Even a chimp can write code

Friday, October 14, 2005

Windows Presentation Foundation Security Sandbox

If you've read about Web Browser apps and heard about the incredible partial trust security sandbox but didn't know where to get all the gory details, your patience has paid off. Mark Alcazar, a development lead on the WPF (Avalon) team takes you on a trip into the WPF security sandbox.

What I love about this article is that he gives you an insight on the thinking going on in his team and tradeoffs they had to make while building the WPF security sandbox. I stayed back at work (on a Friday evening!) to read this one.


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Windows Presentation Foundation on the Web: Web Browser Applications

Karen Corby, Program Manager on the WPF Partial Trust team has written this whitepaper on our Web Browser Application story. Titled "Windows Presentation Foundation on the Web: Web Browser Applications", it explores the potential of the Windows Presentation Foundation on the web. In this paper, she provides a practical set of recommendations on how you can move your existing web content to this new model.

The WPF Web Browser App story has never been told better. I don't just say this because my team and I have worked to create this technology, but if you are interested in knowing how the web will evolve, this article is definitely worth a read!


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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Talking with customers

I learnt an important lesson about customer engagement and marketing today. Our priorities are sadly misplaced.

It was noon and Ashley was craving Mexican food. It seemed Tacos al Carbone were calling her name. She leafed through the yellow pages and hunted down the number for the restaurant down the street. The Tacos al Carbone entree comes with rice, beans, salsa and two tacos with your choice of chicken or beef. So Ashley called the restaurant and asked for the entree with one chicken taco and the other beef. The woman on the other side of the line said "No, you can't have that". Ashley thought maybe the woman misunderstood what she wanted, so she re-phrased her order. Again, the reply was a cold "No". She was told she could either have the entree with 2 chicken tacos or 2 beef tacos. Or she'd have to buy two separate entrees.


Apparently, this was one of those universal rules that exist without good reason, like "Don't ever use the phone in a doctor's office" or grammar.

Now my wife would have paid a few dollars more for a meal of her choice, rather than settle for something like this. But she wouldn't buy two entrees when all she wanted was one. For that matter, if they'd filled her in on why they couldn't fulfil her order, she'd have understood. Nothing of that sort happened. She said thanks but no thanks and hung up. Then without batting an eyelid, she took her business elsewhere.

All this time I was there, listening in. When it was over, I congratulated her on her discernment. Then it hit me.

There is a lesson in this for all of us. Give your customers what they want. Not what you want them to have. We love the food at that restaurant (name withheld to protect the guilty). But good food, a good brand and a posting in the yellow pages isn't nearly enough. The first law in customer relations is to treat your customers like adults. We should be talking with our customers, not to them. Our answers to their questions must be "Why not?" instead of "Why?". Marketing and evangelizing isn't about the colorful brochures or the billboards, nor about giving talks or doing demos or writing white papers. It is about connecting with our customers. It is about having a clue. It is about looking for opportunities. It is about caring.

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Problems uninstalling older version of Avalon?

A number of people have recently pointed out problems they were facing installing the September CTP (a.k.a PDC 2005 bits) of WinFX Runtime Components. Apparently there was an issue with our November 2004 and March 2005 CTPs which left behind some files on uninstall. This was resolved a few months ago. The problem rears its head now because with the September 2005 CTP, the WinFX installer does not force overwrite existing files.

The solution:
  1. Uninstall the previous version of WinFX

  2. Run this script file using the command cscript cleanupSharedFiles.js

  3. Install WinFX September 2005 CTP

Thanks to Dan Mohr and to Tim Sneath for their leadership in recognizing the problem and publishing this solution.

CTP stands for Community Technology Preview, i.e. pre-release software intended to expose developers to the latest working builds.


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