Blog Posts from February 2008 (page 1 of 3)

DevHawk’s Inessential List of Tools

ilanchelian left a comment yesterday asking for me to share some of the utilities that I use sometimes. Of course, Scott Hanselman keeps *THE* ultimate list of tools, hence my titling this list as “inessential” (note, it’s the list that’s inessential, not the tools themselves.)

But since you asked, here are some of the things kicking around my utilities folder (in no particular order):

Morning Coffee 151

  • Unity’s first CTP was just over two weeks ago, but according to Grigori Melnik, it’s shipping just over two weeks from now. That seems pretty speedy to me. By the time I get a change to take a closer look at Unity, it’ll probably have shipped.
  • I discovered Matthew Podwysocki blog via DNK. I don’t typically subscribe to blogs that I discover via DNK, but Matthew has written about IoC/Unity, F# and DLR lately so I’m thinking I should be a regular reader.
  • Corporate VP David Treadwell has an extensive post on updates to the Windows Live Platform Services that are being unveiled at MIX next week. The updates include the new WL Messenger Library, a new SDK for WL ID Delegated Authentication, a new WL Photo API, a new CTP of WL Tools, standardized support for AtomPub, updates to WL Contacts API and Sivlerlight Streaming and a new “experimental” service called Application Based Storage that “allows application developers to store a small amount of state/configuration data in the WL data centers on behalf of a user”. I’m sure there’ll be more WL news at the MIX conference proper, but that’s quite a good chunk of features to start digging into. Personally, I’m particularly interested in WL Delegated Auth, esp. how it deals with phishing, something I don’t think OAuth handles very well.
  • Windows Live isn’t the only group making announcements in advance of MIX. Adobe announced a research project that allows “cross-compiling existing code from C, C++, Java, Python, and Ruby to ActionScript.” This seems pretty obviously a response to Silverlight 2.0′s embedded CLR, announced last year @ MIX. Support for C++ is very interesting – Adobe evangelist Ted Patrick claims they were even able to cross-compile Quake 1 to Flash. Interesting, but this is an internal research project @ Adobe with no projected release date while Silverlight 2.0 goes into beta next week.

Morning Coffee 150

  • Yesterday was the NHL trading deadline, and the Capitals were very busy. They obtained Huet from Montreal, Federov from Columbus and Cooke from Vancouver. Given they are fighting just to make the playoffs, going for three soon-to-be unrestricted free agents seems like an odd choice. However, the consensus (among my parents anyway) was that it’s critical to get this very young Caps team some playoff experience. Even if all three walk at season’s end, it’ll be worth if the Caps make a playoff run. Besides it’s not like we gave up much: an extra second round pick in ’09, a 19 year old defensive prospect (who was apparently 14th on the depth chart) and an underachieving winger.
  • Speaking of the Caps playoff chances, they are currently one and a half games back of the division leading Hurricanes and two games behind the current eighth seed Flyers. Yes, I rank hockey teams using baseball’s standings system. Otherwise, you have to talk about games in hand (i.e. the Caps are five points behind Carolina with two games in hand).
  • The writer’s guild ratified the new contract, so Hollywood labor strife is now officially behind us. At least until July when the the actors may go on strike.
  • It seems like a slow week for Microsoft geek news, which is odd since WS08, VS08 and SQL08 all launch today. I’m guessing it’s the calm before the Mix storm next week.
  • After going dark for six months, Linq to XSD has been re-released to work with the RTM version of VS08. Scott Hanselman demonstrates Linq to XSD by applying it to OFX, an XML Schema he calls “goofy” but apparently helped develop. OFX uses derivation by restriction, which has no direct corollary in C#, but Linq to XSD’s  is able to translate between XML and objects without loosing any of that type fidelity. Nice to know Linq to XSD can tolerate OFX’s level of goofiness, though I’m guessing most people use much more straightforward schemas.
  • Speaking of Linq, I discovered LINQPad via a comment on Rob Conery’s blog (which I found via DNK). It’s basically a code snippet IDE for C# 3.0 and VB9, with it also has built in database connection support, so it can fulfil much the same role as SQL Management Studio. I only played with it for a few minutes, but I was really impressed.  This is definitely going in my utilities folder. I wonder if they’re interested in supporting F#?
  • Not sure how I missed this, but you can get MSDN Magazine via same Syndicated Client Experience as Architecture Journal. Unlike AJ which is divided into issues, the MSDN magazine client is divided into topics which is harder to square with the physical magazine. On the other hand, since MSDN Mag has been around longer, perhaps topics + search is a better discovery mechanism.
  • Soma announces the Visual Studio Gallery, a repository of VS Extensions. It’s kinda cool, but the whole discovery mechanism is clunky. I might like to experiment with some free or even free trial products, but there’s no way to filter on cost so finding them is a hassle. Also, there’s no way for community members to vote, rate or comment on the products in any way.
  • Nick Malik can’t answer the question “how does Enterprise Architecture demonstrate value?” I could be snarky and say “it doesn’t”, but that’s only half the answer. It doesn’t, but it should. My opinion, since you asked Nick, is that EA fails to deliver value because it tries to control the uncontrollable. Trying to gain efficiency thru establishing standards and eliminating overlap via reuse are pipe dreams, though literally millions of $$$ have been poured into those sink-holes. There are a few areas where centrally funded infrastructure projects can solve big problems that individual projects can’t effectively tackle on their own. EA should focus their time there, they can actually make a difference. Otherwise, they should stay out of project’s way.

Morning Coffee 149

My First Point in Ten Years

Not only does this month mark my son’s fifth birthday, it also marks the ten anniversary of my first date with my awesome wife Julianne. I met her online while I was laid up at home for six weeks after breaking my ankle at hockey practice. You see, I’m not just a hockey fan, but I also played several years of amateur league hockey in the mid-90′s. I’m not very good, but I really love playing, though it all came to a halt when I broke my ankle.

Last night, for the first time literally in a decade (shit, I’m getting old), I hit the ice for a local TechRec league game (“Home of the Thundering Nerd Herd”). And when I say “hit the ice”, I mean that fairly literally. Man, it’s been a long time and I am WAY out of shape. I hurt pretty much all over, but especially my right shoulder.

We only had ten skaters, which means only two lines total. I probably skated around 20 minutes total – I spent three minutes in the penalty box (grabbed an opposing player as I fell down) and skipped the single power play we had. I still felt like I was gonna die by the end of the game. Hopefully, after I get a few more games under my belt, I’ll be able to skate more than once up and down the ice without looking to the bench for a change. On the plus side, we won 6-2, I had an assist and was +1 on the night.

The TechRec league is very different from the league I played in down in SoCal. In SoCal, I played on the same team with the same players against the same players on the same other teams season after season. Naturally, animosity developed. In TechRec, they re-pick the teams every season, so it seems much more friendly and less competitive. I mean, we still want to win, but it takes on a different feel when you know some other player you don’t like may be your teammate next season.

Major thanks to my neighbor Stephen Bury for getting me back on the ice. I’m looking forward to smashing him into the boardsgrabbing him when I fall down facing off against his team a couple of weeks.