April 2011

Brandon Foy’s Indie Windows Phone 7 Ads

by Joey deVilla on April 18, 2011

I’m told that if Brandon Foy’s funky indie ad (as in it wasn’t commissioned by Microsoft; he just came up with the idea and made it himself) for Windows Phone 7 gets 200,000 views, it’ll get aired in a national spot. Let’s give this young digital artist’s career a jump-start, shall we?

Brandon also created this ad (also for Windows Phone 7):

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


ie9 wp7 boot camp

More IE9 / WP7 Boot Camps? Where and When?

We’ve had some great Internet Explorer 9 / Windows Phone 7 Boot Camps in many cities across Canada already, and here are two more!


The Ottawa Boot Camp takes place on Wednesday, May 11th. It runs all day (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) and takes place at the National Arts Centre (53 Elgin Street, at Confederation Square) in the Panorama Room. This event is free, but you should register to attend.


Edmonton’s Boot Camp happens on Tuesday, May 17th. It runs all day (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) and takes place at the Art Gallery of Alberta’s Ledcor Theatre (2 Sir Winston Churchill Square). This event is free, but you should register to attend.

What’s on the Agenda?

These boot camps will be all about making the most of IE9 and WP7. Internet Explorer 9 has released and Windows Phone is due for a couple of updates this year, so there’s never been a better time to get up to speed on these two technologies. That’s why we’re holding boot camps in cities across Canada to help you get the most out of both. These free (that’s right, free, as in you-don’t-pay-nuthin’) events will feature the sessions below.

The Internet Explorer Sessions (in the morning)

A Lap Around Internet Explorer 9 and HTML5
A look at IE9’s support for the troika that collectively goes by the name “HTML5”: HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. You’ll see how standards compliance and the resulting “same markup” will make life good for both developers and users and how that same markup runs faster on IE9 thanks to the newer, faster JavaScript engine and hardware acceleration.

Enhancing Pinned Sites with Internet Explorer 9
IE9’s “pinned sites” feature makes web apps feel more like desktop apps by letting users add website to the taskbar and start menu and let developers add custom context menus to pinned site icons, provide visual notifications on the task bar with icon overlays and even add custom buttons on the default thumbnail preview. This session will show you how to best use this feature and also cover IE9’s developer tools.

The Windows Phone Sessions (in the afternoon)

Windows Phone 7 Silverlight Recipes
You’ve read the introductory material and written “Hello World” on the Phone, and you’re now thinking of starting a bigger project. You’re now asking this question: “How do I do X on Windows Phone?”. This session is the answer. You’ll learn all the recipes for building blocks of applications, which you can use, modify and combine in your own Windows Phone 7 apps.

Windows Phone 7 XNA Kickstart
Haven’t you always wanted to write a videogame, but could never get started? This is your chance. This session will show you the basics of XNA, the game development framework for Windows Phone (and the Xbox 360 and Windows too!). You’ll get your feet wet writing 2D videogames, learn some game coding techniques and get you need to start you on your journey as a game developer.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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The Job Offers are Flattering…

by Joey deVilla on April 17, 2011

Tarzan, Jane and "Boy" from the old Johnny Weismuller "Tarzan" movies

…and there’ve been quite a few since my announcement that I was leaving Microsoft, but I’ve had another gig lined up for a while now. After all, Tarzan doesn’t let go of the last vine until he’s got a firm grip on the next one, right?

This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.

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Brandon Watson: The Windows Phone Champs’ Big Kahuna

by Joey deVilla on April 16, 2011

brandon watsonAs a Windows Phone "Champ" — one of a select group of developer evangelists whose job is to get developers to build apps for Windows Phone – I get a lot of direction from Brandon Watson, whose business card reads “Director, Developer Experience, Windows Phone”. The dude is smart, savvy in the ways of both business and geekery and driven in that way that only people who participate in Ironman triathlons are (yup, he does that). He’s exactly the sort of guy who should be heading up the developer experience part of Windows Phone.

eWeek has an article about him titled Brandon Watson: The Man Behind Microsoft`s Windows Phone Developer Push. In it, they talk about his background, how he sees his role, the upcoming stuff being delivered in the next update of Windows Phone, and the challenges that he and the Windows Phone Team and Champs face.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


road to mix smallOne of the Canadians at MIX11 was Imaginet’s Miguel Carrasco, whom you may have seen either speaking or track hosting last year at TechDays. He’s a developer, UI guy and Expression Blend MVP, and as such, the content of the MIX conference was exactly the kind of stuff that he was interested in. I caught him at the very end of the last day to talk about what he checked out at MIX, what he was up to at Imaginet, and the launch of Imaginet’s new service, Imaginet Interactive; it’s all captured in the video above.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


A Shallow Pool

help wanted

The subtitle of the Wall Street Journal article Mobile App Talent Pool is Shallow tells the story: “Companies Scramble for Engineers Who Can Write Software for Smartphones”. If you’ve got the mobile dev know-how, you can write your own ticket anywhere.

Some of the key take-aways of the article:

  • Companies are competing fiercely with each other in an attempt to snap up mobile development talent – to the point where the competition is a “bottleneck”.
  • The number of developers with mobile development skills isn’t enough to meet the demand, which has been increasing at a greater rate than for other types of development.
  • The shortage of mobile talent means that companies are willing to find developers with promise and invest in getting them trained to develop mobile applications.
  • The wages are good: average pay among mobile developers and designers is higher, with a Dice.com survey taken last fall reporting that experience mobile developers are raking in US$90K – $150K.

Deep Opportunities

If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, you know all about the importance of having a head start. The book is full of king-sized success stories, from Bill Gates to the Beatles to hockey players to big Manhattan lawyers, all of whom were passionate about something, honed their skills and then capitalized on that experience when the opportunities arose.

If you’re a .NET developer, Windows Phone is a “lining up of the planets” that represents an opportunity that you can capitalize on:

  • You already have a head start on Windows Phone development! You use Visual Studio (either the full version or the free Express edition) as your IDE, familiar languages like C# and VB, and the .NET framework. If you’ve been working with Silverlight or XNA, you’re even father ahead of the game.
  • You can stand out. The growth in the number of apps in Windows Phone’s marketplace is pretty impressive; about 12,000 since November and climbing fast. It’s the perfect opportunity for someone trying to make a name: small enough that you can make a splash, but big enough so that the splash you make actually matters.
  • We’ve got your back. Microsoft has team of Windows Phone 7 “Champs”, whose mission is to make sure that you get the help, information and support as you write Windows Phone apps. As far as I know, the Esteemed Competition doesn’t have a team that has this level of support for developers building on their platforms.

Hackfests in Vancouver and Toronto Tomorrow


If you’ve been thinking about getting into Windows Phone development and you’re in the Vancouver or Toronto areas, you’re in luck – we’ve got free Windows Phone Hackfests in those cities tomorrow! These are events where you can learn about Windows Phone development, try your hand at it, and share ideas for apps. Here are the details:

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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by Joey deVilla on April 15, 2011


“We enter as friends, we leave as friends,” said Mark Relph, then the VP of Microsoft Canada’s Developer and Platform Group as we did my final interview in early October 2008. I started just under a fortnight later, on October 20th, and for the past two and a half years, I have proudly held the title of Developer Evangelist, representing Microsoft to Canadian software developers, and in turn, advocating for Canadian software developers to Microsoft Canada. If you have read anything I’ve written, caught any of my presentations or seen me evangelize, you will know that it is a job that I love and enjoy wholeheartedly.

Mark may have gone off to Redmond to join the mother ship, but his declaration still holds true. I will leave Microsoft as a friend next week on Friday, April 22nd.

zen garden

If life is change, then I’ve had life by the truckload over the past few months. I’ll spare you the details here (if you really must know, it’s best done in person and over a pint or two), but it should be plenty to simply say that if I were a more “New Age” sort of person, I’d say that the universe has been dropping hints that I really need to shake things up. Hence my departure, something I would never have predicted a mere six months ago. Life’s like that.

developer evangelist

Mine is still a great job. I could’ve spent the past few weeks just winding down and wrapping up, but I love this job too much to do that. I enjoy it enough to keeping “Bringing the Awesome”, right to my last minute on my last day next week. Everything I wrote in the “Now Hiring” post when we were looking for a new evangelist back in October remains the same.

What’s changed is me, and I’ve got to go and follow a different path. If and when the opening to fill my position appears, go check it out – you might find that it’s the job for you. It comes with my highest recommendation, and if you’ve got the skills and inclination, I’d tell you to go for it.

joey and microsoft founders

I’m going to wax a little more poetic in a blog post on my final day at the job. For now, I’d like to say that it’s been an honour, a privilege and a joy to have worked at Microsoft. I have worked with bright and talented people on interesting and important projects with some amazing gear, in cities all over Canada. I’ve learned a lot: not just about Microsoft’s tools and technologies, but also about the problems they solve, the customers they serve, the corporation that makes them and the industry said corporation is part of. I am a better geek, a better public speaker, a better writer, a better performer and even a better person for my experiences at Microsoft. For all this and more, they will always have my gratitude. I entered as a friend two and a half years ago, and next week, I leave as one.

Thank you, Microsoft. It’s been a great journey.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.