Even a chimp can write code

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Avalon and Indigo Beta 1 RC is out!

Microsoft is providing a pre-release version of WinFX (Avalon and Indigo) to the general public. Get it here!

You will need Visual Studio Beta2 or the free Visual Studio Express Beta2. WinFX is supported on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.

Like it? Hate it? Don't care for it? Leave a comment on this blog post or here.


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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Star Wars Episode III: The Saga is indeed complete

For a lot of people, being a Star Wars fan in the public eye has been a harrowing experience. I know more than one of this specie and try hard to resist the temptation to joke at their expense. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith makes that onerous task even more difficult.

The company sent out its Windows Client rank and file for a private screening of Episode III on Friday. I wanted to blog about the episode (pun unintended) but I couldn't have put it better than Tero has. I will just link to his post instead. In summation, I will only say this: my couch displays better acting talent than most of the cast in this film. Well, as they say, Sith happens! But thankfully, the Saga is complete.

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AJAX: old wine in an old bottle

The developer blogosphere is ablaze these days with all manner of hand waving and devotional pandering to AJAX. Some two-bit consulting firm (I won't honor them with a name or a hyperlink) had a idea: how about we give a new name to a bunch of tried and tested web technologies? Brilliant! Hence [sound the bugles and let it rain confetti] AJAX. Apparently it is short for Asynchronous Javascript and XMLHttpRequest or something similar. The rest of us morons have been referring to it as DHTML all along.

Ever since Microsoft pioneered XMLHttpRequest, people have been using it in their web applications; Outlook Web Access, for example.

It is one thing for slime ball consultants to sell an old-wine-in-an-old-bottle-with-a-new-label to buzzword compliant CIOs and IT managers, willing to jump on bandwagons and be taken for a ride. But for web influentials to take this absurd idea and run with it, is simply alarming. To quote Mugatu, doesn't anybody notice this? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

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Friday, May 20, 2005

Avalon look and feel in XP v/s Longhorn

Pablo Fernicola, Group Program Manager in the Avalon team answers a microsoft.public.windows.developer.winfx.avalon newsgroup question on how Avalon on XP differs from that on Longhorn. His response is reproduced here.

From a developer point of view, the APIs and functionality exposed by Avalon do not change between XP and Longhorn.

For example, if you have the same graphics card, you will be able to get the same Avalon based experience within your application/content in both versions of the operating system. If you don't have equivalent/same graphics card, you will likely see a difference in rendering performance, rendering quality, or both.

The Longhorn end user experience (window adornment/glass, desktop interaction, default shape/color of controls, etc - the "theme") is specific to Longhorn and you will not get it on XP (whether the applications are Avalon based or not). The Longhorn desktop experience (the Desktop Window Manager), is built on Avalon.

Avalon controls, like Win32 controls, respond to the system theme, so that your application, by default, matches the look of other applications and desktop on the machine. You, as a software developer, are able to override this and provide any look to your application that you desire, and you can even expose to your end users the ability to select different looks/skins. The styling and graphics infrastructure make this fairly easy. The power and flexibility is there, at your disposal.

In relation to Avalon, one big benefit in Longhorn is the Longhorn Display Driver Model, the hardware abstraction layer under Direct3D. LDDM will provide greater stability and scalability in relation to graphics, especially in the case of multiple applications making use of the graphics card. Another benefit is the Next Generation Print Path drivers, which natively support the Avalon rendering model. Both of these will automatically benefit all Avalon applications and content running on Longhorn.


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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Avalon's naming conventions

Nick Kramer posts about Avalon's naming conventions.

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What does a Program Manager at Microsoft do?

A few people have asked, "What does a Program Manager at Microsoft do?". In this post, I will attempt to answer that question the way I see it. If you're reading this blog, it is very likely you've seen that memorable 1999 movie, Office Space.

And you probably do remember the scene where the two consultants, both named Bob, interview Tom. This is kind of how the conversation goes:

1st Bob: What you do at Initech is you take the specifications from the customer and bring them down to the software engineers?

Tom: Yes, yes that's right.

2nd Bob: Well then I just have to ask why can't the customers take them directly to the software people?

Tom: Well, I'll tell you why... because... engineers are not good at dealing with customers....

1st Bob: So you physically take the specs from the customer?

Tom: Well.. No. My secretary does that... or they're faxed.

2nd Bob: So then you must physically bring them to the software people?

Tom: Well.. No. ah sometimes.

1st Bob: What would you say you do here?

Tom: Look I already told you, I deal with the god damn customers so the engineers don't have to. I have people skills! I am good at dealing with people, can't you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you people?!

Now, I don't have a secretary; but other than that, with slight variations from team to team, the above comes pretty close to describing what Program Managers like me do. Microsoft follows the "feature team" model. They hire a bunch of smart people, group them into feature teams, give them something to do and let them loose. A typical feature team comprises program managers, development engineers, test engineers and technical writers. PMs here are feature owners and they engage with customers and partner teams, write functional and technical specifications, plan schedules and are overall in charge of getting features done. Most times this involves making sure features are prioritized, decisions are made and fulfilled, bugs are triaged, assigned and resolved.

There's more to the job than that. In future posts I will try to address other aspects of the job.

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A really cool widget

Steve has a really cool favelet called Mouseover DOM Inspector which allows you to view the properties of any HTML element on a page simply by mousing over the element. The element will be given a gray background, and a DIV element that trails the mouse cursor will contain the element type along with all of the specified attributes of the element.

If you munge with HTML/CSS, this is a must have.

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Sunday, May 15, 2005

This weblog gets a facelift

To see a world in a grain of sand,

And a heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,

And eternity in an hour.

from Auguries of Innocence, William Blake.

I have spent the better part of this Sunday messing around with image editors and CSS. The result is here to see. It is based on Dan Cederholm's TicTac template but I have modified some core elements to make sure it reflects a little more of me. All in all, I am pleased with the outcome.

By the way, the image on the masthead is a picture I took at the canoe landing on Vermont's Green River, last September. We hauled the green canoe on top of Ashley's little Corolla. Just one memory from a great vacation. I recommend Stowe, VT to anybody who likes the outdoors.

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Heeeeere's Johnny!

It has been a while since I moved and changed jobs but I am still getting acclimated to the Pacific Northwest:
the weather, the traffic patterns and of course, my work. Transitioning to a new job with a new role and different technology, in a strange city can be somewhat of a challenge at first. Thankfully, the most difficult part may be behind me now. In the intervening months, I haven't posted anything new.
After a small hiatus, I am back ... with an axe for the frozen sea within. Now that I am settling into a regimen, I should be able to post a little more.

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