Tag Archives : Microsoft


Morning Coffee 157

  • My Xbox 360 started flashing the dreaded Red Ring of Death on Friday. <sigh> I’m not going to have much time to play in the next week, so it’s not the end of the universe, but I did have to dig an old DVD player out of the garage for interim duty.
  • My Caps really stepped in it over the weekend dropping two games they had to have and by most reports (aka according to my dad) that they dominated most of the way. Caps Playoff Math isn’t as dire as say Clinton’s Nomination Math, but they are three games back of the Hurricanes with twelve to play.
  • Ted Neward has a pretty good F# overview article in the most recent MSDN Magazine. I say pretty good because I wonder if someone with no functional programming experience will “get it”. As much as I like F# and functional programming, I think some of the basic concepts don’t pass Don Box’s two beer test.
  • Speaking of Ted, somehow his feed fell off my radar (bad DevHawk!) and I missed several great posts like Modular Toolchains (note to Ted, check out A Research C# Compiler), Why we need both static and dynamic in the same language (note to self, check out Cobra) and The Fallacies Remain…. (recently, I’m the guy shouting about risks).
  • Speaking of MSDN Magazine, have you seen their new site redesign? I can’t find any announcement of it, but man the site looks great.
  • If you missed MIX, the sessions are all online already. That was fast.
  • John Lam blogs about the availability of the Dynamic Silverlight bits. Apparently, Dynamic Silverlight includes more recent bits than the Silverlight 2 SDK, which does includes binaries and tools for IronPython, IronRuby and Managed JScript (quickstart). So you can get started with dynamic languages on Silverlight using the SL SDK alone, but I expect that the Dynamic Silverlight bits will be updated more regularly than the SDK.

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.

Morning Coffee 154

  • Did you see yesterday’s Dilbert cartoon? Classic.
  • MIX isn’t the only Microsoft conference this week. It’s also time for the annual MS Research TechFest conference. It actually started yesterday, with a keynote from Rick Rashid and Craig Mundy (available on demand). I’ll be heading up there later today and will blog everything I saw that is public, like I did last year. In the meantime, you can check out some cool MS Research projects on the TechFest video page.
  • Speaking of MS Research, they’ve published the Singularity source code (for academic and non-commercial purposes) on CodePlex. Singularity is research OS “focused on the construction of dependable systems”. I’ve wanted to play with this, but I’ve never had the time. Frankly, that hasn’t changed, but now that it’s available to the community, I’m hoping I can live vicariously thru other people hacking around with it.
  • Some announcements coming out of MIX won’t be a surprise to anyone:
  • Here some primarily “new” news from MIX:.
    • I’m not sure which team owns it, but I’d say the biggest previously-unannounced news was SQL Server Data Services (aka SSDS), a “highly scalable, on-demand data storage and query processing utility services.” In other words, SQL in the sky. There’s a free beta sometime this month you can sign up for. Very cool, though no word on what it’s going to cost. If you’re interested in this, I’d keep an I on the Data Platform Insider blog.
    • John Lam announces the Dynamic Silverlight extension that lets you run DLR languages on Silverlight. Given that they talked about this last year, I’m not sure it’s really “news”, but John provides lots of gory details so it made the cute. But are they really using “DSL” as the acronym for this? Guys, that acronym’s already taken.
    • Mary Jo Foley has a scoop on Silverlight for Nokia Symbian mobile phones.
    • There’s a new beta of Expression Studio 2 as well as a separate Expression Blend 2.5 preview for Silverlight 2. Soma has the details. This isn’t really a surprise, but I hadn’t seen any news on new versions of all the Expression Studio products.

Morning Coffee 152

  • I was slammed Friday, so I didn’t get a chance to post the results of last Thursday night’s hockey game. I’m sure you’ve all been eager to hear. We lost, bad, 8-2. Personally, I was -3 and had no points, but I played much better than last week. We had three full lines of forwards, which was a big help, but I have started to find my ice-legs so to speak.
  • Charlie Calvert has the now-definitive list of LINQ to Everything. Of all of them, I found LINQ over C# fascinating, especially given my recent efforts in parsing.
  • Chris Tavares blogs about a distributed source control system called Bazaar. Unlike most version control systems, Bazaar is distributed which means you can use it without a server. According to Chris, you can share branches as easily as mailing a file. I wonder if you could make Bazaar work over a P2P network.
  • While looking up the MSDN link for the previous coffee item, I noticed an entire new section in the MSDN Library for Open Protocol Specifications. Not much to add, just wanted to highlight their existence.
  • Admitted non-designer Scott Guthrie shows off using the new version Expression Blend to build a Silverlight 2.0 app. Personally, I was most interested in seeing some of the new of built-in controls.

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.