Go DevMENTAL

TechDays Halifax: November 2nd and 3rd

by Joey deVilla on November 1, 2010

Theatre mural in Halifax

We’re in Halifax this week for TechDays! Here’s what we’re up to this week:

  • Tuesday, November 2nd, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.: TechDays, Day 1
  • Tuesday, November 2nd, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.: Go DevMental
  • Wednesday, November 3rd, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.: TechDays, Day 2
  • Thursday, November 4th, morning: Presentation at Nova Scotia Community College
  • Thursday, November 4th, 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.: Windows Phone 7 Coffee and Code

Watch this blog for updates and goings-on!

Entrance to TechDays Halifax

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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TechDays Halifax: November 2 – 3

by Joey deVilla on October 29, 2010

techdays halifax

TechDays, Microsoft Canada’s cross-country technical conference for developers and IT pros, heads to Halifax next week! So far, we’ve been to Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto, and now it’s time to head out east.

TechDays Halifax will take place on Tuesday, November 2 and Wednesday, November 3 at the World Trade Centre (1800 Argyle Street). As with TechDays in every other city, there’s a lot going on:

  • CloudCamp on Monday, November 1. On the day before TechDays, we’re sharing our venue with the folks behind CloudCamp, the unconference on cloud computing. To find out more about CloudCamp, check out the registration page.
  • TechDays proper takes place on Tuesday, November 2 and Wednesday, November 3. We’re talking about 60 sessions on programming, systems administration, Microsoft technologies and “best practices” (I hate the use that term, but I’m at a loss for another phrase that captures its meaning). We take the content from big-ticket conferences like TechEd North America, MIX and PDC, give it to “local heroes” to present, bring it all to a city near you and charge a few hundred (instead of a few thousand) bucks.
  • TechDays Gives Back! We’re asking TechDays attendees to bring a non-perishable food item to the conference. All food will go to a local food bank.
  • Go DEVMental happens at the TechDays venue on the evening of Tuesday, November 2 – it’s our student event! If you’re a post-secondary student looking to get into web or phone development, you’ll want to catch Go DEVMental, where we’ll show you what’s possible with Microsoft tools and technologies, and you’ll walk away with a DreamSpark membership and fully-functional copies of Visual Studio Professional 2010 and Expression Blend. It doesn’t cost anything to attend; you just have to be a post-secondary student (with the ID to prove it. To attend, register here!
  • We’ll be holding a Windows Phone 7 Coffee and Code during the afternoon of Thursday, November 4 at Just Us Café on Barrington (1678 Barrington Street) from 2 to 5:30 p.m. Come on down, see Windows Phone 7 devices up close and personal, and if you’ve got an app that you want to test on a real device instead of the emulator, this is your chance!

See you next week!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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What I’m Up To This Week

by Joey deVilla on October 25, 2010

It’s going to be a busy week for Yours Truly…

Monday: Windows Phone Deployment Clinic

monday - windows phone deployment clinic

On Monday, I’ll be helping out at the Windows Phone Deployment Clinic at Microsoft Canada HQ in Mississauga (1950 Meadowvale Boulevard, off Mississauga Road, north of Highway 401), where you can book some time to test your apps on a real Windows Phone 7 device. If you’ve got an app and you’re going to be in the area, drop me a line and book an appointment!

(By the bye, that thing I’m standing beside in the photo above is a promo device known colloquially as the “Big-Ass Phone”.)

Tuesday: AndroidTO and TechDays Setup

tuesday - androidto techdays

On Tuesday, I’ll be spending some time at the AndroidTO conference, a gathering of Android developers, where I’ll be minding the Windows Phone 7 booth. Yes, that’s right, Microsoft is a gold sponsor at an Android conference. Why? Because:

  • We feel that if you’re an Android developer, go ahead an build Android apps, but expand your market reach by developing for Windows Phone 7 too! The programming languages and layout markup are similar.
  • If you’re an Android developer, what’s the best OS for doing development? We think it’s Windows 7, which is a great environment for Java. Loads of great Java dev tools run on Windows, and we don’t consider Java to be deprecated.

AndroidTO takes place at the Polish Combatants Hall (206 Beverley Street, just south of College), is free-as-in-beer, and is alas, completely booked solid.

I’ll also be doing some setup for TechDays Toronto, which takes place on Wednesday and Thursday.

Wednesday: TechDays Toronto and Go DEVMental

wednesday - techdays godevmental

Wednesday brings with it TechDays, Microsoft Canada’s cross-country tech conference: two days of great sessions for developers and IT pros who are building stuff with the Microsoft stack. I’m the guy who picked the content for both developer tracks, “Developing for Three Screens and the Cloud” and “Optimizing the Development Process”. I strove for the best mix of both technology-specific stuff like Mark Arteaga’s Windows Phone 7 sessions and Kate Gregory’s Windows API Code Pack presentation as well as practice-of-programming sessions such as “Top 10 Mistakes in Unit Testing” and “Branching and Merging Strategies”. TechDays will occupy me from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m..

From 7 p.m. on, it’ll be Go DEVMental, the student event where we’ll show university and college students what’s possible with Microsoft’s web and mobile platforms. I’ll be doing a presentation on getting starting with game development for Windows Phone with an amusing little live-coded game called “BieberSmash”, starring the bubblegum pop idol of the moment. Go DEVMental is free and open to post-secondary students – just bring your student ID! You’ll get all sorts of goodies, including a DreamSpark token and Visual Studio 2010 Pro.

Both TechDays and GoDEVMental take place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre’s South Building (222 Bremner Boulevard, right beside the CN Tower).

Thursday: TechDays, Day 2

thursday - techdays day 2

Thursday means another full day of the TechDays conference, to be followed by some very strong whiskey-based drinks.

Friday: Coffee and Code

friday - coffee and code

I’ll be running a Windows Phone 7 Coffee and Code this Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Timothy’s at 225 Front Street West (in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre building). I’ll be hanging out at the cafe, working on Windows Phone 7 code on both the emulator and real Windows Phone devices. Want to learn more about Windows Phone 7, see a real-live phone, play some games or test your code? Come on down!

Saturday: ACSE Conference

saturday - acse conference

University of Toronto computer science prof Steve Engels invited me to speak in front of a group of high school teachers at the ACSE (Association for Computer Studies Educators) Conference taking place on Saturday. I’m going to be showing them programming for high school students on Windows Phone as well as with the Kodu game development environment.

…and Sunday?

sunday - zzzzz

Well, it won’t be all sleep. I’ll have to pack for my Monday flight to TechDays Halifax!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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Scenes from TechDays Vancouver, Part 4: Go DevMENTAL

by Joey deVilla on September 20, 2010

Go DevMental: Our event for students

What is Go DevMENTAL?

Since TechDays – Microsoft Canada’s cross-country developer and IT pro conference visiting 8 cities across Canada this fall – is a two-day event, we’ve got the venues for the entire 48-hour period, including evenings. Rather than have the session rooms (which are already set up for an audience, complete with A/V and seating) lie fallow, we decided to put them to good use and hold free community events in the evenings. One of these events is Go DevMENTAL, where we show college and university students what they can build using Microsoft’s tools and technologies and give them a lot of free stuff.

Go DevMENTAL is a two-track conference, with one track devoted to web design and development using WebMatrix, Expression Blend and Silverlight, while the other covers mobile development for Windows Phone 7 using Silverlight and XNA. At the end of the evening, we give the students a token for DreamSpark, our program that gives them free Microsoft development tools and operating systems and a DVD full of goodies so they can start coding right away.

If you’re a college or university student and would like to have an informative and entertaining evening where you learn cool new things, get free cool stuff, connect with industry people and get some help with your career, register for Go DevMental!

Where is Go DevMENTAL?

We’ll be hitting these cities on these dates:

City Where When
Edmonton Shaw Convention Centre October 5
Toronto Metro Toronto Convention Centre
South Building
October 27
Halifax World Trade Centre November 2
Ottawa Hampton Inn Ottawa
(200 Coventry Road)
November 9
Montreal Palais Des Congres November 23
Winnipeg Winnipeg Convention Centre December 7
Calgary Round-Up Centre
(Calgary Stampede Park)
December 14

What Happened at Go DevMENTAL Vancouver?

Go DevMENTAL Vancouver took place on Tuesday, September 14th in the West Building of the Vancouver Convention Centre, a gorgeous venue (for more, see this entry).

I was helping out with the Phone track, so I only managed to get photos for its sessions. My colleages in Microsoft Canada’s Developer and Platform Evangelism team, Christian Beauclair and John Bristowe, took care of the Web track, while Mark Arteaga of Redbit Development and I ran the Phone track.

Here’s Mark setting up for his presentation, as the students and a number of professors milled into the room. We had some drinks and snacks set up in the back; that’s what the line at the back of the room is all about:

Photo of the session room, with Mark Arteaga setting up his computer in the foreground

And we’re off! Mark did the first presentation, which focused on app development with Silverlight.

The audience in the Phone track at Go DevMENTAL Vancouver

By the end of his session, he had a working, skinnable Magic 8-Ball app that responded to the user shaking the phone. The app was flexible enough so that it would be really easy to repurpose it as a fortune cookie app, the Wisdom of Master Yoda app and so on, without having to touch any code.

Mark Arteaga makes his presentation

Mark’s session was followed by a break, which concluded with a quick accordion performance by Yours Truly:

Joey deVilla plays accordion at Go DevMENTAL

Followed by a quick word from Andrew Gottlieb, a Microsoft recruiter who works the UBC campus looking for the next great Microsofties. If you’re looking for a job at Microsoft and you’re a student in the Vancouver area, you’re going to want to drop him a line.

Joey deVilla plays his accordion at Go DevMENTAL as Andrew Gottlieb stands beside him

Then came my presentation, a live-coding exercise in which we start with “File –> New Project…” and in 45 minutes, put together a game in which you get to smack Justin Bieber around. Let it never be said that I let professionalism stand in the way of a good coding presentation‘

Joey deVilla makes his presentation, holding up a piece of paper

Live coding in front of an audience is not for the weak of heart, and you’d better really know your stuff. But when you do it right, it’s fun for both you and the audience.

In these photos, I’m holding up two pieces of paper as a way of explaining collision detection using bounding boxes. It’s not every day you see some goof in an ironic hipster trucker cap talking about videogame fundamentals!

Joey deVilla makes his presentation at Go DevMENTAL holding up two pieces of paper

After the student sessions, I made my way to the faculty roundtable where we chatted with the professors about what Microsoft could do for them.

It was great meeting the students and faculty – I had a great time, and also learned a lot from them. I’m looking forward to the upcoming Go DevMENTAL cities. See you there!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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Quick Updates

by Joey deVilla on September 16, 2010

heading home

I’m sitting in the airport lounge in Vancouver, waiting to board my flight back to Toronto. Some quick updates:

  • TechDays Vancouver went very well. Over 800 attendees catching over 60 technical sessions on Microsoft’s platforms, tools and technologies, all taking place in the beautiful West Building of the Vancouver Convention Centre. Thanks to the presenters, staff, and especially the attendees!
  • Successful community events. Rather than have the TechDays venue lie fallow in the evenings, we put it to good use by opening it up for free community events. On Monday, we hosted CloudCamp, a gathering for people interested in cloud computing, and on Tuesday, we held a mini-conference called GoDevMental, which was aimed at students. We’re holding these events in all TechDays cities, so if you live close by, come and see us!
  • Internet Explorer 9 goes beta! Standards-compliant. Hardware accelerated. Clean, minimalist UI. Nifty Windows 7 integration. We’re back in the browser game, people, and we’re playing for keeps. Download the IE9 beta now!
  • Windows Phone 7 Developer Tools go RTM! What happens when you pair a phone with bold new UI and the awesomesauce of Visual Studio? Windows Phone 7, and the developer tools – which include Visual Studio Express for Phone and Expression Blend – have been finalized and are ready for download for free. Download the WP7 Developer tools now!
  • I’ll be at FITC Mobile in Toronto on Friday and Saturday. I’ll be minding the booth at the FITC Mobile conference in Toronto this Friday and Saturday. Come say hi, see the dev tools in action, play with a real Windows Phone and find out what we have in store!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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Windows Phone-a-Palooza [Updated]

by Joey deVilla on August 29, 2010

Update: Please note the changes to the Toronto-area deployment clinic locations!

The "Windows Phone Canada" LinkedIn Group

"I [Canada] Windows Phone" logo

If you’re not a member of LinkedIn, the social networking site for professionals, you should join it now! It’s a great place to keep in touch with your network of working peers, post and maintain your resume, find people in your industry and be found yourself, and take part in professional discussions in LinkedIn groups.

Once you’re a member of LinkedIn, you should join the Windows Phone Canada group. It’ll have links to the latest Windows Phone articles, host discussions about all aspects of Windows Phone development, from coming up with ideas for apps to writing them to selling them in Marketplace. You’ll also get to network with Windows Phone developers across Canada, and as I’ll tell you over and over, that’s where opportunities are born.

Join the WP7 discussion – join the Windows Phone Canada LinkedIn group!

Windows Phone Deployment Clinics

7 LG Windows Phone 7 phones charging

Pictured above: some of the phones we’ll be using in our deployment clinics.

Anyone who’s built apps and tried them out on an emulator and then deployed to the real thing will know what Jan van de Snepscheut was talking about when he said “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.”

To support you in your WP7 development and help you make the leap from theory to practice, we’re starting our deployment clinics this week! It’s your chance to deploy your app to a real WP7 phone and see how it works. This week’s are being held in:

There are also some events being planned for next week:

(I’m working on Toronto dates for next week…watch this blog!)

We’re working on ways to hold deployment clinics in as many places across Canada, as often as our schedules and pool of phones will allow. For those of you out west, we’re working on getting clinics out your way – watch this space!

Windows Phone Bootcamps

Photo of Windows Phone 7 bootcamp Montreal attendees sitting at a boardroom tableDevTeach’s Windows Phone 7 Bootcamp – a four-city, two-day, hands-on intensive training course taught by Colin Melia – started off quite nicely last week in Montreal (pictured left).

This week, the Bootcamp comes to Vancouver on Monday and Tuesday (August 30 – 31) and Ottawa on Thursday and Friday (September 2 – 3).

Next week, Yours Truly sits in on the Toronto Bootcamp, which happens next Tuesday and Wednesday (September 7 – 8).

Want to sign up for the Bootcamp? Register here, and save $100 when you use the discount code WP7BOOTCAMP.

Windows Phone Training and Deployment Clinics at TechDays

"Microsoft TechDays 2010" logoTechDays, our cross-Canada conference on how to make the most of Microsoft’s tools and technologies, is just over two weeks away, starting with TechDays Vancouver on September 14th and 15th. We’ve got two 65-minute breakout sessions on Windows Phone app development being presented by Windows Phone MVP Mark Arteaga and a half-hour “Turbo Talk” by Windows Phone MVP Anthony Bartolo on distributing your apps through the Marketplace. To find out more about TechDays, visit the TechDays site.

We’ll be running deployment clinics in the TechDays cities when we’re there (those cities, in order: Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Halifax, Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary), in the TechDays lounge, as well as outside the conference. Watch this blog for details!

Windows Phone Training for Students at Go DevMENTAL

"Go DevMENTAL" logoJust as TechDays is a cross-Canada tour for working developers and IT pros, Go DevMENTAL is a cross-Canada tour for post-secondary students who’d like to learn more about the coolest apps and platforms, get connected with people in the software industry and get help in pursing a career. To find out more about Go DevMENTAL, check out the Go DevMENTAL site.

One of Go DevMENTAL’s tracks is dedicated to creating Windows Phone apps. It’ll have two sessions: one on building Silverlight apps for WP7; the other on building XNA-based games for WP7.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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