27 Takes on Windows 7

27 on 7

If you’ve got customers wondering if they should upgrade from Windows XP or Vista to Windows 7 and are looking for testimonials, go to Gizmodo’s article, 27 Takes on Windows 7. It features quotes from 27 reviews of Windows 7, which include the following seven:

  • CNET
    "Windows 7 presents a stable platform that can compete comfortably with OS X, while reassuring the world that Microsoft can still turn out a strong, useful operating system."
  • PC Mag
    "It’s far and away the best OS we’ve ever seen from Microsoft."
  • Guardian
    "Windows 7 is simply the best version of Windows you can get."
  • Slate
    "Indeed, the new Windows is not only the best operating system that Microsoft has ever produced. It is arguably the fastest, most intuitive, and most useful consumer desktop OS on the market today."
  • PC Pro UK
    "We like Windows 7 a lot – so much so, that the disappointment that was Windows Vista has already become a distant memory…"
  • Wall Street Journal
    "I believe it is the best version of Windows Microsoft has produced."
  • bit-tech
    "For want of a better way of describing it, Microsoft has essentially fixed Vista and the result is arguably Microsoft’s best operating system to date."

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Walter Mossberg’s Review of Windows 7

walter mossberg windows 7

In case you hadn’t yet heard, Walter Mossberg, head tech journo for the Wall Street Journal gave Windows 7 a positive review. His bottom line:

Windows 7 is a very good, versatile operating system that should help Microsoft bury the memory of Vista and make PC users happy.

You can either read his article, or if you prefer, watch his video review:

As I’ve said before, I’ve been working exclusively in Windows 7 since late last year, first with the beta, then the release candidate and now on the RTM (Release to Manufacturing) version. I’ve used it for all sorts of things, such as:

  • Development, with Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server, but also Ruby/Rails, PHP and MySQL.
  • Writing TPS reports with Microsoft Office
  • A lot of blogging using Microsoft Live Writer for creating blog posts and Adobe Fireworks CS3 for the graphics
  • Gaming, particularly Far Cry 2, Grand Theft Auto IV and for kicks, good ol’ Grand Theft Auto San Andreas
  • and some music stuff with FL Studio and Ableton Live

…and they’ve worked quite well, even with the beta version. I’ve talked to people who got their hands on the beta and RC versions and their experience has by and large been the same: it works with the software, and the user experience it provides is quite enjoyable.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


The Best “Chapter One” I’ve Ever Read

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

Cover of "Professional ASP.NET MVC 1.0"

As a rule, Chapter One of most programming books seems to leave me with a vague, unsatisfied feeling. I usually finish them with either:

  • A “Hello World”-style application that provides an initial “It compiled!” rush, but little else, or
  • A “Trees dies for this?” sort of indignation, if the chapter is one of those perfunctory one with a name like “Getting Started” that provides the same information you gathered while deciding whether to buy the book.

Based on these experiences, I think I can be excused for being a bit skeptical when I read the announcement that Chapter One of Professional ASP.NET MVC 1.0, published by Wrox, was being made available for free download. Of course they’re giving it away for free, I thought, it’s the chapter that’s worth nothing!

A quick aside: If you haven’t heard of ASP.NET MVC, it’s Microsoft’s answer to the MVC-based frameworks that are all the rage these days, such as Ruby on Rails and Django. It’s not a replacement for ASP.NET, but an alternative; if you want to build applications following the REST paradigm, with fine-grained control over the flow of your application and HTML and want to do things “the web way” as opposed to a more “desktop app” way, you should seriously consider trying it out. (For more detailed pros-and-cons considerations of ASP.NET versus ASP.NET MVC, see this article in Nick Berardi’s Code Journal.)

Luckily, curiosity got the better of me and I downloaded the chapter. I got my first sign that wasn’t your garden-variety Chapter One when I looked at the file size and page count. 14 megabytes? 196 pages? Something strange was going on here. Perhaps a glitch during the download?

Once I scrolled past the cover page, the standard Wrox cover featuring the authors and their impressively receding hairlines (hence the nickname for the book, “The Gang of Foreheads”), I hit the introductory paragraph:

The best way to learn a new framework is to build something with it. This first chapter walks through how to build a small, but complete, application using ASP.NET MVC, and introduces some of the core concepts behind it.

That’s right: rather than provide some long-winded perfunctory history of the Model-View-Controller framework, the backstory of how the ASP.NET MVC framework came to be or some simple “Hello World”-style example app of little consequence and requiring less effort, the authors decided to get right down to business and show you how to build an ASP.NET MVC web app. This was a surprise – but a very welcome one!

NerdDinner screenshot

The application that you build is called “NerdDinner”, a site that lets techies declare gatherings and RSVP for them (you can see the finished product in action at You start at ground zero,  “File –> New…”, and from there, you build the app with just enough asides to explain a few vital concepts and very few of those false detours that some tutorials lead you down. NerdDinner may be a simple app, but it covers a lot of ground:

  • From the basics of CRUD application design in an MVC web framework
  • to matters of input validation,
  • to registering, authenticating  and authorizing users
  • to integrating Ajax-enabled forms and an Ajax map
  • to the built-in unit testing features of ASP.NET MVC.

By the end of the chapter, you’ve got a nice little application that lies in the “sweet spot”. It’s small enough for you to be able to learn from quickly, yet big enough to show you the ropes behind building the important parts of a CRUD web application that’s ready for public consumption.

download_chapter_1I’ve tried out a number of ASP.NET MVC tutorials, and this one’s my hands-down favourite. It’s written by the people behind ASP.NET MVC, it covers a lot of ground, the finished app is an excellent basis for your future projects, there’s a working version online that you can use as a guide and  the code works! Even better, this single chapter that packs all this value is free-as-in-beer. I’m sure I’ve paid  for whole books that have imparted less knowledge than this single free chapter.

If you’re interested in learning about ASP.NET MVC, download Chapter 1 of Professional ASP.NET MVC 1.0 [13.8 MB PDF] and give it a try. It’s the fastest way to get both a working ASP.NET application and up to speed on Microsoft’s new web application framework. And be sure to tell me how it worked out — if you have any questions or comments, or run into any difficulty with the chapter, let me know – drop me a line via email, send me a tweet or give me a shout-out in the comments.


Fallout 3, as Reviewed on Zero Punctuation

Once again, it’s time for my favourite videogame reviewer, Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, and his series of smartass videogame reviews, Zero Punctuation. This week, he covers Fallout 3. His verdict:

Yeah, it’s pretty good.

Its 93 rating at Metacritic — which gives it a standing equal to Gears of War 2 – comes from a number of glowing reviews from various sources:


Grand Theft Auto IV Goes Out at Midnight!

Grand Theft Auto IV Goes Out at Midnight! Games stores all over Toronto are opening for an hour at midnight to sell the hotly-anticipated and universally praised next installment of the Grand Theft Auto series of games. If you’re in the Toronto area, all Future Shops and EB Games will be open at midnight, as will the Yonge/Dundas Best Buy. For more on the game, check out the IGN Review and the GameSpy review.