My Top 5 Sessions Picks - MVP Virtual Conference 2015

Tomorrow marks day one of the first ever Microsoft MVP Virtual Conference. This is awesome, because it's a conference that I can attend that:

  • Doesn't require time off from work
  • Doesn't require funding from by employer or out of pocket
  • Covers a lot of great material

My plan to attend is to tune in at 8am PT (10am CT, in my world) and soak in the inforamation while I go about my daily tasks at the office. Easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy.

With that, I've gone through the agenda and list off the top 5 sessions I'm eager to see over the next couple of days. Given, I'll be watching more than that, but these ones just stood out more than others.

Hope to (virtually) see you there! Make sure you remember to register!

Fireside: Cooking with Open Source

Day 1 - 10am PT/12pm CT | Jeff Paries & Morten Nielsen

Not only does this session talk about grilling, but it covers an area of interest: the Maker Movement with Arduino along with the open source side of things. My hope is that this session gives me a taste of what to look forward to when I start tinkering with one of these microcontroller boards.

Node.js for .NET Developers

Day 1 - 3pm PT/5pm CT | David Neal & Alvin Ashcraft

Over the past two years, I've become quite fond of NodeJS thanks to my familiarily and appreciation of JavaScript. I'm eager to see how David frames this session to show .NET developers why NodeJS is something to look into. Hopefully, I'll learn a few things along the way too.

Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Automation with PowerShell

Day 2 - 8am PT/10am CT | Trevor Sullivan

What? An IT-Track session, you say? That's the point. Conferences are meant to expand your horizons and learn a little bit more about what it out there. One thing that has caught my attention over the past month (especially after Build 2015 and the announcement of Nano Server) is Powershell. It seems very IT focused, but with Azure making setting up IT easier for the small-time developer, and Office going the road of SaaS, I think it's time I learn to tool, and language that can help me manage my own little IT footprint.

Roslyn for Normal Developers: It's Not Just for Compiler Geeks!

Day 2 - 9am PT/11am CT | John Robbins & Jamie Dixon

Roslyn is the new compiler for C# and VB.NET for Visual Studio 2015. It's open source, and I'm intruiged because I want to see what developers can do with this technology at their disposal. Sure, it's cool to say your compiler is open source, but why do I care? That is what I'm hoping to figure out in this session.

Windows 10 and Spartan Microsoft Edge

Day 2 - 11am PT/1pm CT | Chris Love & Ryan Hayes

Okay, this one is a gimme, considering my MVP area (that being Internet Explorer). I already know a lot, but I'm eager to see what Chris and Ryan (moderating) have to say being two of other experts in the browser space! You should check it out, as there are some cool things coming down the pipe, and I'm looking forward to getting my hands dirty with them.

Thanks for Playing.
~ DW

Living on the (Microsoft) Edge on May 5 & 6

2015 brought introduced a lot of new stuff in the Microsoft space, including how Windows 10 is changing up the web application game.

One of the big announcements was the name of Project Spartan. It is called Microsoft Edge. The browser, that is greenfield and forever evolving with web standards.

Now that you wanted to learn more about the Edge of the Web with Microsoft, you don't have to wait. The Microsoft Edge Web Summit is coming to you live from Mountain View, California on May 5 & 6 and they are going to get into the details of Edge.

Oh, and it's free, BTW.

Can't Make it Live?

Me neither, but no problem.

That is why they are going to be broadcasting the whole event on Channel 9 along side the Ignite conference. Load it up online and tune into the awesomeness of web standards.

Not sure what to watch? The first two hours with Charles, Paula, and Jacob, there are there's a few others that caught my eye.

Hosted web apps and web platform innovations

May 5, 12pm EDT -- They announced the idea of "hosted web-apps" at Build 2015, where web developers could extend their existing web applications to use native Windows features under specific conditions, like achievements in XBox. This should shed some light on this from the team that is making it possible.

Create Fun & Immersive Audio Experiences with Web Audio

May 6, 12pm EDT -- Web Audio is cool, and I want to see how to use it in my applications. So, that's pretty self explanitory.

What’s new in the F12 Developer Tools

May 6, 10am EDT -- I like F12 developer tools, and the improvements they've been making have bee great so far. I'm eager to see what Andy has in store of us in the next big release.

Advancing JavaScript Without Breaking the Web

May 6, 11am EDT -- People seem to forget that JavaScript is a 20 year old language, and the fact that we are still using today the old stuff remains compatible. It's impressive really, but takes some serious effort. I'm curious to know how the community is advancing my langugage of choice without changing it completely.

Thanks for Playing. ~ DW

MSDevShow...A Dev Podcast Review

I like podcasts. Especially the technical kind, but I find it's challenging to find quality dev podcasts in the sea of options out there.

MSDevShow is one that a discovered, and it did not disappoint.

MSDevShow: Real Conversations with Devs

MSDevShow is hosted by two developers: Carl Schweitzer and Jason Young. They host conversations with other developers who are working on project, or are able to comment on recent trends, or whatever.

It sounds like a pretty standard podcast, but it's not. It's because the conversations sound real.

"Real" isn't Special, is it?

I disagree.

There are great podcasts out there, but generally you need a bit of scripted content that results in someone interviewing another developer. When I hear unscripted podcasts, it generally (at least in my opinion) sounds awkward or boring because someone drones on about something for too long.

On MSDevShow, they real conversations with developers. Sure, there is a bit of a script at the beginning, but it breaks the ice with the guest and gets them chatting, off the cuff on interesting topics. When they get to the conversation with the guest, the real, unscripted, conversation begins.

Conference Conversations in Podcast Form

Ultimately, I really like MSDevShow because it instantly reminded me something I enjoy about developer conferences.

For me the best part of any conference isn't the lectures, or the demos, but the conversations with other developers. When you're at a conference, you end up surrounded by people who are passionate about technology and code, just like me. Combine that passion, with an environment showing people the latest

MSDevShow feels like they go to a conference, find a passionate developer, and record the ensuing conversation. That is something I've found is hard to find in the ocean of podcasts out there.

The Point

I like MSDevShow. Maybe you will too, I don't know, but you should give it a shot. Check out their episode list and pick one on a topic you like. I'm sure they won't disappoint.

Thanks for Playing. ~ DW

Zany Video Game Quotes - Live and in the Cloud

I've been working on a side project for roughly 5 years now, and this past week I managed to finally launch it. Zany Video Game Quotes, is a site worked on acquired by a very close friend of mine. He worked on the content and enlisted me as the lead developer.

Before you make judgement about the design or the code or whatever, you can just take a look at the 15 year old static site that is the source for this. My site is an improvement one way or another. Geocities FTW.

The Developer Details

The code is NodeJS/JavaScript, hosted and fully powered by Windows Azure. Some decisions were made that I'm unsure of it at this point, but it was more important to get something out there and live rather than getting caught in the weeds.

You can check out the source here, and make suggestions on how to improve things in the GitHub issues section. There is plenty of work to be done, I realize, and hopefully some feedback can help steer that direction.

If you're looking to contribute, that is high up on the list of priorities. Because I'm using Azure Table Storage, I'm having a few issues getting things up and running with the Azure Storage Emulator. Hopefully I'll get something setup in the next while, but in the meantime, suggestions are always helpful!

The Point

Of this point: to celebrate the announcement.

Still, there are plenty of things I learned along the way, and I'll be sharing these along the way here on the blog. Here's a few ideas, but if you'd like me to share others, please let me know in the comments!

  • 5 Things I Learned about Side Projects (in 5 Years)
  • Azure Table Storage FTW!
  • Notes on Open Source-ry

Thanks for playing. ~ DW

Traf-O-Data and Windows NT on LGR Tech Tales

In recent days, a specific YouTube channel has my caught my attention. It's called Lazy Game Reviews, and last night I came across a great playlist of only four episoded called: LGR Tech Tales where LGR, the host, goes through a specific event in computer history.

What's so Interesting?

Outside of reviewing old PC hardware and MS-DOS games elsewhere on the channel, this series struck a cord with me because it talks about the beginnings of Traf-O-Data, which we now know as Microsoft.

What I find so facinating, are the Digital Research and IBM OS/2 stories and how they relate to Microsoft. More specifically:

  • When looking for a custom OS for their new PC, Microsoft forwarded IBM to Digital Research. It wasn't until later that Microsoft bought a product and marketed it as MS-DOS 1.0 and took on the contract from IBM, due to frustrations with Digital Research
  • After commissioning a custom OS from Microsoft, eventually IBM gave up the contract and went to develop their own OS. That original OS, formely named PC-DOS, became Windows NT, the OS we all know and love today.

The Point

I've just really found LGR interesting. Looking back at computing history through the 70's, 80's, and 90's shows just how different things have become.

Ultimately, I have no point other than old computers are really cool. If you're interested in that kind of thing, then I suggest you check out LGR on YouTube.

Thanks for Playing.
~ DW

Retrospective: The YouTube Experiment

At the beginning of the month I announced I'd be doing a web series on YouTube called Script Unscripted.

It was planned to be a sort of experiment in content production, as over the past year I've really dived into the whole YouTube thing, to a point where we've cancelled cable in lieu of Internet TV, and I thought: "You know, I could probably do that".

So far, it's consisted of four episode, and roughly four hours of time.

I wanted to take a moment to review some of the things I've learned so far.

Livestreaming Still Needs Planning

When I watch a livestream on Twitch, or a coding video on YouTube, a lot of the time it seems unscripted and done in the moment.

I think I'm right about the unscripted part, I don't believe it was done in the moment. There is plenty of planning, setup, and familiarity with your tools that needs to happen to produce quality content.

Over the four livestreams, I have managed to make errors in production on pretty much all of them in one way or another. Sometimes it's the background music being too loud. Sometimes, I forget to push "Start Stream", other times I forget that different platforms have different hardware configuration, which results in audio and video being out of sync.

I still need practice with my configuration. Ideally, I'll be setting up a more consistent environment in which I can keep things setup and ready, but there is a lot more I still need to learn.

Editing is Time Consuming

The experiment was supposed to yield both a livestream full-length YouTube video, and a shortended or "Minified" version. Though the series, I managed to make one minified version, and write a second that I never got around to finishing.

Why? Well, I recorded the amount of time it took me to get the first video ready.

For 2-3 minutes of video, it was about 5 hours, plus time to create the assets like the intro animation, and end card.

I realize it's not that bad for most streamers and video people, but being that I've very new to the whole thing, it takes time to pickup a whole new set of tools and learn how to use them.

Ultimately, editing, sound production, animation, and all the polish to make it appear clean is time consuming.

That Being Said...

I'll be continuing to do more videos as I've got the tools and skills to keep it going, and in all it's a lot of fun. I just need to practice more and start leaving my confort zone to try and explore new techniques.

Celebrate Small Victories

YouTube is very saturated, if not over saturated with content producers being that that only bar to entry is that you need a recording device on a computer.

With that, if you're expecting to become the next big thing on YouTube, you should probably get your ego in check as you'll be greatly disapointed.

If you want the success, there are people who make YouTube their full time job, and in all fairness, it's not a great paying one for the most part. It takes a lot of time, energy, and possibly most importantly consistency.

That Being Said...

I have a very low subscriber count, and not at many views as some. But I have subscribers, and I have views, which is awesome!

I had low to no expectations walking into this, but having a live chat aobut code with Cecil Phillip in episode three, and ultimaely having tons of different things happening all at once, all while coding, has been a lot of fun. Plus, now I'm building up a new network, and who knows where it will go.

The Point

I think the point is that I like dong the "Vlog" or YouTube thing. It's definitely different, and much more time consuming, but it forces me to practice skills that would be otherwise getting rusty, like public speaking, live demoing, and writing concise and ideally non-technical content.

I plan on continuing this YouTube experiment, but I want to change it up to be a little more versatile with the content.

In any case, you can be sure I'll be announcing it on the blog and maybe even with a commercial you YouTube.

Thanks for Playing. ~ DW