JavaScript programming these days is quite often ridiculous. Too many projects that are the equivalent of building toolsheds by bringing in the US Army Corps of Engineers. They could’ve been done simply with JavaScript (and maybe a little jQuery for convenience’s sake), but they have a clown car’s worth of frameworks bolted on.

Wes Bos’ answer to this problem is JavaScript30, a free-as-in-beer 30-day course in which he walks you through building 30 JavaScript applications in 30 days using only JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and a browser and editor. No compilers, libraries, frameworks, or boilerplate involved!


If you haven’t read it yet, go ahead and check out Jose Aguinaga’s article, How it feels to learn JavaScript in 2016. It’s a tour of the mess of tools, frameworks, and even various dialects of JavaScript that get bolted on to a lot of web front-end projects these days. While it takes things to an extreme, it’s an extreme that many projects approach.

I’ve met too many developers who can no longer make even the simplest of JavaScript apps without reaching for one (or more) of these add-ons. There’s nothing wrong with React, Redux, Angular, VueJS, RxJS, WebPack, and all that other stuff in the clown car (hey, I’ve done presentations on React myself) — when they’re well and truly needed. It’s just that they’re not needed for many projects, and often just add to their bloat.

Enter Wes Bos and JavaScript30. His approach is simple: re-learn the basics by doing, doing often, and doing by using the ES6 flavor of JavaScript, which modern browsers support. I’ll let Wes pitch it to you himself:

Over 30 days, he’ll walk you through 30 applications, each one coded using only the basic HTML5 building blocks: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Some of these applications answer the question “How do I get this UX effect without frameworks?”, such as a JavaScript drum kit, a CSS/JS clock, an image gallery, detecting the when the user has typed the Konami code, an HTML5 video player, and even a Whack-a-Mole game. Other applications are exercises for learning the basics, such as mastering arrays, objects, events, and local storage.

As I mentioned earlier, you can sign up for JavaScript30 free of charge. Signing up gives you access to this video-based course (with downloadable files), which you can take at your own pace, any time. My guess is that Wes is using this course as advertising for his other paid courses, but those courses are well worth considering. Wes knows his stuff, he’s a solid instructor, and he’s one of those people who goes the extra mile to make sure that his material is interesting and entertaining.


A great deal: SanDisk’s 200GB MicroSD card for $64!

by Joey deVilla on December 8, 2016


If you’re looking for a quick way to boost your laptop or mobile device’s storage capacity, or looking for a useful gift for a techie friend or DSLR photographer, you’ll want to check out this Amazon deal for SanDisk’s 200GB MicroSD card.

At $64, it’s anywhere from $25 to over $100 cheaper than the slightly larger 256GB cards, and it’s even cheaper than some of the 128GB cards. It boasts a zippy 90MB/s read speed, which means you can read HD video without hiccups, or use it as a tiny extra hard drive. It comes with an SD adapter so that it’ll fit in your computer or camera. I think I’ll place my order for one tonight.

Thanks to Joe Healy for the find!


Smartrac makes Spyder’s ski jackets even smarter

by Joey deVilla on December 7, 2016


Smartrac, the company where I hold the title of Technology Evangelist, is providing the NFC technology in Spyder’s US Ski Team collection of insulator and softshell ski jackets. Combined with an NFC-ready smartphone or tablet, these jackets can connect you to the US Ski Team and local ski information with a single tap.

What’s Spyder?

spider-pantsIf you’re into skiing, and especially racing, you’ve probably heard of Spyder. It was founded by David Jacobs, a former Canadian downhill skiing champion and head coach of the Canadian National Ski Team. When his sons followed in his footsteps and joined the ski racing circuit, only one brand of race sweaters was on the market, and he thought he could do a better job. He designed a better race sweater, and then ski pants that skiers nicknamed “spider pants”. Inspired by the nickname and his other passion — sports cars (“spyder” is another name for “roadster”) — he changed his company name to Spyder.


Spyder have never been afraid to experiment with new technologies. In 1994, Jacobs was granted a patent on SpeedWyre, which used a seam on the surface on Spyder’s racing suits to smooth the airflow around their wearer, reducing wind drag by up to 40% in laboratory tests. The US Ski Team wore SpeedWyre-equipped suits and captured the top spots in worldwide competitions in the mid-’90s. SpeedWyre’s downfall was that it was too good — it was so effective at reducing drag that FIS (the International Ski Federation) banned it from competitions in 1997, saying that it gave skiers an unfair advantage.


If you love skiing and are a fan on the US Ski Team, you’ll want to check out Spyder’s NFC-enabled US Ski Team collection of jackets. They still feature the warm, easy-to-move-in, aerodynamic design that Spyder is famous for, but they now feature Smartrac’s Internet of Things technology.


When you tap an NFC-ready smartphone or tablet (such as Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge) against the NFC touchpoint embedded in these jackets’ Spyder logos, you can find out skiing-relation information about your current location, including snow conditions, trails, points of interest, and local events. As a bonus, you can also connect with members of the US Ski Team through various social media channels.


The idea of tapping your phone against your jacket to get to online information about snow conditions and trails when you can simply open the browser and enter its URL seems like a silly, superfluous shortcut when you’re warm and sitting comfortably indoors with ungloved hands. However, when you’re on the slopes, the wind is howling and it’s getting dark, and you want to find out if it’s worth risking the shorter black diamond trail versus the longer blue square one, it’s a convenience you’ll really appreciate.

What’s NFC?


NFC is short for near field communications, a radio-based set of communications protocols that allow two devices to “talk” to each other over very short distances (no more than a couple of inches) or for a device to “read” relatively small amounts information stored on a chip that is typically attached to or embedded in a real-world object. The NFC chip embedded in the Spyder jacket logo is what lets you tap it to get ski information.

If you’ve ever made a payment using your smartphone with Apple Pay or Android Pay, or by tapping your credit card against a reader, you’ve used NFC technology. If you’ve used Android Beam to transfer files and photos between two Android phones, you’ve used NFC technology. If you’ve played games activated by action figures — the Disney Infinity games and Skylanders are two examples — you’ve been gaming with NFC technology.

Here’s a quick video brief of NFC technology’s uses and pitfalls:

What’s Smartrac?

Logo: SMARTRAC / Connect Things

Aside from being the company for whom I work, Smartrac is the biggest Internet of Things company you’ve never heard of. The company is headquartered in Amsterdam (with offices and factories worldwide) and was founded in 2000, growing to become a big deal in the business of developing, manufacturing, and supplying RFID transponders, tags, and inlays.


Smartrac is borrowing a page from Apple’s book — and now Microsoft’s and Google’s books — and changing into a full-stack hardware and software company. Our RFID technology makes real-world objects visible to computers and devices, and our Smart Cosmos cloud platform manages information about things and people, how they’re related, how they interact, and the metadata associated with them. Put the two together, and you’ve got the basis for building solutions that connect the physical and digital worlds.

Want to know more about Smartrac and Spyder?



Earlier today at NGPX (the Next Gen Patient Experience conference in Litchfield Park, Arizona), my company SMARTRAC gave a presentation with Cutaneous Information Technologies (CIT) on an improvement on the hospital wristband: The Patient ID Shield.

Today: The hospital wristband


Hospital wristbands are used to identify patients and provide some basic information about the patient to caregivers. The current state-of-the-market technology for hospital wristbands is laser printing or thermal imaging, with support for large, legible fonts and barcodes that enable electronic patient and medication tracking.

Sometimes, a patient will be tagged with one or more additional wristbands to clearly indicate that the patient has a specific condition or that certain procedures should be followed with that patient:


When “stacked” on a patient’s arm, they end up looking like this:


While they are useful safety devices, hospital wristbands have a number of limitations:

  • They’re prone to errors. The U.S. Department of Health estimates that misidentification errors cost $1.4 billion per year in the US alone.
  • They’re uncomfortable. On patient satisfaction surveys, they universally get a negative score.
  • They can cut off circulation or lead to acute compartment syndrome if put on too tightly.
  • They can become a source of infection because they can easily get soiled, especially on the inside.
  • They can fit insecurely, especially in the case of children. In these cases, it’s too easy to remove and transfer them.
  • Their small size limits legibility and limits the information you can put on them.

Soon: The Shield


Click the image to see it at full size.

The Shield is a solution that takes the basic concept of the hospital wristband and enhances it with:

  • CIT’s concept of a large, easy-to-read decal applied directly to the patient’s skin that provides caregivers with quick information they can read and additional information that they can access with a mobile device, and
  • SMARTRAC’s Enablement solution, which uses its industry-leading RFID tag and inlay technology combined with its Smart Cosmos platform to connect real-world people and things to the digital information associated with them.

The Shield is easier to read than a wristband, and the space it provides for additional allergy and care information means that you don’t need to clutter a patient’s arm with additional wristbands.

In addition to the enhanced human readability, the enhanced machine readability enabled by the combination of barcode and RFID technology means that it’s easy to get detailed information about a patient using a mobile device. The Smart Cosmos platform behind the Shield integrates with EMR systems to offer a fully customizable patient management system to enhance the patient’s safety and experience at the hospital.


Along with CIT, we’re aiming to make Shield technology available to hospitals and other healthcare facilities worldwide next year. It’s part of SMARTRAC’s evolution from a “we make RFID tags and inlays” company to a “we make software and hardware to make objects smarter” company.

Want to know more? Take a look at SMARTRAC’s official news release: Smartrac and CIT to Present Breakthrough Patient Identification Shield Solution at Next Generation Patient Experience Event.

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Tampa iOS Meetup will return in January!

by Joey deVilla on November 27, 2016


It’s been a while since there’s been a gathering of the Tampa iOS Meetup, but I’m pleased to announce that it will return in January 2017.

My new job — Technology Evangelist at SMARTRAC, an “internet of things” company that will be making some big moves next year — has kept me busy with orientation, work, and travel. As a result, I haven’t been able to put together a meetup in the past couple of months. Now that I’ve gone through the initial “breaking in” phase with the new job, my schedule’s a little more settled, and Tampa iOS Meetups can resume.

I’m in the process of working out the details, but as soon as I’ve secured a space for the January 2017 meetup, I’ll make an announcement on the Tampa iOS Meetup page, the mailing list, and here on Global Nerdy.

If you have any suggestions for a topic that you’d like to see me cover at Tampa iOS Meetup, please let me know — leave a comment here, or drop me a line at­!

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Scenes from Saturday’s Tampa Xamarin Dev Days event

by Joey deVilla on November 21, 2016


A good number of people arrived early to get Xamarin set up on their laptops.
Photo by Joey deVilla.

The Tampa edition of Xamarin Dev Days — a worldwide series of meetups where developers can learn about the Xamarin cross-platform development environment — took place this Saturday, and it was a successful gathering with about 70 developers in attendance.

Xamarin Dev Days are all-day events that introduce developers to Xamarin, with presentations in the morning, and hands-on workshops in the afternoon. They’re facilitated by experienced Xamarin users and evangelists, and since Microsoft acquired Xamarin, Mircosoft evangelists and MVPs have been running these events.

This was the agenda:

 Time  What’s happening
9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Registration and breakfast, which SMARTRAC and SMART COSMOS (the company and platform I represent) provided!
9:30 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Intro to Xamarin presentation (here are the slides, in PDF format)
10:20 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Cross-platform Xamarin with Xamarin.Forms presentation (here are the slides, in PDF format)
11:10 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. Cloud Xamarin with Azure presentation (here are the slides, in PDF format)
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Lunch
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Hands-on lab


Another photo of the early arrivals.
Photo by Joey deVilla.

Getting people to spend their entire Saturday in a boardroom or lecture hall isn’t an easy task even when it’s cold and miserable outside. It’s even trickier in Tampa in November, when the temperatures are spring-like and there isn’t a cloud in the sky:


The view from the drive leading to Tampa’s Microsoft office, taken on the morning of Tampa’s Xamarin Dev Days.
Photo by Joey deVilla.


The view from the parking lot in from of Microsoft’s Tampa office, taken on the morning of Xamarin Dev Days.
Photo by Joey deVilla.

The very least a Saturday event can do — especially in a sub-tropical paradise like Tampa Bay — is feed its attendees. Michael Stark, one of the Dev Days facilitators and organizer of the Tampa Bay Xamarin User Group, reached out to me and asked if SMARTRAC (the company for whom I work as Technology Evangelist and whose SMART COSMOS platform I promote) could sponsor breakfast. We were more than happy to do so, and thus nearly 70 developers did not go hungry that morning:


The breakfast bounty provided by SMARTRAC.
Photo by Michael Stark. Click the photo to see the source.

Joe Healy, Microsoft Premier Developer Consultant and Developer Evangelist for the area, asked me if I could play a couple of accordion numbers to kick off the event, and I was more than happy to do so.



Here’s Joe giving a shout-out to SMARTRAC / SMART COSMOS for providing breakfast, which was followed by my quick explanation of what SMARTRAC and SMART COSMOS are:


Here’s a close-up of that “Good news, everyone!” slide:


With the preliminaries out of the way, we spent the rest of the day getting down to the business of learning about Xamarin, which runs on both Windows and Mac OS, and can be used to develop front ends for Android, iOS, Mac OS, Windows, and Azure:


Photo by Daniel Jerome. Click the photo to see the source.

For those of us on the Mac, we worked on the current stable edition of Xamarin Studio, the Mac OS-based Xamarin development environment, pictured below:


It’ll eventually be rebranded as Visual Studio for Mac, the preview version of which is shown below:


If you’re on Windows, you’ll be using Xamarin’s features from within Visual Studio.

The event went quite nicely, with many local developers not just learning more about Xamarin, mobile, and cloud development, but also about their peers. Over breakfast, lunch, and breaks, I got a chance to talk to a lot of people about all sorts of topics, including:

  • Business and industrial applications of RFID technology. As a result of the couple of minutes I got at the start of the day as a sponsor’s representative, a couple of people approached me to talk about RFID tags and inlays and how they could be used in their businesses.
  • The current situation in India, a couple of weeks after their radical demonetization, where two of the most-used currency notes, the 500- and 1000-Rupee bills, were taken out of circulation. To get an idea of what this is like, imagine the $10 and $20 bills in the U.S. suddenly being declared invalid.
  • How Microsoft seems different now: bash on Ubuntu on Windows, development software for the Mac (Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio for Mac) and even Linux (Visual Studio Code), interesting new hardware such as Surface Studio and Surface Dial — it’s not the same company as it was five years ago, and that’s a good thing.
  • Developer opportunities in the Tampa Bay area. This always comes up at these gatherings.

While the event ended at 4 that afternoon, the gathering didn’t — a number of us regrouped at the Brick House for more conversation, accompanied by beer, food, and Jägermeister reps handing out free samples and taking promotional photos, which is why the last photo in this article has their branding:


My thanks to Joe Healy, Michael Stark, Jim Blizzard, Bill Reiss, and Brian Kassay for putting on a great event!



Xamarin, the development tool that lets you use C# to write code for Android, iOS, Mac OS, Windows, and the cloud, is hosting a number of Xamarin Dev Days events all over the world, and the Tampa Bay event takes place tomorrow, Saturday November 19th at 9:00 a.m..

The Tampa Bay event is hosted by the Tampa Bay Mobile App Developers meetup at the Tampa Microsoft office in the Westshore area. Xamarin Dev Days events are hands-on sessions, with the mornings dedicated to learning about Xamarin and the afternoon set for diving into coding.

Are you in the Tampa Bay area and want to join in? Register at the Tampa Bay Xamarin Dev Days site!


Here’s what will take place, and when:

 Time  What’s happening
9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Registration and breakfast, which SMARTRAC and SMART COSMOS (the company and platform I represent) are providing!
9:30 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. “Intro to Xamarin” presentation
10:20 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. “Cross-platform Xamarin” presentation
11:10 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. “Cloud Xamarin” presentation
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Lunch (they’ll provide it; it will most likely be pizza)
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Hands-on lab

Your hosts will be:

What you should bring


You’ll need a computer running either Mac OS or Windows on which to do Xamarin development. You should set up Xamarin prior to showing up, because setup takes time and bandwidth, which will likely be in short supply at the event. Follow these steps:

Breakfast is on SMART COSMOS!


If you’re going to show up to spent 8 hours of your Saturday in an office — especially in the Tampa Bay Area, where November means sunny skies and 80°F/27°C temperatures — the least we can do is feed you. SMART COSMOS will help by providing breakfast!

SMART COSMOS is the IoT platform made by SMARTRAC, the company where I hold the title of developer evangelist. It orchestrates data for the internet of things, and combined with SMARTRAC’s RFID technology, it’s being used to help clothing manufacturers and retailers manage their wares, improve the way healthcare providers track patients from the moment they check into the hospital to well after they check out, and on mechanical devices to ensure that the right parts are plugged into the right places.

New to C#, or has it been a while? Download this free book.


If you’re new to the C# programming language (I’ve quipped that it’s “like Java, but good”) or if it’s been a while (as is the case for me), I recommend getting your paws on Rob Miles’ C# Programming Yellow Book, a free ebook that he’s been publishing and updating for years. It’s based on the first year programming course at the University of Hull, and it’s been the free ebook I’ve been sending C# students to for years.