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“Silverlight on the Silver Screen”: Two Days Away!

"Silver Thunder" parody poster for "Silverlight on the Silver Screen"

Don’t forget that Silverlight on the Silver Screen, ObjectSharp’s free seminar on Silverlight 3, Expression and SketchFlow takes place in Toronto this Thursday at the Scotiabank Theatre. If you’d like to learn more about the rich-UI applications that you can build with Silverlight 3 and Expression and how quickly you can design and prototype user interfaces and interactions using SketchFlow, you’re going to want to catch this event. For more details about this event, see my earlier article on Silverlight on the Silver Screen and the Silverlight on the Silver Screen official site.

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Silverlight on the Silver Screen: Thursday, July 9th in Toronto

Movie theatre with the Silverlight logo projected on the screen

The covers will be coming off our next generation of user experience tools and technologies on July 9th. That’s when Microsoft will be unveiling Silverlight 3, which gives you the all the goodness of RIA (Rich Internet Application, although you can use Silverlight to make desktop apps as well) with out the PITA (Pain In The Anterior regions).

To help promote Silverlight 3, we and our pals at ObjectSharp will be co-hosting Silverlight on the Silver Screen live at the Scotiabank Theatre (259 Richmond Street West, at John Street) in Toronto on the morning of Thursday, July 9th from 9:00 a.m. till noon (and yes, the event is free). The ObjectSharpies are early adopters of SIlverlight and have forgotten more about it than most people will ever learn. As seasoned pros, they’ll share their stories and wisdom about the next-gen version of Silverlight, as well as associated tech such as Expression Blend, SketchFlow and the touch technologies in Windows 7.

Joining them will be my friends from the DPE team, who’ll be there to talk about the opportunities offered by Microsoft’s “UX3” platform – they’re a great way for your development team and business to stand out in the crowd and give your customers a great user experience.

And yes, the accordion might make an appearance.

As I said earlier, the event is free and takes place on the morning of Thursday, July 9th. All you have to do to attend is register at the Silverlight on the Silver Screen page!

Movie poster-style banner for "Silverlight on the Silver Screen"

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“Canada’s Next Top Model View Controller” Presentation at Metro Toronto .NET User Group Next Thursday

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

Canada's Next Top Model (moose) View (Lake Louise) Controller (beaver)

If you’re going to be in the area of downtown Toronto next Thursday, May 28th, you might want to check out my presentation, Canada’s Next Top Model View Controller at the next Metro Toronto .NET User Group meeting. I’ll be talking about the ASP.NET MVC Framework, Microsoft’s answer to MVC frameworks like Ruby on Rails, Django, CakePHP and Catalyst. As is my stock in trade with presentations, this will be informative, enlightening, entertaining and just might feature a rock and roll accordion performance.

The presentation takes place Thursday, May 28th at 6:00 p.m. at the Manulife Financial Building (200 Bloor Street East, Toronto, between Church and Jarvis – use the entrance on St. Paul Square). Admission for the presentation is free, but you have to register, and as of this writing, only 24 tickets remain.

For more details about the presentation, visit the Metro Toronto .NET user group site.

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“Better Living Through Blogging”: The Slide Deck

Here’s the presentation I did at WordCamp Toronto 2009 this weekend, Better Living Through Blogging, in which I talk about how taking up blogging has paid off in all sorts of ways, from relationships to career to even saving my bacon.

Some Notes About the Deck

You’ve probably suffered through presentations whose slides look something like this:

who_am_i

I’m not a big fan of background templates in slides, but at least this one (from one of the themes provided in PowerPoint 2007) isn’t so bad. There are worse themes I could’ve picked, such as this one:

purple_theme

That’s just downright ugly.

I find that a plain black background with white text works best. The plain black background is simple, doesn’t interfere with or overpower your content, and works well with all sorts of room sizes, lighting conditions, projector types, projection surfaces and so on.

Whenever possible, I avoid putting the company logo at the bottom of every slide. It’s not a fight I’m always going to win, but I do my best to convince the guardians of corporate identity that the audience won’t forget the company name if we don’t beat the audience’s head with it on every slide. I think that it detracts from the presentation by drawing attention away from the content; I think that it also reeks of branding desperation. I think it’s enough to show the logo at the start and end.

Your slides are not cue cards. The purpose of standing in front of an audience is not to read aloud a document written in point form. You’re there not only to communicate an idea, but to engage the people in the room as well; the slides are there as support. That’s why slide presentation software has “presenter mode”, where the slides are displayed on the projector and your notes are displayed on your laptop.

A Little Sample

Here’s what my audience saw instead of the “Who Am I?” slide above. I’ve included a rough paraphrase of what I said along with the slides…

slide_01

“Some of you already know me, some of you think you know me, and some of you are wondering ‘who is this Microsoft Guy and why is he speaking at a WordPress event?’. So I guess a proper introduction is in order.”

slide_02

“Yes, I work for Microsoft. The Empire. I’m still new, having been working there for just over six months. I’ve had a blast so far – it’s a fun place to work, and in my particular job, they give you a wide degree of latitude.”

 slide_03

“As for my job, if I could pick the title, it would be…Sith Lord.”

slide_04

“But the company, being what it is, prefers to give me the slightly less interesting title of Evangelista.”

 slide_05

“Actually, that’s not true. The title is Evangelist. It’s a relatively new kind of job in the big scheme of things, which is a combination of…”

 slide_06

“Super-smart hottie with programming skills and…”

 slide_07

“Dapper, intelligent and quick-witted communicator of ideas. I’m kind of like a marketer. But with a brain. And a soul. [Looking at wincing marketers in the audience] Oh, I kid because I love.”

 slide_08

“The concept of a technology evangelist was pioneered by the The Esteemed Competition over at Apple by Mike Boich, but it was Guy Kawasaki who popularized the position. He’s since gone on to do other tech-related things in Silicon Valley, but a lot of what he does can still be considered to be evangelism.”

 slide_09

“Microsoft also has technology evangelists. The one you probably know is Robert Scoble, who was with the company for three-ish years, and like Guy, although he doesn’t have the title or work for Microsoft anymore, a lot of what he does is still evangelism.”

 slide_10

“And yeah, I know the guy.”

I’d much rather see a presentation done in the style that I used rather than seeing someone simply grind through a deck of items in point form, acting as a narration service.

And Now a Question for the Audience

If I were to post a more detailed version of my presentation online, would you rather have it…

  • in the form shown above, with the slides shown above what I said in text form?
  • as a video, with the slides displayed in the video portion and my voice as the audio?

Let me know.

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My “Microsoft: Stop Making Fun of Us” Slide

I started my presentation at WordCamp Toronto 2009 yesterday – Better Living Through Blogging — with this slide, which got a lot of laughs. A number of people have requested it, and I’m only too happy to oblige. Here you go: share and enjoy!

"I'm a PC" guy holding a gun pointed at "I'm a Mac" guy: "Microsoft: Stop making fun of us."Click the photo to see it at full size.

The image comes from a Worth1000 Photoshopping contest – here’s the original.

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The Empire’s Coming to WordCamp Toronto 2009!

Darth Vader in the lineup for Wordcamp 2009

WordCamp Toronto 2009, the Accordion City-based conference dedicated to the WordPress blogging platform (which this blog runs on), takes place next weekend, May 8th through 10th. It’s a three-day, three-track conference with offerings for WordPress users of all types, from those just getting started with blogging to hardcore developers and designers plumbing deep into WordPress’ internals.

This year, a couple of guys from The Empire – whom you might know as Microsoft — will be presenting at WordCamp Toronto. We’ll be giving away all sorts of prizes, too!

Paul Laberge

On Day 1 at 11:00 a.m. – that’s Friday, May 8th – my coworker Paul Laberge will make his presentation, titled Customizing Your Blog on Your Local Windows Box, in which he talks about using Microsoft tools like the Web Platform Installer and Expression Web on your home computer to make the most of your WordPress blog. Here’s his abstract:

Your blog represents your online personality and as such you spend a lot of time making sure the look and feel reflects who you are. While the blog platforms available (such as WordPress) provide you with much of the plumbing for your blog, you still need to tweak it until it looks just right for you. In this session, we’ll show you how you can customize your blog on Windows using the Web Platform Installer and Microsoft’s web design tool called Expression Web, all from your local machine. Oh, and we have giveaways, too.

Day 2 – that’s Saturday, May 9th – Yours Truly will be on at 2:00 p.m. giving my presentation, Better Living Through Blogging, where I suggest that blogging is more than just personal publishing or self-expression; it’s a means to a better life. Here’s my abstract:

I took up blogging at the suggestion of my friend Cory Doctorow when my job responsibilities had been whittled down to five minutes of actual work per day. What started as a way to break out of boredom turned out to be a life-changer: I made many new friends, got a couple of TV appearances, landed a couple of jobs, met my wife and even dodged a bullet. In this presentation, I’ll regale you with stories about how I made my life better through blogging, share what I’ve learned over the past seven years and give you some tips and tricks that I’ve found useful. And yes, there will be prizes and a rock and roll accordion performance, too!

WordCamp Toronto 2009 will be held at The Oasi Restaurant, which bills itself as “Toronto’s new centre of creative gravity.” It’s located at 99 Sudbury Street, a hop skip and a jump away from the Queen/Beaconsfield neighbourhood of the Gladstone and Drake Hotels. Registration is pretty cheap: just CDN$50 for the whole conference; it’s CDN$35 if you’re a student. For more details about WordCamp Toronto 2009, visit their site. I hope to see you there!

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Bryan Lunduke’s “Linux Sucks” Presentation

Here’s a presentation that’s worth watching, regardless of what operating system you use: it’s Bryan Lunduke’s presentation from Linux Fest Northwest – a Linux conference for “Rebel Scum” deep in the heart of The Empire — and it’s titled Linux Sucks, in which he talks about what needs to be fixed in desktop Linux. His Linux laptop helped prove the point at the beginning of the presentation by stubbornly refusing to display anything on the projector and requiring some guy to noodle with the X configs:

(By the bye, hooking up multiple monitors to a Windows 7 machine is dirt easy. The Windows-P key combo toggles between main monitor-only, other monitor-only, mirrored and “extend desktop” modes. The “Linux laptops and projectors” problem is a common one; I remember gently poking presenters at CUSEC trying to get their Linux laptops to display on the projector with “If you were running Win 7, you’d be done by now.”)

I think that this is an important presentation for developers to watch, whether they develop for Windows or the Esteemed Competition, because all operating systems suck, and it’s our job as developers to make them suck less. Linux on the desktop has all sorts of problems because it’s a free-for-all run but a rag-tag fleet of development shops, but Windows has its own problems stemming from all sorts of things, such as having to maintain some kind of backward compatibility for the sake of enterprise installations at Fortune 500 companies.

The lesson to take from this video should be that we should forget the rah-rah boosterism, take a good hard look at the platforms for which we build, and do what we can to make them better. The best platform advocacy is to make the platform suck less.