen on the number of ports the client service opens, but I'll look at that if I decide to continue using it.
Shouldn't this be part of the operating system? Come on Microsoft, people want a file synchronisation piece that just works, I'm regularly working on the same files across my work pc, home pc and laptop. They have tried before with briefcase, etc. and little utilities like the Microsoft USB Flash Drive Manager and SyncToy but let's have something proper with compression and delta changes. I'd also like to sync' what RSS feeds I have read across machines. Will the Windows Vista Sync Center application provide a universal service for all applications to use or just My Documents?
There are a number of commercial tools that provide similar functionality today, have you any recommendations?
Explore and modify the document object model (DOM) of a web page.
Locate and select specific elements on a web page through a variety of techniques.
Selectively disable Internet Explorer settings.
View HTML object class names, ID's, and details such as link paths, tab index values, and access keys.
Outline tables, table cells, images, or selected tags.
Validate HTML, CSS, WAI, and RSS web feed links.
Display image dimensions, file sizes, path information, and alternate (ALT) text.
Immediately resize the browser window to 800x600 or a custom size.
Selectively clear the browser cache and saved cookies. Choose from all objects or those associated with a given domain.
Choose direct links to W3C specification references, the Internet Explorer team weblog (blog), and other resources.
Display a fully featured design ruler to help accurately align objects on your pages.
I still tend to prefer Sizer to resize any window to an exact, predefined size. Also HttpWatch is superb for watching browser traffic, http codes and timings (but it is expensive), a cheaper alternative is Fiddler.
Another favourite I've used is WFetch from the IIS Resource Kit to debug http requests, security authentification issues and general low-level checks before coding them into .NET using the System.Net namespace often to programmically grab files.
Whilst we are talking about IE, saw this nice little history writeup with screenshots of the early versions.
XBox360 release dates have now been revealed, Tuesday 22nd November in the US followed by Friday 2nd December for the UK. We'll have to watch for the launch line-up of games to be fully announced, but some trailers are available.
Just when I thought Nintendo was completely out of the running against Sony and Microsoft, I saw this video clip (via Chris Sells):
From the Nintendo website:
Nintendo breaks with more than 20 years of video game history by abandoning the traditional controller held with two hands and introducing an all-new freehand-style unit held with one hand.
The intuitive, pioneering interface allows players to run, jump, spin, slide, shoot, steer, accelerate, bank, dive, kick, throw and score in a way never experienced in the history of gaming.
“The feeling is so natural and real, as soon as players use the controller, their minds will spin with the possibilities of how this will change gaming as we know it today,” explains Satoru Iwata, Nintendo president. “This is an extremely exciting innovation – one that will thrill current players and entice new ones.”
That controller really does seem revolutionary and as we have seen before the controller can sell consoles with the right game.
Let's hope Rare push the XBox360 hardware like they did on the Spectrum (fond memories!) with Underwurlde and Knightlore years ago.
Like lots of developers around the world, I'm reading blogs and waiting for the keynotes from the PDC to start.
A few things have been revealed so far: new Windows Vista build, Office "12", Expression designers and Windows Workflow Foundation (more below).
Well the Office "12" screenshots with the new "ribbon" toolbar can be seen here (via xBetas).
I tried to link to a blog post about Expression but it seems to have been removed, so here is what was available:
Right after VS2005 launch wave, We'll be delivering to our customers and exciting set of new tools for the Designer Professionals,
Microsoft® Expression™ code name “Acrylic Graphic Designer”
Microsoft® Expression™ code name “Sparkle Interactive Designer”
Microsoft® Expression™ code name “Quartz Web Designer” (formerly known as Page Builder / FP12)
We will be using these names in full (all words as above) in all first mentions of the product, on keynote slides, in press releases, and on the expression website at ms.com. These will be announced next week at 8:30am on Wednesday the 14th.
In verbal discussion and presentations at the PDC and with press/analysts, we want to reduce confusion and speak of the products with the following short abbreviations (after first mention). This will optimize for clarity of understanding around functional capability. “Graphic Designer” “Interactive Designer” “Web Designer”
The key question to us on these names will be: “Wow those are long names, what is the real name? Are these code names?”
A: These names are code names. The Microsoft Expression family is the final name of the family of tools, but the individual product names are yet to be announced. Graphic Designer, Interactive Designer, and Web Designer are the functional identifiers for what the products do.
One piece, Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF), sounds interesting... I was guessing something like SharePoint Services / BizTalk Orchestration, but unable to contain my anticipation I thought maybe the updated SDK might have been released to the web given the Visual Studio 2005 RC (last one till RTM) came out yesterday on MSDN downloads.
Well the table of contents works, the actual text is missing at the moment, but it gives some clues... Another piece of the WinFX puzzle!
I've been doing some proof of concept work dealing with supporting mobile devices.
Looking at http://mobile.msn.com/pocketpc/default.aspx gives a pretty good idea of how to scale UI for smaller devices and you can use the ASP.NET mobile controls or just stick to basic html elements.
I'm used to PocketPCs & SmartPhones but not BlackBerrys, which seem to be very popular in the city at the moment. (Why did Palm waste their lead, rebranding and selling it's name back to itself?!)
So how to view a website via a BlackBerry if you don't have a physical device? Well I headed to the development program on their website and after a free registration I downloaded the BlackBerry Device Simulator. This is a set of emulators for the range of different devices, which gives the screen, keyboard, trackwheel, phone keys and allows you to simulate wireless network conditions.
After install, you get a directory of .bat files which load the emulators complete which photo-realistic skins. But unfortunately I still couldn't navigate to a website using the built-in browser. For this I needed to download the BlackBerry JDE which includes Mobile Data Service (MDS) simulator.
Once you run this, it acts as a proxy and forwards web requests on behalf of the device, so I could then browse away.
I never knew you could send an SMS to a standard landline.
You just 'text' from your mobile to the other number, then about ten seconds later the phone will ring. After a little trumpet sound, a digitised voice speaks out the message including ;) smileys - clever stuff.
The text to speech reminded me of the captcha when signing up for an MSN Hotmail account, where you can listen to the letters being read out as well; useful for accessibility and visually impaired users.
Also Jay has a simple walkthrough showing how to output text-to-speech (TTS) to a .wav file in C#, so you could combine it with this CodeProject ASP.NET Captcha control article.