Monday, December 20, 2010

Releasing vikingapps.be - Apps for vikings on the move
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Today I am announcing a website I have built over the past couple of months. vikingapps.be is a gallery for applications build on the Mobile Vikings API. You can already find quite some apps on this website, but I'm hoping some more will be added over the next couple of days/weeks.

This website was built using ASP.NET MVC 2. If you would run into any bugs or find language errors, feel free let me know in the comments or via email.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Spending some time with the stars at PDC10 and TEE10
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At the Professional Developers Conference 2010 and at TechEd Europe 2010 Jeroen, Kurt and I have been interviewing some technology rock-stars.

Update (28 jan): at PDC we were planning to interview Scott Hanselman too, but time didn't allow. But no worries! One of our new MSPs, Dirk, interviewed Scott this week while he was in Belgium for Web Camp 2011. I have added the video to this list.

This is the complete list, in alphabetical order.

Anders Hejlsberg is a technical fellow (what’s in a name) at Microsoft working on new C# features (such as async). During the interview we finally found out why C# is COOL, how they design a programming language and what’s the next big thing in programming languages.



Bart De Smet is a fellow Belgian working at Microsoft on the Cloud Programmability Team where he’s all into shaping the future of data access in the cloud. We first talked with him about how he ended up working at Microsoft. Next we got an overview of Reactive Extensions and how it relates to the new Async CTP.

Part 1



Part 2



As Senior Technical Evangelist for Visual Studio Application Lifecycle Management, Brian Keller is all passionate about testing. We sat down with him and tested his knowledge of test-driven development, code contracts and how development is done within Microsoft.



For the past two years we’ve known Caroline Phillips as the Western Europe academic lead. Since she had recently switched roles, it was the perfect timing to get to know more about her new job, how she ended up working at Microsoft and her vision towards students.



Don Syme (working on F# at Microsoft Research) and Talbott Crowell (a cofounder of one of the F# usergroups) tell us what F# exactly is and some real life applications. Furthermore we asked him about the future and heading of F#.



With Gill Cleeren we find out what is means to be a ‘Regional Director’. His vision on the HTML5 vs Silverlight debate and we end with a rather tricky question!



Giorgio Sardo is a Senior Developer Evangelist working Microsoft Corporation with a strong focus on Internet Explorer 9 and HTML5. In this interview we’ll find out what exactly HTML5 is, how Internet Explorer 9 is positioned competitors and their work on HTML5 support.



Jacqueline Russell is the new Western Europe academic lead since one month. We learn more about her professional history and whether she manages to keep up with the technical aspects in her new role. What are her plans for students? Is it easy to work with an international team?



We’ve already seen Jonathan Carter on stage at the PDC keynote and after his session at TechEd Europe, we thought it was time for an interview. We learn more about his OData and how it relates to other buzzwords like SOAP, REST. Lastly we’ll find out how Microsoft is using OData in their own products.



We have talked to Katrien De Graeve about her job as an evangelist and TechEd track owner, about what students should learn and about what it is like to be a woman at Microsoft.



With Mark Russinovich, also a technical fellow at Microsoft, we explored the possibility of cloudinternals or phoneinternals, the difference between his previous job and his new job. We also ask him about the new Windows Internals book.



Michelle Fleming is the worldwide Microsoft Student Partner program lead. We actually learn what being an MSP is all about and learn more about the new MSP platform.



So now we all know that Rob Miles is ‘me’. As a lecturer at the University of Hull in the United Kingdom he made the switch from teaching Java to C#, resulting in ‘the yellow book’. We learn more about his vision on teaching programming, the use of XNA and what he’s passionate about.



At Web Camp Belgium 2011 one of our new MSPs, Dirk Schuermans, interviewed Scott Hanselman. Topics: Razor, WebMatrix. Blog: http://www.hanselman.com/blog/




Thanks to Jennifer Perret for providing us the Flip cameras and to everyone who took place in front of our camera!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shrek and Donkey on another worldwide adventure
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Some heroic tales about TechEd Europe 2010…

Last week I have been at TechEd Europe in Berlin. I was there together with Jan Potemans and four other Belgian student partners: Jeroen, Kurt, Julien and Raphaƫl. It was my third time at TechEd Europe, but once again I had the time of my life.

  

I have to admit that the past three weeks have been crazy, I've traveled about 19000 km, met dozens of interesting people including some of the brightest minds in the industry, learned a ton about new technologies, got some great new ideas and just had an awesome time in general. Now I have a massive todo-list to tackle and I need get up to speed for the exams, but boy I am happy!

We flew to Berlin in a cozy Avro RJ100 airplane with Brussels Airlines. After the short flight from Brussels to Berlin we hurried to our hotel, dropped off our bags and then hurried to the Messe conference center. Despites our efforts we arrived fashionably late at the MSP Summit. Over there, we had some interesting discussions, followed by some presentations, including a presentation about the cloud -because of course that’s obligatory these days- and the usual Microsoft recruitment talk by Holly Peterson.

At TechEd we also met “the new Caroline” and “the new Leandro”. Jacqueline Russell is the new Academic Lead for Western Europe and Michelle Fleming is now worldwide in charge of the MSP program.

This year we didn’t see that much of Berlin. We went to a nice restaurant on Tuesday night, where I had Blutwurst and after that we went for a walk in the city.

  

In between sessions we also continued our series of interviews. Jeroen, Kurt and I have interviewed (listed in alphabetical order): Brian Keller, Caroline Phillips, Gill Cleeren, Giorgio Sardo, Jacqueline Russell, Jonathan Carter, Katrien De Graeve, Mark Russinovich, Michelle Fleming and Rob Miles. Combined with the interviews we did at PDC, that makes for quite a nice collection! We will publish ‘em all in a jiffy. Update: watch our interviews over here. Special thanks to Jennifer Perret for equipping us with Flip cameras for these interviews.

  

At the Belgian county drink on Wednesday we had a good time too, we had some interesting conversations and met some great people. Good thing Luc Van de Velde introduced his team, I already knew most of them, but the new MSPs didn’t.

On Thursday, after another day full of sessions and interviews, we headed to the MSP party. After some burgers and beers we went to drop off our bags at the hotel and then took the U-Bahn to a club on the 15th floor of a building on Alexanderplatz. When we arrived there we weren’t allowed to enter; the bouncers said we needed girls. You know, with a group of student partners, that is kind of a problem! After Jan called, the lovely Jacqueline came down, but amazingly even her smile wasn’t enough to get us in! Eventually we got in and had a good time! And oh, in our opinion there was nothing wrong with the boy/girl ratio inside, but I guess one girl for every Berlin boy isn’t enough…

Friday was a sad day. In the morning we went to a last session, said goodbye to the nice folks at U2U and left the conference center. It was time to fly back home. The end of another great adventure!

PS: Donkey is Jeroen

Disclosure: I attended TechEd as a guest of Microsoft. Special thanks to Caroline Phillips, Jan Potemans, Jacqueline Russell and Michelle Fleming.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Notes about flying halfway around the world for a two day conference
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You should try that too. Seriously.

Last week, Jeroen Verhulst and I flew to Seattle to attend the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference. We arrived in Seattle on Tuesday afternoon, after spending several hours on trains and busses and about ten hours up in the clouds (pun intended). We stayed in Bellevue, in the quite confortable Sheraton hotel. Bellevue is a good place to stay when visiting Microsoft; it is more vibrant than Redmond -where the Microsoft campus is located- but also closer to campus than Seattle.



On Wednesday, the day before the conference, Bart De Smet showed us around in Seattle. Bart is a young Belgian who currently lives in Bellevue and works for Microsoft. We visited the classic tourist spots: the first Starbucks, the Space Needle, the monorail… Click here for some more pictures.



After this quick visit we headed to campus. After a quick tour we headed to building one, where we had a meeting with Jennifer Perret. Jennifer gave us both a flip camera and a mission: we had to go interview some speakers. Later that week we have interviewed Anders Hejlsberg, Don Syme and Bart De Smet and we plan to interview some more speakers at TechEd Europe next week. I am still busy processing and uploading the videos, but I will make sure to post the links on this blog when they are available. Update: watch our interviews over here.

Thursday was day one of the conference. The keynote was delivered by Steve Ballmer and Bob Muglia. The main topics of the keynote were IE9, HTML5, WP7 and a lot about Windows Azure.

You can find some more info about the announcements here and on the SQL Azure Team Blog.



We expected Microsoft to demonstrate a real world application running on Azure to demonstrate its potential. However, we didn’t expect Steve Jobs’ Pixar to bring us that application. Apparently Pixar doesn’t only make animation movies; they sell the leading animation movie rendering software RenderMan as well. According to Chris Ford from Pixar, who appeared in the keynote in a Wall-E shirt, animation studios usually need large render farms with hundreds of processing units to render a movie in an acceptable time (think weeks or months). By running RenderMan on Azure, Pixar hopes to enable smaller companies to use their software as well. The interesting part of their implementation is that they allow their user to select how many instances to start. The more instances a user starts, the faster the job is done, but this of course comes at a higher price. Long Zheng and Nick Eaton also blogged about this.



The recordings of the keynote and all sessions are available here.

We also expected Microsoft to announce the next version of Silverlight. Apparently we weren’t the only ones who were expecting this. Microsoft however barely mentioned Silverlight in the keynote. Then, Mary Jo Foley published a blog post, based on an interview with Bob Muglia who said that Microsoft’s strategy with Silverlight has shifted. Bob did not announce the end of Silverlight, however, on the internet a storm broke loose.



I regret Microsoft is didn’t make any Silverlight announcements at the PDC, but here is why I think the rumors of Silverlight’s death are greatly exaggerated:
  • Releases are slowing down, that’s true, but isn’t that normal as a product matures? Furthermore, the Silverlight team must have spent a lot of time on Windows Phone 7.
  • Microsoft is hosting a Silverlight Firestarter event, keynoted by Scott Guthrie, December 2.
  • This interview with Scott Guthrie.
  • This blogpost by Bob Muglia and this one by Tim Heuer. Update: this one by Scott Guthrie.



Lunch was in a tent outside, where you had to choose a table by discussion topic. I don’t know who came up with that idea, but it was rather annoying to have to talk to people working on product X about their product while having lunch.

After lunch we headed back to building 33 -the conference center- to pick up our phones. During the keynote Ballmer had said that all attendees would get a free Windows Phone 7 device. The way he said that was actually rather funny. As it turned out, everyone who (or who’s company) paid the full conference fee got an LG device and people with a discount (e.g. academics like us) got a Samsung preproduction device (SGH-i707, a.k.a. Taylor).



I am not going to write a full review of this device, just some thoughts. Let me be clear, I love WP7 and I’m going to use one as my primary phone. However, the battery life of this device is the worst I have ever seen (but then again, it is a prototype), I really miss copy/paste (but that’s coming early 2011), it should have app notifications (e.g. the Facebook app notifying you about a new comment) and it’s a pity developers can’t make dynamic tiles (yet?). There aren’t quite as many apps in the Marketplace so far as on competing platforms, but I honestly don’t care about that. It is a matter of quality, not quantity!

After lunch we had to choose between Bart’s session and Ander Hejlsberg’s session about new language features. Not an easy choice! Bart assured us that he would summarize Anders’ session on one slide, so we both went to see his session. Bart’s session was a mess, but in the best possible way. And oh, he said the word “brainfuck”! Learn more about the new keywords (await and async) that Anders and Bart have introduced over here. I won’t discuss the other sessions I have attended this first day and the second day.

On Saturday we attended a workshop about Windows Phone 7 at the Microsoft Platform Adoption Center (building 20). It was okay, but way too crowded. On Sunday we flew home.

Disclosure: Microsoft Belgium sponsored this trip by paying for our flights. Special thanks to Jan Potemans for making this possible.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Imagine Cup 2010 worldwide finals in Poland
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What an amazing week we had…



I’m just back from the Imagine Cup worldwide finals in Warsaw, Poland. Jan Potemans, our awesome Belgian ADE -the person at Microsoft Belgium who takes care of the relations with the academic world- took two teams to the finals of this huge technology contest. I led the Belgian Software Design team (Niels Derdaele, Jeroen Verhulst, Sebastiaan Polfliet and myself). The other Belgian team (Leslie Van Den Broeck, Jeroen Tavernier, Rob De Reycke, Jerry Verhoeven, their mentor and two other faculty members) took part in another competition, Game Development.

The Imagine Cup is the world’s premier technology contest for students. There are three main categories –software design, game development and embedded development- and some awards. Software design is the biggest category -68 countries were represented by a team in Warsaw- and the winning team in this category wins the Imagine Cup (I mean the actual cup) and USD 25 000. A total of about 325 000 students participated in the Imagine Cup 2010, about 400 of them made it to the worldwide finals. It was our honor to represent Belgium.

Most students stayed in the Novotel hotel, where Microsoft had installed a registration desk and replaced all Macs with PCs (yep, I noticed). Presentations in the first rounds took place in the Intercontinental hotel and the Palace of Culture and Science (pictured below), where all teams could showcase their projects too. On Wednesday the showcase moved to the opera building where the finalist presentations and the closing event were held.



The opening ceremony on Saturday evening took place on a stage in front of the Palace of Culture and Science. Jon Perera -GM of Microsoft Education- did most of the talking, together with Waldemar Pawlak -Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy- and Jacek Murawski –GM of Microsoft Poland. Zakopower, a Polish folk music group, added some music to the opening. Video below, courtesy of Microsoft (yes, I have seen me too).



Sunday morning we had a few briefings by awesome people like Lisa Harper and Rob Miles (our captain). Something that was immediately clear during these briefings was that the event was very well organized. Picture courtesy of Niels Derdaele.



After these briefings we received a timetable that said we had to do our round one presentation at the Intercontinental at 4 pm. This was a huge relieve, because we had still some work to do on our presentation. A few days earlier we had had a coaching session at Microsoft Belgium, where general manager Phillip Vandervoort and director of DPE Luc Van de Velde had given us a ton of very useful feedback on our initial presentation. We had been working late at night to implement most of this feedback and were happy to have a few extra hours to practice the revamped presentation.

Then it was time to present. We checked in at the Palace of Culture and Science and were escorted to the Intercontinental hotel by a Polish MSP. While we were waiting and having a coffee in front of the presentation room, a girl came to us screaming that we had betrayed her. We looked at her a bit flabbergasted, wondering who she was and why she was looking more nervous than us. It turned out that she was another Polish MSP who was supposed to escort us to the room. But still, thank you, Kamila and all other Polish MSPs, for helping with the organization of this giant event, good job, well done. In the presentation room we had some time to set everything up with the assistance of the MSPs and crew and then the judges appeared. In round one we only had to present for seven people: four very kind judges; Kinga -an MSP who was keeping track of time; Jan -our ADE- and Caroline Phillips.



Our presentation went well; the judges were kind and asked good question, we gave good answers. Our project was a bit underwhelming and too basic to stand any chance in the competition, but we did a good job presenting it. After the presentation Kinga –one of those very kind MSPs- shot a video of our first reactions when leaving the room. The excitement of the moment made Sebastiaan unable to summarize the project he had just been demoing, made me talk already about going to the finals and left Jeroen unchanged (he was still talking about beer). That makes for one funny video, for your viewing pleasure (courtesy of Kinga Sysiak):



On Sunday evening we already knew we were out of the competition. All we know is that out of the 68 teams, we didn’t make it to the final twelve.



Monday, we decided to explore Warsaw. We did a little walk and found a war museum; they were closed but had an impressive collection of planes, helicopters and tanks in their “garden”. Just one of many pictures I took, so you get the idea.



Monday afternoon we had to be at our booth, because the press was visiting the showcase. Big names like Jon Perera and Kimberly Voltero visited our booth (that reminds me that if we are ever again at the Imagine Cup finals we need to practice a short demo for the showcase too, those first tries weren’t very good).



Monday night the other Belgian team -the gaming team- was selected top three. From then on it was up to them to defend the Belgian honor -something they’ve done great, but more on that later.



Tuesday was the culture day, when we visited the castle of Pultusk. A great pianist kicked off this day of relaxation with some music and some jokes. Then we were free to choose what activities to do: making cheese, pottery, wood sculpting, kayaking, traditional Polish dance… It was a great and sunny day. Although, on the way back to Warsaw we discovered what a Polish thunderstorm looks like: very wet…

   

Living picture with Daniel van Soest; Tom Verhoeff –the mentor of the Dutch team, in orange– and some people of Kenyan and Ugandan national TV.

On Thursday, we attended over eight hours of finalist presentations in the opera building. Three teams in gaming, six teams in embedded development and six teams in software design each did a 20 minute presentation, followed by a 15 minute Q&A. The quality of these projects was really, really high and a lot of the presentations where incredibly good. I’ve seen speakers who are a lot better than most keynote speakers on events like TechEd. I’ve seen presentations that could easily compete with those presented by top presenters like Al Gore and Steve Jobs. I was blown away by what these students managed to do in their spare time. I’ve seen projects and listened to stories that moved me deeply. For the first time I was truly convinced that students really can change the world and that technology really can help solve the world’s toughest problems.



On Thursday we had to spend a few more hours at the showcase, in the opera building this time. Quite some people stopped at our booth for a short demo of our project. Some of the judges came to say hi too, pictured below is the team with Sally from Argentina and Felienne from The Netherlands, two very kind judges. Picture courtesy of Sally Buberman.



Then it was time for the big award ceremony, the World Festival. First the award winners were announced; then the winners in gaming, embedded and software and finally Poland passed the flag to the USA. The Imagine Cup 2011 finals will be in New York. My team is hiring, if you think you can help, if you have a great idea, if you have a real talent (does not have to be technical, we need designers/artists too, male/female, Flemish/Walloon…) and want to go to New York and have the experience of a lifetime, let me know.



Before the flag was passed, we received a video message from Michelle Obama, the First Lady. And oh, Jon Perera announced that all 400 finalists are getting a Windows Phone 7 as soon as they are available, the crowd went nuts. The entire ceremony was streamed live and is still available here.

Message from Michelle Obama:



The winners

Software Design

1st Place: Skeek, Thailand
They film a lesson using a webcam, do facial detection and speech recognition and translate what is being said to sign language. The text is displayed in a speech bubble on the video and the signs are shown on a 3D model. Impressive!

2nd Place: TFZR Team, Serbia
An interface to control the PC with your brain: send text messages, use Facebook… This team told the story of how they enabled someone who had never been able to communicate before to use a PC to do just that, communicating. Wow

3rd Place: OneBeep, New Zealand
Developed a protocol to broadcast files (for example applications for OLPC) over AM radio. How is it possible no one has thought of that before?

Embedded Development

1st Place: SmarterME, Taiwan
They developed a meter that can detect what devices are switched on in your house. Why you ask? Well, this is what their software can tell you: “Device x has been on for y minutes, that costs USD z. You might want to replace it with device u, which costs USD v and it takes w days to return the investment”. Amazing.

2nd Place: MCPU, Russia
A robot, talking Russian, driving around and moving arms up and down. Supposed to teach children exercises and stories/songs. Not that enthusiastic about this one…

3rd Place: GERAS, France
An intelligent floor. The system automatically calls the emergency service if the (elderly) occupant falls on the floor and is unable to get up again. Good idea, but I see some deal-breaking issues with their solution.

Game Design

1st Place: By Implication, Philippines
Best presentation. Ever.

2nd Place: NomNom Productions, Belgium
Well done guys! And M’Boko.

3rd Place: Gears Studio, France
Maybe try to avoid the shooting next time? I liked the level editor.

At the same time of the Imagine Cup –the world cup for technology-, the football world cup was happening is South Africa. A video:



Oh, are you wondering what we’ve built? We’ve built a social network for partnerships. Learn more on www.biamori.be. Here are the slides of our presentation:


My pictures are available here and below.

Get Microsoft Silverlight

I would like to end by thanking everybody who made this week so wonderful: Phillip Vandervoort, Luc Van de Velde, Jan Potemans, Lisa Harper, Jon Perera, Rob Miles, my team, the Polish MSPs, all other competitors and many, many others.

Keep changing the world!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Guest lecture at KAHO Sint-Lieven
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Today I was invited to do a guest lecture at KAHO Sint-Lieven, a school in Ghent.

My lecture consisted of two parts: the presentation I did at the Students to Business day and an overview of some real-world Silverlight applications and some demos.

For the slides and demos of the first part: please refer to this blogpost.

And here are the links to everything I showed during the second part:

Real-world apps
Siverlight Toolkit
Demos from the PDC

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Techdays 2010: Wrap-up (part 3)
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Looking for part 1 or part 2? Or maybe just looking for my Silverlight demo?

Thursday April 1st, last day in this three day story.

First up, Scott Hanselman about .NET 4. Scott was not as good as on Wednesday, I guess the downside of a great speaker like this is that things that are funny the first time you hear them are already less funny the second time. By the third time you see him, you might even start hating him. His content was good, I learned a lot and in the end that’s what matters.

Bart De Smet talked about the CLR 4. There was some overlap between this session and previous sessions I had seen, but Bart was good as always and told about all those things just that little bit extra. There was a session about MVVM I wanted to see at the same time, remember me to check the video later.

During the lunch the same problem as Wednesday, not one, but two talks I wanted to see. Blogging tips by Scott Hanselman or WP7 development by Charlie Kindel. I chose Scott, but I should have chosen Charlie. Gimme that video!

After the lunch I joined a huge crowd to see Sara Ford giving some VS2010 tips. The talk was even delayed a few minutes because they could get everyone in the room in time. The tips were useful, but unfortunately Sara was very nervous. So Sara, no reason to be nervous, you did great!

Then Peli the Halleux tried to bore us to death with a session about Moles and Pex. No offence, the speaker was fine and his subject interesting, only I was really tired and I already knew most he talked about from TechEd.

After that I decided to take a break in the speakers’ room and start writing this series of blog posts. That's where Arlindo introduced Jeroen and I to Julie. That’s all I’m going to write about that… ever

John R. Durant closed the conference with a few words about developing on top of Office 2010. Good presentation, but I would have liked to see some more code (e.g. the code of the “backstage” example)

This was the last post in this series about the Techdays, I hope you enjoyed it!

Techdays 2010: Wrap-up (part 2)
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Find part 1 of this post, about the Students to Business day here.

Now something about the actual Techdays. Wednesday and Thursday, while the other students were back at school, we attended the Techdays. This year’s Techdays where really, really good. Look at the list of speakers: Anders Hejlsberg, Scott Hanselman, Sara Ford, Rafal Lukawiecki, Charlie Kindel, our own Bart De Smet, …

Anders Hejlsberg kicked off the developer part of the conference with a keynote about trends in (and the future of) programming languages. He talked about things like dynamic and functional programming. The video is already available on Channel 9 and I’ve embedded it below. Definitely worth an hour of your time!

Get Microsoft Silverlight

After the keynote I’ve seen Katrien De Graeve and Gill Cleeren’s session about Silverlight 4 and WPF 4. First Gill talked about Silverlight. I liked the fact that he talked about some more business oriented functionalities in SL4 (e.g. printing) too. I would have liked to see Katrien talk a bit longer about WPF 4.

During the lunch I had to choose between two sessions I liked to see. Something about XNA by a former Imagine Cup winner, Timothy Vanherberghen and something about the Surface application in Belgian TV show “De Kinderpuzzel”. I chose to see the Surface application, although in the end I didn’t get to see it. The speaker, Boris Rogge, showed some of the code and ran out of time. It was interesting to hear the story behind the application though. Too bad I couldn’t see Timothy’s talk, but I’ll certainly watch the video. They should hang the person who has invented lunch sessions, during the lunch break, just let me, you know … eat!

Then I went to Giorgio Sardo’s session about HTML5 and IE9. He didn’t show anything really shocking, check out the platform preview and you’re back up to date. One thing I really liked was Giorgio’s opinion about the Acid 3 test. I agree that this test is mostly a marketing thing and that its relevance as a tool to test whether a browser is standard-compliant is very low. The number of test-cases in Acid 3 is low and the things that are being tested are very often rather unrealistic scenarios. What I did not like was that he kept on talking about improving the performance of IE by making it render pages faster. I don’t care you make my page render ten milliseconds faster, I only care a little that you can make a bunch of browser logo’s spin at over 60 frames per second (by the way, he demoed that Chrome only runs the animation at 3 FPS, but apparently the current version of Opera can do the trick just as fast as the preview of IE9, take a look at the screenshot or try it yourself).



What I do care about, is how fast a browser feels. When I fire up Chrome or Opera or even good old Firefox, I can immediately start typing and the browser will immediately be responsive, making suggestions about where I might want to go. When I fire up Internet Explorer I often find myself waiting for the browser to load that start page I don’t really need to see and while not being able to type or while not (yet) getting any suggestions. I’m talking about seconds, not milliseconds. I’m talking about a long and deep sigh, not about the blink of an eye.

Next was the session called “A day in the life of a Silverlight/WPF integrator” by Laurant Bugnion. If you don’t have a clue what an integrator is, neither did I. Apparently an integrator is someone who takes a design from a designer (Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks, …) and turns it into XAML using Expression Blend, Expression Design, a calculator and some rulers. Laurant showed some great features in Blend I didn’t know about (did you know there’s a tool to copy a gradient from anywhere on the screen?). Having that said, I’m not entirely sure whether I like the role of “integrator”. They had designers who used to work with Adobe tools, they started to develop things in Silverlight and WPF and because they didn’t want the designers to learn how to use Blend (a tool built for designers…) they created an entirely new role, the role of integrator. These “integrators” then had to learn the basic features of the Adobe tools and how to use the Microsoft tools only to create a scenario where the designer still can’t control the final result of his design and the integrators spend their days measuring and translating bitmaps into XAML. This doesn’t sound very efficient to me. I like to design (I’m not saying I’m good at it), I like to write code, but I’m afraid I would really hate to “integrate”.

Scott Hanselman then tried to teach us some “ASP.NET MVC 2 ninja blank belt tips”. Good tips, great speaker. Loved it. Giorgio Sardo took the last session slot with a talk about Windows Phone 7 Series (why you can drop that last word). This was (correct me if I’m wrong) the first public WP7 demo in Belgium. It’s pretty hard not to like that.

Then I had Chinese food with Jeroen. (many people told me not write about the food, so I really had to write that…)

Part three coming soon … Move on to part 3

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Techdays 2010: Wrap-up (part 1)
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This week I’ve been attending two Microsoft events in Antwerp: the Students to Business day on Tuesday and the Techdays on Wednesday and Thursday. At the Students to Business day I was a speaker (if you are looking for my demos: over here).

Let’s start with the Students to Business day. I was very much involved in this event so please forgive me if I’m a bit biased, feel free to comment or mail me if you have any feedback on this event and/or on my talk.

This day for students started with a keynote by Phillip Vandervoort, Eva Van Laere, Yves Kerwyn, Kimberly Voltero and Luc Van de Velde. Phillip and Luc are experienced speakers and they did well, but of course most students were waiting for some technical content. Eva and Yves did a chaotic presentation of some new features in Office 2010. Unfortunately a lot went wrong during those demos. In my opinion the best part of the keynote was Kimberly’s part: The Power of Students.

After the keynote, the real fun started. First up: Bart Wullems about .Net 4 and VS2010. Good presenter, good content, I liked it and I learned some new things. After the lunch it was my turn. “Five things you’ll love about Silverlight” Right before my talk I was standing next to the stage, looking into the room full of students and, you know, freaking out… But once my slides appeared I just started and everything went well. The feedback I got so far was pretty positive so I’m really glad I accepted the invitation to do a talk. If you’ve got any feedback, please let me know! After my talk Bart De Smet, a young Belgian who currently works for Microsoft in Redmond talked about how Microsoft uses TFS to manage and test large software projects. I liked it, the audience liked it and I’m pretty sure Bart liked it too. Sumit Mehrotra closed the day with a talk about Azure.

After the students to Business day we were invited by Microsoft to go to the Sportpaleis to watch Starwars in concert. I’m not exactly a Starwars fan, but still an impressive show!

Wednesday and Thursday we attended the Techdays. I’ll post about the Techdays later. Go to part 2



Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Presentation on Students to Business day 2010
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Just a few hours ago I did a presentation "Five things you'll love about Silverlight" on the Microsoft Students to Business day 2010 in Antwerp. All went well and I promised to publish my demos on this blog, so here you go:

A zip with the demo source code

A running demo

The slides (without the video, Powerpoint 2010 only)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Plugg 2010
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Today I have attended Plugg 2010, a one-day conference in Brussels about web and mobile startups in Europe. I'm not going to write an in-depth report of this conference, but I would like to share some thoughts.

  

First and foremost, although I'm a computer science student who isn't currently involved in a startup, these sessions where very interesting and inspirational for me too. I really, really liked the short (20 minute) presentations this morning, most of them were very good. I especially liked Astrid Sandoval's talk about Issuu.

There was also a startup contest, the 20 finalists of this contest each did a 2 minute presentation. Both the audience and a professional jury where voting. To note: summarizing your whole idea in 2 minutes can be quite hard and some finalists did a very well, but others failed to make clear what their startups are doing. The 3 best startups then each did a 10 minute presentation. Raz*War won the audience award and Fits.me won the contest.

After the startup rally there where some more keynotes. I enjoyed the sessions about mobile applications and how to make money with them. The presentation of Opera Software Chairman Jon S. von Tetzchner was very insightful too (e.g. how does Opera make money with a free browser).

The venue for this event was the Begacom Sufhouse. Nice hall and conference room, but we suspect that Belgacom uses the big hall either as a storage space for weapons of mass destruction or to build aircrafts. The pictures should clarify why we think that. Either way, not the best location for people who are afraid of heights.

  

All pictures and videos of the conference are available online.

I attended Plugg 2010 as a guest of the organisation, special thanks to Zeus for making this possible!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Building a conference website and registration system
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Over the past few weeks, I've been working on the website and registration system for the Students to Business Day 2010.

On a related note: registrations have opened, you can now register for this free event on www.s2b2010.be. I'm doing a one-hour session called "Five things you'll love about Silverlight", on the developers track.

The registration system also includes a portal for schools to verify which of their students have already registered. Administrators get some basic statistics about the participants and a list of names, email-addresses and phone numbers. The styled list is nice, but not very handy in some situations. For that reason, there's an export to Excel function too.

Pictures:

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