My article on the Parallel Extensions

Fri, February 29, 2008, 06:38 AM under dotNET | ParallelComputing
A while back I recorded some screencasts on this hot topic, and I see now that the popular VSJ developer magazine has published my article on Parallel Extensions to the .NET Framework.

For those of you that can't get a hard/physical copy, they have kindly made it available online for your reading pleasure.

March and April Events

Thu, February 28, 2008, 06:08 AM under Events
Following the dozen (predominantly UK MSDN and user group) events that I did in Jan and Feb, the future is consumed by larger (inter)national events.

11th London, DevWeek 2008.
12th London , QCon 2008.
19th Birmingham, UK 2008 Launch.
31st, Athens, Greek 2008 Launch.

7-8, Eilat, Tech Ed Israel 2008.
21, Cardiff, MSDN Roadshow 2008.

Are you in Athens? Greek 2008 Launch

Thu, February 28, 2008, 05:48 AM under Events
Eisai Ellada? Panemorfa, I will be there too on Monday 31st March delivering a presentation on the developers track so please go register for the Greek 2008 Launch. Stop by and pes ena Geia. By the way, my parousiasi will also be in Greeklish :-)

Are you in Israel? Tech Ed Israel

Thu, February 28, 2008, 04:50 AM under Events
Are you in Israel? Great, I will be there too from 4th to 9th April delivering a couple of presentations for Tech Ed Israel 2008. Stop by and say hello (but please do it in English as I know zero words in Hebrew :-). To get a glimpse into some of the sessions there (including mine), stay tuned on Guy's blog (who is my counterpart in Israel). His writing sometimes appears right-to-left, but I am sure that is a CSS issue he is working on ;-)

UK MSDN Roadshow 2008

Thu, February 28, 2008, 04:30 AM under Events
The largest in-person activity that our team does every single year in the UK is the MSDN Roadshow. A full day of 5 sessions (well, 4 this year plus separate Intro and Q&A slots). Past experience indicates it sells out very quickly so to view the agenda, dates and to register NOW, choose from the following cinemas:
Cardiff, or London, or Manchester, or Glasgow, or Newcastle.

Are you in London? QCon and DevWeek

Thu, February 28, 2008, 04:15 AM under Events
Is it possible that two great, week-long, independent, international developer conferences are running at the same time in London? It turns out that the answer is "YES" and someone thought it would be a good idea if I presented at both. If you are going to DevWeek or QCon London, make sure you come to my sessions to win some t-shirts!

Want to work on my team?

Thu, February 28, 2008, 03:36 AM under Links
Join me, MikeT and MikeO as the "developer folk" in Microsoft UK DPE.

'DPE' stands for "Developer & Platform Group" (the 'E' is silent :-).

Job Description here.

MAF screencasts

Mon, February 25, 2008, 04:27 AM under dotNET | Orcas
One of the hidden gems of .NET Framework v3.5 is the Managed AddIn Framework (MAF) that I've touched on before on these 3 short blog posts: AddIn.dll, Windows.Presentation.dll, VSTO dependency on it.

It is not the easiest of technologies to get your head around without some guidance, so I hope you find useful this introductory quickstart 18-minute screencast (part 1). If you are then hungry for more and in particular on how the MAF delivers on version resiliency, then watch my second 18-minute screencast (part 2). You can get all 3 states by downloading this ZIP file of all Visual Studio projects.

.NET Client Application Services

Sat, February 23, 2008, 02:11 PM under dotNET | Orcas
Back in May 2007 I posted (Client Application Services) some links that completely describe this new VS2008 and Fx 3.5 feature. If you missed it back then, then please revisit the post to read about it.

If you prefer watching an 18' video that fully gets you started, I have exactly that for you on channel9: Client Application Services with VS2008. The final code that I created is in these two projects.

Synchronization made Easy by the Sync Framework

Fri, February 22, 2008, 10:41 AM under Links
At my last blog post I shared some links, video and code for Sync Services. I mentioned how it is the first step/part of the larger upcoming Sync Framework. In the latest Flash newsletter from earlier this week, we have a great first look at the Sync Framework describing "participants" and "providers". For the non-Flash subscribers, scroll down on this page to read the 500 words.

ADO.NET Sync Services

Thu, February 21, 2008, 02:15 PM under dotNET | Orcas
With the release of Visual Studio 2008 we also get v1.0 of ADO.NET Synchronization Services that allows you to build Occasionally Connected Applications by allowing synchronization of remote data with a local cache of the data. Sync Services is the first part of the larger framework still in development: Microsoft Sync Framework (MSF). MSF was part of the announcements at Tech Ed Europe 2007. The first CTP of the Sync Framework is available and it includes a pre-release of v2.0 of Sync Services for ADO.NET. Stay tuned on the Sync Framework blog (which includes links to other relevant blogs down the side). I also believe there will be an update near the SQL Server 2008 release, but I am not sure. There is a very useful FAQ on Sync Services on Steve's blog.

To be clear, here I am still talking about v1 of Sync Services, which ships with VS2008 RTM. If you do not have VS2008, you can still get Sync Services by downloading SQL Compact Edition v3.5 (which is what holds the local cache). Included in the download are the 3 assemblies that complete the picture. So you may be thinking: "if I can get it as a standalone download, why use VS2008 and not stick with VS2005?". The answer is that there is a very smart Configure Data Synchronization dialog wizard as part of VS2008 that generates tons of code and also performs other actions that IMO are too tedious for easily using VS2005 with Sync Services. To invoke the wizard in a new VS2008 project (v2.0 or v3.0 or v3.5) right click on the project node and add new item and choose the "Local Data Cache" item template – then just follow your nose (or the documentation and numerous links above ;-))

If you want a quick intro then put 15 minutes aside to watch my screencast introducing the ADO.NET Sync Services. The Visual Studio project that I create in the video can be downloaded here.

Get back your Search in Vista SP1

Mon, February 18, 2008, 06:02 AM under Links
On an internal MVP newsgroup (yes I am still monitoring those) someone complained about the removal of the "search" explorer menu option from Windows Vista SP1 (available now to msdn and technet subscribers) and someone else came to the rescue. Susan Bradley captured the background and solution on her blog.

10 Tips on How to Setup Your Laptop before a Demo

Sun, February 17, 2008, 11:56 AM under AboutPresenting
I've been meaning to post something like this for a while and having just spent 8 (eight) days of training (DPE summit + TechReady 6 + Deep Dive on XYZ), I need no more incentives ;)

I am assuming that we've all been to sessions/events where the presenter switched from PowerPoint to their machine for a demo and immediately our brain goes in overdrive to take in all the colourful input and icons that have just been unleashed on it (completely ignoring the presenter's voice which just fades in the distance, of course). Or maybe that just happens to me ;-)

Well, I am no expert, but here is some advice anyway for those of you giving demos in presentations:

1. Run at 1024x768 resolution during the session/demo.

2. Run at (120) High DPI. I cannot stress this enough. If you are on Vista this requires a reboot but give it a try now and you'll never look back (all icons suddenly come alive).

3. Your Task Bar should only show applications running that are being used in the demo (and the session overall). Any unnecessary application should be closed.

4. Your Task bar should be as small as possible (i.e. only one row). Doesn't matter what size it is when you are working on your machine; taking away pixels from the audience has no excuse when there is absolutely no use for it being larger during a demo.

5. Your taskbar should be at the bottom where most people expect it to be and it should not auto-hide (very distracting).

6. You know those icons on the right of the taskbar (commonly referred to as the systray or just "tray")? If you are not using them for the demo, then kill them. Right click on each one and "Exit". If any don't offer an Exit option, open task manager and kill the offending processes. If there is an icon that cannot be closed for whatever reason and is not used in the demo, hide it (Taskbar Properties->Notification Area). This includes hiding icons such as the volume icon, network activity etc, if they are not used in the demo. For most of my demos I just have the clock (cause I like glancing at it) and the power meter (because I am paranoid that someone will pull the plug and my laptop will die ;-)) – nothing else.

7. You know all those toolbars on the task bar (e.g. Desktop, Address etc)? Get rid of them unless they are used in the demo. The special toolbar is Quick Launch: This is where you may choose to have the shortcuts to your demos (or even just a shortcut to Visual Studio). In that case make sure that all other shortcuts are out of view by resizing the quick launch bar.

8. Hide all the icons on your desktop (right click->View->Show Desktop Icons). The exception to this is when you place the shortcuts to your demos on the desktop. In that case, hide all the remainder icons by moving them into some other temporary folder (and go back to step 7 and hide your quick launch toolbar since you have just opted out of that approach).

9. Choose a standard Windows Wallpaper for your desktop background (the default if possible) – unless you are using your current one as a prop for a laugh etc. You can change it back to a picture of your kids when the session is over. Remember, this isn't about you; it is about what you are there to show.

10. Turn off your screen saver (and don't rely on battery power alone – always plug in your laptop. And change the laptop_lid_close_action to do nothing).

11. BONUS non-visual tip for demos: A side effect of steps 3 and 6 will be that your machine is slightly faster during the demo (where any kind of visible slow down is amplified by the presence of an audience). Open task manager and make your machine even more responsive by killing unnecessary processes (or even stopping services) that you are not going to use in this particular demo. But don't take it to the extreme.

Feel free to add your own tips below if you think I missed any...

My VS2008 Article for QBS magazine

Tue, February 12, 2008, 05:22 PM under Links
Recently I wrote a 2-page article on Visual Studio 2008 and .NET Framework v3.5 for QBS Software. You'll find the hard copy of the QBS magazine via various means if you are in the UK, and they have also kindly made it available online. Download the 1MB PDF file here.

WMI Provider Extensions in .NET Framework v3.5

Mon, February 11, 2008, 07:05 AM under dotNET | Orcas
A long time ago I created a hyperlinked list of the new assemblies in .NET Framework v3.5 and the only one that did not have a hyperlink was the WMI assembly (item 6 on the list).

So, I was very pleased that in last week's MSDN Flash we published a 500 word succinct article on that very topic. For the non-Flash subscribers, scroll down on this page to read it.

February Events

Sat, February 2, 2008, 04:12 AM under Events
After my two week relaxing Xmas/NewYear break, the numerous January events were a bit of a "shock to the system" dominating my time. Now onto February and it is not looking any easier as you can see below.

Hope to meet you at one of these:

+ 5th, TVP, Details and registration.

+ 8-17, Seattle, Details.

+ 18th, Bristol, Details and registration (how jetlagged am I going to be for this?!).

+ 21st, Manchester, Details and registration.

+ 26th, TVP, Details and registration.

+ 27th, TVP, Members of the UK press talk to your MS contact.

Virtualization in WS2K8

Fri, February 1, 2008, 03:20 AM under Windows | WindowsServer2008
Virtualization is going to be (if it isn't already) a huge topic for anyone involved in the IT industry. I know that IT Pros are very excited about Microsoft's offering with Windows Server 2008 but I wasn't sure how many developers have at least a high level appreciation of what virtualization is and how Hyper-V fits into the big picture.

To find out, I would encourage you to spend some time browsing the numerous links and content on these sites:
1. Microsoft Virtualization.
2. Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V.
3. Also recently, Bob Muglia sent this executive email on virtualization, should you need something to forward to your manager.
4. Finally, see this dedicated blog.

If you have access to the TechEd Europe IT Forum 2007 post-conference recordings, there are 4 sessions that I recommend: MGT323, SVR307, SVR320 and SVR322. I watched those collective 300 minutes and (combined with what floated my boat from the other links above) distilled the most interesting bits into a 15'-20' section of my Windows Server 2008 developer session. It is from those 4 sessions that I stole the slides I used ;-). You can find them in this powerpoint deck (36-58 inclusive).