April 2011

violated the primed directive

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clint jellybean

One of the highlights of the Day Two keynote at the MIX conference was the Kinect presentation, where we showed off a number of things that were possible with the upcoming Kinect API for Windows. One of the projects was Clint Rutkas’ Jellybean, a Kinect-controlled lounge chair (pictured above) that can be driven and reclined using only hand motions.

Later that day, Scott Hanselman interviewed Clint on Channel 9 Live and asked if he could take Jellybean for a test run. Clint obliged, and anticipating some YouTube-worthy hilarity, whipped out my Windows Phone and shot the video below:

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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Morten Rand-Hendriksen on the MIX Conference

by Joey deVilla on April 13, 2011

mortenWe brought in a handful of guests to join us at the MIX conference, one of whom was our good friend Morten Rand-Hendriksen, whom you may know from his work designing gorgeous sites or perhaps from meeting him at last year’s Make Web Not War in Montreal. He’s an interesting guy with interests ranging from metal guitar to photography to ballroom dancing to performing Rihanna numbers at karaoke bars, and that diversity of experience is also reflected in his work, what with his mixing of open source technologies and using tools like Expression Web. In fact, he’s an Expression Web MVP.

Having come from the world of open source programming languages and technologies myself, I know that too few people spend much time in each other’s worlds. The open source geeks tend to stay in their own camps, and ditto for the .NET nerds. We thought it might be an interesting learning experience to invite Morten to MIX and immerse him in the most suitable-for-him conference: after all, this is Microsoft’s most web-centric, designer-oriented gathering.

His impressions so far? Pretty good, from the sound of his most recent blog entry, titled MIX11 – Day One Recap. Here’s the “money excerpt”:

Not to sound like a crazy cheer leader or anything, but the future looks bright. Or to put it in my own humble terms: Microsoft has seen the light and is accepting what we have known all along: Web standards and open source is where the future lies.

You can read the whole thing over at his blog, Design is Philosophy.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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Trouble, Inc.!

by Joey deVilla on April 13, 2011

trouble inc

Nothing good can come from this. Here are Scott Hanselman, Miguel de Icaza and Phil Haack, hanging out right by the Channel 9 Live soundstage at the MIX conference, working away on something so very wrong that Scott can’t conceal the guilty look on his face.

The Channel 9 soundstage is where they’re holding interviews all through the day at MIX – tune in to live.visitmix.com to see them!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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John Bristowe Brings on the Awesomesauce

by Joey deVilla on April 13, 2011

awesomesauce

Pictured above is our very own Senior Developer Evangelist John Bristowe, making final preparations during the last few moments before he began his MIX11 session this afternoon: Adding the Awesomesauce Flavor with Internet Explorer 9 Pinned Sites. In this session he showed how you can make your own sites pinnable for IE9 (and 10) and why you’d want to do it: increased return visits!

If you weren’t at MIX, fret not: in about 24 hours, you’ll be able to catch the video of John’s presentation on his session’s page.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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September 13th–16th: Save the Date!

by Joey deVilla on April 13, 2011

save the date

Don’t forget to mark September 13th through 16th, 2011 in your calendar: it’s when the next major Microsoft developer conference takes place. Stay tuned for more details.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection..

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Now That Was a Keynote!

First, allow me to offer a graphic representation of today’s keynote at the MIX conference:

cool story bro

It was that nice. Great announcements, great demos, great flow and wonderful surprises – everything a technology keynote should be. If you missed the live stream, check back at the MIX conference site in 24 hours and watch the recording. You won’t be disappointed.

I’ve got to run and go catch today’s Windows Phone dev sessions, so this blog entry will have to be a quick one, covering some of the announcements and things shown at today’s MIX11 keynote, and it covers only the Windows Phone stuff. I’ll post more later, but in the meantime, here’s a quick taste!

Emulator Improvements

tilt emulator

One of the most annoying things about the current state of Windows Phone 7 development is that there are certain things that are just not doable in the emulator because computers lack the necessary sensors. (I like to joke that modern urinals are more aware of your presence than modern desktop and laptop computers.) If you want to test apps that make use of the accelerometer or GPS, you either have to deploy to a device or use cumbersome workarounds. Not with the next version of the dev tools!

Want to test your tilt-driven app in the emulator? No problem using the upcoming dev tools. There’s a window pane that will let you rotate a 3-D “virtual phone” (pictured above), and those simulated pitches, rolls and yaws get sent to the emulator, making it as if you were tilting a real phone. Better still, there’s a tilt recording facility so you can create a library of tilt motions to use in repeated testing as you build your app. A very nice touch.

location emulator

There is a location emulator facility for Windows Phone, but it’s a little on the cumbersome side. You won’t need it once the next version of the dev tools comes out, thanks to the built-in location emulator (pictured above), which lets you specify a location with lat and long or more simply, by clicking on a Bing Map. As with the tilt emulator, it sends the location data to the phone emulator, and it’s as if you relocated the phone to a specific place.

APIs Galore!

api-a-palooza

The folks on the Windows Phone team have been hard at work adding all sorts of functionality to Windows Phone, and you’ll see it in the next version of the dev tools. The slide shown in the photo above shows some of the goodies that are coming your way soon, and they include:

  • Silverlight + XNA, together at last! It’s the peanut butter cup of user interface technologies.
  • Battery-friendly background agents: let you write apps that run in the background and still preserve the user’s battery life
  • Fast app resume: Leave an app and come back again? There’ll be less waiting.
  • Database! Yup, you’ll be able to store data in a proper queryable database.
  • Sockets! I wanted this one, and now I have it.
  • Access to the camera raw data. This opens up a whole class of apps.
  • Access to the compass! Here come the augmented reality apps!

The Profiler

profiler

With mobile devices, we’re working with a less than what we’d get with desktops: less processor power, less RAM, less resources – and less patient users, since these devices tend to get used while on the go. As a result, efficiency is the watchword for mobile apps: anything you can do to get the most out of the limits of the phone is a big help. Hence the jumping for joy when it was announced that the next version of the dev tools will contain a profiler.

Visual Studio is an amazing good dev toolkit, and the Profiler is a great match. Scott Guthrie ran through a quick demo of finding performance bottlenecks using the profiler, and I think that it’s going to help developer create better, snappier, less patience-taxing apps.

Angry Birds!

angry birds

Coming to Windows Phone on May 25th – ‘nuff said!

IE9: Bringing Standards and Speed to Windows Phone

ie9 on wp7

We were also treated to a quick demo of IE9 for Windows Phone, which comes out later this year with the “Mango” update. It’s the first mobile version of IE that shares a common codebase with the desktop version, and hence it inherits those things that make IE9 for the desktop the “well, it’s about time!” browser. Like IE9 for the desktop, IE9 for the phone runs like snakes on energy drinks on ice, and we saw it run circles around Chrome for Android and even more so than Safari for iPhone. Attention other mobile browsers: it’s on!

The Payoff

I’ll leave it to Super Popped-Collar Guy to say it for me:

cool dev tools bro

That’s right: your first chance to get your paws on the dev tools comes next month. Watch this blog for the announcement, and start working on your app ideas!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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