In Ottawa This Week for TechDays

ottawa bound

I’m on VIA Rail train 42, bound for Ottawa as I write this. As a student at Crazy Go Nuts University (some of you may know it by its other name, Queen’s) with friends and family in the Toronto/Ottawa/Montreal triangle, riding on VIA was a ritual in which I partook at least a half-dozen times a year. If I were to go solely by outward appearances, my student self – I was a student from 1987 to 1994 – would recognize just about everything on this train car; to my eye, it looks exactly the same as a circa-1994 one does, except for two things: the power outlets and the sticker above the window announcing the availability of wifi.

TechDays Ottawa, the Ottawa edition of Microsoft’s cross-country conference from developers and IT pros, starts tomorrow. Hence my presence on this train: I’m heading to the nation’s capital to help the conference along with my fellow evangelists Damir Bersinic, Rick Claus and Christian Beauclair. Once you factor in the travel to and from airports, the airport security dance and all the waiting around you have to do, the time difference between travelling from Toronto to Ottawa by train isn’t all that difference from getting there via plane. Within 15 minutes of arriving at Union Station’s front door, I’d acquired my ticket, bought breakfast, taken my seat on the train, fored up my laptop and gone online.

via rail speedtest resultsFor those of you curious about the wifi on the train, reports that that I’m getting a download speed of 0.77 Mb/s and an upload speed of 0.76 Mb/s (you can see their report to the right). It’s usable for email, web, social networking and even for testing networked Windows Phone 7 apps in the emulator. It’s certainly not for downloading large files, and they block access to high-bandwidth sites like YouTube. It’s still better than the complete lack of internet access on most flight, and if I had higher-bandwidth needs, I could always switch to my internet stick.

I’m making a mental note to favour the train for any business trips to Ottawa or Montreal. This is especially useful for Montreal. since their Gare Centrale is right under the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, Microsoft Canada’s preferred hotel.

The train left Toronto at 9:30 and will arrive in Ottawa’s so-called “Downtown” station at around 2:00 p.m.. VIA Rail is playing a little fast and loose by calling the Ottawa’s main train station “downtown”, but for my purposes, it’s at a convenient location: TechDays Ottawa’s venue is the Hampton Inn Conference Centre on Coventry Road, which is barely a kilometre away.

This afternoon, I’ll be helping set up the presentation rooms, hooking up the presentation computers for both developer tracks (Developing for Three Screens and the Cloud and Optimizing the Development Process) as well as the Local Flavours track, and then heading to speaker dinner later this evening to catch up with the presenters. Tuesday and Wednesday will be all TechDays, all the time, with Day 1 being a 14-hour day starting with the professional-focused TechDays during the day and the student-focused Go DevMental conference in the evening. Day 2 is a relatively languid 10 hours. Thursday puts me on a return trip to Toronto, this time in the form of a road trip with Damir, my road-tripping buddy from last year’s TechDays.

Watch this space for more reports from TechDays and the road!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


40% Off Selected .NET Manning Books!

40 percent off Manning NET books

From now until November 10th, you can save 40% off a a large selection of books on .NET by Manning Publications! If you’ve been meaning to learn about developing for or with C#, Silverlight, Azure, Entity Framework, PowerShell, SharePoint or Windows Phone 7, Manning’s got the books and you can save money on them.

I’ve listed the applicable books and quick descriptions below. To get the discount, purchase the books from Manning’s site and enter the discount code n540 into the “Promotional Code” box when you check out.

Core .NET

C# in Depth, Second Edition: Guru Jon Skeet teaches you the techniques you’ll need to move from being a competent C# developer to tapping the full potential of the language–including the new C# 4 features. Mastering these techniques will make you a more valuable C# developer.

Azure in Action: Designed both for readers new to cloud concepts and for those familiar with cloud development but new to Azure, this book guides you all the way from your first app through more advanced concepts of the Windows Azure Platform.

Entity Framework 4 in Action: Written for Entity Framework 4! Through small examples and larger case studies this book presents the ORM model and shows you how EF offers a smooth transition from a traditional ADO.NET approach.

Multitouch on Windows (MEAP): This hands-on guide prepares you to create natural user interfaces (NUI) and great multi-touch experiences using the WPF and Surface APIs.


Silverlight 4 in Action: The definitive guide to Silverlight 4! Take a mind-expanding trip through the technology, features, and techniques required to build applications ranging from media, to custom experiences, to business applications, to games.

Hello! Silverlight (MEAP): Fast-paced, entertaining introduction to Silverlight. Authors Bill Reiss and Dave Campbell guide you hands-on from your first Hello World example through the techniques you’ll use to add life to your web applications. Examples are based on Silverlight 4.


ASP.NET MVC 2 in Action: Fully updated for ASP.NET MVC 2, this new edition will help you build MVC-based applications using the latest version of Microsoft’s ASP.NET MVC framework. After a quick review, you dive head first into practical real-world topics and examples.

ASP.NET 4.0 in Practice (MEAP): Using a practical Problem-Solution-Discussion format, this book guides you through the most common scenarios you will face in a typical ASP.NET application, and provides solutions and suggestions to make you super-productive.

jQuery in Action, Second Edition: New edition of the bestselling jQuery book! This fast-paced guide introduces the jQuery library and shows you how to traverse HTML documents, handle events, perform animations, and add Ajax to your web pages.

Best Practices

Continuous Integration in .NET: Reimagine your development strategy by creating a consistent continuous integration process. Build on the tools you already know, .NET Framework and Visual Studio, along with MSBuild, Subversion, TFS 2010, Team City, NUnit, and Selenium.

Dependency Injection in .NET (MEAP): Dependency Injection is a pattern for creating loosely-coupled code that’s easier to maintain and resistant to change. This book introduces DI and presents practical examples using open source tools along with Microsoft’s latest technologies.

Brownfield Application Development in .NET: Don’t just maintain your legacy software–leverage your investments by adding new features and better functionality. Learn patterns and techniques for blending new development with existing systems.

The Art of Unit Testing: Using .NET examples, guru Roy Osherove teaches you to build practical and maintainable tests and presents best practices for frameworks, mock objects, and testing against a database.

DSLs in Boo: Domain Specific Languages, or DSLs, create a special coding vocabulary so your code expresses the intent of the application. In this book, Oren Eini, aka Ayende Rahien, introduces DSL concepts and how to apply them in the Boo language.

PowerShell, SQL Server and SharePoint

Windows PowerShell in Action, Second Edition (MEAP): PowerShell transformed the way administrators and developers interact with Windows. This updated second edition covers new developments, including Remoting, Modules, Events and Transactions, and the PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment.

PowerShell in Practice: Hands-on, cookbook-style reference intended for administrators wanting to use PowerShell. Written from an administrator’s perspective, it concentrates on using PowerShell for practical tasks and automation.

SQL Server DMVs in Action (MEAP): Build better queries and improve performance using dynamic management views. This practical guide shows you how to obtain, interpret, and act on the information captured by DMVs to keep your system in top shape.

SQL Server 2008 Administration in Action: This must-have handbook for SQL Server DBAs covers all areas of SQL Server administration–from installation to disaster recovery. Learn hard-won (and hard-to-find) techniques and guidance based on years of DBA experience.

SQL Server MVP Deep Dives: This is no ordinary SQL Server book. 53 MVPs each pick an area of passionate interest to them and then share their insights and practical know-how with you. Author royalties go to support War Child International.

SharePoint 2010 Web Parts in Action (MEAP): This comprehensive guide covers everything from the basic foundations to how you can use web parts to implement robust, scalable, maintainable and user-friendly SharePoint applications.

SharePoint 2010 Workflows in Action: Hands-on tutorial that guides SharePoint developers and power users from workflow fundamentals and all the way to advanced techniques for complex workflow requirements.

SharePoint 2010 Site Owner’s Manual (MEAP): Build powerful SharePoint sites with no code. The book shows you how to get the most out of SharePoint without having to understand development or servers.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


You Say “Middle Age”, I Say “Mack Daddy Age”

Joey deVilla in a pimp outfitPhoto by Liz van Gerven.

I turn 43 today, and I don’t mind a single bit. My heels mind occasionally.

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


Windows Phone 7 Coffee and Code at Just Us! Café, Halifax

just us cafe

We’re holding a Windows Phone 7 Coffee and Code in Halifax on Thursday, November 4th at Just Us! Café (1678 Barrington Street) from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.. Come join us and learn about Windows Phone 7, see a Windows Phone and even try deploying apps to it!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Toronto Area SharePoint Saturday: Saturday November 13th at Microsoft Canada HQ

SharePoint Saturday: Saturday, November 13th - Mississauga

“Want a job? Learn SharePoint!” said the article in O’Reilly Radar last year. The U.S. and Canadian federal governments, banks, businesses and all manner of organizations with lots of people, projects and collaboration love SharePoint and are looking for developers. The natural follow-up to “Want a job? Learn SharePoint!” is Want to learn SharePoint? Come to SharePoint Saturday!

SharePoint Saturday takes place on Saturday, November 13th at Microsoft Canada’s headquarters in Mississauga (1950 Meadowvale Blvd., just off Mississauga Road, just north of Highway 401 and just south of Highway 407). It’s your chance to meet architects, developers, and other professionals who work with Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and 2007 and learn about it. SharePoint Saturday will be an educational, informative and lively day filled with sessions from respected SharePoint professionals and MVPs, covering a wide variety of SharePoint topics. Better still, SharePoint Saturday is FREE (you should register to attend), open to the public and your chance to immerse yourself in SharePoint!

For more information about SharePoint Saturday, visit the SharePoint Saturday site. To register, visit their registration page.

Click here to register for SharePoint Saturday

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


HTML and Silverlight are Friends with Benefits


For those of you who are still wondering about where Silverlight stands in the face of Microsoft’s increasing support for HTML5, I point you to this video which I recorded earlier this year: HTML5 and RIAs: Friends with Benefits. Bow-chicka-wah-wah!!!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


TechDays Halifax: November 2nd and 3rd

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.