Category Archives: Programming

Techie programming type posts.

Another Switcher

It’s starting to look like Microsoft might have a problem on their hands. Catching up with Mike Roberts blog it looks like he too is switching platforms. He’s yet another techie I’ve found who thinks that Microsoft have lost the plot with Vista.

I have heard Mike speak at conferences, and he is probably most well known for being behind CruiseControl a tool that provides automated continuous build functionality, and that I used in my previous job. However don’t think that he’s stopping .NET development – not at all, he’s doing it under Parallels on the Mac!

Developer Day 3

Lots of Code on the Screen

I’ve just got back from attending the third Developer Day, held once again at the Microsoft Campus near Reading. Aside from Dave and Sarah, most of the usual suspects were around. Also, after initially being told that there wouldn’t be very many people from SSE coming up, most of my old team from there came along too, alongside a colleague from my current employer. What is interesting is that I had a couple of conversations with people purely on the basis that they’d seen me at previous events, whether that be geek dinners or previous developer days. With regards to the Geek Dinner, Beth and myself decided to drop out of that. We’re currently in the midst of a busy run of weekends, so as numbers were limited for the dinner, and we could do with a Saturday night to ourselves, we took our names off the list.

Anyway, onto the sessions. I went to a bit of a mixed bag, some like Oliver Sturm’s session on ‘Designing a Model Based Application Architecture’ were more useful for current work, whereas others such as Tim Scarfe talking about the Windows Presentation Foundation, or Robert Hogg talking about LINQ were sessions about technologies that are coming in the next few years – which I would say for most established projects won’t get used in anger for a long while, bearing in mind that like many, we have large numbers of customer systems in VB6, products still build in Visual C++ 6, and any .NET is currently in Visual Studio 2003 and framework 1.1.

As usual, there were the usual selection of hiccups with presentations, and problems with equipment. Tim Scarfe especially had a nightmare with the early part of his presentation, with trouble with the screen mirroring functionality on his laptop, followed by a whole series of speed issues with both showing video clips and his actual demonstration. It is interesting to note the variations in how people used their laptops this time, with some trying to run Visual Studio and Powerpoint simultaneously (although I didn’t see anyone using the presenter mode – everybody still just mirrors their laptop screen providing some somewhat stretched layouts on the big screen with the latest widescreen layouts). However Oliver Sturm was using VMWare to keep his presentation separate from his development demonstration, which of course ensures that if the development demo crashes (which it didn’t), it shouldn’t take the slides along too! It was also great to see a number of presenters making use of the code snippet functionality in Visual Studio to show code demonstrations, getting over the frankly tedious moments in previous events where you sit and watch somebody type their code in and debug it live on stage.

Probably the most interesting presentations from my point of view were the future technologies. The language and syntax enhancements brought along as part of LINQ look very interesting and useful, although perhaps the one that made me sit up and be really impressed was the power of the Windows Presentation Foundation. It is worth adding that a number of the ideas that although new on Windows, resonated with ideas in Quartz in MacOS X, however it seems to lift the bar somewhat, and certainly the demo was pretty impressive. Of course I fully expect MacOS X will catch up and overtake again, just as Windows will try and overtake again – such is the computer industry. The other good thing about the demo was that although Tim showed us cool stuff such as flying buttons and pulling pictures off Flickr, equally you could see features that would make a difference to those of us building much more business oriented applications.

All in all it was definitely a worthwhile way to spend a Saturday, and I’m certainly going to be signing up to day number 4 when it is announced.

Developer Day 3 Coming Up Fast

The third Developer Day is coming up fast, looking at the calendar it takes place a week on Saturday. I got in promptly with my registration, as did a colleague at work who is coming along too – both our passes turned up yesterday. As expected the event was full in just over two weeks, so it seems as popular as ever. Also as before I still can’t quite make my mind up which sessions I’ll go to – invariably I’ll go to different ones from what I plan anyway. Beth and myself are also signed up to go along to the dinner afterwards – looking at the list there should be one or two familiar faces there as well.

However, what will be slightly strange will be the people that won’t be there. Neither Dave Oliver, nor Sarah are coming along this time. From what I can gather none of the guys from SSE are making the journey up to Reading this time which is a shame, would have been nice to catch up with them.

Anyway, I expect I’ll post a report on the sessions I attended, plus a selection of snaps from the Geek Dinner too.

A Slow News Day?

Don’t you just love local newspapers. It has obviously been a slow news week this week, as the main headline on the front of the Wokingham News this week is ‘Village’s Posh Porn Surfers Top UK Table‘.

Essentially, the whole basis of the article is that someone at the paper has been playing around with Google Trends that relates search terms to the apparent location of the person performing the search – the paper has put the word ‘pornography’ into the engine, and found that Winnersh, a village between Wokingham and Reading has come out top. You can see the results on Google Trends here. Interestingly, the BBC have a similar article giving Birmingham the top place for the word ‘porn’.

The paper really went to town on the whole thing, even interviewing a local sex therapist about this apparent proportionally higher level of people interested in pornography in Winnersh.

However all is not as it seems. The BBC article highlights the flaw in the data:

Google uses IP address information to make a “best guess� about where the queries originated.

Unlike a phone number, the IP address someone uses on the internet is not closely tied to a particular place. For example looking at my phone number, you can establish that someone lives in and around Arborfield, as their number begins 0118 976. Equally you know that someone lives in Finchampstead or Eversley because their numbers begin 0118 973. However if you look at my IP address, it is registered to a company in Rochdale in Lancashire – there is nothing associated with the address that would indicate that I’m actually near Reading. This is the source of the problem – there are lots of high technology companies clustered around the Thames Valley, indeed there is a large technology park at Winnersh Triangle so therefore there are a lot of companies whose internet access goes through Winnersh. Indeed, stick a few different search terms into Google Trends and see how frequently the same cities come up, not because their internet use is higher, but because they have major internet companies in the area. Take a look at this list which includes the NTL datacentres, and note how frequently all the places that they have datacentres turn up on the Google Trends list.

So in effect, the story is total rubbish. Having said that, it did give the local paper a good story, and us a good deal of laughter at work at the reactions of people who actually live in Winnersh.