Tag Archives : Blogging


Will The Real DevHawk Please Stand Up?

Sometimes when I blog about politics, I’ll get a comment like this:

As far as I’m concerned, posting about topics such as politics or religions on a blog that’s supposedly about technology is just looking for trouble.

As I’ve pointed out before, DevHawk is not “a blog that’s supposedly about technology”. It’s a personal blog – my very tiny corner of the web, if you will – so I feel totally justified writing about technology, politics, hockey and whatever else I want to. I figure that if you don’t like it, you’re free to unsubscribe and neither of either of us will lose any sleep over it.

The flip side is that DevHawk has traditionally been the only place where I exercise such lack-of-restraint. When my blog was featured on MSDN Architecture Center, I cross-posted relevant content to a separate blog so as to create an topic-focused and safe-for-work subset of my “real” blog. It was always a hassle – especially tracking comments to the same post in two places – and I quit doing it shortly after leaving the Architecture Strategy Team.

However, now that I’m using Twitter, it doesn’t feel like DevHawk is “my only place” anymore. My blog == my writing, my del.icio.us == links I find interesting and my Twitter == real time updates. I use FeedBurner to include my del.icio.us links in my blog feed and twitterfeed to include the blog feed in my twitter feed. Therefore, Twitter is the only place to get an feed of all three. Obviously, Twitter’s feed isn’t full content, but in an always connected world, clicking the link to read the blog entry in the browser isn’t that big a deal. Besides, you can always subscribe to both the blog and twitter feed if you want full content + real-time.

I haven’t fully integrated Twitter into my daily life yet, though I’m getting there – for example I twittered the results of my hockey game last night. But unlike other social software sites, I think I’m going to be using Twitter regularly. I’m on Facebook, but there’s too much “you’ve been bitten by a Vampire!” type spam to really use it for anything but pure entertainment. Twitter is more like blogging, where there’s an information exchange with only the people I subscribe to follow. Also, maybe it’s me, but there doesn’t seem to be the same stigma if you stop following someone on Twitter compared to rejecting them as a friend on Facebook.

DevHawk has been “me”, but now it feels like DevHawk @ Twitter will become “me” which leaves my blog to become my endless book. It’s not a bad thing, but it does feel a little strange.


Morning Coffee 155 – Dueling Conference Edition

  • If you don’t want to watch the video of yesterday’s MIX keynote but still want a sense of what happened, check out Tim Sneath’s keynote liveblog. (via Sam Gentile)
  • Other announcements from Mix day one keynote that I missed (all via Tim Sneath)
  • Quick side note – Installing Silverlight 2 in order to check out the DeepZoom Hard Rock demo was smooth, fast and easy. It’s hard to believe there’s a whole CLR in there.
  • Now on to public stuff I saw @ TechFest:
    • One of the problems with touch screens is that your fingers obscure what you’re trying to touch. Lucid Touch solves this by having you touch the back of the device, while rendering a virtual shadow of your hand – a technique they call “pseudo transparency”. You really need to watch the video to “get” this. It’s not currently feasible – the prototype uses a webcam on a foot long boom to track hand and finger position. However, they expect a future version will have some type of imaging sensors embedded in the body of the device.
    • The Berkeley Emulation Engine version 3 (aka BEE3) (video) is a high powered hardware simulator. Apparently several orders of magnitudes faster than conventional simulation. Frankly, most of this demo was over my head and I’m not really a HW guy. But it sounds really fast.
    • BLEWS or “what the blogosphere tells you about news”. Given my interest in political blogging, it’s not a surprise I was interested in this project. This tool categorizes news stories according to their reception in the political blogosphere. It provides a visualization showing not only how many links from a given ideological sphere there are, but how strong the emotions are running. Kinda like Memorandum on major steroids.
    • Music Steering (video) is an “interactive music-playlist generation through music-content analysis, music recommendation, and music filtering”. Sort of like LastFM + Pandora on your Zune.
    • In-Depth Image Editing (team site) showed some cool photo editing software that reminding me of Microsoft Max.
    • MashupOS (paper) is a set of abstractions to improve the browser security model, allowing for isolation between blocks of code from different sources while still allowing safe forms of communication.
    • MySong (paper, video) “automatically chooses chords to accompany a vocal melody, allowing a user with no musical training to rapidly create accompanied music”. Karaoke singers rejoice! Actually, it’s pretty cool. You can adjust sliders to adjust characteristics of the generated music like “Jazz factor” and “Happy factor”. Actually, I just want a happy factor slider in all my software.
    • I saw some cool projects from the Socio-Digital Systems group and MS Research. My wife is a sociologist and always says there’s no way she could ever get a job in the big house. Maybe after she checks out this team, she’ll stop thinking that.
    • The Worldwide Telescope booth was so crowded that I couldn’t get anywhere near it. From what I could see from standing in the back, it looked fantastic. It’s not live yet, but you can check out the video from the TED conference to get a sense of it.

Lunchtime Coffee 153


Morning Coffee 147

  • My son Patrick turns five today. The big treat was his cousin Jack coming up for a visit. Here’s a picture of the two of them at Patrick’s party on Saturday. My wife has all the details on her blog. Update: My wife just posted a whole slew of Early Patrick Pictures.
  • If my son is five, it means this blog is also five – I started this blog about a month before Patrick was born. I never remember to mark the occasion until Paddy boy’s big day comes around.
  • Major props to the House of Representatives for growing a backbone and not caving to President 30% Approval on telecom immunity…yet. Personally, I’d like to see the House bury the measure completely, though I’m not holding my breath. But given that even the right-wing Washington Times reports “Analysts say FISA will suffice“, maybe the House Dems will do the right thing.
  • After tearing it up since Thanksgiving, the Caps have gone a little cold. 5-4-1 in their last ten and 2-2-1 in their last five. In the month of February, they’re 1-3-1 against SE division opponents. Good news is that they’re still even with Carolina (two points behind with two games in hand), half a game up on Atlanta, a game and a half up on Florida and two and a half games up on Tampa Bay.
  • Bill Gates announced a new program called DreamSpark to provide college students access to all of Microsoft’s developer and designer tools, including Visual Studio, Expression, SQL Server, Windows Server and XNA Creators Club membership. This looks like an outgrowth of the MSDN Academic Alliance program. I think it’s a great idea. Update: Looks like high-school students will be able to access the DreamSpark program too. However, since they’re minors, they have to get the software via their teachers. (via LiveSide)
  • The winners of the XNA Silicon Minds contest have been announced. Of the five winners, Specimen looks the coolest to me. I wish I had more time to get into game development. (Via LetsKillDave)
  • Speaking of game development, this week is the Game Development Conference, so be on the lookout for lots of game-related news. Xbox Live VP John Schappert is giving a keynote on “Unleashing the Creative Community”. XNA GM Chris Satchell said last year they would “announce full details on, and … vision for, opening XNA creations to the community” sometime this year. I’m guessing this is said announcement.
  • Speaking of Xbox, there’s a rumor that Microsoft and Netflix will announce this week that Netflix is bringing their Watch Instantly service to Xbox 360. If true, sign me up!
  • Grigori Melnik announces the GAX/GAT February 2008 final release. Key feature is VS08 support. Is it just me, or does calling it the “final release” make it sound like they won’t be upgrading GAX/GAT further?
  • Speaking of p&p, Grigori also announces the Feb 2008 CTP of Unity, p&p’s new IoC container. I’ve seem lots of folks echoing the announcement, but not much in the way of specifics on Unity itself. For example, Chris Brandsma describes IoC and mentions Unity, but he doesn’t cover any Unity specifics. :(
  • MSIT EA Nilesh Bhide has started blogging. His first post is on Customer perception of Service Quality in S+S/SaaS. I’ve worked closely with Nilesh in the past two years, so I’m excited to see him take to the blogosphere. (via Nick Malik)
  • I don’t know how I missed it, but the MSDN Code Gallery launched last month. As Charlie Calvert explained, this is logical successor to GotDotNet’s user samples area. Between Code Gallery and CodePlex, GotDotNet has finally been shuttered for good.
  • Telligent, makers of the very popular Community Server, have released Graffiti CMS, which looks like a more flexible content platform than Community Server. (via DNK)
  • In somewhat unexpected news (at least, unexpected by me) Microsoft has released specs for the Office binary file formats. I’m not sure why this is happening now, rather than say when we released the specs for the Open Office XML file formats. (via DNK)

Morning Coffee 141 – Lang.NET ’08 Edition

header I was hoping to blog my thoughts on Lang.NET as the event went along. Obviously, that didn’t happen, though I was pretty good about dumping links into my del.icio.us feed. The talks were all recorded, and should be up on the website in a week or two. Rather than provide a detailed summary of everything that happened, here are my highlights:

  • The coolest thing about conferences like this is what John Rose called “N3″ aka “Nerd-to-Nerd Networking”. It was great to meet in person, drink with and geek out with folks who’s blogs I read like Tomas Petricek, Wesner Moise and Larry O’Brien. Plus, I got to meet a bunch of other cool folks like Gilad Bracha, Stefan Wenig and Wez Furlong. That’s worth the price of admission (which was admittedly nothing) right there.
  • Coolest MSFT talk: Martin Maly “Targeting DLR”. I was wholly unaware that the DLR includes an entire compiler back end. Martin summarized the idea of DLR trees on his blog, but the short version is “you parse the language, DLR generates the code”. That’s pretty cool, and should dramatically lower the bar for language development. Of course, I want to write my parser in F#, so I’m going to port the DLR ToyScript sample to F#.
  • Runner-up, Coolest MSFT talk: Erik Meijer “Democratizing the Cloud with Volta”. Erik is a great speaker and he really set the tone of his session with the comment “Division by zero is the goal, not an error”. He was referring to an idea from The Change Function that user’s measure of success is a function of perceived crisis divided by perceived pain of adoption. Erik wants to drive that adoption pain to zero. It’s a laudable goal, but I remain unconvinced on Volta.
  • Coolest Non-MSFT talk: Gilad Bracha “Newspeak”. Newspeak is a new language from one of the co-authors of Java. It’s heavily smalltalk influenced, and runs on Squeak. He showed developing PEGs in Newspeak, and they were very compact and easy to read, easier even than F#. He calls them Executable grammar, and you can read his research paper or review his slides on the topic. Unfortunately, Newspeak isn’t generally available at this time.
  • Runner-up, Coolest Non-MSFT talk: Miguel de Icaza “Moonlight and Mono”. The talk was kinda all-over-the-place, but It’s great to see how far Mono has come. Second Life just started beta testing a Mono-based script runner for their LSL language (apparently, Mono breaks many LSL scripts because it runs them so fast). He also showed off Unity, a 3D game development tool, also running on Mono.
  • Resolver One is a product that bridges the gap between spreadsheets and applications, entirely written in IronPython (around 30,000 lines of app code and 110,000 lines of test code, all in IPy). Creating a spread-sheet based app development environment is one of those ideas that seems obvious in retrospect, at least to me. If you do any kind of complicated spreadsheet based analysis, you should check out their product.
  • If you’re a PowerShell user, you should check out PowerShell+. It’s a free console environment designed for PowerShell and a damn sight better than CMD.exe. If you’re not a PowerShell user, what the heck is wrong with you?
  • Other projects to take a deeper look at: C# Mixins and Cobra Language.
  • I thought my talk went pretty well. It’s was a 15 minute version of my Practical Parsing in F# series. Several folks were surprised I’ve been coding F# for less than a year.