Jul 15

Silverlight is a Web application development framework similar to Adobe Flash.  Microsoft has just released Silverlight 3, a major update that delivers many new features including:

  • Hardware graphics acceleration, which lowers CPU usage and enables 1080p HD video over the Web.
  • Support for H.264 video, AAC audio and MPEG-4 content.
  • Smooth media streaming over HTTP.
  • 3D-perspective support that can be used with graphic elements, videos and controls. 
  • New bitmap and pixel APIs, and custom effects.
  • Out-of-Browser support.  Users can safely install Web applications on their computers, create desktop and Start Menu shortcuts.
  • New network detection support to switch between online and offline modes.
  • Automatic update mechanism for applications.
  • Over 100 UI controls with full styling and template customization support.
  • Richer data binding features
  • A new DataForm control enables better master/detail scenarios.
  • SaveFileDialog support.
  • New navigation framework that enables deep-linking and forward/back button integration within the browser. 
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) support so that content within a Silverlight application can be indexed by search engines.
  • Better text rendering and font support (a common complaint that resulted in the loss of a major customer).
  • Better accessibility support.
  • Major updates to Expression Blend and Sketchflow.

Download Silverlight 3
Silverlight Community
Microsoft Silverlight Home Page

Jul 13

Computer programmers love whiteboards.  We can sketch out our ideas, plans and designs.  We can draw use cases, flowcharts and class diagrams.  When we’re done, all it takes is a swipe with an eraser or shirt sleeve, and the whiteboard is good as new.  A whiteboard gives developers an opportunity to drop the mouse, get up from our chair and stretch our legs.  We also enjoy the innate childhood pleasure of drawing on the walls.

So then why limit our ideas to just a 3×4-foot patch on the wall?  When we’re confined to the space of a typical whiteboard, our movements are constrained, and so our ideas may be limited as well.  If whiteboards are the snowy goodness of developer minds, then perhaps we should have whiteboards everywhere.

IdeaPaint turns virtually anything you can paint into a high-performance dry-erase surface, giving you the space you need to collaborate, interact and fully explore your creativity.  No matter where you use IdeaPaint, big ideas are sure to follow.

IdeaPaint is a flexible, durable and cost-effective dry-erase solution.  It can be applied to any smooth surface, outperforms and outlasts the leading dry-erase options, and works with all brands of dry-erase markers.


Jul 09

Here is one of those math tricks that has been floating around the Internet.  Don’t cheat by scrolling down!  It takes less than a minute.  At the end, I will provide an explanation of how this trick is done.

Follow these instructions, and I will guess your age by chocolate:

Continue reading »

Jul 08

Microsoft has enjoyed a virtual monopoly on the PC desktop for two decades.  Though the Apple operating system is superior to Windows in many ways — especially for simplicity and usability — Apple’s closed-system approach has ensured that Apple OS will never be more than a strong niche player.  Open-source Linux has made significant inroads in the server market, but the lack of singular vision and decent user-interface has kept it as a hobbyist toy on the desktop.

This has allowed Microsoft to continue to own the PC desktop, in spite of major missteps, such as Windows ME and the disaster that was Vista in its first year, with significant incompatibilities, endless security warnings, and user-defections back to Windows XP.  Microsoft’s new operating system — Windows 7, which is expected to ship later this year — has been receiving mostly positive reviews.  And not a moment too soon, because along comes Microsoft’s greatest threat to its stranglehold on the desktop in twenty years.

Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially target netbooks.  Later this year, Google will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010.

Continue reading »

Jul 07

Microsoft is applying its Community Promise to the C# programming language and Common Language Infrastructure (CLI).  This means that anyone can freely build, sell, distribute or use programs with C# and the CLI without signing a license agreement or otherwise communicating to Microsoft.  This applies to all distribution models including open source and GPL.  Under the Community Promise, Microsoft will not assert its Necessary Claims.

In other words, build all you want with C# and .NET, Microsoft won’t sue you for copyright or patent infringement.

Specifically, this announcement applies to the ECMA 334 (C#) and ECMA 335 (CLI) specifications.

“The Community Promise is an excellent vehicle and, in this situation, ensures the best balance of interoperability and flexibility for developers,” said Scott Guthrie, Corporate Vice President for the .NET Developer Platform.

Jul 01

ComponentArt is hosting the 2009 Summer Silverlight Coding Competition.  Author of the best application as selected by their expert panel and the community will receive a grand prize of $10,000 USD.  Authors of the two runner-up applications will each receive ComponentArt licenses (a $1,299 USD value).

Applicants are not required to use ComponentArt’s products to enter the competition.   Community voting opens on July 7, 2009.  Expert Panel judging starts at the end of September, so you can continue improving your app until then.

Silverlight Coding Competition

Jul 01

TheDailyWTF describes how poor database design and user error bankrupted a small chain of pet stores.

“MegaPetCo” was upset that its website ran incredibly slow.  Consultant Rick discovered MegaPetCo was using a single shared database for its website and everything else in its business — sales, payroll, HR, inventory, tax records, invoices and maintenance tickets.  The database was incredibly simple: a single table with hundreds of columns.  It probably had humble beginnings as a spreadsheet and organically grew into a vast monolith over the seven years that MegaPetCo was in business.  All told, the database had millions of rows in a single table.

Then one day a developer was optimizing the database and removing records that MegaPetCo no longer needed.  All it took was a single, poorly-formed delete query to wipe out each and every row in the database table.  MegaPetCo’s sales immediately ground to a halt, along with everything else in the company.  And of course — you guessed it — there were no backups.

Within a few months, the company filed for bankruptcy and was forced to close every one of its stores, laying off several hundred people along the way.

Read the story
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