April 2009

Ottawa Code Camp: Saturday, May 2nd

by Joey deVilla on April 27, 2009

Ottawa Code Camp - Saturday, May 2, 2009 - Algonquin CollegeCreative Commons photo by 416style.

If you’re in the Ottawa area and want to sharpen your .NET development skills and meet other .NET developers, you’ll want to come to the Ottawa Code Camp taking this place this Saturday at Algonquin College. The Code Camp will feature three tracks, spanning twelve sessions in the agenda:

  • Advanced C# “Birds of a Feather” Session
  • Building Applications Faster by Using Dynamic Access Modifiers
  • The Busy Developer’s Guide to .NET 3.5 SP1
  • Doing “It” with Team Build 2008
  • How to Start Developing for Sharepoint
  • How and When to Use Agile Methods in a Dinosaur Organization
  • Introduction to IoC with Entity
  • The Microsoft Sync Framework
  • Mono EC2
  • Tools and Techniques to Debug Live .NET Applications
  • Top 10 Umbrellas
  • Windows Services Down and Dirty

For details about the sessions and when they’ll take place, see Ottawa Code Camp’s Sessions and Agenda pages.

Like the other Code Camps, the Ottawa Code Camp is an event organized by and for the developer community, and registration is free – all you have to do is sign up to attend. Whether you’re an experienced .NET developer or just curious about Microsoft’s developer tools and tech, you should be at Ottawa Code Camp!


Assless Chaps and Data Bondage

by Joey deVilla on April 27, 2009

Before I begin, let me state that yes, I know that chaps, by definition, have no seat and that the phrase “assless chaps” is redundant. By adding “assless” to chaps, I am simply following one of the golden rules of comedy, namely that adding butt-related humour to anything always makes it funnier.

The Snub and the Challenge

How I came to end up wearing assless chaps on Saturday started innocently enough. I wrote an article about Toronto Code Camp in which I talked about the sessions I was thinking of attending. One of the presenters, Bruce Johnson of ObjectSharp, saw that I didn’t mention his presentation and tweeted that I’d snubbed him:


Actually, learning WPF was on my “to-do” list, so I let Bruce know that I actually was coming to his presentation. In my tweets to him, I fired off this jokey reply:


I figured that I was at very little risk at having to follow through with this promise. Had this been FutureRuby or perhaps some open source conference, I’m sure my challenge would’ve been answered, but I thought: Hey, this is a conference of Microsoft developers! Yes, they’re a bright and talented bunch, and I like them, but they’re an older, corporate, more buttoned-down crowd. They’d never go for renaming a session from “Data Binding” to “Data Bondage”.

But Bruce and the Toronto Code Camp organizers surprised me:


I was actually impressed. I was even a little ashamed that I’d brought some prejudices about Microsoft developers from the open source world with me, thinking that they wouldn’t be cool enough to handle slightly edgy content. Live and learn.

Malabar to the Rescue

“A promise made is a debt unpaid,” as the narrator in the classic poem The Cremation of Sam McGee says, so I made arrangements to get my hands on (or more accurately, ass into) some assless chaps. Luckily, Toronto has Malabar. It’s a great costume shop located on McCaul Street just of Queen West, and they’ve been a great source of costumes for years. That’s where the Ginger Ninja and I got our outfits for Cory Doctorow’s steampunk-ish wedding back in October:


Getting the chaps was easy. I walked into Malabar and simply said “I’d like to rent some chaps, please.”

“What kind?” the woman behind the counter asked.

“The S-and_M-ier, the better.”

“I know just the pair,” said one of the guys. “Let me get them from the basement.”

Malabar rocks.

Putting the “Camp” in “Code Camp”

At this point, you’re probably saying, please Joey, for the love of all things holy, tell me that you wore something under the chaps.

To which I’ll answer: “Yes. Yes I did.” I wore my loudest pair of jeans, a pair of striped jeans in crazy colours that I’ve had since my days at Crazy Go Nuts University, back when I used to go to raves. They went well with the chaps, as you can see in the photo below:


I did promise that the assless chaps would be Microsoft-branded; this was fixed thanks to Colin Bowern giving me an “I’m a PC” sticker that he happened to have in his knapsack:


Later in the afternoon, I ran to the store to get a Diet Coke and saw my reflection in the mirrored windows of a neighbouring building. “Damn, I look good!” I thought.

And as proof of their asslessness, here’s a photo of the chaps from behind. Ladies, please control yourselves; I’m already spoken for!


I walked into Bruce’s presentation moments after everyone was seated and regaled them with Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time, spiced up with a little extra butt-wiggling and ending with rousing applause:


…after which I sat down in the front row to catch Bruce’s presentation. It was quite good, and I did learn a lot about data binding in WPF – certainly enough for me to start exploring that aspect of Windows and Silverlight programming. Just as important – if not more so – I learned that the Windows developer community is cooler than one might be led to believe. Both were good lessons.


Windows 7’s Groovy Desktop Backgrounds

by Joey deVilla on April 26, 2009

Among Windows 7’s Release Candidate 1’s Best New Surprise Features in Gizmodo are the funky (and quite unexpected!) new desktop backgrounds that come with “the Vista that should’ve been”. I have a couple of favourites. One is the one below, which is reminiscent of one of my favourite videogames of all time, Katamari Damacy:

"Katamari Damacy"-esque Windows 7 desktop

I also like the one below.  Can anyone tell me which bridge or road is depicted in the photo?

Bridge Windows 7 desktop


This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

Sliverlight Tour logoIf you’ve been meaning to get into building rich internet applications using Silverlight, you might want to check out The Silverlight Tour. Billed as “a worldwide three-day course on Silverlight”, the Tour mixes lectures, demonstrations and hands on labs, covering Silverlight development from three angles:

  • Design
  • Development
  • Server-Side Code

The Silverlight Tour people have been keeping up with the latest developments. While they cover development in Silverlight 2, they’ve already updated their seminars to cover the latest and greatest features in the upcoming Silverlight 3.

According to their site, here’s what you get:

  • 3 days of intensive Silverlight 2 and 3
  • Coverage of Expression Blend and Visual Studio
  • Architect Silverlight Solutions
  • Understand the full Control Model and Customization
  • Data Access and Web Services

The full details are covered in their workshop outline.

They’ve announced a set of Canadian tour dates, most of which are in the summer:

  • Montreal: July 13 – 15
  • Vancouver: July 20 – 22
  • Ottawa: August 3 – 5
  • Quebec City: August 10-12
  • Toronto: November 11 – 13

Registration for this hardcore three-day workshop is $1995 – the registration page is here.

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Old-School Twitter

by Joey deVilla on April 24, 2009

Here’s an article from the August 1935 issue of Modern Mechanix about a device called the “Notificator”, which sounds a lot like an old-school version of Twitter:


Here’s the text of the article:

To aid persons who wish to make or cancel appointments or inform friends of their whereabouts, a robot message carrier has been introduced in London, England.

Known as the “notificator”, the new machine is installed in streets, stores, railroad stations or other public places where individuals may leave messages for friends.

The user walks up on a small platform in front of the machine, writes a brief message on a continuous strip of paper and drops a coin in the slot. The inscription moves up behind a glass panel where it remains in public view for at least two hours so that the person for whom it is intended may have sufficient time to observe the note at the appointed place. The machine is similar in appearance to a candy-vending device.

[Found via Philip Bond]


Toronto Coffee and Code – Friday, April 24th

by Joey deVilla on April 24, 2009


Yes, I’m holding a Coffee and Code today – Friday, April 24th from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. – at the Dark Horse Cafe at  215 Spadina Avenue (at Sullivan Street). C’mon down!


This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


I just got an email from the folks at O’Reilly telling me about a webcast they’re hosting this Friday, April 24th at 10 a.m. Pacific (1 p.m. Eastern): What’s New in Windows Server 2008 R2 Active Directory. Here’s the abstract:

Bring your Active Directory questions and come learn what’s new in Active Directory for Windows Server 2008 R2. Active Directory MVPs and authors Brian Desmond (Active Directory, 4th Edition) and Laura Hunter (Active Directory Cookbook, 3rd Edition) will discuss exciting new features in R2 for AD including the AD Recycle Bin, AD PowerShell, the Active Directory Administrative Center, Managed Service Accounts, and more. They will reserve half of the event time to answer questions about the presentation and Active Directory in general.

You have to register to catch this webcast, but it’s free-as-in-no-money-required. Space is limited, so register soon!