Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Windows Live Writer

Up until recently my blogging experience has been, come up with an idea, write up the blog entry in an Outlook email (so I can spell check), copy-and-paste to Blogspot and format the text and insert links using HTML mark up.  This process has worked very well except I have to hand craft my links and double check that they are all working before I post.

I have seen Windows Live Writer around for a while and had the usual thought 'I should look at that', well finally I did and WOW!

I installed Live Writer, pointed it at my Blogspot account (a google site) and it signed-in checked the account took some settings from the site to configure my experience and here I am writing this blog from inside Live Writer.

The experience is everything I could hope for its a complete Word-like experience with the usual spell checking, something I greatly need, font formatting, tables, bullet points etc, insertion of links and also difference media (pictures, videos etc). Once I have finished formatting my blog entry I click 'publish' and it appears in my blog, the experience of the interface means that I could stop physically logging into my Blogspot account from now on, if I so wished.

If you write a blog or are thinking of writing one but are held back by the process of having to use another web interface then give Windows Live Writer a go I am sure that once you start using it you will suddenly realise that the only thing stopping you from blogging now is time and ideas.

To download Windows Live writer go here

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Microsoft Marketing - Win A Dream Office

We all know that the Microsoft marketing machine is big and strong, they have come up with some interesting ways to promote their products.  For example to promote the use of Visual Studio the Defy All Challenges web site was created which seemed to serve no other purpose than to tell you something we all know, Visual Studio is great!

Along the same line of slightly pointless marketing web sites Microsoft are running a new competition to win £500 worth of office equipment.  To gain your entry to this competition you first have to navigate around a virtual office  and click you way through a number of clues to find the keys, all while being told how great the Microsoft suite of office products are.

If you have the spare time you can find the web site here

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

WPF Boot Camp - FREE

WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) is a fantastic new UI technology available to the .NET developer, which also appears as a sub set in Silverlight.  So you can see that WPF will soon surround every .NET developer.

The biggest issue with a new technology is finding the best resource to learn it, and for those of us with tight IT budgets, the backing to learn it.

The Internet always has resources to allow you to learn these technologies for free and there have been a number of articles on Codeproject, MSDN and Nibbles however these articles and tutorials fall short of providing the complete information from end to end for the beginner.

Microsoft  have addressed this shortfall by providing a complete online boot camp.  The boot camp was originally run for a number of selected individuals who attended it in Redmond, but as the organisers brought the speaker list together they realised that they had got together the WPF cream.  The list of speakers included, among others, Ian Griffith who presented at the Bristol VBUG last year.

The online presentations are structures in the same way as if you had attended the boot camp, opening with a keynote followed by presentations to teach you the entire WPF technology.  You can view the videos online, through Silverlight, or download them as WMV.

As an additional bonus you also have two hands on labs to complete at your leisure.

To get hold of this amazing resource go here

Monday, 12 November 2007

Visual Studio Team System Widgets

VSTS is a large application and contains a number of interest areas for all users, some need to watch the check in rate or code churn (the count of code lines changes) and some just need to make sure that they have the latest version of their files when they check them out.

For those of your who know VSTS you will know that although you can get hold of the information you need or perform the necessary actions you do have to go through some hoops, the power tools power tools for VSTS help a lot but there is still some gaps.

Now as most of us are programmers we could use the VSTS SDK to write our own Visual Studio add-in. The SDK is very well documented and you can create great a very powerful tool to do any number of VSTS related functions, however if you are like me you most probably have a number of other project on the go and no time for anymore.

Never fear there is a website called Team System Widgets to help you find the widget you are after bringing together a list of developed widgets from commercial, community and Microsoft sources. The web site contains tools for build monitoring to VSTS event subscription.

Click here to find out more

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Team Development with Visual Studio Team Foundation Server

To use and make software correctly you need guidance, a manual for how the makers suggest you use it. I am very keen on getting hold of the guidance produced by Microsoft whenever it is available especially when it comes to Team System. The amount of work to get Team System correctly set up is quite a lot, although it’s a great product, it is very easy to get lost in its implementation.

To help bridge the knowledge gap the team responsible for the development of Team System have created a WIKI on Codeplex and also created an overall guidance document which has recently been put on MSDN.

Each document encompasses a lot of information for users and administrators of Team System, if you have not already looked at both of these sources I suggest you do so now to avoid misconceptions and incorrect implementations into your SDLC.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Speed up Visual Studio 2005

Like most developers I hate waiting for my PC especially once I have hit F5, in Visual Studio, I do not want to wait for it to compile all 20 projects I want it done NOW! Ok maybe I am a bit impatient, for those of you who find Visual Studio 2005 to run a little slow there are a few little tweaks you can do to make it run that little bit faster.

You can find these very helpful tips here

10 types of programmers you’ll encounter in the field

When working in the IT industry it is hard not to pigeon hole your fellow codes by their actions. Normally the only people I tend to categorise are the ones who do not work efficiently and without passion for doing a good job, these people I tend to categorise as the ‘9-to-5ers’ for their commitment to fitting all IT related learning and working to the hours between 9am and 5pm.

However there are many other categories you can use to identify the type of programmers you are surrounded by and a recent article by Justin James gives you the top ten, by his own experience. It’s a very interesting read as I have worked with nearly all 10 types of people and I am sure you have too.

Read it here