Category Archives : Morning Coffee

Morning Coffee 169

  • Check out the crowd for a the Washington Capitals developmental camp scrimmage last week (My parents are in their somewhere). Standing room only in the practice facility to watch a bunch of kids, most of whom won’t ever make it to the NHL, in July. If you think Washington can’t be a hockey town, you are sorely mistaken.
  • Speaking of the Caps, they are establishing a “spirit squad“? Is that really necessary? (short answer: no). Peerless’ take is hilarious.
  • Seshadri Vijayaraghavan is a tester on the DLR team and he’s been writing quite a bit about the DLR hosting API. He’s got a series of posts about hosting, invoking and redirecting output from IronPython in a C# application.
  • I haven’t seen an official announcement, but mobile access to Live Mesh is available by pointing your phone browser to It’s mostly a web view of the Live Desktop, though there is a feature to upload photos from your phone. However, for some reason that feature doesn’t work for me right now. I don’t get the “browse” button.
  • ASP.NET MVC Preview 4 is available for download. Phil Haack has a few details that ScottGu didn’t cover. Scott Hanselman shows off some AJAX stuff.
  • Speaking of Scott Hanselman, he highlights the return of Terrarium from Bil Simser. Scott mentions that most Terrarium animal implementations were big collections of nested if statements. I wonder if F# pattern matching would be a cleaner approach?
  • Ted Neward obviously never “even tangentially” touched politics, as I think they have far worse flame wars far more often than we have in the software industry. However, certainly the Scala flame war he’s commenting on seems fairly counterproductive.
  • Brad Wilson runs into a wall trying to convert a string to an arbitrary Nullable<T>.He doesn’t find an answer, but I found reading thru the steps he took to try and find an answer strangely compelling.
  • Jeff Atwood argues that Maybe Normalization isn’t Normal. It’s mostly a collection of information from other places, including a compilation of high-scale database case studies. But it’s a useful collection of info and links, with a little common-sense thrown in for good measure.
  • I have a hard time imagining Pat Helland camping.

Morning Coffee 168 – E3 Edition

Yesterday, was Microsoft’s big reveal for Xbox 360 this coming holiday season. If you’re not a gamer, please move along, nothing to see here. Also note, I work @ Microsoft, but not in the games division so this is only my thoughts on yesterday’s announcements.

  • While several “hard-core” games were showcased – Fallout 3, Resident Evil 5, Fable 2, Gears of War 2 and the surprise announcement that Final Fantasy XIII – the rest of yesterday’s briefing screamed “we’re not just for hard core gamers!”  Call it the Wii effect. Even the title of the main E3 Press Release was Gameplay for Every Passion.
  • Honestly, my favorite announcement from yesterday wasn’t game related at all – it was the announcement of Netflix on Xbox 360. I’ve been hoping for a flat rate subscription plan since Video Marketplace first launched. Soon, I’ll have it.
  • I’m not sure what I think of the New Xbox Experience yet. On the one hand, the whole cartoon avatar thing isn’t really my bag. Plus, isn’t it quite the Mii clone? However, the ability to share photo and video viewing experiences – even with cartoony avatars – and the flashy + engaging navigation mechanism looks like a real improvement. Here’s hoping they improve the performance of navigating hard drive content (games library, gamer pictures, etc).
  • Congrats to my friend Matt who’s been very involved in the development of the new Primetime game show channel. I’m not that interested in “1 vs 100″, but I think the potential of that game model is pretty huge. If they created a Jeopardy game for Primetime, I think my parents would by a 360 right away.
  • Music / party games seem to have been the primary focus of the press briefing. I’m definitely getting Rock Band 2 (AC/DC woot!) and I think my wife would like Lips (she usually sings when we play Rock Band). I want to see how the “wireless interactive microphones: Featuring stylish interactive motion sensors and lights” will work. Guitar Hero World Tour looks cool too, but I’m not re-buying all new music hardware.
  • You’re in the Movies looks like a hoot, plus it doesn’t really look like a game, so much as a “party activity”. For example, while there are minigame winners or losers, “winning” takes a back seat to the final movie result. I’m guessing this will be big with the kids.
  • Speaking of kids, Patrick is really looking forward to Banjo-Kazooie Nuts & Bolts. He loves anything related to building, and building fantastic vehicles is a core part of the gameplay. As for Riley, I think she’s getting old enough to enjoy Viva Pinata – she enjoys watching Patrick and I play – though I’m not sure we need the new Viva Pinata.
  • Geometry Wars 2 and Portal: Still Alive, both coming to Xbox Live Arcade. ’nuff said.
  • Not really “new” news, but XNA Community Games launches this fall. I’ve got a creators club membership, so I’m able to experiment with this now – it rocks, though the available games are pretty shall I say “unpolished” at this point.
  • Halo Wars not coming until 2009. :(
  • No new Bungie news, but their website is counting down to *something* tomorrow. I guess we’ll find out then.

Morning Coffee 167

  • If you’re a gamer, you’re probably already well aware that E3 is this week. The Too Human demo has already been released. I have a friend who’s been working on “something” that will be announced today (I think).
  • Live Mesh folks pushed out an update Friday. Among the new features is the ability to sync folders among peers but NOT up to the cloud. This is cool because it means I can sync my many many GB of pictures and music on my home machine backed up with Carbonite. This means I can sync them without blowing thru my 5GB Mesh storage limit.
  • It looks like there’s a new F# drop – as usual there is no announcement or details as to what’s new. Release notes guys, look into it.  UPDATE – Don Syme blogged the release, and it’s pretty minor. a .NET FX 3.5 SP1 bug fix, a fix for Mono, and they removed WebRequest.GetResponseAsync to make F# work on Silverlight. And the release notes are in the readme. My bad.
  • Speaking of F#, it was “partially inspired” by OCaml, so when I see papers related to OCaml, I immediately wonder if I an apply the described techniques to F#. “Catch me if you can, Towards type-safe, hierarchical, lightweight, polymorphic and efficient error management in OCaml” is one such paper. (via LtU)
  • Speaking of functional programming, Matthew Podwysocki posted a bunch of FP links as well as a Code Gallery Sample on FP in C#. Good stuff.
  • As per Scott Guthrie, it looks like there’s a new ASP.NET MVC drop coming this week.
  • Based on posts by Ted Neward, Dare Obasanjo and Steve Vinoski, Google Protocol Buffers sounds like it’s going to be a dud. Note, I haven’t looked at it depth personally, I’m just passing on opinions of some folks I read and trust.
  • Speaking of Dare, both he and James Hamilton take a look at Cassandra and come away impressed. I wonder how easy it is to code against from Python and/or .NET?
  • Bart de Smet has a cool sample of calling out to PowerShell from IronRuby via the backtick command. Pretty cool, but it would even cooler to show how to call out to PS and return .NET objects to Ruby (though that would probably not be spec compliant for the backtick command).
  • Here’s a MS code name I had never heard before – Zermatt. It’s “a framework for implementing claims-based identity in your applications.” (via Steve Gilham)

Morning Coffee 166

Yes, I realize it’s been a while. I tried in vain to catch up with my blog reading after my Hawaii vacation and finally just gave up and hit “mark all as read”.

Dynamic Languages

  • There’s a new version of the DLR hosting spec available (doc, pdf). The DLR implementation is still in motion, so there are some inconsistencies between the spec and the code, but the spec should give you the high level overview you need if you want to host DLR languages inside your app.
  • Oleg Tkachenko recently joined the dynamic languages team. He’s the creator of the Interactive IronRuby Web Shell, an IronRuby version of Try Ruby. Of course, it’s not as cool as using SL2to execute the code directly in the browser. Michael Foord has his Python in the Browser and my teammates John and Jimmy demoed a Silverlight version of Try Ruby @ TechEd.
  • Jim Deville, also of the dynamic languages team, recently started blogging.
  • I have a new boss, Dave Remy. He doesn’t have a blog – yet – but you can follow him on Twitter as daveremy. When Twitter is actually working that is.
  • There’s a new homepage/wiki for IronRuby though I’m not sure why there’s a picture of Matz wearing a Python shirt on the home page.
  • My teammate Jimmy Schementi provides some “continued hope” for a better (heck, I’ll take current) ASP.NET and ASP.NET MVC story for DLR languages.
  • Via Michael Foord, sounds like IronClad is making good progress. V0.4 can run the bz2 module “in its entirity” (maybe run a spellcheck on your site, guys?) and now apparently, it’s now able to load numpy.core. Very exciting!

Other Stuff

  • Pat Helland, who has blogged even less than me for the past few months, has a post up about controller and doers in the IT department. After 18 months in MSIT, put me in the doer camp, please.
  • The F# team has pushed out a spec for v1.9.4 of the language. Don Syme says it’s not official, but it’s a huge improvement over the old informal spec
  • Speaking of F#, my friend Matthew Podwysocki recently published FsTest, a testing DSL for F#. I wrote about F# unit testing as part of my PEG parsing series, and I really like the direction Matthew has taken this project. You can pull it down from CodePlex.
  • When I did my PEG talk @ Lang.NET, Gilad Bracha mentioned I should check out oMeta. It looks really cool, though with the job change I haven’t had the time to play with it. Now I discover that Jeff Moser is working on a version for CLR called oMeta# that I’ve got to spend some time with. And in the comments to that post, I discovered pyMeta from Allen Short, though it apparently doesn’t work on IronPython (must investigate why).
  • James Kovacs introduces psake, a PowerShell based build automation tool which uses a rake-inspired internal DSL syntax similar to one I blogged last year. I’d love to see this take off, but given MSBuild’s tool integration, I wonder if that’s feasible.
  • I upgraded my home wireless network almost exactly a year ago. I’ve been happy with the range and coverage, but not so happy with the Buffalo Tech firmware. The built-in DHCP server is pretty flaky. So I upgraded to the open-source Tomato firmware. Upgrade was smooth, though I did need to reset my cable modem. But even that was smooth – Comcast has an automated service for that now,

Morning Coffee – Post Vacation Edition

It’s been exactly a month since my last post. A crazy month, hence the lack of blog posting around here. Sorry about that. My wife has been much more regular in her blogging than I have of late – she’s posted a dozen times since my last entry.

Since I’m so far behind on blog reading, and email, and work, and pretty much everything, this is going to be a slightly different Morning Coffee – more forward looking than backwards. Back to normal Morning Coffee posts in a day or so.

  • Hawaii was awesome. I was going to post a trip summary, but my wife beat me to the punch. My personal favorite part was the air tour, but frankly it was all good.
  • I hear the weather in Seattle was awful while I was gone. My wife’s best friend called it “Juneuary”. However, the weather since we got back has been pretty awesome. I take full credit for bringing the good weather to Seattle from Hawaii. :)
  • I was in Amsterdam for work and I didn’t have my family with me, but it was pretty good all the same. My good friend Matt lives in Amsterdam full time, so I got to spend a lot of time with him. I also discovered that I have a new favorite beer – Kwak.
  • I’m sure you’re aware of these, but I should post the links anyway: IronRuby on Rails, IronPython Beta 3, Silverlight 2 Beta 2, Silverlight Dynamic Languages SDK Beta 2, ASP.NET MVC Preview 3.
  • I have 419 mails in my inbox – and I’ve been fairly diligent about deleting stuff that I didn’t need to keep even on vacation. That’s about 400 more than I’d like to have in there. Most of today will be spent digging out my inbox. Small miracle: I have nothing currently on my calendar for today.
  • I’m one of the content owners for PDC08. After getting my inbox cleaned up, my #1 priority is to see where we are on PDC planning. I have a feeling that’s going to take up the majority of my time for the next couple of weeks.
  • I mentioned above that we shipped the latest beta of IronPython while I was away. As you can imagine, there’s a bunch of PM work to be done as we get down to the release of IPy 2.0 (sometime this fall) as well as early work on the next version of IPy.
  • Outside of work, I’ve got a lot of writing to do. I’m finishing up an article on IPy and starting to really hunker down on a book that I’m writing.