Sunday, February 25, 2007

Another SideShow developer in the blogosphere

My mate from Cambridge (UK), Richard Jones, has started playing around with SideShow technology.

As Richard points out
However to get things up and running you need to install the Vista SDK (big, download at (32bit) )

This is just so you can get the simulator. I have sent several emails to the SideShow team asking them to unbundle the Simulator so that managed code developers (such as Richard) can get started without having to download the whole Vista SDK.
So far it seems that there are 'legal' issues with doing this. Come on Microsoft, this is just BS. The Managed SDK is useless without some way to see the output, most people dont have a real sideshow device, so please will you ship the simulator as an individual download?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Dr. Neil's Notes 43

Welcome to Show 43

What a week!
Meetings at Microsoft
Microsoft Research presentation
UMPC application development - UK and Aus
WPF - what is it good for?

Exercise for the brain
Reading, thinking, planning, playing
Brainstorming groups

Happy coding
This podcast was recorded with Castblaster

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Book Review: Applications = Code + Markup

Applications = Code + Markup
By Charles Petzold

I know that a large percentage of my readers are software developers, so I thought it was about time I reviewed a programmers book.

Charles Petzold is the programmers author. His writing has taught hosts of developers how to build Windows applications. Most of my initial Windows programming knowledge came from Charles’ original Programming Windows books. I have been fortunate enough to meet Charles and learn that he sees himself first as an author not a programmer. This should be apparent to anyone who reads his books, he writes with style, flow and panache. His books are easy to read and stand out in the vast wasteland of badly written technical books.

I give this book 9 out of 10

Full review here

Friday, February 16, 2007

Dr. Neil's Notes 42

Welcome to Show 42

Real work - well kinda!
Coding with Messenger APIs - agents and activities
Energy Levels - highs and lows

Doing your best?
Or managing upwards?

Happy coding
This podcast was recorded with Castblaster

Monday, February 12, 2007

New Version of the Route Finder Gadget

I have updated the Windows Vista Sidebar Route Finder Gadget.
It now sits nicely in the Sidebar when it is docked, provides feedback when it is still downloading the maps, and the Sideshow component includes left/right button navigation and clearer maps.

Let me know what you think.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Book Review: The God Delusion

The God Delusion
By Richard Dawkins

I have been a fan of the writings of Richard Dawkins for over 10 years now. This book is brilliantly written, stimulating, thought provoking and funny. Richard has a very British sense of humour that appeals to me. His intellectual pursuits further cement my connection with him as an author.
Richard’s ability to break down the arguments and present Religion with a scientific viewpoint is invaluable. The truth behind the delusion that still persists throughout the world is clearly stated and broken down into its (ridiculous) components.

I give this book 9 out of 10

Full review here

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Dr. Neil's Notes 41

Welcome to Show 41

Trip to New Zealand
8/12 exercises
Dinner with Tatham and Tom from Fuel Advance
Jennifer Forsythe - again!

Making Software Development Easier
Does lowering the bar to software development help or hinder the industry?

Happy coding
This podcast was recorded with Castblaster

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The 8/12 Gut Buster

Last week Kris posted a blog entry about what I am calling the 8/12 exercise system.
This week I started trying it out, I started on Monday with 15 minutes on the stationary bike and while it certainly made me sweat more, it felt like time went faster as I was focussed on keeping to the 8 seconds intense and then 12 seconds reduced exercise.
On Tuesday I used it while I did my normal run along the beach, this I really felt. Normally I jog along the beach at a reasonable pace. On an intensity scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is sleeping and 10 is throwing up, I normally jog along at a 7 or 8. Using the 8/12 technique on the beach on Tuesday I felt like I got to a 9.9, no throwing up but it was a close thing.
I think this must work, it certainly makes me work harder, and that has got to be a good thing.

What do you do to keep fit?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Myers-Brigges - INTP

I recieved an interesting email over the weekend from my friend and fellow RD, Adam Cogan:


I dont like working alone - so this is not me - but I know another RD is this type and many of my developers are
[edit ] Myers-Briggs Type Characteristics
INTP types are quiet, thoughtful individuals who don't mind spending long periods of time on their own working through problems and forming solutions. They are very curious about systems and how things work, and are frequently found in careers such as science, architecture and law. INTPs tend to be less at ease in social situations and the caring professions, although they enjoy the company of those who share their interests. They also tend to have a strong dislike for the bureaucracy, rigid hierarchies and politics prevalent in many professions.

My response:

Hi Adam,

Myers-Briggs provides a snapshot at one point in time of how a person 'feels', humans are not that shallow. We do have tendencies but they can change, especially if our environment changes. I believe the reason many people 'prefer' working alone is because they have never experienced working in an awesome team. Prior experiences of poor team behavior leads to a belief that working alone is better, and they are proved correct when the team doesn’t function well.
I have seen people who would have been labeled INTP become amazing team players when placed in a functional, inspiring and motivated team. It is a shame that teams of this nature are still so few and far between, leaving the INTP labeled people in the dark as to the possibilities of team interaction and delivery.

All the best
Dr. Neil

Back to Sydney, thinking of New Zealand

After a wonderful trip to New Zealand I am back in Sydney again this morning, chatting on Skype with colleagues around the world (even though it is the weekend for them), working on cool software projects and generally enjoying the warm breeze blowing through the window, slightly scented with the salt of the sea.
On the way back into Syndey I met a beautiful young lady in the customs queue, her name is Tiffany, and she is the chef for TiriTiri Lodge on the eastern shore of Lake Wanaka. This looks like a wonderful retreat that I will have to visit at some stage. They have just opened and from their website it looks like a great place, but there is no mention of an internet connection. Is it possible to live without a connection? Even when I am on holiday relaxing I like to be able to read the news, download music, blog my holiday snaps, etc...
Tiffany: if you are reading this, come on, get an internet connection for guests and I'll come over and spend a few days relaxing by the lake.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Book Review: The Mind Gym

The Mind Gym, Wake Up Your Mind
By Octavius Black and Sebastian Bailey

I read this book in two phases, I read the first half in Europe in the summer of 2006, I found the contents interesting, the style mildly amusing and the pace too slow. Six months later in Sydney I picked the book up again and raced through the second half, hardly believing it to be the same book. This book is about changing your state of mind to better deal with situations and improve your opportunities.

Upon finishing this book I reflected on why it had appeared slow going when I started reading it and seemed fast paced and witty the second time around; my conclusion is that this book requires energy from the reader. My mind was more distracted when I was in Europe, working on other projects and constant traveling. The second time around I was ready to read the book and learn from the lessons presented. Books like this require active reading, if you feel you have the energy to actively read this book, you will be rewarded.
While the author's names (especially Octavius) may sound like the baddies in a Harry Potter novel they are obviously smart, forward thinking people who wish to share their knowledge.

I give this book 8 out of 10

Full review here

Friday, February 02, 2007

Goodnight from Auckland

It's been another amazing day. I have met some amazing people here in Auckland and had some great meetings. To top it all off the Auckland .NET User Group turned out to hear me talk about Online and Offline Gadgets and have some interesting conversations about Gadgets and Microsoft technologies.
This is what I can see from my Hotel room now. I was given an upgrade this morning as the room I was in last night was dismal, the curtains didn't close properly, letting light in all night. But worse than that, the internet connection in the room didn't work!
Imagine being offline for over 6 hours? I thought I was starting to go cold turkey ;)

Toshiba R400 in the hands of two Aussie Influentials

Uber Tablet does it again with the Toshiba R400 in the hands of two Aussie Influentials
How does he manage it?
Great work boys!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Dr. Neil's Notes 40

Welcome to Show 40

Look Up And Smile - aerial imagery
Vista Launch event
Lunch with Jennifer Forsythe
New Zealand, meetings and presentations

Working with Friends
Why waste energy with people that you don’t get on with?
Be proud of the projects you work on.

Happy coding
This podcast was recorded with Castblaster

Tricky Business: Microsoft make Expression Blend Beta2 available..

I don't often cross post but this is something that many readers of this blog might miss and a point well made by Tricky