Free Online Training for Windows Phone 7 Development

Bob Caswell from Microsoft’s Learning division told me about some free online training that’s available for developers wanting to get a head-start on Windows Phone 7 Development. Here’s the skinny from the Born to Learn blog:

Get Trained for FREE – Windows Phone 7 Jump Start

Windows Phone 7 Jump Start is a FREE virtual live class for developers interested in developing applications and games for Windows Phone 7.  The course is organized into four virtual instructor-led sessions that are of 3-hour duration.  They will be presented by forthcoming MS Press authors and MVP’s, Andy Wigley and Rob Miles. It will provide developers a jump start for developing Windows Phone 7 applications.  The labs will be completed offline with office hours access to the instructors.

The dates for these course sessions are:

  • July 20 – 11am (EST) / 8am (PST): Session One: Getting Started with Microsoft Windows Phone and Silverlight
  • July 20 – 4pm (EST) / 1pm (PST): Session Two: Programming Game Applications with XNA
  • July 22 – 11am (EST) / 8am (PST): Session Three:  Programming Applications with Silverlight
  • July 22 – 4pm (EST) / 1pm (PST): Session Four:  Review and Wrap Up

Space is limited, so go register for the course now!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


The Hot Dog That Got Away and Why You Should Register for TechDays 2010 Now

The Hot Dog That Got Away

Back in September, while we were setting up for TechDays Toronto 2009 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, John Bristowe and I noticed two of these machines:

Hot dog vending machine

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you, and no, it’s not Photoshoppery – it’s an actual hot dog vending machine. Better still, it doesn’t make just one kind of hot dog, but as you can see in the close-up below, it makes three different kinds!

3 buttons: "Jumbo beef hot dog", "Spicy Italian sausage" and "Jumbo chicken hot dog"

Duuuude,” said John, “we have got to try this,” and I agreed. We’re programmers, and as such, we cannot resist junk food from a vending machine, especially junk food we’d never expect to come from a vending machine.

However, being the responsible conference track leads that we were, we had to take care of the business of running TechDays first. So we decided to try a hot dog from the machine later in the day, once things were running smoothly and when could take a break. Our plan was to record a video of us ordering and eating the vending machine hot dogs, post it online, achieve Justin Bieber levels of fame, get movie deals and become rich beyond our wildest dreams.

As you have probably guessed, that never happened. We returned later in the day, with thoughts of vending machine hot dogs in our heads, only to discover that in the interim, the machines had been taken away. We missed out because we’d waited too long.

Captain Kirk yelling "Khaaaaaaan!"

The TechDays Early Bird Rate: $349.99

Unlike those vending machine hot dogs, TechDays is good for you. You could sum up Techdays in a number of ways, including this:

TechDays is... content from premium, far-away conferences (tweaked and updated, of course), prepared and presented by "local heroes", at venues close to home, at a price that won't break your budget, plus extra events, networking opportunities and goodies for developers and IT pros to enjoy!

Taking place this fall in eight cities across Canada (in chronological order: Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Halifax, Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg and Calgary), TechDays 2010 is Microsoft Canada’s big cross-country conference for developers and IT pros who want to learn how to get the most out of Microsoft tools and technologies. It’s also an opportunity to get to network with your tech community peers and get to know us as well.

TechDays is a two-day conference featuring six tracks comprising over 50 sessions based on those from the very big (and very expensive) TechEd North America conference. At its regular price, it’s a pretty good deal. At the early bird price of $349.99 – about half off the regular price – it’s a great deal.

Like those vending machine hot dogs, the TechDays early bird rate is available for a limited time. You can register at the early bird price for any TechDays city’s conference up until six weeks before that conference. After that, you’ll have to pay full price. (For example, TechDays Vancouver takes place on September 14th and 15th, which means the early bird price will not be available after the end of July.)

Don’t wait too long and miss out on the early bird rate! Register for TechDays today!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Windows Phone 7 Bootcamp

Devvin' for Seven: Windows Phone 7 DevelopmentYou’ve seen the announcement and perhaps you’ve downloaded the beta of the Windows Phone 7 dev tools (if you haven’t, do it now!)

Click here to download WP7 Developer Tools Beta

Now that you’ve got the tools, what’s next? Will they just lie there, dormant on your hard drive, or are you going to use them and be a trailblazer on a brand new mobile platform?

Windows Phone 7 Bootcamp: Montreal (August 23 - 24), Vancouver (August 30 - 31), Ottawa (September 2 - 3), Toronto (September 7 - 8)

If you’re looking for intense training with personal attention by a highly-rated presenter with Silverlight and cloud development expertise, you’ll want to check out DevTeach’s Windows Phone 7 Bootcamps. They’re being presented by Colin Melia, who’s presented at TechDays, wrote the Silverlight demo app that we used for the EnergizeIT tour and is one of our go-to guys for Windows Azure – simply put, the guy knows his stuff.

BootThe Windows Phone 7 Bootcamps are serious courses – two full days of in-class hands-on training in which Colin will explain the Windows Phone 7 platform and especially Silverlight as it runs on Windows Phone, with all the details on Silverlight programming techniques, controls, templates, styling, resources, animation, data binding, navigation, interfaces and all those things you need to know about to build a mobile app. The course will mostly cover the Silverlight side of Windows Phone development, although there will be a section on game development with XNA.

If you’re a busy developer who’s having trouble setting aside time to learn all those separate bits that go into Windows Phone development – Silverlight, calling on web services, the Windows Phone-specific APIs, using information for sensors such as GPS and accelerometers and dealing with the constraints of mobile devices – this course is well worth the money. It’ll give you the kick start you start writing apps and capitalize on the wide-open marketplace of Windows Phone apps.

Windows Phone 7 "People" hubThe bootcamps take place in the following cities on the following dates:

  • Montreal: Monday, August 23 and Tuesday, August 24 at the Microsoft office
  • Vancouver: Monday, August 30 and Tuesday, August 31 at the Sutton Place Hotel
  • Ottawa: Thursday, September 2 and Friday, September 3 at the Microsoft office
  • Toronto: Tuesday, September 7 and Wednesday, September 8 at Microsoft’s downtown office

The registration fee is CDN$999 for the full-day training session, and you can save $100 by using the discount code WP7BOOTCAMP when you register. I repeat:

Save $100 with this code: WP7BOOTCAMP

For the full details on the Windows Phone 7 Bootcamp, see the Windows Phone 7 Bootcamp page.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Now in Beta: Windows Phone Developer Tools!

Devvin' for Seven: Windows Phone 7 DevelopmentThe announcement went out earlier today: the Windows Phone Developer Tools have moved from the CTP ("Community Technical Preview”) phase to Beta (“Almost There!”). As Brandon Watson wrote in the Windows Phone Developer Blog, “This Beta release represents the near final version of the tools for building applications and games for Windows Phone 7.”

Go ahead, go and download it! Click the big graphic link below. You know you want to.

click here to download wp7 developer tools beta

Make sure you uninstall previous versions of Windows Phone Developer Tools before you install the beta.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Techmeme: One-Stop Tech News and Your Ticket to Nerd Rock Stardom


One of the bits of advice that Scott Hanselman gave in our interview with him on Ignite Your Coding  was that a good way to stay on top of all the things happening in the tech world is “follow the aggregators” – the people who take the time to comb through all the tech news and collect it into a single place. I hope that you consider this blog one of your aggregators.

Even aggregators rely on other aggregators, and this one has relied on Techmeme for the longest time (since writing for Canadian Developer Connection since 2009 and Global Nerdy since 2006). Techmeme is Gabe Rivera’s ever-updating “Page One” powered by news crawlers and a human editorial board featuring breaking tech news stories and commentaries on those stories, from big tech news sites to tech blogs (ranging from big, corporate-funded ones to one-person developer blogs). I hit Techmeme several times a day and have found it incredibly useful in all sorts of ways, and it’s nice to see Gabe and Techmeme get their due in the New York Times article Techmeme Offers Tech News at Internet Speed.

Not Just the Story, But the Stories Around the Story

One of the great things about Techmeme is where it leads you. Not only do the big tech stories of the moment appear on Techmeme, but so do stories that link to that story. As a result, you get not just what’s going on, but also links to articles that follow up on, expand, provide context for and even counterpoint to that story.

Here’s a screen shot of a story featured on Techmeme last week, Mary Jo Foley’s article on WebMatrix:

anatomy of a techmeme story

Mary Jo’s article, Microsoft takes aim at Web developers with new WebMatrix tool suite, appears at the top. Below it, in the section titled “Discussion”, are all the blogs that link to Mary Jo’s article. Each of these discussion articles provides some additional context, often with a different angle, from the developer-specific angles covered by Scott “ScottGu” Guthrie and me (in the 3rd article in the discussion list) to the overview angle provided by Ars Technica to the managerial angles provided by Softpedia News and Betanews. You’ll often see disagreeing points of view as well. This “story plus discussion” approach is often very useful for getting a better picture and broader perspective of what’s going on.

Okay, What About the “Your Ticket to Nerd Rock Stardom” Part?

Star Wars Rock

According to the New York Times article, Techmeme has a reach of about 260,000 readers and get 3 million pageviews a month. Its Alexa traffic rank worldwide is 7,845 (out of all the web pages in the world, it is the 7,845th most popular) and its traffic rank in the U.S. is 2,954 (the 2,954th most popular site for U.S. readers). How can you harness that power for yourself?

The trick is a simple one: it’s to get Techmeme to mention your blog articles in the “Discussion” section for its stories, or better still, make one of your articles a featured article. Once that happens a couple of times, you’ll notice that your readership will grow from the “Techmeme bump” and if you play your cards right, all sorts of opportunities will follow. It’s worked for me at Global Nerdy, which often gets listed in “Discussion” lists for Techmeme articles and has had a few articles as feature articles, and it’s grown from zero readers in 2006 to getting 1.6 million pageviews (1.3 million unique) in 2009.

How do you get noticed by Techmeme? I gave away this secret back in 2006, in an article titled Jason Calacanis Swiped Our 5-Step Plan for Becoming an A-Lister! It goes as follows:

  1. Go to Techmeme.
  2. Blog something intelligent about the top story of the day.
  3. Link to and mention all the people who have said something intelligent.
  4. Repeat for 30 days.
  5. Go to a couple of conferences a month.

(And to get noticed by Techmeme, you can ignore step 5. But attending conference helps in all sorts of ways too. Did I mention that TechDays is coming?)

That’s all there is to it: find featured articles in Techmeme, write something intelligent about it in your blog (don’t forget to link to the article!) and keep doing it. Like a lot of other things in tech, as long as you’ve got the threshold amount of smarts, it’s all about perseverance.

If you take on this challenge, let me know how it goes!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


TWC9: WebMatrix, Razor, Debug MSBuild Files and Beer-Fetching Robots

Get Microsoft Silverlight

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

This Week in Channel 9 logoAnother week, another This Week on Channel 9 (TWC9), Microsoft’s regular webcast showing the past week’s highlight on Channel 9, where Microsofties talk about what they’re working on or what they’re thinking, unfiltered by the marketing or PR departments. Regular co-host Dan Fernandez is joined this week by Larry Larsen as they talk about:

The co-hosts’ picks of the week are:

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


A “Whiteboard Jam” on Monads and Coordinate Systems

And now, a left turn into Theoryland! Don’t worry, it’s good for your brain, and might even change the way you look at your day-to-day programming.

Get Microsoft Silverlight

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

Here’s the latest in Channel 9’s “Expert to Expert” series of videos – a “whiteboard jam” between two big brains:

Here’s the abstract for the video:

The idea for the format of this conversation is simple: put two geniuses together, give them each a whiteboard and some markers, and see what happens. It’s much like free jazz: expert improvisation, seriously geeked-out whiteboard jamming.

The content theme for this episode — Monads as coordinate systems–is not simple. To grok this, we need to think in three dimensions: programming, physics and mathematics. But don’t worry. Brian and Greg do not expect to be jamming in front of only fellow experts. This is Channel 9, after all, and there are many different levels of knowledge out there amongst our Niner population. Accordingly, you will not feel as though you’re watching something in a language you don’t speak. That said, you should possess interests in the theoretical, in mathematics, and in physics, and an overall appreciation for learning new things.

Monads are often used in functional programming – they’re structures that describe a flow of control and data (ff you’re a SharePoint person or have developed using WF, you might want to think of them as distant cousins of workflows). As the practical upshot of Moore’s Law has shifted from “doubling in speed about every couple of years” to “doubling in cores about every couple of years” and shows no sign of shifting back, functional programming and what it offers to parallel programming are becoming increasingly important. So don’t pass by this video thinking that it’ll never apply to you – there’s a chance it might.

Explanations of monads for non-functional programmers include:

(Perhaps I should buttonhole Reg “Raganwald” Braithwaite into providing us with a nice beginner’s explanation of monads. Would you folks like that?)

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.