April 2011 - Posts

Mix11–Day 2 Sessions
Thursday, April 14, 2011 7:49 AM

I blogged here about my Mix11 bootcamp sessions, and here about my Mix11 day 1 keynote and sessions. To continue the theme, here are some thoughts and opinions around Day 2.

Keynote #2

This keynote started a little slow with some apologies and explanations around delays in Windows Phone 7 updates coming. Necessary but unexciting. After that though, things moved along well. Lots of great new features coming to Windows Phones in the form of the “mango” update to come soon. Things like better much performance, SQL databases on the phone, better multitasking. You can read about all the features here. One thing that I personally liked was the fact that IE9 will be the browser on Windows Phone and replace the current klunky browser version. This means I can target Windows Phone 7 with HTML 5 apps like I can with iPhone and Android. Nice.

All the new features that will come with the Mango update will really make WP7 a much more polished device.

The developer tools update for Windows Phone 7 look just fantastic. Really polished and it will be a real big gain. Being able to emulate titling your phone, gestures such as shaking the phone, and other smaller items such as placing breakpoints on bindings in XAML markup will make development so much nicer. Microsoft have done a huge amount of work here and it shows.

Silverlight 5 was announced and the beta is available for download from here. There are a huge number of improvements in this new release and it looks really nice.

Kinect played a big part in this keynote with some awesome example of what the community has done with the Kinect. In particular, a fully mobile lounge chair, controlled via hand gestures and the Kinect. Also, the Microsoft Telescope demo using the Kinect was excellent. All attendees were also given a free Kinect which was fantastic and obviously made everyone happy.

A great keynote overall.

 

Here are some thoughts on the sessions I have attended.

Douglass Crockford: ECMAScript 5: The New Parts

Its Douglass Crockford. End of story. If Javascript is your thing, then you really can’t go past this to get some insight into where the language is going, from the man himself.

Back To Square One

This talk was presented by Nishant Kothary and it held almost no technical content. A little but not much. You might think that this is a negative thing but that is not the case. I found this talk exceptional and provided many insights into why and how we think like we do. It looked at why some projects have failed, and why some succeeded. In addition, there was some really interesting material around left vs right hemisphere brain function and how that relates to developers and designers.

It was a really interesting presentation and I found it one of the best and most refreshing of Mix. Entertaining, engaging and informative. Highly recommended.

Go download or stream the content from here.

Mix 11–Bootcamp Day
Tuesday, April 12, 2011 9:40 AM

I have been lucky enough to get to the Mix11 event this year (many thanks to my awesome company Saasu) and have been attending the bootcamps here at Mix.

First one was Design, Content, Code: Start to Finish with Roman Blagovirnyy, Anthony Franco, Cindy Vanover Tony Walt and Chad Bakeman of effective ui.

It presented an overview of the start to finish process of a rich interactive site, utilising a hybrid approach of HTML 5 and Silverlight. Traditional ASP.NET webforms was chosen over MVC with the reason cited as the extra complexity of MVC was unnecessary and provided no benefit.

This session was a good session for a few reasons.

  • It presented a project from start to finish and described the challenges involved.
  • Talked a good deal about the design process for such a rich and interactive site. While this team had a number of designers and UX savvy people, the concepts, processes and more importantly, the risks could be utilised and taken into account in any sized team or project.
    • For example, the use of nodes to build high level navigation concepts, then further drilling into these nodes in an intuitive way to build out the rest of the navigational elements of the site, which was finally formed into a set of wireframes.
  • Talked a lot about the technology used, including such elements as Silverlight, 3D rendering (think depth of field, particle systems, lens flares etc,…). Items such as considerations when combining and synchronising multiple videos, usage of HTML 5 video functionality is not as easy as its “standardised inclusion” is meant to be, compression and bit rate considerations amongst others.
  • Provided insight into how other company and people do things. This is probably the most valuable as everyone does things their own way, even if they follow a specific process or methodology, it is usually tailored in some way to meet the needs of the business, company and client. It is extremely valuable to gain this insight as it is experience based and this what is often hard to get without going through some pain first. The pain points were not too dissimilar from most peoples, client issues (although the client was the navy/military so presented extra challenges), integrating all the media into the site in a usable and intuitive way, tight deadlines,unforseen technical issues, as well as a few others.

All in all a good session with lots to learn.

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