Flies in the Pipes.

Microsoft has announced the private alpha of PopFly (love the .ms domain BTW!), their Yahoo Pipes! competitor. Looks like there's a bit of social networking involved as well with the ability to vote on user's projects and track their progress. One of the big things going in Microsoft's favor is the Visual Studio integration. See some details here. I asked for an invite so we'll see....


The latest issue of Redmond Developer News has a column by William F. Zachmann (got to have the middle initial), BTW he doesn't appear to have a blog...I'm not quite sure how I feel about that. Somehow blogless commentators feel less "authorative" to me...or something. Anyway, he talks about a phenomenon that he terms GWHHMs or Gwhyms, otherwise known as "Geeks WHo Hate Microsoft". His main point is a good one: "Remain open to alternatives that make sense when they do in fact make sense." However, I think he comes down a bit to harshly on the "alternatives" in my opinion.

He does a good job of condemning some of the zealotry that's out there, but unfortunately he really only talks about half the problem. There is another side. GWOLMs (pronounced Qualms) or Geeks Who Only Like Microsoft. Much like Gwhyms, Gwolms are found in every IT department across the Industry. They will turn a blind eye to any and all solutions that are not stamped with the Redmond Seal of Approval. They can cost your company thousands of dollars in licensing fees for potentially inferior products. They are the ones who dismiss AJAX until Microsoft releases their AJAX Library or dismiss Ruby until Microsoft releases IronRuby and then fawn over how wonderful it all is.

Don't get me wrong, I love Microsoft in a number of ways, I make a living coding in C# using the .NET framework. However I also run Firefox as my main browser and use a GTK based IM Client (Pidgin). I use these not because they are open source or because they are not Microsoft. I use them because they are (in my opinion) the best solutions out there. I recently utilized PDFBox in a solution for the same reasons.

Also, I can not agree with his recommendation to make Microsoft solutions your "default choice", my advice is to look at all possibilities in a problem area and choose the best one that fits in with your style, budget, and resources. One shouldn't have a "default choice" in my opinion.

Personally, that's why I can't wait for the next CodeMash, a conference like that epitomizes how software development should work (incidentally Microsoft was a sponsor of CodeMash, so even they realize the importance of learning from one another).

Day of Dot Net: Ann Arbor, MI.

Ah the first real blog post in a while, and even this is late, hoping to get back in the groove here with this one!

After leaving Cleveland at 6am I ended up arriving at Day Of DotNet a little late. Not too bad for a three hundred mile drive, I ended up walking into Josh Holmes' talk on "Architecting the User Experience" (part of the ArcReady series, this was like a sneak-peek) about 10 minutes late. What I saw was awesome though , definitely some things to think about. Jason Follas, who I met at CodeMash and an organizer for DoDN, was kind enough to grab my name tag for me in exchange for me doing a head count of the session (76 people if you're curious).

After having a few minutes to mull over what I had heard, it was time for the next session. "Hardcore Reflection" by Dustin Campbell. This was by far the most valuable session of the the day, for me. Dustin was a great speaker and really knew his stuff. I learned alot there that I'm looking forward to using in my day to day work.

I then had a chance to attend red-gate Software's vendor session, mostly a bore-fest infomercial. Then Lunch, Domino's pizza (if you could get it), I had a couple pizza's and called the wife.

Off to "Next Generation UI" session by Mark Miller. Poor guy, his speaking skills are awesome, but the technology did not want to cooperate! I heard his second session went well, but I had opted to go to "Multithreading in Windows Forms Applications". Patrick Steele gave a good talk on the basics of multi-threading a form application, I was hoping for something more in depth, but all in all a good refresher.

Then we had the Microsoft Vendor Session, which was also hosted by Josh Holmes, he didn't have anything prepared so I threw out the DLR and IronRuby. Well, he didn't have IronRuby, but we got to see some of the DLR in Silverlight 1.1 with IronPython, cool stuff! Someone asked about Silverlight on Linux (which Mono is working on). Josh said that if it made business sense Microsoft would do it (being that they're a business and all), but he didn't think that the Linux made much business sense right now. He's probably right (though I did rib him a bit about Dell putting Ubuntu on consumer systems now), but sometimes developer and community good will pays more then a strict bean counter could see. Could you imagine if Microsoft announced Linux support for Silverlight? I think it would be a brilliant PR move myself. You keep saying your open and look at these cool standards and we're cross platform, and blah blah blah. Just do it already! :)

Anyway, wrapped up the day with Brian Prince's talk on "Agile Processes", I didn't get a chance to hear Brian speak at CodeMash, and I must say I came away impressed. He's quite an awesome presenter! I hope to incorporate some of his company's ideas into my own practices, and at least I'll be more prepared if I ever get a job at an agile shop.

I was glad I went, I learned alot and had a great amount of fun and will be attending the next one! We need more events like this in the Northeast Ohio area!