Dive Into HTML 5

dive into html 5

If you’ve decided to learn HTML 5 and are looking for a good introduction, I can’t think of a better starting point than Mark Pilgrim’s Dive Into HTML 5. If Mark’s name rings a bell, it’s probably because you’ve heard of his books Dive Into Python and Dive Into Accessibility. As you can see, he’s taken a theme and he’s running with it.

Dive Into HTML 5 covers a number of topics, including:

Mark has a knack for explaining things, so I’m always happy to point people to his books. I consider Dive Into HTML 5 to be pretty comprehensive; you could create a course based solely on the material in this book, and thanks to the licensing, you can!

Dive Into HTML 5 is available for free online and is a work in progress. It seems to be largely complete with only a couple of missing chapters, and when it’s done, it’ll be available in a couple of forms:

  • For free, online
  • For money, in the form of an O’Reilly book

As with Dive Into Python and Dive Into Accessibility, Dive Into HTML 5 is published under a Creative Commons “By” 3.0 license. You can freely share the contents of the book and even take it and adapt it any way you please: into your presentations, into a lecture or blog article series, or even your own book on HTML 5 – as long as you give Mark credit for creating the original work.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


IE’s Big Leap Forward

"nine" spelled using the IE logo for the "e"Peter-Paul “ppk” Koch writes in his blog, QuirksBlog (which lives on his site, QuirksMode):

In the past few days I’ve been revising the CSS compatibility table with information about the latest crop of browsers. There’s no doubt about it: this is IE9’s show. It just supports nearly everything. No hassle, no buts.

Microsoft has finally taken the big leap forward we’ve been waiting for ever since they announced their decision to restart IE development back in 2005.

IE9 promises to be an excellent browser. Its CSS support is now at par with that of the other browsers — although each browser still has its specific areas where it performs less. But we cannot in good faith say that IE is behind the others any more.

In the article, he does a run-down of CSS selectors and finds that the upcoming IE9 does an excellent job of supporting them.

Go take IE9 for a spin – download Platform Preview 3 and try it out – and make sure to try your hand at CSS 3 as well!

Download IE9 Platform Preview 3 now!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Conflict Minerals and Blood Tech

conflict minerals

Say the word “silicon” and chances are, you’ll think of technology. After all, silicon’s relationship to tech – it’s part of what makes transistors and chips – has been part of popular culture for decades, from the “Silicon chip inside her head” opening line from the Boomtown Rats’ song I Don’t Like Mondays to “Silicon Valley” as the nickname for the suburban expanse between San Francisco and San Jose.

Silicon is only part of the equation, however. The chips that drive our computers, mobile phones and assorted electronica are actually a “layer cake” consisting not only of silicon, but also oxide and metal.

There’s also the matter of key non-chip components like capacitors, which momentarily store an electrical charge. They’re made of thin layers of conductive metal separated by a thin layer of insulator. We use their “buffering” capabilities to smooth out “spiky” electrical currents, filter through signal interference, pick out a specific frequency from a spectrum of them and other “cleaning up” operations.

One of the metals used in the manufacture of capacitors is tantalum, which you can extract from a metal ore called coltan, whose name is short for “columbite-tantalite”. About 20% of the world’s supply of tantalum comes from Congo, and proceeds of from the sale of coltan are how their warlords – the scum driving the world’s most vicious conflict, and who’ve turned the country into the rape capital of the world – are bankrolled.

Nichloas Kristof of the New York Times wrote about metals like tantalum purchased from Congo – conflict metals – in an op-ed yesterday:

I’ve never reported on a war more barbaric than Congo’s, and it haunts me. In Congo, I’ve seen women who have been mutilated, children who have been forced to eat their parents’ flesh, girls who have been subjected to rapes that destroyed their insides. Warlords finance their predations in part through the sale of mineral ore containing tantalum, tungsten, tin and gold. For example, tantalum from Congo is used to make electrical capacitors that go into phones, computers and gaming devices.

Electronics manufacturers have tried to hush all this up. They want you to look at a gadget and think “sleek,” not “blood.”

Yet now there’s a grass-roots movement pressuring companies to keep these “conflict minerals” out of high-tech supply chains. Using Facebook and YouTube, activists are harassing companies like Apple, Intel and Research in Motion (which makes the BlackBerry) to get them to lean on their suppliers and ensure the use of, say, Australian tantalum rather than tantalum peddled by a Congolese militia.

He also points to the Enough Project’s latest video, which used humour and a reference to the “I’m a Mac / I’m a PC” TV commercials to draw the public’s attention to conflict metals and to encourage them to contact electronics manufacturers and ask them to be more vigilant when sourcing components:

The Enough Project says that auditing component supply chains at the smelters to see whether the metal was sources from “clean” places like Australia or Canada instead of lining the pockets of Congolese warlords would add about one cent to the price of a cellphone, and that this figure originates from within the industry. I’d happily pay a thousand times that for each of my devices – a mere ten bucks – to ensure that I wasn’t bankrolling rape and murder.

I’ll close this post with the closing paragraph from Kristof’s op-ed:

We may be able to undercut some of the world’s most brutal militias simply by making it clear to electronics manufacturers that we don’t want our beloved gadgets to enrich sadistic gunmen. No phone or tablet computer can be considered “cool” if it may be helping perpetuate one of the most brutal wars on the planet.

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


Internet Explorer 9 Videos on Channel 9

nine on 9By now, you’ve probably seen my article covering the new, faster, even more standards-compliant Platform Preview 3 of Internet Explorer 9. From hardware acceleration to a speed-boosted JavaScript engine with support for new ECMAScript 5 language features to support for SVG, <audio>, <video> and <canvas> tags, IE9 is shaping up to be a great browser for an open web.

Before there were Microsoft blogs (such as Canadian Developer Connection), there was Channel 9, Microsoft’s community site run by Microsoft employees. Like Microsoft blogs, Channel 9 gives you unfiltered access to the people building stuff at The Empire, all outside the control of the marketing and PR departments. Channel 9 features a lot of videos – there are times when they post several videos in a day – featuring developer news and training, training kits and courses, discussion forums and wikis for various Microsoft tools and technologies. If you’re a .NET developer or just curious about what’s going on the in the .NET world, you should check out Channel 9 and see what’s happening.

Channel 9 posted a number of videos covering the new features in the third Platform Preview of Internet Explorer 9. I’ve gathered them all into this blog article – enjoy!

A Look at the New IE9 Demos

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Can’t see the video? You can download and install Silverlight or download the video in MP4, MP3, WMA, WMV, WMV (High) or Zune formats.

This video shows some of the sample apps living on the IE Test Drive site in action. It covers the following demos:

<canvas> and FishIE Tank

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Can’t see the video? You can download and install Silverlight or download the video in MP4, MP3, WMA, WMV, WMV (High) or Zune formats.

Here’s a closer look at the FishIE Tank demo and how it makes use of <canvas> to draw up to thousands of animated, moving, scaling fish sprites.

<canvas> and

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Can’t see the video? You can download and install Silverlight or download the video in MP4, MP3, WMA, WMV, WMV (High) or Zune formats.

Another <canvas> demo: Amazon Shelf. This one ties into Amazon’s data to create a virtual bookshelf that lets you browse Amazon’s catalogue of books.

<video> and IMDb Video Panorama

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Can’t see the video? You can download and install Silverlight or download the video in MP4, MP3, WMA, WMV, WMV (High) or Zune formats.

The IE9 team showed a preview of support for the <video> tag, and with Platform Preview 3, you can try it out for yourself. In this video, you see how it’s used to build the IMDb Video Panorama demo.

ECMAScript 5 and the Tile Game

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Can’t see the video? You can download and install Silverlight or download the video in MP4, MP3, WMA, WMV, WMV (High) or Zune formats.

There are lots of boring ways to show of ECMAScript 5’s new array methods in action, but why not show them off with a fun game? In addition to the new JavaScript goodies, the ECMAScript 5 Game demo also shows off:

  • HTML5 <video> and <audio>
  • CSS3 multiple backgrounds
  • HTML5 local storage (first made available in IE8)
  • DOM Level 3 events
  • <window.getComputedStyle()>

Download IE9 Platofmr Preview 3 now!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


.NET Rocks’ Live Weekend

dot net rocks live weekend

If you’re developing (or thinking of developing) on the .NET platform, you should make the .NET Rocks! show part of your regular podcast listening. Hosted by Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell, .NET Rocks! has nearly 600 episodes going all the way back to 2002 covering all sorts of .NET development topics for all sorts of developers, from newbie to grizzled veteran.

This week, .NET Rocks! is doing something special – they’re holding a Live Weekend filled with three days’ worth of live conversations with people from inside and outside the .NET world. It’s not just all geek talk, either: during breaks, they’ll play music produced at Pwop studios and on Monday night from 9:30 to midnight, Carl’s band, Solvo, will play.

You can call in! The “inside the US” toll-free number is 877-492-6751 and the “outside the US” number is 860-447-8832 (you can try the “inside the US” number in Canada and see if it works). If you’d rather write in, send an email to or tweet using the #dnrlive hashtag.

Click here to listen to .NET rocks live weekend

The Schedule

Saturday, June 26th

Time What’s On
8 – 9 a.m. Patrick Hynds
9 – 10 a.m. Michele Leroux Bustamante
10 – 11 a.m. Rob Howard
11 a.m. – 12 noon Stephen Toub
12 noon – 1 p.m. Music and Comedy
1 – 2 p.m. James Kovacs
2 – 3 p.m. Don Demsak
3 – 4 p.m. Daniel Egan
4 – 5 p.m. Brian Randell
5 – 6 p.m. Tim Huckaby
6 – 7 p.m. Chris Sells
7 – 8 p.m. Music and Comedy
8 – 9 p.m. Daniel Simmons
9 – 10 p.m. Brian Noyes
10 – 11 p.m. Patrick Hynds (repeat)
11 – 12 midnight Michele Leroux Bustamante (repeat)


Sunday, June 27th

Time What’s On
12 midnight – 1 a.m. Rob Howard (repeat)
1 – 2 a.m. Stephen Toub (repeat)
2 – 3 a.m. James Kovacs (repeat)
3 – 4 a.m. Don Demsak (repeat)
4 – 5 a.m. Daniel Egan (repeat)
5 – 6 a.m. Brian Randell (repeat)
6 – 7 a.m. Tim Huckaby (repeat)
7 – 8 a.m. Chris Sells (repeat)
8 – 9 a.m. Carl and Richard
9 – 10 a.m. Charles Petzold
10 – 11 a.m. Sahil Malik
11 a.m. – 12 noon Mark Dunn
12 noon – 1 p.m. Music and Comedy
1 – 2 p.m. Andrew Brust
2 – 3 p.m. Glenn Block
3 – 4 p.m. Ethan Winer
4 – 5 p.m. Mary Jo Foley
5 – 6 p.m. Kent Alstad
6 – 7 p.m. Keith Elder
7 – 8 p.m. Music and Comedy
8 – 9 p.m. Mark Miller
9 – 10 p.m. John Bristowe
10 – 11 p.m. Daniel Simmons (repeat)
11 – 12 midnight Brian Noyes (repeat)


Monday, June 28th

Time What’s On
12 midnight – 1 a.m. Carl and Richard (repeat)
1 – 2 a.m. Charles Petzold (repeat)
2 – 3 a.m. Sahil Malik (repeat)
3 – 4 a.m. Mark Dunn (repeat)
4 – 5 a.m. Andrew Brust (repeat)
5 – 6 a.m. Glenn Block (repeat)
6 – 7 a.m. Ethan Winer (repeat)
7 – 8 a.m. Mary Jo Foley (repeat)
8 – 9 a.m. Kent Alstad (repeat)
9 – 10 a.m. Jonathan Zuck
10 – 11 a.m. Jeffrey Palermo
11 a.m. – 12 noon Steve Evans
12 noon – 1 p.m. Music and Comedy
1 – 2 p.m. Scott Stanfield
2 – 3 p.m. Ted Neward
3 – 4 p.m. Tim Heuer
4 – 5 p.m. Miguel Castro
5 – 6 p.m. Les Pinter
6 – 7 p.m. Billy Hollis
7 – 8 p.m. Music and Comedy
8 – 9 p.m. Rocky Lhotka
9:30 p.m. – 12 midnight Solvo (Carl’s Band) Live!


Tuesday, June 29th

Time What’s On
12 midnight – 1 a.m. Keith Elder (repeat)
1 – 2 a.m. Mark Miller (repeat)
2 – 3 a.m. John Bristowe (repeat)
3 – 4 a.m. Jonathan Zuck (repeat)
4 – 5 a.m. Jeffrey Palermo (repeat)
5 – 6 a.m. Steve Evans (repeat)
6 – 7 a.m. Scott Stanfield (repeat)
7 – 8 a.m. Ted Neward (repeat)
8 – 9 a.m. Tim Heuer (repeat)
4 – 5 p.m. Miguel Castro (repeat)
5 – 6 p.m. Les Pinter (repeat)
6 – 7 p.m. Billy Hollis (repeat)
8 – 9 p.m. Rocky Lhotka (repeat)
3 – 6 p.m. Solvo (Carl’s Band) Live!


This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Windows Phone 7 Bootcamp: Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto

windows phone 7 bootcamp

Want some hardcore training from a developer who’s been doing Windows Phone 7 development since the tools were released in March? Then you’ll want to check out DevTeach’s Windows Phone 7 Bootcamp, taking place late this summer in Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto.

The Windows Phone 7 Bootcamp is an intense two-day training session run by indie training conference organizers DevTeach and will be hosted by Colin Melia, principal architect for DreamDigital. Colin’s knows a lot about Silverlight and cloud technologies and will share this knowledge at the Bootcamp, showing you how to make great mobile user interfaces as well as how to write phone apps that harness the power of networked-based services such as notification and location services as well as data access and isolated storage.

save 100 with WP&BOOTCAMP codeWhat You’ll Need to Know

Colin’s going to dive right into the nitty-gritty of developing apps for Windows Phone 7, and there’s quite a bit of material to cover, so you should at least be familiar with the following to get the most out of the Bootcamp:

  • Visual Studio 2008 or 2010
    (You can familiarize yourself with these by downloading the free Visual C# 2010 Express or Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone)
  • The C# programming language, or something similar
    (If you’re a Java developer you should find the transition pretty easy; developers using other object-oriented programming languages shouldn’t have too much difficulty following C#)
  • The .NET programming framework
    (Actually, pretty easy to grasp, especially with the assistance of Visual Studio)
  • XML
    (A basic understanding will do)

What You Won’t Need to Know

You won’t need to have any experience with Silverlight or phone development – the Bootcamp’s covering that!

What You’ll Need to Bring

one laptop will do

You’ll need to bring your own laptop running Windows 7 or Vista SP2 with “an appropriate up-to-date set of tools installed and functioning”. That means Visual Studio 2010 or at least Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone.

When and Where?

The Windows Phone 7 Bootcamps will be limited to 25 seats in order for you to be able to interact better with Colin, so register as soon as you can! They’ll be taking place in these cities:

  • Montreal: Monday, August 23 and Tuesday, August 24 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel
  • Vancouver: Monday, August 30 and Tuesday, August 31 at the Sutton Place Hotel
  • Ottawa: Thursday, September 2 and Friday, September 3 at a location to be announced
  • Toronto: Tuesday, September 7 and Wednesday, September 8 at a location to be announced

The registration fee is CAD$999 for the two-day training session, and you can save $100 by providing the discount code WP7BOOTCAMP when you register.

For More Information

If you’d like to know more about the Windows Phone 7 Bootcamp, visit DevTeach’s site, and particularly their special page devoted to the Bootcamp.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


IE9’s Hardware-Accelerated Canvas in Action

As announced in yesterday’s posting, Platform Preview 3 of Internet Explorer 9 is out, and it’s faster than snakes on ice. Some of the credit goes to “Chakra”, the new JavaScript engine, and some of it goes to IE9’s hardware acceleration, which bypasses the layers of abstraction between your web app and the “metal” (namely, your browser, and then the underlying OS).

Download Squad have posted a video showing IE9 Platform Preview 3 blazing past Chrome 6 in side-by-side sessions of the “FishIE Tank” canvas demo. Even on my “medium performance” machine – a Dell Latitude XT2 tablet whose graphics card gets a 3.2 on the Windows Experience Index – I have to push the fish count to 250 before the frame rate drops below 30 fps. Here’s a screenshot taken from that laptop running FishIE Tank, rendering 250 constantly moving and scaling fish sprites between 22 and 29 fps:

fishIE tanks screen shot

The Mr. Potato Gun canvas test is amusing. You load a reasonable facsimile of a popular toy into a potato gun, pull the trigger and watch the hapless tuber’s components fly all over the screen:

mr potato gun

Here’s a demo featuring a more practical use of canvas: Amazon Shelf, which presents a bookshelf of some of’s current bestsellers:

amazon shelf 1

Click on a book in Amazon Shelf to get a better look at its cover:

amazon shelf 2

Click on that cover and get the publisher’s blurb and customer ratings:

amazon shelf 3

Take IE9 out for a spin! Visit the IE9 Test Drive site, download IE9 Platform Preview 3 and hit some canvas-enabled sites.


This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.