Photoshoppery of the Day

I was 10 years old when Space Invaders came out, so this photo brings back happy memories:

space_invadersClick the photo to see it on its original page.


This Zune HD Could Be Yours!


Pictured above is a 16GB Zune HD (the accordion’s there to act as a nice stand and prove that it’s actually in our possession). It’s quite nice, the navigation system is both simple and clever, and the browser experience is nothing short of amazing – I spent a little time surfing with it last night and kept saying “If only they had a plan to put this into Windows Phone…”

The Zune HD is not yet available in Canada. We have one because IT Pro Evangelist Rick Claus made a quick run down from Vancouver (where we are for the TechDays conference) into the U.S., where they’re available (although very hard to find – people are snapping them up).

This Zune could be yours. There’s a plan in motion as to how that will come about, so watch this space…


Ignite Your Career Webcast: “Internal or External Training?” – Thursday, September 17th


The second installment of the Ignite Your Career webcasts takes place tomorrow, Thursday, September 17th, from 12:00 noon to 1 p.m. Eastern (9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Pacific). This will be the second of four Ignite Your Career webcasts taking place this month, and this week’s topic will be Internal or External Training – Know Your Options. Here’s the abstract:

Maintaining your technical and personal skill sets are critical to being successful in the job you already have and anything you might be looking to progress into. Unfortunately, the option of external training might not be available to you at this point in time. How can you take advantage of internal resources like job shadowing, mentoring, internal courses, study groups as well as external training activities when available? How can you pitch setting up new training options to your team and managers? Looking externally – what about valuable online free offerings, professional associations and community events? This session will bring information together to equip you with the knowledge and resources required to get the ball rolling.

The panel of industry experts speaking at this webcast will be:

Ignite Your Career is presented by Microsoft Canada and is about helping you make the most out of your career and make the best career choices. As such, it’s “platform neutral” – whether you develop on .NET, the iPhone or Ruby on Rails, the topics covered in Ignite Your Career apply to you.

It doesn’t cost a thing to catch an Ignite Your Career webcast. Simply register at the Ignite Your Career site.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


TechDays Vancouver 2009: Day Two at the “Microsoft Platform” Track

Vancouver Convention Centre and waterVancouver Convention Centre, as seen from the Fairmont Hotel across the street

Yesterday marked Day 2 of the TechDays Vancouver 2009 conference. The track that I’m in charge of is the most broad one: Developing for the Microsoft-Based Platform. With such a wide array of topics that I could cover, I decided to focus on four areas that I and the people I surveyed thought would be both important and interesting:

  • Rich (Internet) Applications
  • The “Software” half of “Software + Services”, namely client applications on computers and other devices
  • ASP.NET MVC, the model-view-controller web app framework that I like to call “Rails That Scales”
  • The “Services” half of “Software + Services”: services accessible via the internet

Day 1 was about the first two, and Day 2 covered MVC and Services.

The Track in a Nutshell: MVC and Services for Day 2

The morning featured two ASP.NET MVC sessions. First, Charles Nurse of DotNetNuke presented Introduction to ASP.NET MVC, which was aimed at ASP.NET developers looking to make the leap from WebForms or to see what MVC is all about. Daniel Flippance of Habaneros provided a great follow-up presentation with SOLIDify Your ASP.NET MVC Applications, which matched two great topics – our new web application framework and the SOLID principles of object-oriented design (which I covered back in July with this article).

Charles Nurse and Daniel Flippance presenting at TechDays Vancouver 2009Charles Nurse and Daniel Flippance

The afternoon was all about services. We started with Phil Bolduc presenting Building RESTful Services with WCF, which covers two topics that Microsoft developers are just starting to pick up. After that came Ho Yan Leung, whose session was Developing and Consuming Services for SharePoint. As you can see in his photo below, you can find Windows 7 and Microsoft platform development in places you wouldn’t expect:

Ho Yan Leung and his MacBook at TechDays Vancouver 2009Ho Yan Leung

(Phil: I got sidetracked during your presentation and didn’t get a chance to snap your photo. My apologies!)

After the final session, we cleared out the presentation halls, gathered for a post-conference meeting to discuss what went right, what went wrong and what we should do at the next stop on the TechDays tour, which is Toronto on the 29th and 30th. We packed the demo machines in their nigh-indestructible flight cases:

Flight case holding several laptops

The red, green and blue machines are Dell Netbooks. They’re cute, but my stance on netbooks remains unchanged.
The really nice machines are the copper-coloured 16 gig “Dell-a-saurus” machines in the middle row.

We marked the end of TechDays Vancouver 2009 with strong drink and flaming teppanyaki:

Flaming teppanyaki, with Rick Claus saying "Funny, that's exactly what happens when I get my hands on a computer!"

[This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.]


Scenes from Demo Ignite Camp

Last night’s Demo Ignite Camp was a success. We got a decent-sized crowd, a bunch of great presnetations on all sorts of projects by Vancouver-area techies and hopefully inspired the local nerds to get together and do "show-and-tell" events more often.

Demo Ignite Camp came about thanks to a couple of lucky circumstances. First and foremost, Vancouver is lucky enough to have a guy like Boris Mann, who is a technologist, entrepreneur and David Crow’s West Coast evil twin. He was able to rally the local techies to come out to a gathering on short notice on a week packed full of techie-oriented events (including "Launch Party" this Wednesday, which we’ll be attending).

The other lucky break comes as a result of the TechDays Vancouver conference. TechDays is a two-day conference, and we booked the Vancouver Convention Centre for it. We had no evening events, which meant that the conference halls were going to be empty and unused on the first night of the conference. We decided to make the space available for some kind of free community event; I thought of hosting a DemoCamp-style event and immediately thought of getting Boris’ help.

Last night’s presentations – all which of were quite good — were:

  1. Clamato — Hot Smalltalk on JavaScript action by Avi Bryant
  2. TransitDB – Carson Lam’s online guide for Vancouver Transit users that won the PHP FTW contest earlier this year
  3. RestfulX Framework – Dima Berastau’s framework for bringing Rails-esque goodness and RESTfulness to Adobe Flex and AIR development
  4. PhoneGap and Ayogo’s use of it for iPhone Game Development
  5. Joyent’s Smart – Joyent’s cloud platform
  6. Walruz — Ruby framework for managing complex authorization policies

We didn’t have time to get around to Mobify’s presentation, so I’m going to make up for it by writing an article about them and give them lots of link love (I’ll be emailing you guys soon!).

Once the presentations wrapped up, we took the attendees to the Lions Pub where we pulled out the Microsoft American Express corporate card and bought a round for everyone.

And now, the photos, courtesy of John Bristowe. You can check them out in the slideshow below or view them on Flickr:

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Vancouver’s got some great people doing some very interesting tech work, and we’d like to make sure that it gets nurtured with events like Demo Ignite Camp and other community-building gatherings. If there’s anything we can do to help – because a healthy tech ecosystem, regardless of the technology is also good for Microsoft – please let us know! Drop me a line in the comments or email me!

I’d like to thank Boris Mann for helping put this event together, Barnaby Jeans and Damir Bersinic for offering up the space, Angie Lim, Nik Garkusha and Arun Kirupananthan for providing the during- and after-refreshments – but most importantly, the presenters and attendees!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Kanye West Wants You to Go to FailCamp!


That’s right, you want to join FailCamp Toronto 3, the celebration of FAIL taking place on Tuesday, September 29th at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre! Take it from Kanye, you don’t want to miss this event. For more details, see the FailCamp event page and my earlier article on FailCamp Toronto 3.


TechDays Vancouver: More Scenes from the “Platform” Track

Two out of three of this afternoon’s sessions in my track at the TechDays conference – Developing for the Microsoft-Based Platform — were presented by Anthony Vranic, an independent consultant who used to be a Microsoft developer evangelist. His sessions:

  • Building Modular Applications Using Silverlight and WPF
  • Optimizing Your Apps for the Windows 7 User Experience

Anthony Vranic presenting at TechDays Vancouver 2009

Next up were Anthony Bartolo and Mark Arteaga, who were there to present the session Taking Your Application on the Road with Windows Mobile Software, in which they showed us things that people think Windows Mobile can’t do.


Yup, that’s The Beatles: Rock Band beside Anthony – this was a session where you could leave with a prize! They gave away XBox games to people who answered skill- and mobile market knowledge-testing questions correctly.


They gave The Beatles: Rock Band to the person working on the most interesting Windows Mobile app, as judged by audience applause. It went to the gentleman in the photo below on the right, who wrote a currency exchange application that watches exchange markets for the ideal time and buys foreign currencies then. He uses it to send money home to New Zealand within taking a bath on the exchange rate.


As I write this, it’s 5:45 p.m. Pacific, which means that the next event, Demo Ignite Camp, is just over an hour away.