Category Archives: Podcasts

Straining at Gnats

Here in the south (I live in Alabama) we have a saying “quit straining at gnats”. A gnat, by the way, is a very tiny bug that proliferates during the summer and tends to fly in your face when you walk outdoors. The saying essentially means “you’re working very hard to get rid of something very small”.

In Episode 300 of Dot Net Rocks (a great episode) Richard Campbell tells a great story. The short version is Richard is called in to look at a computer that’s having problems. It’s the mid 80’s or so, and this PC is responsible for downloading financial info. Every hour the computer reboots itself and they have to go start it all back up. He says “I can fix it, but it’ll cost you 3 grand”. Client sputters and says they’ll think about it.

Two weeks later he gets the call “OK, you got the 3 grand, come fix it.” So on the way to the client he stops and spends 1500 bucks on a new PC, puts it in place at the client, copies all the old software over and boom it’s up and running perfectly. As he’s walking out the door, check in hand, he’s asked “what was wrong with it?” “Heck if I know.” Richard replies. “But the problems fixed.”

It’s a great story (and much funnier when you hear Richard tell it), but it illustrates a great point. All too often we obsess over some problem, and lose sight of the desired result. All too often we focus on some piece of code, trying to come up with the most “elegant” solution, or frustrate ourselves over some piece of code instead of tossing it and rewriting.

I’m not saying write bad code, or write sloppy code in a hurry just to get it done. I am saying when you run across a problem, don’t get so invested in it that you don’t see alternatives. Time and again I see a developer getting stuck on a problem, trying to fix some arcane piece of code, or spending hours to get that extra millisecond from a SQL query.

When you run across that road block, take some time. Push back from your computer and think for a moment. Think what the true outcome of your application is supposed to be. Not “what will the program do” but “what will the program do for the user???” Think about how best to achieve the users goals.

As Campbell pointed out several times in the episode, when you are writing software for a business it’s all about making money. Your program should either make or save the company money in some fashion. Whether it’s by crunching numbers in a faster, more efficient way than a human could, by providing information in a more timely fashion, or any of a thousand other scenarios. Never lose sight of the fact your software is to provide a solution, and not being written for artistic purposes.

Don’t get so lost in the code that you wind up straining at gnats.

SQL Server 2005 Learning Resources

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately in the SQL Server realm, learning all I can about it as both a database and business intelligence platform. Turns out to be a far more complex, and fascinating subject than I’d first imagined. I thought that you too might find some of the same resources I’ve been using useful. All of these are free, which is a great price.

Rather than putting them all here, I’ve updated my Arcane Links page (https://arcanecode.wordpress.com/arcane-links/ ) with a new section on SQL Server 2005 Resources. Over the holidays I plan to update the links page with fresher links, local user groups, etc. I’m also working on learning SQL Server 2008 as well, so look for those links upcoming shortly.

A timely mention, the RunAsRadio that was released this week (episode 36, see the RunAsRadio link in the links page) has an interview with Kimberly Tripp and Paul Randal. Not only was it a great interview, they let it slip they’re actually considering doing a show. If you’d like to see a SQL Server show, please leave a comment over on Carl Franklin’s blog (http://shrinkster.com/sv5 ) and let them know. Personally I’m thrilled, there’s a lot of good shows on Visual Studio but only one good one that I know of for SQL Server, SQL Server Down Under (again see my links page). If you know of other shows let me know by leaving a comment here. I figure there’s plenty of room for more and Kim and Paul would be a great duo.

Over time my posts will catch up with what I’m learning, and I’ll start getting more into SQL Server content as time goes by. Meanwhile check out the links and learn along with me.

The Arcane Coder

For all those of you who have written, yes it was my e-mail that Richard Campbell read on a recent .Net Rocks. Specifically episode 291, http://www.dotnetrocks.com/default.aspx?showNum=291 (the e-mail is read about 6 minutes into it if you are the impatient type).

It’s a really good episode, and I don’t just say that because they read my mail. Kent Alstad gave a great interview in talking about scalability and application development. I highly encourage you to listen all the way through. I have a select group of DNR episodes that I will listen to several times, and this one is going to be added to that list, great stuff.

.Net University – BizTalk

Earlier this week I was privilidged to attend the first .Net University for BizTalk. It was a very informative day long session, I feel like I now have a grasp on at least the fundementals of BizTalk and can talk intelligently about it. I have a long way to go, of course, but this was a great launching point.

If you are not familiar with .Net University, you need to check out their website http://www.dotnet-u.com/ . All of the slide decks, labs, and other courseware are availble not only for you to look at, but to use in doing your own presentation. Your user group or business could put on it’s very own .Net University using the supplied materials. Don’t worry if you are not a guru, they are even publishing videos of the sessions for you to watch and see how the “pros” did it. Currently courseware is available for .Net 3.0 and BizTalk, and the video sessions for .Net 3.0 were just released. They videoed the presentations at the BizTalk session I was in, so I would expect them to be released in the near future. Coming soon will be courseware for Sharepoint and Silverlight.

.Net University was the brainchild of Microsoft Developer Evangelist Doug Tunure ( http://blogs.msdn.com/dougturn/ ). Recently he and Mark Dunn of Dunn Training (http://www.dunntraining.com/) went to TechEd in Asia and used .Net U there. Mark Dunn recorded interviews and talked about it in a recent Dot Net Rocks episode (#288: http://www.dotnetrocks.com/default.aspx?showNum=288 ). Take a listen, they do a better job of explaining it than I can. Mark, by the way, was also one of the presenters at the BizTalk session I was in.

If your user group is looking for a good opportunity to reach out to the community, consider putting on your own .Net U. You can do it in one day, or break it into two or four sessions. Looks like there will be a lot of good material to get you started, and you can even get certificates to present to your attendees.

The Silverlight Match the Dot Net Rocks Hosts Game – Part 3 – The Javascript

Today I’ve posted the Javascript for my DNR game (see posts from last two days). As you can see, it’s very straight forward and doesn’t require much explanation.

When the app loads, it calls a routine that uses a random number generator to randomly select a layout for the photos.

The other large routine handles mouse clicks. The really tricky part was determining which images were displayed and which were not. I finally resorted to using the Tag property of each Canvas control. In the Tag I put two numbers, each being a 0 or a 1. The first number represents a Boolean that flags whether the images is visible or not. The second position notes whether the image has already been matched. There are a number of SetCanvas… helper routines to make the setting of these flags a bit easier.

I make a lot of use of Math.Random to generate random numbers. I then use these to determine various messages that get displayed across the middle of the screen, tha way the user won’t get bored.

OK, enough talk, here’s the code. I’ve documented it pretty well, but if you have questions send me an e-mail or post a comment.

 

if (!window.DNRMatch)

  window.DNRMatch = {};

 

DNRMatch.Scene = function()

{

}

 

// ****************************************************************************

// * Author: Robert C. Cain, Arcane Code, http://arcanecode.com

// *

// * Notes

// *

// * The heart of the system relies on the tag property of the Canvas controls

// * used to display the pictures. It was the only mechanism I could find to

// * easily provide persistance between calls.

// *

// * The tag currently is a two character string. The first character is 0

// * or 1 and indicates if the ? is showing (a 0) or the Answer image is

// * being displayed (value is 1).

// *

// * The second position is also a 0 or 1, and indicates if the image has been

// * matched yet by the user or not. (0=no, 1=yes)

// *

// ****************************************************************************

 

// I store this here as it gets loaded and used in several places

var imgList = new Array(10);

 

DNRMatch.Scene.prototype =

{

  // Runs when app is first loaded

  handleLoad: function(plugIn, userContext, rootElement)

  {

    // Get the inital list of images into imgList array

    RandomizeImages();

 

    this.plugIn = plugIn;

 

    // Can’t use SetImages function since we don’t have a sender

    for(i=0; i<10; i++)

    {     

      plugIn.content.findName(“imgAnswer0” + i.toString()).Source=imgList[i];

    }

  }

}

 

//=============================================================================

// Main routine, activated when a user clicks on any image

//=============================================================================

function imgMouseLeftButtonDown(sender, mouseEventArgs)

{           

    var imgNumber = sender.Name.substr(3,2);

    var imgIndex = imgNumber.valueOf();

    var msg = sender.findName(“StatusArea”);

    var imgCurrentImage = sender.findName(“imgAnswer” + imgNumber);

 

    // Show the hidden image   

    if(CanvasVisible(sender, imgIndex)==“0”)

    {

      sender.findName(“img” + imgNumber + “RevealAnimation”).begin();

      sender.tag = “1” + sender.tag.substr(1,1);

    }

 

    var msgText=“”;

    var foundMatch=false;

 

    // Now check to see if another image is also visible.

    // If so, we’ll want to check for a match.     

    for(i=0; i<10; i++)

    {

      // If we’re not dealing with the same image

      if(i != imgIndex)

      {

        var imgLoopAnswer = sender.findName(“imgAnswer” + imgNumber);

 

        // If the image is visible

        if(CanvasVisible(sender, i.toString()) == “1”)

        {

          // See if it’s same image

          if( GetSource(sender, i)==GetSource(sender, imgIndex) )

          {

            // Congratulate user, then set the matched tags

            msg.text=GoodJobMessage(sender, i);

            SetCanvasMatchedTag(sender, i);

            SetCanvasMatchedTag(sender, imgIndex);

            foundMatch=true;

          }

        }

      }

    } 

 

    // See if we need to show a “no match” message

    if(foundMatch==false// If we didn’t find a match…

    {

      // If there are two items visible

      if (VisibleButUnmatchedCount(sender)==2)

      {

        // Show the bad job message

        msg.text=BadJobMessage();

      }

      else

      {

        // Only one image visible, set message to empty

        msg.text=“”;

      }

    }

 

    // Reset non-matches

    if (VisibleButUnmatchedCount(sender)==2)

    {

      for(i=0; i<10; i++)  // for each canvas

      {

        if(CanvasMatched(sender, i) == “0”) // if it hasn’t been matched

        {

          if(CanvasVisible(sender, i) == “1”// but it’s visible

          {

            sender.findName(“img0” + i.toString() + “HideAnimation”).begin(); // hide it

            SetCanvasInVisibleTag(sender, i);

            SetCanvasUnMatchedTag(sender, i);

          }

        }

      }     

    }

 

    // Check For Victory

    if(MatchCount(sender)==10)

    {

      msg.text=“You Won!!! Press Reset Game to play again.”;

    }

 

//    Just some debugging code, will leave it as it makes for good demo   

//    msg.text=ShowTags(sender);

//    msg.text=ShowSources(sender);

}

 

//=============================================================================

// Check the Tag property of the canvas to see if the image is visible

//=============================================================================

function CanvasVisible(sender, canvasNumber)

{

  var canvasNum = canvasNumber.toString();

  if(canvasNum.length > 1)

  {

    canvasNum = canvasNum.substr(canvasNum.length –  1, 1);

  }

  var currentCanvas = sender.findName(“img0” + canvasNum);

  var isCanvasVisible = currentCanvas.tag.substr(0,1);

  return isCanvasVisible;

 

}

 

//=============================================================================

// Check the Tag property of the canvas to see if the image has been matched

//=============================================================================

function CanvasMatched(sender, canvasNumber)

{

  var canvasNum = canvasNumber.toString();

  if(canvasNum.length > 1)

  {

    canvasNum = canvasNum.substr(canvasNum.length –  1, 1);

  }

  var currentCanvas = sender.findName(“img0” + canvasNum);

  var isCanvasMatched = currentCanvas.tag.substr(1,1);

  return isCanvasMatched;

}

 

//=============================================================================

// Set the Tag property of the canvas to indicate

// this canvas’s image is visible

//=============================================================================

function SetCanvasVisibleTag(sender, canvasNumber)

{

  var canvasNum = canvasNumber.toString();

  if(canvasNum.length > 1)

  {

    canvasNum = canvasNum.substr(canvasNum.length –  1, 1);

  }

  var currentCanvas = sender.findName(“img0” + canvasNum);

  currentCanvas.tag = “1” + currentCanvas.tag.substr(1,1);

}

 

//=============================================================================

// Set the Tag property of the canvas to indicate

// this canvas’s image is not visible

//=============================================================================

function SetCanvasInVisibleTag(sender, canvasNumber)

{

  var canvasNum = canvasNumber.toString();

  if(canvasNum.length > 1)

  {

    canvasNum = canvasNum.substr(canvasNum.length –  1, 1);

  }

  var currentCanvas = sender.findName(“img0” + canvasNum);

  currentCanvas.tag = “0” + currentCanvas.tag.substr(1,1);

}

 

//=============================================================================

// Set the Tag property of the canvas to indicate

// this canvas’s image has been matched

//=============================================================================

function SetCanvasMatchedTag(sender, canvasNumber)

{

  var canvasNum = canvasNumber.toString();

  if(canvasNum.length > 1)

  {

    canvasNum = canvasNum.substr(canvasNum.length –  1, 1);

  }

  var currentCanvas = sender.findName(“img0” + canvasNum);

  currentCanvas.tag = currentCanvas.tag.substr(0,1) + “1” ;

}

 

//=============================================================================

// Set the Tag property of the canvas to indicate

// this canvas’s image is not matched

//=============================================================================

function SetCanvasUnMatchedTag(sender, canvasNumber)

{

  var canvasNum = canvasNumber.toString();

  if(canvasNum.length > 1)

  {

    canvasNum = canvasNum.substr(canvasNum.length –  1, 1);

  }

  var currentCanvas = sender.findName(“img0” + canvasNum);

  currentCanvas.tag = currentCanvas.tag.substr(0,1) + “0” ;

}

 

//=============================================================================

// Count the number of items left that are visible, but not

// matched. In theory this should either be 0, 1 or 2.

//=============================================================================

function VisibleButUnmatchedCount(sender)

{

  var retVal=0;

 

  for(i=0; i<10; i++)

  {

    if(CanvasVisible(sender, i)==“1”)

    {

      if(CanvasMatched(sender, i)==“0”)

      {

        retVal++;

      }

    }

  }

 

  return retVal;

}

 

//=============================================================================

// Count the number of items that are matched.

// When it reached 10 we’ll know they won

//=============================================================================

function MatchCount(sender)

{

  var retVal=0;

 

  for(i=0; i<10; i++)

  {

    if(CanvasMatched(sender, i)==“1”)

    {

      retVal++;

    }

  }

 

  return retVal;

}

 

//=============================================================================

// Get the file name of the image used in the sender control

//=============================================================================

function GetSource(sender, imageNumber)

{

  var imgNum = imageNumber.toString();

  if(imgNum.length > 1)

  {

    imgNum = imgNum.substr(imgNum.length – 1, 1);

  }

 

  var img = sender.findName(“imgAnswer0” + imgNum );

  return img.Source; 

}

 

//=============================================================================

// Create a “Bad Guess” message

//=============================================================================

function BadJobMessage()

{

  // Randomly select from the list of “Try again” messages

  var possibleMsgs = new Array(5);

  possibleMsgs[0] = “Nope, try again.”;

  possibleMsgs[1] = “I don’t think so!”;

  possibleMsgs[2] = “Dude, not even close!”;

  possibleMsgs[3] = “Don’t give up yet, keep trying!”;

  possibleMsgs[4] = “Ha! Don’t make me laugh.”;

  possibleMsgs[5] = “I’ve heard of wild guesses, but gee whiz. Try again.”;

 

  var randomNum = Math.floor(Math.random()*6);

 

  return possibleMsgs[randomNum];

 

}

 

//=============================================================================

// Create a Good Job message based on the image the user

// just matched.

//=============================================================================

function GoodJobMessage(sender, imageNumber)

{

  var retMsg = “Good Job.”;

  var possibleMsgs = new Array(9);

 

  if(GetSource(sender, imageNumber)==“Carl02.png”)

  {

    possibleMsgs[0] = “Carl says you da man!”;

    possibleMsgs[1] = “You must be that squirt king of C#. We will make a T-shirt for you.”;

    possibleMsgs[2] = “A catheter and somebody to bring you a sandwich once in a while. That’s living man.”;

    possibleMsgs[3] = “While you shampoo your hair… Wait I guess that rules out C++ programmers.”;

    possibleMsgs[4] = “Some people go to sleep listening to DNR.”;

    possibleMsgs[5] = “”;

    possibleMsgs[6] = “”;

    possibleMsgs[7] = “”;

    possibleMsgs[8] = “”;

    retMsg = possibleMsgs[Math.floor(Math.random()*5)];

  }

 

  if(GetSource(sender, imageNumber)==“Richard01.png”)

  {

    possibleMsgs[0] = “It’s Richard, the Toy Boy!”;

    possibleMsgs[1] = “Now we got emotional baggage.”;

    possibleMsgs[2] = “Ballmer is always great. He seems a lot less angry these days, I think they switched him to decaf.”;

    possibleMsgs[3] = “Everytime you say Web 2.0, a startup dies.”;

    possibleMsgs[4] = “My favorite Martian is Mark Miller!”;

    possibleMsgs[5] = “Don’t play with it, just look at it!”;

    possibleMsgs[6] = “You [Mark Miller] are the Jim Carey of the podcasting world.”;

    possibleMsgs[7] = “Welcome to the dark side baby!”;

    possibleMsgs[8] = “”;

    retMsg = possibleMsgs[Math.floor(Math.random()*8)];

  }

 

  if(GetSource(sender, imageNumber)==“Rory.png”)

  {

    possibleMsgs[0] = “Rory rewards you by allowing you to gaze upon his magnificence.”;

    possibleMsgs[1] = “You are testing my patience Franklin!”;

    possibleMsgs[2] = “You’re like some kid from a third world country…”;

    possibleMsgs[3] = “It’s a place where you can talk about anal leakage.”;

    possibleMsgs[4] = “I was pretending to tweak Mark Dunn’s nipples like they were radio knobs.”;

    possibleMsgs[5] = “I was talking about how weird it was to see Mark Dunn in the flesh.”;

    possibleMsgs[6] = “”;

    possibleMsgs[7] = “”;

    possibleMsgs[8] = “”;

    retMsg = possibleMsgs[Math.floor(Math.random()*5)];

  }

 

  if(GetSource(sender, imageNumber)==“Mark.png”)

  {

    possibleMsgs[0] = “Mark Dunn says it’s always sunny in the south!”;

    possibleMsgs[1] = “I gotta clean my underwear now Carl.”;

    possibleMsgs[2] = “I am higher than a California Condor on Ecstasy, that’s how excited I am to be here.”;

    possibleMsgs[3] = “”;

    possibleMsgs[4] = “”;

    possibleMsgs[5] = “”;

    possibleMsgs[6] = “”;

    possibleMsgs[7] = “”;

    possibleMsgs[8] = “”;

    retMsg = possibleMsgs[Math.floor(Math.random()*3)];

  }

 

  if(GetSource(sender, imageNumber)==“Miller.png”)

  {

    possibleMsgs[0] = “I got nuthin’ man.”;

    possibleMsgs[1] = “You guys are messing with me again!”;

    possibleMsgs[2] = “My golden ticket on the candy bar said it was about a new co-host!”;

    possibleMsgs[3] = “I want one of these!”;

    possibleMsgs[4] = “What about me Carl?”;

    possibleMsgs[5] = “I’m good lookin too!”;

    possibleMsgs[6] = “”;

    possibleMsgs[7] = “”;

    possibleMsgs[8] = “”;

    retMsg = possibleMsgs[Math.floor(Math.random()*6)];

  }

 

  return retMsg;

}

 

//=============================================================================

// Reset the game for another play

//=============================================================================

function ResetGame(sender, mouseEventArgs)

{

    sender.findName(“mainHideAnimation”).begin(); // hide it

 

    for(i=0; i<10; i++)  // for each canvas

    {

      SetCanvasUnMatchedTag(sender, i);

      if(CanvasVisible(sender, i) == “1”// but it’s visible

      {

        sender.findName(“img0” + i.toString() + “HideAnimation”).begin(); // hide it

        SetCanvasInVisibleTag(sender, i);

      }

    }

 

    RandomizeImages();

    SetImages(sender);

 

    var msg = sender.findName(“StatusArea”);

    msg.text = “Play the game!”;

 

    sender.findName(“mainRevealAnimation”).begin(); // hide it

 

}

 

//=============================================================================

// Create a random number, then use it to pick and load the

// imgList array. Used to mix up the images.

//=============================================================================

function RandomizeImages()

{

    // Default set

    imgList[0] = “Carl02.png”;

    imgList[1] = “Richard01.png”;

    imgList[2] = “Rory.png”;

    imgList[3] = “Mark.png”;

    imgList[4] = “Miller.png”;

    imgList[5] = “Miller.png”;

    imgList[6] = “Mark.png”;

    imgList[7] = “Rory.png”;

    imgList[8] = “Richard01.png”;

    imgList[9] = “Carl02.png”;

 

    var randomNum = Math.floor(Math.random()*9);

 

    if(randomNum==0)

    {

      imgList[0] = “Carl02.png”;

      imgList[1] = “Richard01.png”;

      imgList[2] = “Rory.png”;

      imgList[3] = “Mark.png”;

      imgList[4] = “Miller.png”;

      imgList[5] = “Miller.png”;

      imgList[6] = “Mark.png”;

      imgList[7] = “Rory.png”;

      imgList[8] = “Richard01.png”;

      imgList[9] = “Carl02.png”;

    }

 

    if(randomNum==1)

    {

      imgList[0] = “Rory.png”;

      imgList[1] = “Mark.png”;

      imgList[2] = “Miller.png”;

      imgList[3] = “Richard01.png”;

      imgList[4] = “Carl02.png”;

      imgList[5] = “Rory.png”;

      imgList[6] = “Carl02.png”;

      imgList[7] = “Miller.png”;

      imgList[8] = “Richard01.png”;

      imgList[9] = “Mark.png”;

    }

 

    if(randomNum==2)

    {

      imgList[0] = “Rory.png”;

      imgList[1] = “Mark.png”;

      imgList[2] = “Miller.png”;

      imgList[3] = “Richard01.png”;

      imgList[4] = “Carl02.png”;

      imgList[5] = “Mark.png”;

      imgList[6] = “Rory.png”;

      imgList[7] = “Carl02.png”;

      imgList[8] = “Richard01.png”;

      imgList[9] = “Miller.png”;

    }

 

    if(randomNum==3)

    {

      imgList[0] = “Carl02.png”;

      imgList[1] = “Rory.png”;

      imgList[2] = “Richard01.png”;

      imgList[3] = “Carl02.png”;

      imgList[4] = “Miller.png”;

      imgList[5] = “Rory.png”;

      imgList[6] = “Miller.png”;

      imgList[7] = “Mark.png”;

      imgList[8] = “Richard01.png”;

      imgList[9] = “Mark.png”;

    }

 

    if(randomNum==4)

    {

      imgList[0] = “Mark.png”;

      imgList[1] = “Rory.png”;

      imgList[2] = “Rory.png”;

      imgList[3] = “Carl02.png”;

      imgList[4] = “Miller.png”;

      imgList[5] = “Carl02.png”;

      imgList[6] = “Richard01.png”;

      imgList[7] = “Mark.png”;

      imgList[8] = “Richard01.png”;

      imgList[9] = “Miller.png”;

    }

 

    if(randomNum==5)

    {

      imgList[0] = “Carl02.png”;

      imgList[1] = “Mark.png”;

      imgList[2] = “Richard01.png”;

      imgList[3] = “Richard01.png”;

      imgList[4] = “Rory.png”;

      imgList[5] = “Mark.png”;

      imgList[6] = “Rory.png”;

      imgList[7] = “Carl02.png”;

      imgList[8] = “Miller.png”;

      imgList[9] = “Miller.png”;

    }

 

    if(randomNum==6)

    {

      imgList[0] = “Mark.png”;

      imgList[1] = “Carl02.png”;

      imgList[2] = “Mark.png”;

      imgList[3] = “Richard01.png”;

      imgList[4] = “Rory.png”;

      imgList[5] = “Miller.png”;

      imgList[6] = “Rory.png”;

      imgList[7] = “Miller.png”;

      imgList[8] = “Richard01.png”;

      imgList[9] = “Carl02.png”;

    }

 

    if(randomNum==7)

    {

      imgList[0] = “Rory.png”;

      imgList[1] = “Carl02.png”;

      imgList[2] = “Mark.png”;

      imgList[3] = “Richard01.png”;

      imgList[4] = “Mark.png”;

      imgList[5] = “Miller.png”;

      imgList[6] = “Miller.png”;

      imgList[7] = “Richard01.png”;

      imgList[8] = “Carl02.png”;

      imgList[9] = “Rory.png”;

    }

 

    if(randomNum==8)

    {

      imgList[0] = “Richard01.png”;

      imgList[1] = “Rory.png”;

      imgList[2] = “Mark.png”;

      imgList[3] = “Carl02.png”;

      imgList[4] = “Miller.png”;

      imgList[5] = “Mark.png”;

      imgList[6] = “Carl02.png”;

      imgList[7] = “Richard01.png”;

      imgList[8] = “Rory.png”;

      imgList[9] = “Miller.png”;

    }

}

 

//=============================================================================

// Sets the image source property for all the images

// to the image name loaded in the imgList array

//=============================================================================

function SetImages(sender)

{

    for(i=0; i<10; i++)

    {     

      sender.findName(“imgAnswer0” + i.toString()).Source=imgList[i];

    }

}

 

//=============================================================================

// Causes the job to wait a certain number of milliseconds.

// Has a drawback in that it does not pause animations,

// so if you use it while an animation is happening you won’t

// see the animation effect but it will ‘jerk’ to the final result.

//=============================================================================

function wait(msecs)

{

  var start = new Date().getTime();

  var cur = start

  while(cur – start < msecs)

  {

    cur = new Date().getTime();

  }

}

 

//=============================================================================

// For debugging only – Shows all the images.

//=============================================================================

function ShowSources(sender)

{

  var retVal=“”;

  for(i=0; i<10; i++)

  {

 

    retVal += i.toString() + “: “ + GetSource(sender, i);

  }

  return retVal;

}

 

 

//=============================================================================

// For debugging only – Shows the tags

//=============================================================================

function ShowTags(sender)

{

  retVal = “”;

  for(i=0; i<10; i++)

  {

    var currentCanvas = sender.findName(“img0” + i.toString());

    retVal += currentCanvas.tag + ” “;

  }

  return retVal; 

}

The Silverlight Match the Dot Net Rocks Hosts Game – Part 2 – The XAML

Because it’s quite long I’ve posted the XAML at the foot of this post. It’s pretty straight forward though. In Silverlight 1.0 XAML, you’re restricted to using a Canvas for your containers.

In this case I use 10 child canvases, one for each of the photos. At the start of the XAML for each image canvas I have two Storyboards in the Canvas.Resources section. One storyboard fades the question mark out then the photo in. The other reverses it, fading out the photo and in the question mark.

Next I put a rectangle around the entire game, then display the title bar. After that I display the instructions at the bottom using colors similar to the title bar.

A series of 10 canvases come next, each one holds two image controls, one for the question mark and one for the picture of the host. When the app starts, the Javascript replaces the Source property for each of the Answer images with a photo of the host, but you’ll see that tomorrow.

The only other thing to note is how mouse clicks are captured. There is no Click even as you might be used to with WPF, instead you have to capture the MouseLeftButtonDown. I route all 10 images’ MouseLeftButtonDown events to the same Javascript method, and use the Sender parameter to differentiate which of the 10 Canvases were clicked.

The final thing to note is the Reset Game button, which really isn’t a button but a canvas, which holds a rectangle with some cool gradients and a text block. Just like with the images, the canvas’ MouseLeftButtonDown is captured and the corresponding Javascript routine is called.

OK, enough explanation for today, here’s the code:

 

<Canvas xmlns=http://schemas.microsoft.com/client/2007

        xmlns:x=http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml

        x:Name=mainCanvas

        Width=800 Height=500 Background=Black>

 

  <Canvas.Resources>

    <Storyboard x:Name=mainRevealAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:01.5 From=0 To=1

                      Storyboard.TargetName=mainCanvas

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

    <Storyboard x:Name=mainHideAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:01.5 From=1 To=0

                      Storyboard.TargetName=mainCanvas

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

 

    <Storyboard x:Name=img00RevealAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=1 To=0

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgQuestion00

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=0 To=1

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgAnswer00

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

    <Storyboard x:Name=img00HideAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=1 To=0

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgAnswer00

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=0 To=1

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgQuestion00

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

    <Storyboard x:Name=img01RevealAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=1 To=0

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgQuestion01

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=0 To=1

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgAnswer01

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

    <Storyboard x:Name=img01HideAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=1 To=0

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgAnswer01

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=0 To=1

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgQuestion01

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

    <Storyboard x:Name=img02RevealAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=1 To=0

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgQuestion02

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=0 To=1

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgAnswer02

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

    <Storyboard x:Name=img02HideAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=1 To=0

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgAnswer02

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=0 To=1

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgQuestion02

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

    <Storyboard x:Name=img03RevealAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=1 To=0

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgQuestion03

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=0 To=1

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgAnswer03

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

    <Storyboard x:Name=img03HideAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=1 To=0

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgAnswer03

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=0 To=1

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgQuestion03

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

    <Storyboard x:Name=img04RevealAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=1 To=0

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgQuestion04

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=0 To=1

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgAnswer04

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

    <Storyboard x:Name=img04HideAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=1 To=0

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgAnswer04

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=0 To=1

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgQuestion04

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

    <Storyboard x:Name=img05RevealAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=1 To=0

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgQuestion05

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=0 To=1

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgAnswer05

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

    <Storyboard x:Name=img05HideAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=1 To=0

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgAnswer05

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=0 To=1

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgQuestion05

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

    <Storyboard x:Name=img06RevealAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=1 To=0

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgQuestion06

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=0 To=1

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgAnswer06

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

    <Storyboard x:Name=img06HideAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=1 To=0

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgAnswer06

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=0 To=1

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgQuestion06

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

    <Storyboard x:Name=img07RevealAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=1 To=0

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgQuestion07

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=0 To=1

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgAnswer07

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

    <Storyboard x:Name=img07HideAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=1 To=0

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgAnswer07

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=0 To=1

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgQuestion07

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

    <Storyboard x:Name=img08RevealAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=1 To=0

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgQuestion08

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=0 To=1

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgAnswer08

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

    <Storyboard x:Name=img08HideAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=1 To=0

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgAnswer08

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=0 To=1

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgQuestion08

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

    <Storyboard x:Name=img09RevealAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=1 To=0

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgQuestion09

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=0 To=1

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgAnswer09

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

    <Storyboard x:Name=img09HideAnimation >

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=1 To=0

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgAnswer09

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

      <DoubleAnimation Duration=00:00:00.5 From=0 To=1

                      Storyboard.TargetName=imgQuestion09

                        Storyboard.TargetProperty=Opacity  />

    </Storyboard>

 

  </Canvas.Resources>

 

  <Rectangle Width=800 Height=500 Canvas.Left=0 Canvas.Top=0>

    <Rectangle.Fill>

      <LinearGradientBrush>

        <GradientStop Color=#00000000 Offset=0.0 />

        <GradientStop Color=#55555555 Offset=0.25 />

        <GradientStop Color=#00000000 Offset=0.75 />

        <GradientStop Color=#88888888 Offset=1.0 />

      </LinearGradientBrush>

    </Rectangle.Fill>

  </Rectangle>

 

  <!– Title bar –>

  <Rectangle x:Name=TitleBar Canvas.Left=25 Canvas.Top=10

            Width=750 Height=75 RadiusX=16 RadiusY=16

            Stroke=#E0F0F0 StrokeThickness=8>

    <Rectangle.Fill>

      <LinearGradientBrush StartPoint=0.5,0 EndPoint=0.5,1 >

        <GradientStop Color=#FFC4E1F0 Offset=0/>

        <GradientStop Color=#FF64E1F0 Offset=1/>

      </LinearGradientBrush>

    </Rectangle.Fill>

  </Rectangle>

 

  <TextBlock Canvas.Left=50 Canvas.Top=33

            FontFamily=Arial FontSize=28 FontWeight=Bold>

    Arcane Code’s Match the Dot Net Rocks Hosts Game

  </TextBlock>

 

  <!– Instructions –>

  <Canvas Canvas.Left=50 Canvas.Top=390>

    <Rectangle x:Name=Instructions Canvas.Top=0 Canvas.Left=0

            Width=625 Height=105 RadiusX=16 RadiusY=16

            Stroke=#E0F0F0 StrokeThickness=4>

      <Rectangle.Fill>

        <LinearGradientBrush StartPoint=0.5,0 EndPoint=0.5,1 >

          <GradientStop Color=#FFC4E1F0 Offset=0/>

          <GradientStop Color=#FF64E1F0 Offset=1/>

        </LinearGradientBrush>

      </Rectangle.Fill>

    </Rectangle>

 

    <TextBlock Canvas.Left=10 Canvas.Top=15

              FontFamily=Arial FontSize=16 FontWeight=Bold>

      Instructions

    </TextBlock>

 

    <TextBlock Canvas.Left=15 Canvas.Top=38 Width=550

              FontFamily=Arial FontSize=12 TextWrapping=Wrap >

      Click on the question marks to reveal the hosts of Dot Net Rocks. Carl Franklin,

      Richard Campbell, Rory Blyth, Mark Dunn and Mark Miller challenge you to find them.

      Watch the message bar in the middle for quotes from the DNR hosts.

      (Yes, I know, technically Mark Miller isn’t a host, but every time he’s on he thinks he

      is, so I decided to let him live out his fantasies in this game.)

    </TextBlock>

  </Canvas>

 

  <!– The images –>

  <Canvas x:Name=img00 Canvas.Left=050 Canvas.Top=100 Height=100

      MouseLeftButtonDown=imgMouseLeftButtonDown Tag=00    >

    <Image x:Name=imgQuestion00 Height=100 Width=100 Source=Dunno.png />

    <Image x:Name=imgAnswer00 Height=100 Source=Carl01.png Opacity=0 />

  </Canvas>

 

  <Canvas x:Name=img01 Canvas.Left=200 Canvas.Top=100 Height=100

      MouseLeftButtonDown=imgMouseLeftButtonDown Tag=00    >

    <Image x:Name=imgQuestion01 Height=100 Width=100 Source=Dunno.png />

    <Image x:Name=imgAnswer01 Height=100 Source=Carl01.png Opacity=0 />

  </Canvas>

 

  <Canvas x:Name=img02 Canvas.Left=350 Canvas.Top=100 Height=100

      MouseLeftButtonDown=imgMouseLeftButtonDown Tag=00    >

    <Image x:Name=imgQuestion02 Height=100 Width=100 Source=Dunno.png />

    <Image x:Name=imgAnswer02 Height=100 Source=Carl01.png Opacity=0 />

  </Canvas>

 

  <Canvas x:Name=img03 Canvas.Left=500 Canvas.Top=100 Height=100

      MouseLeftButtonDown=imgMouseLeftButtonDown Tag=00    >

    <Image x:Name=imgQuestion03 Height=100 Width=100 Source=Dunno.png />

    <Image x:Name=imgAnswer03 Height=100 Source=Carl01.png Opacity=0 />

  </Canvas>

 

  <Canvas x:Name=img04 Canvas.Left=650 Canvas.Top=100 Height=100

      MouseLeftButtonDown=imgMouseLeftButtonDown Tag=00    >

    <Image x:Name=imgQuestion04 Height=100 Width=100 Source=Dunno.png />

    <Image x:Name=imgAnswer04 Height=100 Source=Carl01.png Opacity=0 />

  </Canvas>

 

  <Canvas x:Name=img05 Canvas.Left=050 Canvas.Top=250 Height=100

      MouseLeftButtonDown=imgMouseLeftButtonDown Tag=00    >

    <Image x:Name=imgQuestion05 Height=100 Width=100 Source=Dunno.png />

    <Image x:Name=imgAnswer05 Height=100 Source=Carl01.png Opacity=0 />

  </Canvas>

 

  <Canvas x:Name=img06 Canvas.Left=200 Canvas.Top=250 Height=100

      MouseLeftButtonDown=imgMouseLeftButtonDown Tag=00    >

    <Image x:Name=imgQuestion06 Height=100 Width=100 Source=Dunno.png />

    <Image x:Name=imgAnswer06 Height=100 Source=Carl01.png Opacity=0 />

  </Canvas>

 

  <Canvas x:Name=img07 Canvas.Left=350 Canvas.Top=250 Height=100

    MouseLeftButtonDown=imgMouseLeftButtonDown Tag=00    >

    <Image x:Name=imgQuestion07 Height=100 Width=100 Source=Dunno.png />

    <Image x:Name=imgAnswer07 Height=100 Source=Carl01.png Opacity=0 />

  </Canvas>

 

  <Canvas x:Name=img08 Canvas.Left=500 Canvas.Top=250 Height=100

      MouseLeftButtonDown=imgMouseLeftButtonDown Tag=00    >

    <Image x:Name=imgQuestion08 Height=100 Width=100 Source=Dunno.png />

    <Image x:Name=imgAnswer08 Height=100 Source=Carl01.png Opacity=0 />

  </Canvas>

 

  <Canvas x:Name=img09 Canvas.Left=650 Canvas.Top=250 Height=100

      MouseLeftButtonDown=imgMouseLeftButtonDown Tag=00    >

    <Image x:Name=imgQuestion09 Height=100 Width=100 Source=Dunno.png />

    <Image x:Name=imgAnswer09 Height=100 Source=Carl01.png Opacity=0 />

  </Canvas>

 

  <!– Message Bar across Middle of Screen –>

  <Rectangle Width=700 Height=26 Stroke=#FF000000 Canvas.Left=50 Canvas.Top=212>

    <Rectangle.Fill>

      <LinearGradientBrush EndPoint=1,0.5 StartPoint=0,0.5>

        <GradientStop Color=#FFDDDDDD Offset=1/>

        <GradientStop Color=#FF464646 Offset=0.393/>

        <GradientStop Color=#FE8B8B8B Offset=0.723/>

      </LinearGradientBrush>

    </Rectangle.Fill>

  </Rectangle>

 

  <TextBlock x:Name=StatusArea Canvas.Left=55 Canvas.Top=215

            FontSize=14 FontWeight=Medium Foreground=White >

    Match the Hosts!

  </TextBlock>

 

  <!– Reset Game Button–>

  <Canvas Canvas.Top=455 Canvas.Left=690 MouseLeftButtonDown=ResetGame>

 

    <Rectangle Stroke=Black StrokeThickness=2

        Width=100 Height=40

        RadiusX=10 RadiusY=10>

      <Rectangle.Fill>

        <LinearGradientBrush>

          <GradientStop Color=Gray Offset=0/>

          <GradientStop Color=Snow Offset=0.6/>

          <GradientStop Color=Gray Offset=1/>

        </LinearGradientBrush>

      </Rectangle.Fill>

    </Rectangle>

 

    <TextBlock Canvas.Top=10 Canvas.Left=10

              FontSize=14 FontWeight=Bold

              Text=Reset Game />

 

  </Canvas>

 

 

</Canvas>

The Silverlight Match the Dot Net Rocks Hosts Game – Part 1 – Intro

Alabama Code Camp 5 did something interesting, they sponsored a programming contest. The rules were pretty simple, you had to code a game using Silverlight 1.0. First prize would be awarded a Zune.

If I tell you I still want a Zune, you’ll be able to figure out how I did. Actually, I did come in second place, but that’s OK. I had a fun time coding the game, and it was neat to get in there roll up my sleeves and learn a new technology. Not to mention listening to all those old DNR episodes to get the quotes. (I still want a Zune though. 😉

Here’s what I came up with, the Arcane Code Match the Dot Net Rocks Hosts Game. Play is quite simple, you click on the question marks. The first click reveals a DNR host, if you match with the second click the hosts photo stays up, and you are rewarded with a witty quote across the middle of the screen. If you fail to match, you are cruelly taunted then the pictures fade back to question marks. Match all the hosts to win. Below is an example before play begins. (Click for a bigger image).

Questions

And here is a game with all the hosts revealed. Carl Franklin, Mark Dunn, Rory Blyth, Richard Campbell and Mark Miller revealed in all their glory.

dnrmatch02

Now, before I get a zillion comments and e-mails, yes I am perfectly aware that Mark Miller is not a DNR Host. However, every time he gets on Mark Miller thinks he’s a host! And frankly, if it will help him to achieve his goal of 125 refactorings inside RefactorPro, then hey I’m certainly willing to help him live out his delusions inside the game.

Each time you play, by the way, the pictures get scrambled in a different order. In a few weeks I hope to figure out a place to host the game so you can actually play for yourself and not just have to look at static screen shots. Right now though I use WordPress for my blog and it (unfortunately) doesn’t do Silverlight.

Over the next two days I’ll show you the code behind, tomorrow I’ll post the XAML and Friday the Javascript. On both days I’ll talk a little bit about the code and what I did. If anyone would like a copy of the entire project, just shoot me an e-mail: arcanecode at gmail.com and I will send you a zip file with the whole project.

Microsoft to Release Source Code to .Net Framework Libraries

Holy Frameworks Batman! The news is spreading quick, Microsoft has announced that they will be releasing the source code, complete with comments and debugger support. Now you and I will be able to step into those framework classes in an effort to debug our apps and maybe even learn something. This will be part of the VS2008 Orcas release.

Check out the announcement on the ScottGu blog at

 http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2007/10/03/releasing-the-source-code-for-the-net-framework-libraries.aspx

Shawn Burke has details on his blog:

http://blogs.msdn.com/sburke/archive/2007/10/03/making-net-framework-source-available-to-developers.aspx

Channel 9 video at:

http://channel9.msdn.com/Showpost.aspx?postid=345805

Scott Hanselman also has the scoop on his podcast:

http://www.hanselman.com/blog/HanselminutesPodcast83MicrosoftToReleaseNETFrameworkLibrariesSource.aspx

This ranks in the uber-cool category.

Arcane Fun Fridays

WHEW! All of this WPF / XAML sure has been a lot of fun. But I think it’s time to come up for air and see what else is happing out there in Dot Net land.

Alabama Code Camp is coming up in just a little over a week, Saturday October 6th to be exact. Still plenty of time to register and even just a bit of time if you want to get in on the Silverlight programming contest. First prize for that is a Zune! http://www.alabamacodecamp.com/home.html

devLink, the large conference for a cheap price comes up right afterward in Nashville, Friday and Saturday October 12th and 13th. http://www.devlink.net/ . You can tell I’ll be there, my name’s on the front page as a winner of a Barnes and Nobel gift card (look for the dude from AL !)

(By the way, anyone know of a good dog repellent? My nephew is coming to house sit and is bringing Marshmallow and Buttercup, his twin Dobermans along because I have a big back yard they can play in. Last time though they ate the garden hose, chewed the handle off my shovel, and bit through one of my lawnmower tires.)

There’s a new add-on for SQL Server Management Studio I’m eager to try out. It’s still in Beta but looks promising. It was blogged about at http://weblogs.sqlteam.com/mladenp/archive/2007/09/20/SSMS-Tools-Pack—an-add-in-for-SQL-Management-Studio.aspx or you can download it directly at http://www.ssmstoolspack.com/ .

If you are a fan of NUnit, you’ll appreciate the new xUnit. Read James’ announcement at http://jamesnewkirk.typepad.com/posts/2007/09/announcing-xuni.html .

In a recent Dot Net Rocks episode, Carl Franklin announced they would be taking over Shrinkster.com. Shrinkster has been down due to spam abuse, as soon as Carl gets everything setup we’ll be able to go back to using short links again!

Speaking of Dot Net Rocks, I especially enjoyed show 274, where the new features of VB.Net and C# for the 2008 release were discussed. Entertaining and lots of good tidbits. I think my favorite feature so far has got to be C#’s extension methods. http://www.dotnetrocks.com/default.aspx?showNum=274

During my long drive to the Tallahassee Code Camp last week, I put together a podcast theme session, and copied a bunch of related podcasts onto my cheapo SanDisk mp3 player. This time I went with a “Millenator” theme and got all the episodes of Dot Net Rocks that Mark Miller appeared on. Good stuff, lots of thoughtful material combined with some humor. Next time you go on a trip, copy a bunch of past episodes of your favorite podcast that are in the same theme and make that long drive go much quicker.

There have been several updates to the world’s greatest Visual Studio Add-In, CodeRush, over the last few weeks ( http://www.devexpress.com/Home/Announces/CodeRush25.xml ). Apparently Mark Miller and the boys have been busy! If you’re not on 2.5.4 go update yours today.

Speaking of Mark Miller, I love his intro slide for his VSLive session coming up in LasVegas. Take a look, pure genius. http://www.doitwith.net/2007/09/11/MyLastVSLiveSessionEver.aspx

A final note, between getting ready for Alabama Code Camp and going to devLink my blogging may get spotty for the next few weeks, bear with me and I’ll have full reports from both code camps and lots of fun new stuff to share.

WPF Resources

Yesterday I pointed out where to download all the bits you need to get into WPF. Today I thought I’d share some good resources on learning WPF.

First off is Todd Miranda’s site Xperimentality http://www.nxtdimension.com/blog/ . Todd is an MVP and has done many of the videos that appear on the Windows Client site.

Speaking of the WindowsClient.Net site, you can find many of those videos at http://windowsclient.net/learn/videos.aspx , just scroll down to the WPF area.

Todd Miranda’s videos on the Expression suite can be found on the Expression Knowledge Center site, http://www.microsoft.com/Expression/kc/resources.aspx?product=web&type=video . There are also videos by others.

Channel 9 has now reached 100 items on WPF: http://channel9.msdn.com/tags/WPF

Mark Miller recently did a DNRTV episode on Custom Controls in WPF, find it at http://www.dnrtv.com/default.aspx?showNum=72 . Also on DNRTV, Brian Noyes did a two parter on WPF, found here http://www.dnrtv.com/default.aspx?showNum=56 and here http://www.dnrtv.com/default.aspx?showNum=59 .

Another great blog is Lester’s WPF Blog, http://blogs.msdn.com/llobo/default.aspx . Lots of good stuff from the author of XAMLPadX, which I recommended yesterday.

Finally, a book recommendation, I’m finding Adam Nathan’s book on WPF to be a really good read. It’s more than technical enough to keep an experienced reading, and all of the code samples are in color! http://www.amazon.com/Windows-Presentation-Foundation-Unleashed-WPF/dp/0672328917/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-4574773-3941455?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1187125352&sr=8-1

Got us another one!

Looks like I’ve done it again. My friend and now co-worker Jeff Barnes has gotten the Podcast Fever. ( http://jeffbarnes.net/portal/blogs/jeff_barnes/archive/2007/07/31/podcast-fever.aspx ). He’s blogged about his new Zune and how he’s finally using it for educational purposes. Jeff offers a great list for the .Net developer and beginning podcast listener to review. Be sure to check his list out.

Oh, and Jeff, don’t worry, there’s currently no known cure for Podcast Fever!

Being a Better Developer… In 6 Months

Scott Hanselman’s show this week was killer. (http://www.hanselminutes.com/default.aspx?showID=90 ). In it, Scott and Carl discuss a thread going around the internet, namely how to become a better developer in six months. They had some excellent ideas, some of which they were passing along from other posters, some were theirs. The post that seems to have started the whole thread was done buy a guy named Justice Gray, back in April. http://graysmatter.codivation.com/HowIAmBecomingABetterDeveloperPart1OfInfinity.aspx or http://shrinkster.com/qvx . Just recently he posted a follow up at http://graysmatter.codivation.com/AnUpdateOnGoals.aspx or http://shrinkster.com/qvy .

I like the whole concept, and am going to implement my own version of it. And the first step is to declare what I’m going to do, so without further ado…

I’m going to start by reading a chapter a week from a book. Now, I know that doesn’t sound like much compared to the plans of others to read a book a week, but it leads to my next step…

I will work all the code samples in the book. Reading is one thing, but doing is even better. Personally, I find I get a better understanding when I actually type in the code samples and run them. And not just run what’s in the book, but tweak it, experiment with it. And then what will I do with my knowledge?

I will teach what I learn. The best way to learn is to teach. I’ll blog, talk with my co-workers over lunch, give presentations, but in some way I will give back what I learned. But I won’t stop this learning process with just books.

I’ll increase my listening of podcasts or videocasts. I recently got an inexpensive MP3/WMA player, which I load up with podcasts. This left the 1 gig card on my iPaq free, which I’ve loaded some videos on. Since the iPaq is portable, it increases my ability to watch these videos. Since I’ve blogged so much about podcasts in the past, I shan’t continue talking about them.

I’ll create at least one new presentation and give it to a user group. Again, the best way to learn is to teach, and there’s no better place than with your peers at your local user group.

I’ll look at the source code for an open source project. This is one I really loved from the show. Look at someone else’s code, see how it works, step through it. Right now I’ve got several in mind, first is the Paint.Net project ( http://www.getpaint.net/index2.html ) since I think the graphics would be interesting, and graphics aren’t something I normally get to play with at work.

Next is RSSBandit, http://www.rssbandit.org with the source at http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=96589&package_id=103276 .The networking concepts in there should be quite useful in many instances. Finally is SharpDevelop (http://www.icsharpcode.net/OpenSource/SD/ ). It’d be interesting to see how an IDE works. I’m not sure which of the three I’ll look at, but these are on my short list.

I will learn a brand new or little used technology. There’s a lot of new technology out there, or tech I don’t read much about. Working a lot with the SQL Server BI (Business Intelligence) tools, the upcoming SQL Server 2008 sounds interesting. Of course there’s Visual Studio 2008. And XAML promises to be a hot topic, between WPF and Silverlight I think this will eventually be a “must” for everyone. Those are just some examples, find something that fascinates you and go learn.

The final two items on my list are suggestions from my manager, who my kids have dubbed “Mighty Mike”. I thought these were really good.

I will learn more about the business. No, not the business of programming, although that’s certainly important. I’m talking about what my company does. Most developers aren’t in a job where their company produces software. Instead our programming efforts help support the production of some product, which our company sells. I will learn more about that product, how it’s produced, what processes apply, and what the difficulties are. And finally….

I will get to know my customers. By that, I mean the people who are using, or are affected by the software I write. For most of us, those will be other employees of our company. Meet these people. Get to know them. Buy them a cup of coffee. Take a non-IT coworker to lunch every so often. Setup a half hour meeting with them every so often to learn and understand more about their job. Find out what their pain points are, find ways to solve their problems, offer them solutions to make their jobs better.

Whew, that’s quite the list. It will take a lot of balancing of my time to carry this off, but at the end of it I’ll be a better programmer.

To wrap this up, I’m supposed to tag four other developers, to challenge them as well. So here goes…

First is Jeff Barnes, http://jeffbarnes.net/portal/blogs/jeff_barnes/default.aspx . Payback time! (He knows why, heh heh heh).

Next is Todd Miranda, Birmingham’s newest MVP. Congrats Todd! http://blog.nxtdimension.com/

I think my next victim will be my brother-in-law, Dougal. Even though he’s not fortunate enough to work with .Net, he at least got to do some cool stuff with WordPress. http://dougal.gunters.org/

My final pick is that perfect blend of lunatic and coding genius, Mark Miller. It’s his fault I got deeply involved in coding again. I was thinking of getting into project management, but after seeing his talk at VSLive 2005 I got so enthused about coding again I jumped in with both feet and here I am. So how about it Miller, put down that McGriddle and blog something! http://www.doitwith.net/

An now I challenge you, the reader of this post to go out and be a better developer. Post a link to your development plan. If you don’t have a blog of your own, feel free to post your plan below. Look at others, take the best of the ideas that will work for you.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a lot of work to do!

Arcane Fun Fridays: Photographic Podcasts

Readers will know I’m a big fan of digital photography, it’s a hobby of mine I like to relax with. For example, here’s a pic I took in downtown Birmingham (the one in Alabama, not England).

[My Picture!]

I’m also a big beliver in podcasts, I listen to many to educate myself in the .Net world. It occurred to me there’s probably some good photographic podcasts as well, and sure enough I found some good ones. I thought I’d pass along some of the one’s I’ve been listening to, for your listening delight.

The Candid Frame – The host interviews photographers to find out how they got started, their techniques, etc.

http://www.thecandidframe.com/

Martin Bailey Photography – Martin shares his techniques with us.

http://www.martinbaileyphotography.com/podcastmp3.php

Jeff Curto’s Camera Position – Jeff concentrates on the creative side of photography

http://www.cameraposition.com/

Tips from the Top Floor – Each week Chris has a new technique for us. You should also check out the forums, they are very active.

http://www.tipsfromthetopfloor.com/

Photocast Network – This is a central site for many shows including the ones I’ve listed above. They also have a few other shows I want to check out but haven’t had the opportunity to as of yet.

You should definitely check out the “Focus Ring” episodes. These are shows where the hosts from several of the network’s shows get together on a single podcast to discuss various topics. By far these have been my favorite episodes so far.

http://www.photocastnetwork.com/

There you go, some podcasts to listen to while you’re out playing with that new camera of yours this weekend!

Arcane Fun Fridays: Run As Radio

“Hi, my name is Arcane, and I’m a podcast addict. “ I tell the small room full of people.

“Hi.” A crowd of voices echoes back.

“Welcome to Podcast Addicts.” says the group leader. “Tell us about yourself.”

“It’s these podcasts. I just can’t seem to get enough of them. At first it was just listening on the way home from work. Then I started on the way to the office as well. Before long I was listening all the time, grocery shopping, cutting the grass, I’ve even quit watching TV, preferring to improve myself listening to these podcasts instead of frying my brain with yet another mindless sitcom.”

“So, what’s brought you here tonight?” the group leader prompts me.

“Well, it’s those jerks over at Pwop Productions ( http://www.pwop.com/ ). You know, the same guys who do Dot Net Rocks ( http://www.dotnetrocks.com/ ) and Haselminutes ( http://www.hanselminutes.com/ ) just to name a few?”

The group leader nods, glancing between me and the crowd, and looking just a bit worried. But since he says nothing, I continue. “Well, they’ve gone and done it again. As if all those great shows weren’t enough, they’ve gone off and created yet another one, Run As Radio ( http://www.runasradio.com/ ).

“Each week Richard Campbell and Greg Hughes talk about things for system admins, hardware geeks, or savvy developers. It’s gotten to where I’ve got podcasts going all the time. My wife says I don’t listen to her anymore, or I think that’s what she’s saying, it’s sort of hard to hear her over the podcasts. She may be saying something about the space aliens trying to eat my meatloaf, but…”

I pause, realizing the crowd is no longer listening to me. In a flurry of headphones and USB connectors they are attacking the computers on the far side of the room, the Run As Radio site flickering as they download past and current episodes to their various media devices. Even the group leader is there, frantically trying to get his Zune to connect to someone.

I smile, and slip quietly out the back door. My work is done.