WinMoDevCamp: Save the Date – November 11th!

WinMoDevCamp banner

On Wednesday, November 11th, we’ll be hosting the Toronto-area WinMoDevCamp at Microsoft Canada’s headquarters! It’ll be the fifth in a series of worldwide “Camp” style workshops focusing on developing applications for Windows Mobile (including the upcoming Windows Mobile 6.5).

WinMoDevCamp – short for Windows Mobile Developer Camp – was inspired by events like BarCamp, SuperHappyDevHouse and the original iPhoneDevCamp. It’s a free-of-charge get-together where mobile developers, web developers, .NET developers, UI designers, testers, device manufacturers and Canadian mobile carriers gather, team up and work in ad-hoc mobile development projects for the day.

You’ll get to:

  • Create new applications for the Windows Mobile Platform
  • Meet and work side-by-side with people from the Microsoft Mobile Developer Experience team
  • Migrate existing mobile apps from the iPhone, BlackBerry and Palm Pre to the Windows Mobile platform
  • Create applications to support Windows Enterprise Applications
  • Meet with representatives from Canadian mobile phone companies, including Bell, Rogers, Telus and WIND
  • Test and optimize applications for Windows Mobile 6.5

The event is free-as-in-beer (in other words, it costs nothing to attend), and you’ll be able to sign up to attend soon – watch this space!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


WIND Mobile’s Videos: Funny. Canadian Mobile Phone Situation: Not So Funny.

I have no idea if WIND Mobile is going to be able to deliver what they promise – a mobile phone company that listens to its customers and provides better service than the sad players in the Canadian mobile phone oligarchy – but they’ve got the right ideas and some rather funny videos that perfectly illustrate what the Canadian mobile customer has to contend with.

What if Toronto’s hot dog vendors had a pricing model like Canadian mobile phone companies? Buying a hot dog would be like this:

Canada is the only country in the world where mobile companies lock you into three-year contracts for mobile service, and this situation is illustrated in the video titled Bike Lock:

I always look at the service packages offered by U.S. mobile companies with envy. Here, the mobile companies love nickel-and-diming you:

WIND is a new entrant into the Canadian mobile phone market and a branch of Globalive Communications, who already have a presence in Canada in the form of Yak Communications, an alternative phone and internet provider. They seem to be taking a very “social media” approach to their marketing, what with the “viral” YouTube videos and a “conversational” website in which readers are encourage to actively participate in online discussions.

They look like an interesting company to watch, and hey, if they can get me a better deal than Rogers, I’ll switch.

Recommended Reading

Tom Purves has been one of voices leading the battle cry against Canadian mobile companies for the past couple of years. Back in 2007 at DemoCamp 17, he gave what I consider to be the best ignite presentation ever given at a Toronto DemoCamp, The State of Wireless in Canada Sucks. Here’s the slide deck from that presentation:

He recently revised his presentation for 2009 when he presented it at the FITC mobile conference in September, which mentions WIND mobile:

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


Mario Learns an Important Lesson



It’s About Helping Your Users Become Awesome (or: “Being Better is Better” by Kathy Sierra)


Kathy Sierra, who co-created O’Reilly’s “Head First” series of books and who used to write the very inspirational Creative Passionate Users blog, is awesome at helping users become awesome. I use her lessons as guidelines in my evangelism work and even borrowed from her to create a catchphrase that I used when interviewing for my job at Microsoft: “My goal is to help developers go from zero to awesome in 60 minutes.”

The blog O’Reilly Radar points to a great Ignite presentation (a style of presentation that’s restricted to 20 slides, each auto-advancing every 15 seconds for a grand total of 5 minutes) in which Kathy Sierra talks about ways to make your users awesome. The presentation is titled Being Better is Better, and I’ve posted it below, followed by point-form notes, which I took so that it’s easier for you to become awesome at making your users awesome:

  • If we want to create passionate users, we need to help them get better.
    • ‘Nobody’s passionate about things they suck at.”
    • Many people still have their cameras permanently set on “P” – automatic mode — even though those cameras offer finer control over things like shutter speed and aperture
    • What would it mean to our users if we unlock the door and help them be awesome?
  • In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, a major theme is the “10,000 Hour Rule”, which states that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to become really good at something.
    • 10,000 is a long time – it’ can be a depressing prospect
    • [Joey: According to Outliers, 10,000 hours makes for about 3 hours of focused practice every day for 10 years.]
    • To get good, you have to practice all the time.
    • Anything that makes it easier for your users to get practice – any time, anywhere – will help them get their 10,000 hours (and get good) sooner.
  • Give your users patterns for success
    • In any pattern you give your users, make sure that there’s “the one thing” that they can take away as a lesson
    • You need to answer the question: “What’s the one thing you can do to be amazing?”
  • Give your users better gear
    • They’ll work better
    • “Spend the money!”
    • Give people a way to justify the better gear you’re offering them
  • Motivation is important
    • Treat motivation as a gift
    • Make a product that people will actually use
    • “Your treadmill is not in the corner gathering dust because you don’t use it, you don’t use it because it’s in the corner.”
    • “Make the right thing easy for people and the wrong thing hard.”
  • And now, some anti-patterns:
    • We focus on the tool and not the thing the users want to accomplish with the tool
    • “We treat people really well before they buy, and afterwards, we treat them poorly.”
      • This is also the reason people don’t want to upgrade
      • If we want to help people upgrade – which is what they’ll need to do if they want to go forward – we have to accept that it’s a loss and a hit to their self-esteem
    • We write FAQs as if our users they were intellectually curious and have a tablet PC handy
      • People hit the FAQs and help because they’re having a horrible experience
    • “Don’t let the ease-of-use police” step in an dumb something down
      • You don’t feel awesome when you’ve mastered something that a 3-year-old can master
    • Hiring a social media consultant is the wrong thing to do
      • They focus in the wrong direction
      • Social media consultant are focused on making your users love you, which is the wrong thing – nobody is awesome because they love you
      • They think the goal is to make users want to party with you
      • The true goal is to make your users want to party because of something you did that helped them become awesome. They should want to party because of you, but without you
      • You want to connect users with other users, not with your company
      • A much better use of social media is to find out:
        • What role we play in our users’ lives
        • What role our competitors play in our users’ lives
        • What the pain and pleasure points for our users are
      • By trying to be competitive and focusing on our competitors, we end up being uncompetitive
        • This leads to featurities
        • We end up building things that end up harming our users
        • The best thing we can do is to look at the bigger, cooler thing – the world in which our products and our competitors’ products exist, the problems that the products are trying solve, the things at which our users are trying to kick ass – and blog, tweet and use social media about that
    • Getting WOM (Word-of-Mouth) may be the social marketers’ holy grail, but the true goal is WOFO – Word of [Effing] Obvious.
      • If your users are so good, you get WOFO.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


24 Years of Windows Packaging and Boot Screens

TechRadar UK is publishing a series of “Windows 7 Week” articles, some of which take a look back at the history of Windows. One of the articles presents a timeline of Windows packaging, from version 1.0 to 7:


…and another is a chronology of Windows’ boot screens:


This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Explore Design ‘09

explore design

I’m going to be “booth-bunnying” today and tomorrow at the Microsoft area of the Explore Design fair, which bills itself as “North America’s first design education fair for youth”. It’s an event where young people can find out about the creative, technical and career possibilities offered by the field of design. There’s a wide range of design disciplines represented at Explore Design, including:

  • Video/game design
  • Furniture design
  • Architectural design
  • Industrial design
  • Textile design
  • Fashion design
  • Interior design
  • Graphic design

Explore Design takes place today and tomorrow (Wednesday, October 14th and Thursday, October 15th) at the South Building of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. I’m going to be spending most of my booth-bunnying near the XBoxes, where I’ll be talking about XNA and Xbox Live Indie Games.

Depending on the internet access situation at the Convention Centre and how busy it gets at the booth, I’ll be posting dispatches either from Explore Design during the day or in the evening once I get back home. Watch this space!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Who’s Got .NET Framework 3.5?

Alexander McCabe wanted to know the adoption rates of the various .NET runtimes, from .NET 1.0 up to the current .NET 3.5. He took the data from the logs for the website for his quiz-building software, Question Writer, augmented it by including figures published in Joel Spolsky’s Business of Software forum in March 2008, and turned it into the chart below (click on it to see it at full size):

Chart showing .NET Runtime Versions Used by Visitors to the Question Writer Site, March 2008 and May 2009 - October 2009

According to the chart, usage of .NET 3.5 among visitors to the Question Writer site has been growing in leaps and bounds since the spring, from just under 22% in May of this year to the current 52%.

Naturally, this data comes with all sorts of caveats:

  • The October 2009 data is based on the first 12 days of October.
  • Only Internet Explorer reliably reports .NET version information in the user-agent string.
  • McCabe has a couple of contradictory explanations:
    • IE users may be more likely to have .NET installed because they use Microsoft software.
    • IE users may be less likely to have .NET installed because they may be less likely to install software and therefore might be less likely to have .NET installed.
  • Question Writer uses the .NET runtime and its site’s visitors may have .NET installed.
  • There were a few users using .NET 4.0; McCabe counted them as .NET 3.5 users.

I should try the same exercise using the logs for Global Nerdy, which has a rather mixed audience of open source, Mac and Microsoft types. I wonder how different the results would be.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.